As we updated this article for 2021, we made a few tweaks to our top seven chart to reflect some of the changes in the market.
This included adding three alternative home gyms – the popular Bowflex PR1000 and the Marcy MWM-4965, as well as the hot new MAXPRO Portable Home Gym.
These days, you can find a decent home gym for under $300. However, the limitations of these units are obvious. The selection of movements you can do is often limited, the performance can be temperamental, and the build quality can be suspect.
Table of Contents
In this article we are highlighting seven of the best home gyms that you can buy for under $1,000, pointing out the pros and cons of each.
We will also dive into some points you should consider when shopping in this range, as well as answer some of your FAQs.
Resistance: Power Rods
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Upper and lower pulley system, leg developer, squat bar, aerobic rower, instructional placard, triple-function hand-grip/ankle cuffs
Providing you are happy to work out using Power Rods instead of weight plates, the Bowflex Blaze will be well worth checking out. The versatile pulley system and included attachments allow users to perform more than 65 movements.
Chest press, lat pulldowns, overhead press, leg press, triceps pushdowns, bicep curls and many more. In addition to strength and muscle-building movements, the Blaze also features a sliding seat allowing you to perform aerobic rows. This really is the definition of a multi gym!
While this unit comes with 210lbs of adjustable resistance, more experienced users can upgrade the rods to deliver up to 410lbs. A bonus is that the bench folds up, making this gym ideal for smaller spaces.
Resistance: PowerClutch dial (300lbs)
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Patent pending PowerClutch design, aerospace-grade aluminium frame, ultra-high strength cords, non-slip footpads, non-scuff bottom pads, nylon grip handles, collapsible barbell, door bracket, Bluetooth connectivity
Marketed as ‘the world’s most versatile full-body portable cable fitness machine’, the MAXPRO is the most interesting home gym on this list. This innovative unit utilizes a patent-pending PowerClutch design, that allows you to switch from 5lbs of resistance to 300lbs with the turn of a dial.
It actually works! This means you can perform a myriad of movements, from overhead presses and curls to squats, deadlifts and crossovers, using cable resistance – just as you would at the gym.
What makes this even more impressive is the fact that it is incredibly portable, weighing in at just under 9lbs and folding to just 10” x 16” x 4”. When you pair this with the included attachments and door bracket, you pretty much have an entire gym’s worth of equipment that can be stored in your backpack!
Resistance: Power Rods (210lbs)
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Upper and lower pulley system, padded handles, leg extender, aerobic rower function, built-in media rack, sturdy build, workout videos
The PR1000 from Bowflex sits in the lower end of this price range, but has loads to offer home gym enthusiasts, with a popular unit that shows off the innovation the brand is known for.
This multi-gym features a range of Power Rods at the rear to provide up to 210lbs of adjustable resistance, with a cable and pulley system offering a flexible range of movements. In fact, the PR1000 offers more than 25 exercises, targeting your entire body including your legs and core.
Further features include a bench on rollers to allow for aerobic rowing, which is a unique and useful addition. This sturdy and stylish unit also features a media shelf so you can watch workout videos as you go.
Resistance: Metal weight stack
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Compact design, adjustable seat, three-position pulley system, heavy-duty steel frame, military-grade aircraft cables, lat bar, low row bar, ab crunch harness
Next up we have the BSG10X from Powerline by Body Solid, which resembles the kind of space-saving multi gyms you may have seen in lower price categories.
This compact machine delivers everything you need for a good full-body workout at home, including a versatile high, mid and low pulley system. A 160lb weight stack adds load to movements such as the chest press, seated row and leg extension.
The build of the machine is impressive too, with an 11-gauge steel frame and military-grade aircraft cables that can endure 2,200lbs of tension. A bonus is that it comes delivered almost entirely built – so there’s no need to put aside a day or two for assembly!
Resistance: Weight stack (150lbs)
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: 14-gauge steel tube frame, upper/middle/lower pulley system, lat pulldown station, ankle strap, abdominal strap, multipurpose nylon strap handle, 300lb weight capacity
While we can all appreciate smaller devices, sometimes we need a more comprehensive setup. With the MWM-4965, Marcy delivers this – a solid multi-gym system that is compact, versatile and sturdy.
It features a 14-gauge steel tube frame, with a nicely-padded vinyl seat that supports users up to 300lbs. At the rear you’ll find a 150lb vinyl weight stack to play with, using stations at the upper, middle and lower pulleys.
Starting from the top, the MWM-4965 has a lat pulldown station, chest press and flye station, low row station, and leg developer, as well as a variety of attachments for even more versatility. While advanced lifters may soon outgrow the weight stack, the MWM-4965 offers everything you could ask for in a home multi-gym with reasonable quality for the price.
Resistance: Vinyl weight stack
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Heavy-duty build, press arms, multi-angle lat pulldown, leg developer, low row station, preacher pad, weight stack padlock
The severely good-looking MKM-81010 from Marcy is another sensible choice for users wanting a quality multi gym with a real weight stack included (as opposed to rods or separate Olympic plates). In fact, this unit comes with 200lbs of vinyl-coated weight, which is more than many of its competitors.
Compared to some of those above, this unit is a bit less extensive in its range of movements. Still, the main muscle builders are all there, including the chest press, multi-angle lat pulldown, leg developer, low row station and removeable preacher pad.
In addition to looking good and performing well, the MKM-81010 is built to last, with a heavy-duty steel tube frame and vinyl-covered high-density foam seat from a name you can trust.
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Compact design, padded glideboard, nylon strap handles, leg pull accessory, wing attachment, wall chart, 5 workout DVDs, workout cards, nutrition plan
If you are only here because Chuck Norris sent you, then the adverts are working! This unconventional home gym design has withstood the test of time, with models in all price ranges – from budget to high-end.
The XLS is one of the latter, with a plethora of attachments and accessories offering users more than 80 exercises. This modern iteration features a padded glideboard and nylon strap handles, allowing you to perform bodyweight movements to develop both upper and lower body strength using adjustable bodyweight resistance.
One of the biggest appeals of this design is its foot print, or lack of one. While it caters for users of most sizes, you can fold it up and store it in the closet when you are done with the workout.
Higher end home gyms are just great. Much like it is the case with any other type of home fitness equipment, the more money throw at it, the more features you get in return. However, that isn’t the only reason why more expensive home gyms are better than say $500 home gyms.
There are numerous other reasons, some if which we will get into in this guide. The very first, and probably the most obvious benefit of owning a machine like the ones on our list is the build quality. When you go and get a budget home gym, you are getting the bare minimum necessary to offer decent performance.
That isn’t to say that these home gyms are bad, but being aware of their limitations is pretty much a necessity if you don’t want to end up disappointed. With higher end models like the ones we are looking at today, you are getting a much better deal in terms of materials, joints and overall build quality. Here’s the thing.
Whenever you are dealing with machines that utilize weights, you definitely want to get the most stable and reliable platform possible. One part of getting into higher end home gyms is getting that combo of better materials, better build quality and good quality control.
It’s a peace of mind thing as much as it is a safety thing. With that said, lets talk a bit about a few other obvious benefits to investing this kind of money into home gyms.
Owning a higher end home gym can be a great feeling. As is the case with any other type of home fitness equipment, the more money you throw at it, the more features you get in return.
As you will have seen from our chart, home gyms under $1,000 come in all shapes and sizes; all boasting advanced features and performance you just won’t find in lower price ranges.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you may come across when shopping:
The good news is that multi gyms in this range are brimming with features, as each manufacturer tries to establish their own USP.
If you are looking at some of the bigger units, you can expect to see features added to cater for real strength and muscle gains.
For example, you may find units that incorporate the standard multi gym features – pec deck, leg developer, lat pulldown – but then add in some extras, like a free-weight squat rack or cable crossover station.
These features are excellent for building strength, and allow you to overload your muscles with hefty loads. The only negative – aside from the increased space they take up – is that the Olympic plates they need are sold separately.
If you are looking towards a more traditional multi gym machine, like those you may see in the sub-$500 range, you’re unlikely to find advanced features such as Smith machines and Olympic barbells.
However, you will still find features that allow you to hit multiple muscle groups from multiple angles – a pec deck, lat pulldown, preacher pad, leg developer and low row station among others. Some of these machines may also offer an aerobic rowing feature, allowing you to sneak some cardio into your workout.
The more compact Total Gym-style units are clearly lacking some of the traditional features. Yet, they still offer many different movements, making clever use of bodyweight and gravity to deliver a solid full-body workout.
These innovative units will come with a plethora of accessories and attachments to allow you to work your chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs in ways you never imagined possible on such a small machine.
The bonus is that these units often come with a good selection of workout plans and DVDs, so you are not left guessing what you have to do.
As we have established, this sub-$1,000 range is full of multi gyms with completely different designs. Therefore, the resistance they offer is likely to be very different as well.
As touched upon, the bigger units that incorporate things like squat racks and Smith machines usually take Olympic plates as their resistance. These differ from standard weight plates in that the hole in the middle is 2” wide, as opposed to the standard 1”.
Yes, the downside is you have to go out and purchase your own plates. The benefit is that this allows you to buy the weight that suits you. If you can already squat 260lbs, you know you need to go buy a few 45lbs plates. If you’ve never squatted before, you may only want to buy a few 25lb plates instead.
More traditional multi gyms will come with their own resistance. This may be in the form of a 200lb weight stack – either metal or vinyl – with pin-selectable increments, or a similar amount of resistance in the form of Power Rods (in the case of Bowflex machines).
As mentioned, Total Gym-style machines still rely on bodyweight as the primary form of resistance.
Of course, there are limitations here as you can technically only go as heavy as you weigh. However, these units offer ways to adjust bodyweight resistance to make it more or less of a challenge, so you can still progressively overload your muscles and build strength.
It sounds obvious, but make sure the multi gym you are buying meets your needs. If you are trying to build a big bench press, having means to use an Olympic bar and plates will be more beneficial to you than something that only offers fixed chest press arms.
If you just want something that will keep you moving and allow you to tone your muscles while watching TV, a huge unit with an incorporated squat rack is likely to be overkill.
Remember that whatever machine you buy, this sub-$1,000 range isn’t the top end – you can still go much higher, although most home users won’t need to. There are still limitations in this range but, providing you aren’t expecting the exact same performance as a machine you would find in a commercial gym, you will have a great workout.
Whatever your goals, you may want to supplement your new multi gym with some other equipment. For example, a good pair of dumbbells can be useful to develop the body parts that multi gyms find hard to hit.
Equally, developing your core is usually best done away from a multi gym, so buying an ab roller, a medicine ball and/or a Swiss ball can really help you develop a strong midsection and a complete physique.
It all depends on how much you can spend! If you have an unlimited budget and space is not an issue, something like the premium TYTAX T3-X with more than 400 exercises on offer is a pretty good choice!
However, most people won’t want to spend nearly $8,000 on a multi gym! So, defining your budget is the first step to finding the best multi gym for you.
You can check out our individual pages on the best cheap home gyms, the best home gyms under $500, and the best compact home gyms. These will all give you a good idea of what the best gyms in certain price ranges are.
When you have done that, define your goals. If it is to build a lot of strength and muscle, you will need to aim for a higher-priced multi gym – perhaps one that allows you to add your own Olympic plates so you can go as heavy as you like.
If you want to work out simply to build a little lean muscle and keep toned, a Bowflex or Total Gym-style machine may be the better option for you.
There are many advantages to working out at home. You don’t have to wait for machines to become free; you don’t have to put up with annoying gym users; you don’t have to travel to the gym; and – of course – you don’t have to pay a costly gym membership.
The good news is that exercising at home can give you as good a workout as if you were in a commercial gym, providing you have the right equipment, space and willpower.
Buying a higher-end multi gym, like those on this page, will start you off on the right foot. They will give you means to work out both your upper and lower body, from multiple angles.
However, depending on the home gym you go for, you may want to supplement this with some other equipment. This could be a big thing, such as a good running treadmill, or as small as a pair of dumbbells, a pullup bar and an ab roller.
In addition to the right equipment, you will need enough space in which to store and use it. If you are using a smaller multi gym – such as a Total Gym – then a corner of your living room will suffice. However, if it’s a bigger unit with an incorporated squat rack, then you’ll probably need a dedicated gym room or garage.
Finally, willpower. If you exercise at home using similar equipment to what you would find in a commercial gym, there is no reason why you cannot build strength and muscle. However, if you lack the willpower to motivate yourself, you will never succeed.
Working out at home can be convenient, but there can be distractions to contend with – family, pets, computers, televisions… all out to ruin your workout! Providing you can shut these out and focus on your workout time, there is no reason you can’t get an effective workout in at home.
When buying a multi gym to add to your home gym, you want to look at your goals and what you will need to achieve them – then look at what multi gym provides them.
For example, if your aim is to squat 400lbs, buying a foldable Total Gym is going to be a big waste of time. Equally, buying a multi gym with a squat rack is all well and good, but if you never plan to place a loaded barbell on your back and squat, then it’s going to be a waste of money.
After you have determined which multi gym best meets your needs, look at adding some additional gear to grow your home gym further.
Depending on your space and budget, you may want to invest in relatively inexpensive fitness gear, including: a pair of dumbbells, a solid pullup bar, an ab roller, some resistance bands, a yoga mat, a Swiss ball and/or a medicine ball.
If total body fitness is your goal, you should also consider adding a cardio machine to your setup. Depending on your preferred activity, look at a treadmill, a rowing machine, an elliptical or a good exercise bike.
They certainly can be, although how much muscle you can build will depend on how much resistance your machine offers, the amount of movements you can do on it, and how much effort you put in.
Let’s break these down slightly. One thing you will need to ensure is that the multi gym offers enough resistance to meet your goals. You will never build a big chest if the chest press resistance maxes out at 100lbs.
Thankfully many of the multi gyms in the $1,000 price range offer around 200lbs of resistance, while some will allow you to add Olympic plates – so you could eventually press 400lbs if you wanted!
As mentioned, the movements the machine offers are also important. The more the better. If your machine gives you multiple ways to hit your chest, back, arms and legs, then you will have more chance of building muscle than if it allows just one way.
Your body can get used to certain movements, so having the option to change things up is a good way to spark new muscle growth.
Finally, you can’t just buy a multi gym and expect muscle to grow – you need to put in the hard work! If you follow a good workout plan, keep your nutrition in check and put in the required effort, there is no reason why you cannot build muscle at home with a multi gym.
Shopping in the higher end of the home gym market is a great way to really challenge yourself and meet your fitness goals. You won’t be concerned with unstable units or lack of resistance – instead you can focus on building muscle and strength at home.
If you can’t tell, we are big fans of the Marcy MD-9010G in this range, which offers so much bang for your buck. The Bowflex Blaze is another unit well worth checking out. With so many movements on offer, you’ll question the need to ever set foot in a commercial gym again!
Just remember to clearly define your goals, preferences and living space before diving into a purchase, lest you make a mistake and end up with a very expensive clothes horse!
Providing that you are sensible, you should end up with a reliable and consistently challenging fitness tool that will serve you well for years to come.