We were pleased to welcome two very popular home gym systems to this article in the most recent refresh.
These additions included the innovative OYO Personal Gym and the versatile APEX G1 from Total Gym.
Anybody with a busy lifestyle will know the problem of squeezing in a gym session. Even if you are a committed member of a traditional gym, your family life, work and holidays can all get in the way of regular sessions.
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These popular home gyms are ideal when you are short on time or don’t want to travel, but still want to work your entire body with resistance.
In this article, we are going run you through seven of the best cheap multigyms, all coming in at under $300. We’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of each one, before assessing this market in more detail – and answering some of your FAQs along the way.
The Home Gym 2.0 from BodyBoss is a very interesting prospect and very compact, making it perfect for those tight on both space and cash. Yet, despite its tiny footprint, this pandora’s box delivers everything you need for a solid home workout.
Originally a Kickstarter project, this gym was designed to simulate thousands of dollars’ worth of gym gear – and it succeeds. It comes with a selection of equipment, including a base, a pair of 40lb resistance bands, squat bar, handles, and straps for wrists and ankles.
Depending on how you set up this equipment, you can complete a great full-body workout, adding resistance to squats, bicep curls, shoulder presses, upright rows, rear delt flyes, and triceps extensions to name a few!
Adjustable Resistance: 6 levels
Features: Steel frame, padded glideboard, nylon strap handles, wing attachment, leg pull accessory, wall chart, nutritional guide, DVD, Total Gym TV access, 300lb weight capacity
Total Gym is a name that needs no introduction in the sphere of home gyms, considering the impact the brand has made on the market over the decades. While their APEX G1 is Total Gym’s entry-level model, it pushes the limit of our sub-$300 price range – so is it worth it?
We say, yes. You can perform more than 60 exercises by using the combination of a padded glideboard, nylon strap handles, wing attachment and leg pull accessory – all included in the price.
This allows you to target most muscle groups in your body, even though it lacks the squat stand seen on the higher-end Total Gym units. You also get plenty of instruction and inspiration with a wall chart, nutritional guide, DVD, and access to Total Gym TV.
Resistance: FlexPacks (up to 25lbs)
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: SpiraFlex technology, commercial-grade polymer frame, nylon-coated stainless steel cables, ergonomic hand grips, 1 x 5lb and 2 x 10lb FlexPacks, leg anchors, door anchors, PDF nutrition guide, online access to workouts and exercise videos
One of the hottest home gyms available at the moment also happens to be one of the smallest. The OYO Personal Gym has been road tested by thousands of happy users, including NASA astronauts!
This foldable device weighs in at 2lbs, but – with the FlexPacks provided – offers up to 25lbs of linear resistance. You can both push and pull the heavy-duty frame and steel cables to target several muscle groups – in particular the arms, chest and back.
The small size and limited resistance means the OYO lacks a little punch compared to some others in this range, although can still provide many users with exactly what they are looking for. Ideal for tiny homes, office workers and travel.
Resistance: Bodyweight plus resistance bands (50lbs)
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Cable and pulley system, nylon strap handles, removable base plate and handles, 50+ movements
Compared to some of the bigger units on this list, the Ultimate Body Works from Weider shows off an impressive space-saving design without really compromising on functionality.
Taking inspiration from the Total Gym collection (see below), this style of machine offers a genuinely effective full-body workout for all abilities – even if it naturally appeals more to beginners. This machine utilizes your own bodyweight as the resistance, with a moving board and pulley system working together to deliver a multitude of exercises.
These include movements such as the chest press, upper back row, assisted pullups, and bicep curls. The additional tension cables add an increased challenge for more advanced users. We’ve dissected this unit in more depth in the full review of the Weider Ultimate Body Works.
Resistance: Resistance bands
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Steel frame construction (with padding), dynamic handles, adjustable ankle straps, printed workout guide, instructional DVD
The Body by Jake Tower 200 is an affordable home gym system that makes use of a padded steel frame and resistance bands, to turn any door in your home into a fully-fledged(ish) gym!
Why the Tower 200? Because there are up to around 200 exercises on offer, with a total of 200lbs of resistance (although in practice, this seems slightly less). Regardless, there is a lot of versatility here – perform shoulder presses, chest presses, flyes, lunges, squats and a myriad of other movements.
There’s a degree of flexibility in the resistance choice as you clip onto the band(s) that are most appropriate for you. Ultimately this system has its flaws, but the variation on offer for under $300 makes it worth checking out.
Resistance: Bodyweight, Resistance bands
Adjustable Resistance: Yes
Features: Steel-reinforced polyethylene base, static handles, dynamic handles, ankle straps, Fusion bar, core wheel, door anchor, tension bands (2 x normal, 2 x strong), Fusion-branded bag, training guide
This portable gym from Fusion Motion is another in the new breed of ‘gym in a box’ style units. In other words, those that are highly portable and very affordable – which is why they feature prominently in the sub-$300 category.
This gym arrives with a steel-reinforced polyethylene base, which is where you attach your resistance bands (it comes with a pair of normal and a pair of strong bands). To the ends of these bands you can attach included handles, ankle straps, a bar or a core wheel, allowing you to do countless exercises.
Squats, curls, presses and everything in between – there are a listed 200 moves to try out in the included training guide. A set of static pushup bars and a storage bag add to the value of this popular home gym system.
The Bodygym Core System is a portable home gym that oozes value! It’s very affordable – in fact, you could buy a handful and still have change from the $300 price cap. This is one of the reasons why it has sold millions of units.
It’s essentially a resistance band with a large snap-together plastic bar, giving you a surprising amount of scope for exercise – bicep curls, triceps extensions, squats and upright rows to name a few.
While it only comes with one resistance band, you can increase the resistance by twisting the bar to shorten the band – a basic system, but one that works pretty well. It also comes with a travel bag, workout guide, two instructional DVDs and even a tape measure to help you assess your weight loss!
While it can be pretty cool to do so, you don’t have to invest in a $1,000 home gym to end up with something that will give you a good workout at home.
On the contrary, there is plenty of choice in the budget market. Yet, for every worthwhile unit, you will find a handful of multigyms worth avoiding. So, what should you look out for when buying in this range?
Unlike treadmills or stationary bikes, multigyms literally come in all shapes and sizes. Some will look pretty much as you’d expect, with the classic gym-style setup – padded seat, hefty weight stack, and an array of pulleys, cables and attachments. These tend to be the most familiar and make up the majority of the market.
However, some other styles exist. For example, you will come across those that still use a pulley system, but with a less traditional design.
These will usually be more compact and perhaps completely foldable, with an incline bodyweight design, featuring an angled bench on rails that glides up and down. Weider’s Ultimate Body Works and the classic Total Gym 1400 are prime examples of this style.
Alternatively, this range features some ‘home gyms in a box’. While these don’t give you the same experience as a more traditional gym-style unit, this variation offers a very compact and portable option.
The design you go for will be up to you and your goals. What is more important to you – being able to do a heavy chest press or being able to store your gym in the closet after your workout? Luckily the sub-$300 price range has plenty of choice regardless of your preferences.
Units in this category are not as well-stocked as those in the higher price ranges. If you are looking for things like an incorporated squat rack or a generous stack of weight, you’ll have to considerably up your budget.
However, most multigyms in this range will offer means to hit multiple body parts – chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs. How effectively depends on the attachments the unit comes with.
Those with traditional seats, pulleys and cables will offer you stations such as a lat pulldown bar to target your back, a dedicated chest press, or a leg developer to train your quads.
If the unit has more of a space-saving design, then you will still be able to target these areas, but using more imagination – and perhaps less resistance.
Some units in this sub-$300 range will provide things like DVDs, exercise charts or workout guides, although many don’t. If you are a complete beginner, you may need to head over to YouTube to check out videos from other users for inspiration.
Of course, traditional weight stacks are available in this range, although external weight is not as common as on home gyms in the $500 range. The reason being that additional weight costs additional money.
Still, you can find home gyms with a stack of vinyl weights to offer a hefty amount of resistance if that’s what you are looking for.
The only problem in this entry-level range is that these weight stacks don’t always allow for small progression. You are limited to the weight increments and, if these are too heavy, you will struggle to progress. For example, if you can only just lift 30lbs for 10 reps, trying to go up a level to 60lbs in your next session will be a tough ask!
Alternatively, some units will offer the means for adding your own weighted plates. The advantage of these is that you can add as much or as little weight to suit your needs. However, the obvious downfall is that you need to buy these weight plates separately, which quickly bumps up the overall amount you spend.
In this range, using bodyweight is still a very popular method of resistance for manufacturers. After all, they don’t need to spend extra money on providing weights, which results in them being able to offer a better-quality unit for a lower price.
Think that’s a bit limiting? Surprisingly it doesn’t have to be. Some units will feature a bodyweight resistance system, but will also include a way of altering – and even increasing – the resistance on offer. This may be as simple as adjusting the position of the seat/bench or the addition of extra resistance bands.
On that note, some home gyms won’t rely on bodyweight or pulley systems of any kind. Rather, they use only resistance bands and various attachments.
These are excellent space-saving units, although the limitations are obvious – they may not give you enough resistance to build muscle, while the amount of exercises you can do also becomes limited.
It’s worth thinking about what you are planning to use your multigym for. If it’s purely to build muscle, then you may need to supplement a cheap multigym with a bench and some dumbbells, or invest in a more expensive unit with heavier weights.
Also, multigyms may not directly target areas such as your core, so you may also want to buy some other equipment, such as an ab roller, Swiss ball or medicine ball.
In this price range, the materials and build quality are definitely worth focusing on. You may see a multigym with all the tools and attachments you need at a price you like, but if user reviews suggest it’s poorly made or unstable, it may not be worth the hassle of putting it together.
Remember, in this entry-level range, if something looks too good to be true, it most probably is. There are many affordable home gyms that overreach – trying to give you all kinds of workout stations on a tiny budget.
Unfortunately, doing so often means that the materials used are poor quality or that the build quality is going to be questionable at best. Being realistic with your expectations can save you a whole lot of trouble down the road.
Definitely! Of course, it depends on how much effort you actually put into using your home gym and the gear you have, but they can be as effective as going to a regular gym.
If you are buying a home multigym on a budget, you have to be careful when selecting the right model. Buying something that doesn’t allow you to, say, chest press when you want to build your pecs isn’t going to be particularly effective.
But, in general, providing you are able to do a selection of exercises with a good range of motion – and supplement these with some cardio work – you will find home gyms are very effective at keeping you fit and maintaining your muscle.
They certainly can be, although how effective they are at muscle-building will depend on a few things.
Firstly, your current level. If you are a complete beginner, working your body hard on any home gym will usually result in muscle growth. These are the traditional ‘newbie gains’, where the muscles of a beginner will be very responsive, and able to grow in size and strength fairly quickly.
However, the more advanced you are, the harder is it to increase your muscle size and strength. You need to challenge your body in new ways to spark new growth – increased resistance, reps and sets, or doing completely new movements.
Therefore, for a home multigym to be good at building muscle, it will have to have the right amount of weight to challenge you, as well as provide enough movements to keep things fresh.
Sadly, if you are already an experienced lifter, a budget home gym may not provide a suitable amount of weight or variation for you to see progress.
If this is the case, look towards a home gym in a higher price category, or buy a bench, dumbbells and/or a barbell to get a more effective muscle-building workout in at home.
This completely depends on your goals and how big you want to go. If you have a huge space and an equally big budget, you can technically open your own Planet Fitness inside your garage! Of course, most people won’t be dreaming this big and will have less space to work with.
A good multigym – like those we have featured on this page – is excellent for helping you both build and tone muscle. If you have space and value your overall fitness, you’d be worth investing in a good treadmill or quality rowing machine as well.
With a multigym and a cardio machine at hand, you can get in a very good full-body and cardio workout. However, adding in a pair of space-saving adjustable dumbbells is another smart move, and can help you target the muscles a multigym can’t hit effectively.
Of course, if you want to take this further, you can start looking at things like weighted vests, resistance bands, medicine balls and pullup bars to give you endless options and a home gym to be proud of.
Just be sure to have a good aircon system and a fridge full of protein shakes, and you can start charging your friends to use it too!
As you can see from our list, budget home gyms are not only available, but a viable option as long as you are realistic with your expectations.
They probably won’t turn you into the next Mr. Olympia, but if you work hard and supplement these multigyms with some other gear, you’ll be surprised at the results you can achieve at home.
The multigym models we have highlighted in our chart are definitely some of the best you can buy for under $300. Of course, others are available, so have a browse – you may find something more suitable for your current level and fitness goals.