The Best Weight Training Equipment to Help You Build Muscle

barbell on a rack


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Weightlifting isn’t just about building muscle (though we sure do love that part). Lifting a loaded barbell or curling dumbbells regularly can also increase your overall fitness level and help your body burn more calories at rest. So if you’re not doing so already, you should make weight training a regular part of your fitness routine, in addition to cardio workouts like running on a treadmill or the elliptical.

But like with anything else, you’ll need the right fitness equipment to get the job done. That’s why the ACTIVE Reviews Team tried some of the best weight training equipment out there for you to build your own home gym and start your strength training journey today. Whether it’s free weights or resistance bands, or anything else in between, there’s something for everyone’s fitness goals.

Read on to find out our top 12 picks for the best weight training equipment for 2021.

Best Weight Training Equipment - Our Top Picks

Best All-in-One Weight Training Equipment - Bowflex Blaze Home Gym

Bowflex-Blaze-Home-Gym

If you’re looking to get everything you need in just one piece of home gym equipment, look no further than the Bowflex Blaze Home Gym. To say it’s versatile would be an understatement—it can be used to perform more than 60 workout moves because of its adjustable bench and cable attachments. So whether you’re looking to do an upper-body, lower-body or full-body workout, it can all be done with this machine.

The Bowflex Blaze Home comes with 210 pounds of resistance, but the resistance levels can be upgraded to 310 or 410 pounds—so people of all strength levels can get a quality home workout. An added bonus is that the bench is foldable to save space. It really is like having a personal trainer right in your home gym.

  • Key Feature: Included lat and squat bars; 60-plus exercises
  • Footprint: 90” L x 38” W x 83” H
  • Weight Capacity: Standard, 210 lbs. but can be upgraded to 310 or 410 lbs.

BUY: Bowflex Blaze Home Gym, $899

Best Cable Weight Training Equipment - MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Machine

Maxpro-SmartConnect-Portable

Cables provide a challenge compared to free weights because there’s constant tension on your muscles as you perform an exercise. If that sounds like the workout for you, go for the MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Machine. This machine provides up to 300 pounds of resistance, and it can be taken anywhere so you can increase your body strength without having to attach it to a wall or door.

The MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Machine can also be connected to the MaxPRO app via Bluetooth to track your workouts, so you don’t have to worry about counting how many resistance push-ups or deadlifts you do. No need to bust out the screwdriver or Allen wrench either since it arrives at your home gym pre-assembled and ready to use right out of the box. That alone is a good reason why it’s one of the most popular new products on the market.

  • Key Feature: Heavy resistance, compact
  • Footprint: 4” W x 10” L x 16” H
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.

BUY: MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Machine, $1,315

Best Bodyweight Training Equipment - TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System

TRX-All-In-One-Training-System

Weight training can be accomplished through multiple forms of resistance. If you want to get the most out of your own bodyweight, there’s no better choice than the TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System. By using a suspension trainer, you can grow your biceps, get a cardio workout and improve your stability and coordination.

The TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System’s nylon straps and carabiner locking system have been tested up to 1,300 pounds and can be easily hooked up to a door or a secure post outside. Once you set it up you can perform more than 300 full-body workouts—so you’ll never get tired of using it. And since the entire kit weighs less than two pounds, it’s a great option for anyone who’s on-the-go more often than not.

  • Key Feature: Lightweight, versatile
  • Footprint: 1.5” W x 53” L x 6” H
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.

BUY: TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System, $169.95

Best Portable Weight Training Equipment - BodyBoss 2.0 Full Portable Home Gym

BodyBoss-Full-Portable-Home-Gym

While many of our top picks are easily portable, the BodyBoss 2.0 Full Portable Home Gym is the only one that provides up to 500 pounds of resistance. All you have to do is adjust the length of the bands to get your desired amount of force. So no matter how much you bench press, squat, lunge or shoulder press with it, you’re guaranteed to get a challenging total-body workout every time.

The BodyBoss 2.0 Full Portable Home Gym weighs 15 pounds and can be folded to less than two feet wide. It also sells for less than most annual gym memberships, meaning it won’t break your suitcase or the bank. Capable of replacing a barbell, dumbbells and more, it’s no wonder why we chose this as the best piece of portable weight training equipment.

  • Key Feature: Portable, heavy resistance
  • Footprint: Unfolded, 34" W x 20" L x 1" H; folded, 17" W x 20" L x 2" H
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs.

BUY: BodyBoss 2.0 Portable Home Gym, $179

Best Adjustable Kettlebell - Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell

Bowflex-Kettlebell

Swinging a kettlebell gets your heart rate pumping, increases your muscles’ flexibility and gives you all the benefits of weightlifting all at the same time. With the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell you’ll be able to do all that without needing to buy multiple kettlebells. Plus, think of how much space you’ll be able to save by only having one kettlebell in your home gym instead of six.

As the name suggests, the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell can be adjusted to weigh from 8 to 40 pounds, so you can go heavy for the kettlebell swing or keep things on the lighter side during Turkish get-ups. If this is your first time using a kettlebell, be aware that the plastic coating doesn’t provide as strong of a grip compared to steel or iron kettlebells.

  • Key Feature: Easily adjustable weight dial
  • Footprint: 7” W x 8.8” L x 12.5” H
  • Weight Capacity: 8-40 lbs.

BUY: Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell, $149

Best Dumbbell - REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells

REP-Hex-Dumbbells

Dumbbells are one of the most widely used pieces of strength-training equipment in the world, and the best dumbbells you could put in your home gym are the REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells. We like that the handle comes with a knurled finish for extra grip, which leads to increased strength, and the rubber coating gives you the peace of mind that your floors will be protected in the unlikely event the dumbbells slip from your hands.

The REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells start at two and a half pounds and go all the way up to 125, so you’ll find a weight that works for you regardless of where you are in your strength training journey. Hex dumbbells are also great for moves like dumbbell push-ups and rows, giving you more versatility. The dumbbells are covered by a lifetime warranty as well.

  • Key Feature: Rubber coating, knurled handle
  • Construction: Rubber-coated cast iron
  • Weight Range: 2.5-125 lbs. (sold in pairs)

BUY: REP Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells, $15.99 to $519.99

Best Resistance Bands – FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands

FitCord-X-Over-Bands

Resistance bands were once used primarily for rehab and warm up exercises but in recent years have been adopted as a popular alternative to traditional weight training methods. The FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands can easily be used for both. Simply secure the carabiners and extend the bands in an “x” shape, hence the name, to work on your strength and flexibility at the same time. It really is that simple.

You’ll find that high-quality resistance bands are often expensive, and many affordable ones aren’t reliable and have a tendency to snap out of place or break. Not so with the affordable FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands, which have been proven to last for more than 150,000 repetitions. And with pairs ranging from three to 55 pounds of resistance, there’s bound to be one that fits your fitness needs.

  • Key Feature: Adjustable anchor points, lightweight
  • Footprint: 41” L
  • Weight Capacity: 3-55 lbs.

BUY: FitCord X-Over Resistance Bands, $40

Best Squat Rack - FringeSport Garage Series Squat Rack With Pull-Up Bar

FringeSport-Garage-Series-Squat-Rack-With-Pull-Up-Bar

If you have the space for it and are serious about weight training, the FringeSport Garage Series Squat Rack With Pull-Up Bar is a great addition for your home gym. You can do bench presses, squats and deadlifts. The addition of a pull-up bar also allows for increased upper-body strength, too.

The FringeSport Garage Series Squat Rack With Pull-Up Bar is also quite affordable at $290, especially when compared to other squat racks of squat stands. It’s also much more compact than other models, at just 4-feet by 4-feet. If you’re a more advanced weightlifter, you should know it only has a 450-pound weight capacity. But for the average home gym owner, that’s more than enough weight to last a lifetime.

  • Key Feature: Floor bolting option for added stability
  • Footprint: 46.5” L x 84.5” H x 49.5” W
  • Weight Capacity: 450 lbs.

BUY: FringeSport Garage Series Squat Rack with Pull-Up Bar, $290

Best Adjustable Weight Bench - REP AB-3100 Adjustable Bench

REP-AB-3100-Adjustable-Bench

An adjustable weight bench can increase the number of exercises you can do by allowing you to hit muscle groups from different angles, especially compared to a flat bench. The REP AB-3100 Adjustable Bench combines this functionality with comfort. With six different incline positions and three seat adjustments, accessible via a ladder-style adjustment mechanism, you’ll be able to find an angle that works best for you.

Don’t be caught off guard by the Rep AB-3100 Adjustable Bench’s $250 price tag. It supports up to 1,000 pounds of weight, and its padding will help you feel comfortable enough without feeling like you’re sinking into the bench. And the wheels make it a breeze to move out of the way when it’s not in use.

  • Key Feature: Six incline positions
  • Footprint: 11.75” W x 50” L x 17.5” H
  • Weight Capacity: 1,000 lbs.

BUY: REP AB-3100 Adjustable Bench, $249.99

Best Barbell - FringeSport Wonder Bar V2

Fringe-Sport-Wonder-Bar

If you’re going to take weight training seriously, a quality barbell is an absolute necessity. For that we recommend the FringeSport Wonder Bar V2, nicknamed “Black Magic.” It earns that name by packing 205,000 PSI (pounds of force per square inch) with bronze bushings and needle bearings wrapped in black zinc-plated alloy steel. In other words, its functionality is matched only by the fact it’s a very good-looking barbell.

The FringeSport Wonder Bar V2 is available in a 15 kg or 20 kg option, and while the knurling isn’t as aggressive as some of its competitors, that just means you’ll be able to hold onto it for more reps at a time. Spending over $250 might seem like a lot, but this is a high-performing barbell that’ll last you quite a while, so it’s a worthy investment.

  • Key Feature: All-black barbell with zinc-plated coating
  • Footprint: 86” L, 28 mm diameter
  • Weight Capacity: 1,000 lbs.

BUY: FringeSport Wonder Bar V2, $262

Best Weight Plates - FringeSport Black Bumper

Fringe-Sport-Black-Bumper-Plates

A barbell or power rack won’t do much for your weightlifting journey if you don’t have...well, weights. The FringeSport Black Bumper plates are a great choice no matter if you’re lifting for bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifts or CrossFit. These bumper plates are incredibly durable, meaning the investment will last a bit longer, and because they’re not iron, you don’t have to worry about dinging your home gym floor.

You’d be hard pressed to find a set of bumper plates for under $250 that can beat the FringeSport Black Bumper. We also like that the bumpers are a little thinner than most standard plates, which allows you to rack more onto a barbell. That, in turn, means the ability to lift more weight and therefore get even stronger.

  • Key Feature: Steel insert at the center of the plate helps with overall long-term durability
  • Footprint: 450 mm diameter, width varies by weight
  • Weight Capacity: 10-55 lbs.

BUY: FringeSport Black Bumper, $75-$240

Best Pull-Up Bar - Rogue Fitness Jammer Pull-Up Bar

Rogue-Jammer-Pull-Up-Bar

No matter your home gym setup, whether you have an entire garage or you’re living in a studio apartment, there’s a door where you can install a pull-up bar. The Rogue Fitness Jammer Pull-Up Bar has the added benefit of being installed above the door frame, so you don’t block the door at any point. And you can go with the standard smooth finish or a knurled finish to give your grip an extra challenge.

Since it’s made by Rogue, you know the Jammer Pull-Up Bar is going to be high quality. One reviewer stated a neighbor weighing more than 350 pounds was able to perform reps on it without fear of it ripping from the wall. And because it’s 43 inches long, you can perform wide-grip, neutral or close-grip pull-ups on it with ease.

  • Key Feature: Can be adhered to a stud wall or above a door frame to maximize space
  • Footprint: 8.25” D x 43” L x 8.875” H
  • Weight Capacity: Not listed, but it’s a sturdy bar

BUY: Rogue Fitness Jammer Pull-Up Bar, $115

What to Look for in Weight Training Equipment

Weight training is a pretty ambiguous term, and you can use multiple pieces of equipment to accomplish whatever goal you’ve set for yourself. That said, there are some pretty common ground rules when it comes to what you should look for in your weight training equipment.

Your Fitness Goals

Are you looking simply to tone your physique or do you want to build muscles in places where you haven’t had them before? Your answer will determine what type of weight training equipment you should go for. If you’re looking for the former, a set of resistance bands or a bodyweight training system may be enough. On the other hand, if you’re the latter and are looking to completely transform your appearance, you might be better off with a squat rack or an all-in-one trainer.

Also keep in mind that your strength will progress as you lift over time—at least that’s the goal. So consider your current fitness level and how far you think you’ll progress. And be honest with yourself. It’s great to be optimistic about your goals, but you also don’t want to buy something that will rarely, if ever, be used.

Versatility

Weight training requires working out multiple muscle groups in your upper and lower body. So whatever piece of equipment you buy has to be able to work every part of your body. And many are inherently capable of doing so. Even a dumbbell or kettlebell can be used to perform leg-building exercises such as a goblet squat.

There are some, however, that are better suited for one body part over another. But if you’re someone who just needs to focus on your upper body mobility and strength, that might not be the worst thing.

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