The Best Home Gyms: Finding The One for You

There is no other piece of machinery that is more convenient for working out than a home gym. The history of gyms and fitness goes back centuries ago when early man used simple items to train. Many of these items were the predecessors to equipment that is in use today.

Some of these earlier items included: water jugs, ropes, discs and crude barbells that were used to enhance an athlete's strength and flexibility. Though modern equipment is more advanced than these crude items, the purpose of the equipment has not change a bit. These modern home gyms can equip you with the latest in exercise equipment that will give you great results.

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The History of Home Gyms

One of the very first home gyms was manufactured by the fitness company Bowflex. Bowflex has an incredibly long history of creating state of the art, top quality home gyms. The very first home gym released by Bowflex was the Bowflex 2000X (alternative today is the PR100). The Bowflex 2000X was released in 1986 and offered athletes a more convenient exercise option. The initial release of the Bowflex 2000X completely revolutionized the fitness and exercise industry.

Bowflex offered its buyers there own personalized gym. This meant no memberships and no extra trips to gym. What made this home gym stand out from the rest was its unique design and function. Instead of using a bunch of big, bulky weights and pulleys, the Bowflex 2000X used polymer rods to create tension and offer resistance.

Total Gym offered another variations of a home gym, that focused mostly on functional exercise as opposed to bodybuilding. The first Total gym system was created in 1974 by a famous bodybuilder by the name of Tom Campanaro. The purpose of functional exercise was to mimic the motions that the body engages in on a daily basis. This would allow a person to develop a stronger core, and auxiliary muscles that are used on a daily basis.

All of these exercises perform would make use of a person’s own body weight as well as the pull of gravity. Many physical therapists and athletes took notice of the Total Gym. The Total Gym offered users a machine that was able to directly target all the muscles of the body. With the Total Gym you could work large and small muscles groups in the upper as well as lower body.

Total Gym vs Bowflex

Both Total Gym as well as Bowflex offer their users two extraordinary exercise systems, that are dynamically different. The Total Gym system is based on an the idea of functional exercise. Many of the exercises done on a Total Gym machine are movement that are performed by the body everyday. The Total Gym system offers you not only a strength training machine, but also a stretching and toning system as well. The Total Gym focuses mainly on using the weight of the user and making use of gravity to pull against the user.

The Bowflex system is focused more on bodybuilding/strength training exercises. The focus of a Bowflex machine maybe to help you lose weight or to build mass(muscle). Unlike the Total Gym, the Bowflex system does not make use of gravity or the user’s body weight.

Instead, weights are used as resistance through pulleys and handles that a person may push or pull against. The Total Gym does not offer any calisthenic training, but does allow a person to build large hard muscles. The Bowflex system also offers users treadmills for cardiovascular exercises and weight loss. The Total Gym system does not offer any treadmills or elliptical for cardio workouts.

Which System is Better?

Choosing between the Total gym and Bowflex system is very hard. Both of these huge fitness companies offer incredibly fitness home gyms that will get you in great shape. However, deciding which one is best for you depends entirely on what your fitness goals are.

If you are looking for overall performance enhancement and core strengthening with some strength training than the Total Gym is for you. The Total Gym will allow you to tone up your muscle making you stronger and more flexible. On the other hand the Bowflex system offers you both strength and mass building home gyms. These home gyms focus mainly on building the muscles and offering you tremendous strength.

Other Home Gym Systems

The Total gym and Bowflex systems are two of the oldest home gyms in the fitness community. Since their inception there have been many other companies that have created their own home gyms. These home gym companies provide you with more options for training and a wider assortment of tools to use. The Bandflex is an incredibly home gym for those looking to get into fitness. The design of this machinery is intuitive so it is incredibly easy to use even for beginners.

Compared to the cost of the Bowflex this system is very cheap and offers you a variety of exercises. Unlike the cables used in the Bowflex, the Bandflex make use of band resistances to offer you an unique exercise experience. The Weider Weight Stack is another incredible option to the Bowflex and Total Gym systems. The Weider Weight stack offers you familiar exercises like: Pull downs, Tricep press downs, bicep curls and Chest Press, all on one convenient machine. This system is perfect for beginners, intermediate and advanced trainers.

Conclusion: Home Gyms

Home Gyms offer you a lot of benefits that ordinary can not. The first is that you only have to pay for the gym one time. At a regular gym you may have to buy a membership and be hassled into buying other services and amenities. You also have the benefit of having your own personal gym. This means you can train whenever and however you want to. You will never have to wait for a bench or another machine to be open, like at a regular gym. Finally you have the option to customize your workout station the way you need it.


Home Gym Reviews

BowFlex: PR1000 Home Gym

The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is an incredible device that can help you obtain all of your fitness goals. This Home Gym comes complete with a rowing machine that is perfect for developing your back and lat muscles. What's best about the rowing machine rail will fold up as soon as you are completed with your exercise.

Along with the rowing machine you can perform over 30 different exercises that will target major muscle groups like the Pecs, Quads and Triceps. The hand grips are designed so that you can quickly and easily go from a chest press to a pull down in a matter of seconds. Along with the multi positioned hand grips there are also four inch roller cushions that make performing leg extensions and leg curls.

Both of these individual exercises will target both the quadriceps as well as the hamstrings in the leg, offering you a more powerful lower body. The PR1000 Home Gym makes use of the Bowflex power rods that add resistance and intensity to your training.

The power rods allow you to add resistance like a free weight, without the stress to your joints. There are five hooks that allow you to add 5 lbs to 210 lbs of resistances. These power rods are long lasting and incredibly durable, being able to withstand any amount of stress placed upon them.


  • Offers you up to 30 different exercises on one machine.
  • Comes with a compact rowing machine that is perfect for back movements.
  • Hand grips are designed for both pulling as well as pushing movements.
  • Four inch roller cushions make performing leg exercises incredibly easy.
  • Power rods are incredibly flexible and will not place excessive stress on your joints.
  • Go from 5 lbs to 210 lbs with the Power Rods.
  • Can be folded for easy storage in closet or storage room.
  • Warranty on all rods is 5 years
  • Workout/ Exercise guide included with home gym.


  • Warranty for frame is one year
  • Warranty for all other parts is 60 days

BowFlex PR3000: Home Gym

One of the best home gyms on the market hands down is the BowFlex PR3000. Picking up where the PR1000 left off this home gym is perfect for those looking to add muscle to the frame and get in awesome shape. The BowFlex PR300 offer its users over 50 unique exercises that can be performed.

This home gym is the complete package of both strength training and cardiovascular training. The PR3000 offers you ergonomically designed handle grips that are perfect for performing incline, decline and flat bench press. The adjustable bench allows you to target individuals parts of your chest for a complete Pectoral workouts.

The PR3000 also adjusts into a high, mid and low row machine that is perfect for back workouts. You can now perform pull downs that target specific areas in your back including your middle and lower lats. For the legs there are two stations perfectly designed to offer you a complete lower body workout.

The first station is the leg curl/ leg extension seat. This seat is designed to be incredibly comfortable for your legs and back. The four inch rollers offer you cushioning while performing leg curls or leg extensions. The second station is the leg press station. The leg press station allows you to perform leg presses or calf raises.

Similar to the PR1000, there are 5 Power rods that allow you to add more resistance to all of your workouts. These power rods will offer you all of the intensity of a free weight movement with none of the injuries associated with them. However, instead of only offer 210 lbs of weight, you can add up to 310 lbs of weight for your workouts!


  • Offers up to 50 different exercise.
  • Rowing station and leg press station included
  • Four cushion rollers for leg movements
  • Up to 310 lbs of resistances
  • Power Rod technology for explosive intensity
  • Perfect for intermediate and advanced trainers.
  • Exercise guided included with machine
  • Warranty on all five rods up to five years.


  • Not intended for beginners.
  • Expensive when compared to other home gyms

Total Gym XLS Home Gym

The Total Gym XLS Home Gym is the perfect home gym system that is also extremely convenient. The Total Gym XLS is constructed in a manner that will not take up much space in your home. This system will handle a maximum of 400 lbs.

The Total Gym XLS offers you a leg pulley attachments that allows you to exercise your calves, quads and hamstrings. For upper body exercises you can make use of the wrist straps that will allow you to work your forearms and biceps.

Other muscles can be impacted by the wrist straps, these include: Chest, back, shoulders and traps. To add intensity to your exercise you can adjust the incline of the Total Gym workout board. This can turn an regular leg exercise into an intense complete lower body workout.

Along with toning up the muscles of the body, the Total Gym XLS is perfect for conditioning and increasing your cardiovascular health. You could simply adjust the incline of the XLS and perform higher reps of the exercise to add a cardiovascular-resistance training to your routine. This means that you can burn calories all while toning up your muscles.

To help you achieve the body of your dreams Total Gym offers you instructional guides and five DVD's to instruct you on different types of workouts. These instructional guides will take you through the exercises step by step, teaching you proper form and correct execution of each exercise. There are Beginners DVD's, Advanced DVD's and even a Pilates DVD.


  •  Offers you a home gym that is a space savers
  • Perfect for engaging all the muscles of your body
  • Can help with toning muscles as well as building flexibility
  • Can help you with weight loss and cardiovascular workouts.
  • Offers 5 instructional DVD's to teach you different exercises.
  • Can handle user weight of up to 400 lbs.

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Kelly is a personal fitness trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with clients all over the world. With over 15 years in the health and fitness industry she will be sharing her knowledge with the Fitness Fixation community.