This is our most widely utilized equipment, scaleable to your budget. All of our training programs are designed around the equipment available, known as equipment levels. This makes it easier for you to select a training program based on the equipment you have.
This list is ranked in the order we recommend you purchase them in. The criteria is based mostly on how many different exercises and skills they can be used for, in other words, the number of benefits they provide. Other criteria include space required, cost, ease of setup, and engagement (how much fun they are).
Buy nice or pay twice. Yes, you can find anything on our list cheaper, but whenever we can, we buy from companies we like doing business with and that make higher quality products. Sometimes it comes down to choosing based on looks, as long as the quality is there.
A massage tool for warmup, stretching, and recovery. Its benefits include improving range of motion, increasing circulation, reducing adhesions (stuck tissue, knots), reducing soreness, and more. For travel you’ll want a 12-18” foam roller that’s hollow or collapsable.
- See our Foam Roller Guide
Cost: Low to High (only because you’ll need a variety)
Space saving and versatile. There are certain exercises unique to kettlebells. Over time you will have an extensive collection of kettlebells of all sizes. Some kettlebell exercises are interchangeable with dumbbells, but we recommend having both. If you are on a limited budget and aren’t familiar with kettlebells, get dumbbells instead. Start with one medium weight kettlebell, then expand your collection with lighter and heavier pairs of kettlebells. If you have the budget, stock up on kettlebells.
- See our Kettlebell Buying Guide
Cost: Low to High (only because you’ll need a variety)
You’re going to want a bunch of these, but rather than getting endless pairs of dumbbells, save up for adjustable dumbbells like the PowerBlock and don’t settle for cheap knock-offs. Most dumbbell exercises are interchangeable with kettlebells. Start with a set of 5-50# pairs.
Cost: Inexpensive $10-$35 each
Great for bodyweight exercises, warmups, stretching, assisted pull-ups, travel, adding or lowering resistance on other exercises, and so much more. AKA superbands. Bands are also an affordable alternative to cable machine exercises. Advanced lifters will find them useful accessories for many barbell exercises.
Cost: Inexpensive $33-51
We don’t use these a lot, but they are great for beginner core exercises and we still put them to use with advanced lifters. A TRX can accomplish much of the same so if you’re budget-minded, just use the TRX and put your money towards other equipment.
- Recommended: Thera Band Stability Ball
Cost: Inexpensive $27
Warmup and agility. We like these for getting people to be a little more nimble on their feet, warming up for sprinting or running, and to prepare the lower limbs for multidirectional movement (both intentional and unexpected). It does offer some degree of cardio once you get the patterns down.
- Recommended: SKLZ Agility Ladder
Cost: Inexpensive to Low $30-125
For power and core. 10# is a good starting point because you want to be able to throw or slam it at a high velocity.
Jam Ball - for slamming…if you don’t have neighbors below you.
Soft Toss - for throwing against walls…if you have a solid wall to throw against, as in concrete.
Cost: Low $200
The best suspension trainer out there. The TRX gives you a wide range of beginner to advanced exercises that can only be done with a TRX. It has endless uses for developing strength and mobility. If you have limited strength or a lower-body injury, the TRX is excellent because it can lower the resistance on your body. You could use rings, but the ability to put your feet into the TRX comfortably makes it the better choice. Travel-friendly.
Pull Up Bar
Cost: Low $145
A very important purchase as this will be an essential in building strength and muscle. Can also be used for mounting TRX, rings, and bands. If you’re planning on getting a rack, those will have a pull-up bar on it. It is not recommend you go cheap on a pull-up bar. It has to support your weight. Doorway bars are better than nothing, but only get one if you can’t mount a pull-up bar.
- Recommended: Rogue P-4 Pull-Up System
Cost: Moderate to High $595
Mainly for bench and seated exercises, but can also be used for rear-foot-elevated splits squats, elevated push-ups, step-ups, and more. By having an adjustable bench, you can do incline presses and rows. If you have the space and budget, we like having a non-adjustable flat bench too that feels sturdy.
Cost: Low $180
A key tool for building absolute strength, especially in the lower body. Great for all levels from beginner to advanced and takes the stress off the back for lifters with limited mobility who aren’t suited for barbell exercises. We introduce the trap bar to our lifters almost on day one. AKA Hex Bar.
- Recommended: Perform Better Hex Bar
Cost: Low to High $335+ (depending on how much you can lift)
Bumper plates are for use with barbells (including the trap bar) and allow you to lift maximal weight. Bumper plates keep the bar at an appropriate height off the ground and can absorb the impact of being dropped and without making too much noise. Get a pair of 10’s, 25’s, 45’s and some fractional plates.
Cost: Low to Moderate $190+
Not saying it’s required, but the barbell is our favorite tool for the same reasons as the trap bar. It’s more versatile than the trap bar, expanding your lifts into more advanced exercises and giving you the ability to lift heavier in other exercises when you’ve reached the limits of dumbbells or kettlebells.
Cost: High to Very High $445+
The centerpiece of your gym. For supporting barbell exercises, pull-ups, for mounting a TRX, resistance bands, and a variety of accessories like dip bars. Get a Half Rack or Power Rack. If space is tight, they make foldable racks that fold against the wall. Your choice of rack will depend mostly on how much space you have and how high your ceiling is. You can't go wrong with any rack from Rogue.
Cost: Inexpensive $10-20 each
We’re talking about the small ones, not the track and field ones. AKA banana steps, agility hurdles, speed hurdles, plyometric hurdles. Great for warmups, agility, plyometrics, conditioning, drills, and good times.
- Recommended: First Place Banana Steps
Cost: Moderate to Very High $145-$475 each
Box jumps, step-ups, to name a few big exercises that make these worth it. Get the soft boxes, not the wood or metal ones. You can always jump onto your bench too, but that limits you to one height and a small landing surface.
Cost: Low $65-165
Conditioning, cardio, and core. AKA Training Rope. Get a 1.5” rope. A mount is nice, but you can use a bench, squat rack, or kettlebell too.
- Recommended: First Place 1.5" Training Rope
Cost: Moderate $300-550
Conditioning, cardio, agility, and lateral movements that are often ignored or neglected. The slideboard can also be used with traditional exercises like lunges to allow a smooth gliding surface.
- Recommended: UltraSlide Slideboard
Cost: Low to Moderate $70-175
Arguable one of the most innovative fitness tools, sandbags add a variability to traditional exercises that take them beyond the available benefits offered with traditional equipment. Sandbags also introduce some exercises unique to the sandbag which gives you a fresh approach to your training as well as the benefits of training variables. We find them especially useful in corrective exercises, introducing advanced techniques to beginners, and when working with injured populations. Travel friendly if you get the water fillers.
- Recommended: Ultimate Sandbag (we use Power (most), Core, Strength)
Cost: Very High $2095 (Home Model)
Conditioning, Cardio. Ya, we love versa climbers for conditioning, but this is another one of those items to get if you have an unlimited budget or plan to get a lot of use out of it. We like this too because it is a more full body movement utilizing greater range of motion in the joints when compared to other forms of cardio.
- Recommended: Versa Climber H
Cost: Very High $2495+
We like cables for core and isolation exercises (the kind commonly done by bodybuilders). Although there are a lot of exercises you can do with cable machines, to be cost-effective and space-efficient, we recommend substituting a cable machine with resistance bands. There are other alternatives, but bands are easiest. However, if you have an unlimited budget (i.e. an extra $3000) and you’ve purchased everything else on this list, go for it.
Cost: Moderate $195+ (plus the cost of plates, which you should already have)
Lots of fun if you have the space. You can push and pull this thing across the ground fast or load it up with maximum weight. It has tremendous use in conditioning and recovery. Turf is the preferred platform for use, but there are options for using it on pavement…if your neighbors or landlord are ok with that. Because of the space required, consider yourself lucky if you can add this to your gym.
*Note: Cardio Equipment
The cardio machines we’ve highlighted makeup a very small part of our training, but are the most expensive pieces of equipment. However, it’s important in your training to balance out the use of different energy systems of the body. Because machines are expensive and take up precious space, any form of cardio you choose can be substituted. Pick something that appeals to you or aligns best with your goals. We’d prefer you go for a swim or a bike ride for real, but machines do offer convenience. If you play a sport, that’s your cardio. We love the slideboard because it works lateral movements, is challenging and fun, is affordable, and can be stored when not in use. Jumping rope is also highly recommended.