In this article, we promise to cut through the BS to tell you what the science and numbers say are the best exercise equipment to lose weight.
Unlike most articles out there, we’re going to recommend the least amount of equipment possible. After all, the best exercise machine to lose belly fat is your own body.
Less equipment is better for your weight loss results, wallet, and home gym design.
There’s nothing more convenient than having a home gym. And when it comes to home gyms, one thing is key: efficiency. Unless you live in a palace, I’m guessing that you have limited space and need the equipment to work, and work well.
Which equipment gives you the most bang for your buck — dollars, calories, and otherwise?
In this article, we’ll go through what the science says burns the most calories. We’ll also share what has worked for us and our clients in the past, and recommend a plan of action for each piece of home exercise equipment to get you to your goals.
the best exercise equipment to lose weight at home
While the most important thing is having a plan, there are a few standout pieces of exercise equipment that can do wonders for your weight loss.
Before we get into it, make sure that you’re also focusing on your nutrition. It’s generally easier to eliminate a donut (250 calories) than exercising on an elliptical for 30 minutes (270 calories).
Personally, we like to pair the two and find that when we exercise more, we better stick to our clean eating plan. Plus, there are immense benefits associated with exercise outside of just weight loss, from better cardiovascular health to increased bone density.
Here’s what our research and experience show as the best exercise equipment to lose weight at home.
The Best Exercise Equipment to Lose WEight
Before we dive into our recommended weight loss equipment for home (or at the gym), we must stress the importance of following a structured plan. Let me repeat that. The best exercise equipment to lose weight for beginners and athletes alike is a structured and proven fitness plan.
If you don’t, you’re planning to fail. There are tons of affordable online programs and virtual trainers out there so find one that works and follow the program.
Now, let’s dive into the types of equipment that you’ll need to execute your exercise plan and reach your weight loss goals.
1. A good scale
According to an analysis published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the top predictor of weight loss for people who lost more than 5% of their baseline weight in six months was the number of weigh-ins per week.
When we read this, we celebrated because what’s simpler than stepping on a scale three times a week?
Just note, though, that it’s easy to become obsessed with the number on the scale. Instead, consider other metrics such as body composition and muscle mass, which show a fuller picture than just your weight.
For example, you may be building muscle and therefore be heavier than your starting weight.
The good news is, for less than $25 USD, you can have these numbers and more with the scale we love and use at home. This is the best cheap piece of weight loss equipment in existence.
That scale comes along with a free app that tracks your weight over time as well as a lot of other metrics we didn’t mention yet, from BMI to visceral fat.
Our favorite thing about the app is when you click on each metric, it shares where you fall on the health scale and, at least for us, this has been a huge motivation to get better.
While this scale isn’t necessarily exercise equipment, it’s a great addition for weight loss. See below for more ways to measure for weight loss.
2. Wearable or Smartwatch
According to the same study, the second predictor for weight loss was the number of steps taken each day. While exercise is important, movement throughout the day is also critical for weight loss and general health. It denotes a healthy lifestyle and has been clinically proven to increase longevity.
Step count is something any smartwatch or pedometer can accurately track, and we highly recommend either the Apple Watch or, as a cheaper option, this MiBand.
With my Apple watch, I use this free pedometer app to add my step number to my watch face. There’s nothing quite as jarring as looking at my watch at 5 p.m. and seeing that I walked less than a mile that day. It always gets me out the door for an evening walk.
Interested in learning how much you need to walk to lose weight?
We have a whole article that goes into depth called, “Walking to Weight Loss” that helps you calculate it. As a rule of thumb, it will take 1.5 hours of walking a day to lose 1 lb. a week.
3. Your Next Workout Program
The third predictor of weight loss in the study was how many “highly active minutes” were achieved, with a minimum of 60 minutes per week for long-term weight loss.
There are numerous ways to get high-intensity workouts in, but as we said before, there’s nothing more effective than following a comprehensive workout program created by a trainer.
No more DIY’ing it with YouTube workouts or random gym equipment because you’re wasting your time in the long run. And we have the data to prove it.
Fortunately, an effective workout program is not as expensive as you might think, and far cheaper than the many worthless exercise machines out there.
A few years back we experimented to see what’s the best cardio workout between popular YouTube workouts (totaling 14 million views between the two of them), a treadmill, exercise bike, and two Shaun T workouts, Insanity MAX:30 and Transform :20 (both available with a free trial on BODi).
Spoiler: If we had done the worst workout (the exercise bike) instead of the best (BODi’s Insanity MAX:30) for a year, Ryan would have left 23 lbs. on the table.
Insanity MAX:30 requires no equipment, but the magic is that it comes with a workout calendar, video workouts to follow along from home, and an exercise tracking worksheet.
For this one, we just recommend good court shoes (we only wear these barefoot shoes) and a good gym mat.
So how many calories are we talking about here? After completing one 30-minute Insanity MAX:30 workout, including the calories burned during and immediately after the workout, Ryan burned 653 calories and Alex burned 216 calories.
That is A LOT. A good HIIT workout is definitely the best exercise to lose weight at home without equipment. One with low impact modifications is perfect for obese beginners.
Remember that how many calories you’ll burn in a workout is related to many factors, such as sex, weight, intensity level, etc. but you can use our calories burned as a guide.
4. Weight Lifting
Cardio enthusiasts love to tout the fact that a 30-minute, moderate jog may burn 250 calories, while a 30-minute weight lifting session may barely break half of that.
However, it’s not just about direct cardio burn, and from the weight loss studies we’ve found, a combination of both weight lifting and cardio seems to win out in the long run for most weight lost.
You may have heard before that ‘muscle burns fat,’ and that’s been proven.
Increasing muscle mass is imperative for weight loss, and we recommend considering workout programs like Body Beast (the program responsible for Alex’s transformation) and LIIFT4 — both available with a 2-week free trial on BODi.
Again, what’s important here is having a structured calendar and a weight-tracking worksheet. No more just wandering aimlessly around your dumbbells, trying to remember a few moves from your high school coach.
As far as the best home exercise equipment for weight lifting, we recommend these Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, a high-quality product that we’ve used for years.
You only need to get one set to cover 5-52.5 lbs. (2-24kg) since, with the twist of the dial, they’re adjustable in 2-5 lb. increments. In other words, it’s equivalent to 15 sets of old-school dumbbells.
MyFitnessPal reports that approximately 250 calories are burned in a one-hour strength training session for someone of average weight (180 lbs.)
5. Resistance Bands
If you’re interested in weightlifting on a budget, consider instead resistance bands.
Not to name-drop, but after reading Tom Brady’s book, we learned that he almost never trains with free weights.
The GOAT only uses bands because they work the body functionally better than weights and provide a broader range of motion to build strength without overloading muscles.
Interested? Intrigued? Love the idea of a fully-loaded home gym for $45?
For safety, we ONLY recommend these bands. The door attachments are sturdy and the bands have a patented inner cord to prevent them from snapping in your face.
If you go this route, here’s our free 8-Week Resistance Bands Workout Routine. For three days a week, target muscle groups from your core to your bis and record your results with a downloadable PDF tracker sheet.
According to MyFitnessPal, 60-minutes of resistance band training burns approximately 355 calories in a 180 lb. person, nearly 100 calories more than traditional weight training.
6. Yoga Mat
While you may not think that yoga equals weight loss, hatha yoga is an exception. Hatha yoga is a specific type of yoga where you hold poses for long amounts of time. It is a huge challenge.
Ryan got into hatha yoga earlier this year and declared that it was his favorite workout program of the decade, specifically a program called Man Flow Yoga (but ladies, it’s great for us as well).
Here’s a sneak peek: not only did he see mobility improvements of 70%, his strength improved 101%.
Average calorie burn for a 200 lb. person: 228 calories per hour.
7. Exercise Bike
For those with a larger budget, having an exercise bike at home would be our personal choice over other big pieces like a treadmill or a rowing machine.
An exercise bike burns equal or more calories than either, and there’s so many cool and immersive workout experiences available. In fact, the calorie burn reported by Soul Cycle is between 500-700 calories per hour.
You can get the Soul Cycle experience at home, with companies like Pelaton or BODi, which are the two most popular.
We’ve done both, and strongly recommend the BODi MYXfitness bike. The bikes are similar, but MYX has a smaller footprint vs. the Pelaton Base Bike, has more adjustability, doesn’t require bike shoes, and has a higher weight limit.
Plus, the MYXfitness Bike is several hundred dollars cheaper than the most basic Pelaton set-up. We think it’s the best exercise machine to lose weight at home by a long shot.
Finally, the biggest differentiator between the two is the BODi subscription that you need to access the classes. BODi includes the other excellent workouts mentioned about which has been critical for us in managing our weight for over ten years.
We’ve been really happy with our MYXfitness Base Bike and think you will be too. We highly recommend following Jennifer Jacob’s Job1 bike hybrid program. No regrets!
8. Additional Exercise Equipment to Lose Weight
You may have tallyed up this post’s exercise equipment, and it’s really not that much.
A yoga mat, dumbbells, resistance bands, a bike if you have $1400 lying around, and most importantly, our tried-and-true online workout program recommendations for just a few dollars a month.
There are other pieces of equipment you might want to consider as well that are excellent at burning calories, but they’re for activities you wouldn’t necessarily use for a long time.
For example, jump ropes. Some websites shout that you could burn an astounding 1,000 calories an hour jumping rope. I don’t know when the last time you jumped rope, but it is HARD.
More than a few minutes is extremely tough, but know that it’s a fun activity that has a good burn for the buck with a few spare minutes. Here is the jump rope we use at home.
These are our recommendations for the best exercise equipment to lose weight for beginners. Did we miss anything?
Closing THoughts on the Best Exercise Equipment for Weight Loss
Ready to build your home gym with the best exercise equipment for weight loss?
The weight loss depends on you and what you choose to do with your body. We recommend finding something you enjoy and therefore will look forward to doing.
If you love weight lifting, cycling, or yoga, our list of tried-and-true products above are our favorites and won’t let you down.
Of course, there are many ways to burn calories in your home gym, so by all means, have fun!
The only thing we strongly advocate for is having a plan made by a professional trainer. This plan should have a workout calendar that hits every part of the body throughout the week, videos to follow, a nutrition guide, and a resistance/rep tracker for each workout.
Without these, you’re facing an uphill battle.
Again, having a plan is by far the best exercise equipment to lose belly fat and reach your weight goals. And yes, it counts as ‘equipment’ when you put the printed calendar in a clipboard so you can mark off the days!
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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