Home Gym Buildout:

This week I’m writing about the 5 pieces of equipment I would buy to build out a home gym.

First, I recommended purchasing a strength piece of equipment (dumbbells). Then, a piece of equipment to help you with bodyweight fitness (gymnastic rings). Today, I’m recommending that your third piece of equipment be a piece of equipment to cover the “cardio” modality.

If you’re on a very tight budget, purchase a speed rope. But in my experience, you can only run and jump rope for so long before you start to totally skip out on cardio sessions.

This is why I recommend a rower as your third piece of equipment.

The Value of a Rower

I recommend the rower instead of the stationary bike because of all of the muscles involved. While rowing, you will use your hamstrings, glutes, quads, erectors, abs, lats, and biceps–truly a full-body workout. On the bike, you will use almost exclusively your quads.

Not only will you get more out of your training session with a rower, but you will also have a larger variety of exercises to choose from. You can sit down and pull just with your arms, stand at the back of the rower and do straight-arm, lat pull-downs, and then you can flip over with your hands at the end of the rower, feet up on the seat, and do reverse pike-ups.

On the bike, you only have one exercise: spinning.

What Type of Rower?

Buy the Concept 2 rower. They sell two types of models: D and E. The model D is the older version but works just like the model E. The main difference between the two is that the model E is six inches higher off the ground.

Unknown to most, Concept 2 also creates a “dynamic” rower that moves both at the seat and the feet. This is the closest simulation you will get to rowing on water. Rogue Fitness doesn’t sell it on their website but you can purchase it here. For a video of how it works, click here.

That being said, go with the traditional model D or E rower. There’s not much need for the dynamic rowing machine unless you’re training specifically for an upcoming rowing race.

Note: I specifically left out the water-based rowing machines because I haven’t had much experience with them. The few times I’ve used them, I didn’t like them. Additionally, most Collegiate and Olympic rowers prefer the Concept 2.

But What If I Really Want a Bike?

Instead of a stationary bike that uses just your quads, I would recommend purchasing an AirdyneAssault Bike or Echo Bike. I see the draw to companies like Peloton and Echelon because you can jump in live classes… but if you don’t have trouble with the consistency of your workouts, choose one of the three bikes above because they incorporate the use of your upper-body. If you want my recommendation, I would choose the Rogue Echo Bike.

The Echo Bike is quieter, smoother and more durable than the Airdyne and Assault Bike. A big pain to any piece of equipment is maintenance–you don’t want to have to fix or replace your equipment. The Airdyne and Assault Bike will require that maintenance far more often than the Echo Bike will.

That being said, I would recommend a rower over any of these bikes. As an added bonus, the storage of the rower takes up far less space than a bike.


If you’re really tight on your budget, buy a $50 speed rope. For everyone else, add the Concept 2 Rower as your third piece of equipment to the home gym. The model D will be the best option for most individuals.

But if you really want a bike, choose the Rogue Echo Bike.


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