The best home workout equipment is anything that delivers serious results for the least amount of money. We've put together a list of the most essential equipment for your gym to help you avoid the gimmicks and find the best stuff.
1) Dumbbells. These offer the most value per dollar out of just about any workout equipment you could buy. The concept is simple: You put heavy things in your hands and move them. The number of ways you can move them is almost endless, which means the exercises you can perform are endless. There's a reason why these are in every commercial gym in the world, but never advertised on TV: they work, and there is no gimmick to sell.
We recommend finding the type that are simply small metal handles with screw-off ends. These type are cheap and allow you to add more weight as needed by simply buying more plates to add to them. Almost any sporting goods store will carry these. There are more 'advanced' models that can quickly and easily change weight (select-tech or similar), but they're much more expensive.
2) Barbell. Another staple in any good gym, a barbell makes our list of best home workout equipment because it allows you to build massive strength. Any conversation about lifting weights between guys goes something like this: "You lift?" "Yeah, you?" "Yeah, what do you bench?" If they're even more advanced, they might recognize the importance of the squat and deadlift, and ask your stats in those as well. These three movements are sometimes referred to as the "big three," and a staple of any serious weight lifter's workouts. A barbell allows you to move heavy weights and build maximum muscle by putting extreme strain on the muscles. At the end of the day, if you're serious about getting bigger and stronger, a barbell is required.
When you pick out a barbell, make sure to choose one that's guaranteed for life against bending or problems with the collars. If you find a barbell that's guaranteed for life, it generally means the bar is high quality steel meant to take any amount of strain. Many lower quality bars will be made of weaker steel and be unfit for Olympic lifting. You don't want to be stuck with a bent bar if you drop it on the floor with weight on the bar.
3) Bumper Plates (or metal plates). This equipment ties-in with #2, because you can't move a heavy barbell if you don't have anything heavy loaded on it. Metal plates are fine if you can't do Olympic lifts, but we recommend a nice set of bumper plates so that you can perform many of the explosive Olympic lifts. Olympic lifting builds the type of explosive strength that is crucial for athletes, and useful for everyone else. Bumper plates allow you to drop the weight from overhead on a missed lift without snapping the barbell and putting a hole in your floor. If you don't plan on doing Olympic lifting then metal plates will be fine.
4) Squat Rack. A good squat rack is a great piece of home workout equipment because it can also double as a stand for a bench press. It's useful for allowing you to do rack pulls, overhead presses, bench presses, squats, and a number of other big-time muscle-building movements.
It's easy to cheap out with this type of equipment, but don't make that mistake. Quite often the cheaper models will have horror stories of collapsing pillars or bent metal because they're not strong enough to handle a big guy lifting weight. Make sure you find one that's a heavy gauge steel, preferably 11 gauge, which will allow you to lift as much weight as you want without worry that the bar will come crashing down on your head.
5) Pull Up Bar. Arguably the ultimate back-and-biceps-building movement. You can buy a dip belt to hang weight off of yourself too if you want to increase your maximum strength. You can either pick up a door-frame one like the Iron Gym, but if you're a bigger guy or plan on adding weight using a dip belt, we recommend something sturdier. You can even find some squat racks, like the Rogue S-2 or S-3 we recommend, that have a pull up bar included with the squat rack.
With these 5 pieces of equipment, you'll have some of the best home workout equipment to get big results fast.