The 2021 Men's Health Home Gym Awards

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The Editors
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Photo credit: ARTURO OLMOS
Photo credit: ARTURO OLMOS

From Men's Health

Photo credit: Arturo Olmos
Photo credit: Arturo Olmos

WHEN THE pandemic shut down gyms around the country, Jared Padalecki, 38, found himself relying solely on a home gym that needed some upgrades and improvements. And when you spent 15 years fighting demons and monsters on the CW’s Supernatural, a subpar gym won’t cut it. “You can’t pick somebody up and throw them into a table when your legs are exhausted,” he says.

Photo credit: .
Photo credit: .

So Padalecki, who's also slated to take up the mantle of Walker (as in, Texas Ranger) in the CW's upcoming reboot of the classic Chuck Norris series this month, reimagined part of a garage at his Austin home, where he lives with his wife, Genevieve, and their three children, as a kick-ass dedicated strength-training space. He pondered the gym conundrums you’ve probably noodled about, too: How much do you really want to lean into newer tech when old-school weights work just fine? (Or, vice versa, what badass tech are you missing out on by sticking with old-fashioned weights?) And in a year that saw gym-equipment manufacturers flood the market with home gear, how much of the new stuff is actually any good?

In the end, he loaded up on a mix of high-tech fitness gear and classic strength tools that fit his needs. With the help of a few tips from Padalecki, the fitness team at Men’s Health has put together their own picks for what you’ll need to build a home-gym paradise, no matter how big (or small) your space and budget.

YOUR GARAGE-GYM ESSENTIALS

Photo credit: Arturo Olmos
Photo credit: Arturo Olmos

Forget the Shake Weights. Padalecki knows gimmicky gear doesn’t work: Years ago he sprang for a cheap treadmill—and his knees, ankles, and lower back weren’t happy. “It was like running on a roller coaster,” he says. He eventually demoted it to clothing-rack status. Avoid that fate by investing in quality fitness equipment, even if you have to purchase just one piece at a time.

OUR EDITORS' PICKS

FIND THE ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLS YOU NEED

Photo credit: Arturo Olmos
Photo credit: Arturo Olmos

Every home gym starts with adjustable dumbbells. Get the right pair and you can instantly do lightweight exercises like lateral raises and heavyweight total-body crushers like farmer’s carries, a Padalecki favorite. The best part: One perfect set of adjustable bells replaces an entire rack of free weights. And there’s a pair for just about everyone.

OUR EDITORS' PICKS

STOCKPILE QUALITY GEAR YOU CAN USE ANYWHERE

Photo credit: Arturo Olmos
Photo credit: Arturo Olmos


Not every workout can happen in a badass home gym (especially if you live in a tiny city apartment). Even Padalecki sometimes needs a quick sweat without gym access. So stockpile some extra-versatile gear for those times you’re tight on time or space.

OUR EDITORS' PICKS

This story originally appears in the January/February 2021 issue of Men's Health.

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