It’s important to know how long you can expect your gym equipment to last before buying. I decided to find out so you can make a good decision for your home gym.
How long does home gym equipment last?
- Treadmills last from 7 to 12 years with an average of 10 years.
- Ellipticals, exercise bikes and strength machines last up to 20 years.
- Barbells and weights last up to a lifetime.
The more complicated the equipment, the more important maintenance is for a long life.
There are a few factors that influence the lifespan of your home gym equipment. Some are obvious but some might not be. Here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of home gym equipment and how to make it last as long as possible.
Lifespan of gym equipment
As you’ve already seen above, the average lifespan of gym equipment is different. Different types of equipment have different types of expected lifespans. We can roughly divide gym equipment into three categories:
- Ellipticals, treadmills and exercise bikes
- Strength machines
- Barbells, weights and dumbbells
We’ll take a look at those categories in just a minute. First it’s important to understand that we’re talking about statistics and averages. Your specific piece of equipment might last much longer or shorter. How long your equipment lasts is part luck but it’s also influenced by how you use it and maintenance.
|Equipment||Expected Lifespan in years|
|Treadmill||7 to 12|
|Elliptical||10 to 20|
|Stationary bike||10 to 20|
|Legpress||Up to 20|
|Cable machine||Up to 20|
|Bench||Up to 20|
Lifespan of cardio equipment
This type of machines is the most complicated on this list. That means they’re also the most likely to break. They’re often the most difficult and expensive to fix, which means there a “total loss” when broken.
- Treadmill retailers give average lifespans of seven to twelve years with an average of twelve years. Dust is quoted as the most common cause of early failure.
- Ellipticals are quite simple but have a fair few moving parts. Retailers quote lifespans from 10 to 20 years.
Lifespan of strength machines
When I say strength machines, I mean things like;
- Cable machines
- Chest press machine
There are a few things that can wear out on these machines (see more about that below). Most of the things that wear out don’t really render a machine useless however. That means that they can last very long with some maintenance and replacing a few cheap parts.
After a period of about 20-25 years, there will be too many things that are broken or look bad. The paint is coming off, maybe there’s a bit of rust here and there, etc. Also don’t forget that exercise science is moving pretty quickly and at that time there might be machines that are just better. That means that it’s not necessarily a question of lifespan but obsolescence.
Lifespan of barbells, weights and dumbbells
Barbells, dumbbells and weights should be able to last you a lifetime. There aren’t many things that can go wrong with any of these. Sure, you can break anything with abuse but with normal use and minimal maintenance these things should last you very long.
Important here is to buy good quality from the start. Cheap bars and weights might bend or break with minimal use. This is very much a case of buy cheap buy twice. Just buy good ones and you can lift those weights until your hair is grey.
Fixed dumbbells last a very long time. Find good value for money fixed dumbbells here. (click)
Why do gym machines break?
Again, the different types of equipment break for different reasons. Every machine is different but we can roughly divide the pieces of equipment into the three different categories again.
Why do treadmills, ellipticals and exercise bikes break?
Modern cardio equipment has a lot of electronics in them. Electronics tend to be one of the first things to break.
Combine this with the fact that they sometimes go a long time without cleaning and the dust gets inside the moving parts. Dust increases friction and wear on all the moving parts.
Maintenance will help your equipment last longer. Learn more about how to take care of your gym equipment in this post (click).
Why do strength machines break?
Strength machines like are relatively simple things. There are just a few moving parts and other parts that wear. It’s pretty easy to fix or replace those parts to extend the lifespan of your machine. The things that often break:
- Rubber handles
- Seat/backrest covers
- Pivot points
Pivot points are usually some kind of bearing. These can wear out over time. It will take a long time for that to happen however. Some lube every now and then will massively help pivot point last longer
Cables can fray and sometimes break. This doesn’t necessarily render a machine useless. Machine cables are not too difficult to find and replace.
Seat and backrest covers often start tearing after a while. This doesn’t render the machine useless and seats like that are easily re-upholstered.
Rubber handles tend to slowly stretch and start sliding off. Some brands might offer replacements but not all of them. It’s uncomfortable and doesn’t look good but it’s possible to DIY some solution.
The frame is the only thing that could really ruin a machine. Over a long period of time the metal welds or connections might weaken and start cracking. This isn’t very common but if it’s happens, the machine is done.
Here is my favorite leg press machine for a home gym. It’ll grow your legs for many years!
Why do barbells, weights and dumbbells break?
Barbells: They can bend if you use them to lift very high weights. This isn’t a problem for the majority of people. If your bar has spinning sleeves, the bearings inside might wear out. This is easy to prevent and you can still use the bar without spinning sleeves.
Weights: The weights you put on the bar only become obsolete when they break. This usually happens from dropping the bar or plates. Some weights have rubber coatings that come off after a while. This might not look and feel the best but in the end it doesn’t mean you can’t use them anymore. The weight of the rubber is minimal.
Dumbells: There are two things that can go wrong with some dumbbells.
- The rubber coating comes off
- The weights start spinning or come loose from the handle
The rubber coating isn’t a big deal, just like with barbell weights. It doesn’t look great and you have to be a bit more careful with them. The weights coming loose can be fixed with the right tools.
How can you make your gym equipment last longer?
Take care of your things! I’m not always good at that myself but it’s the key to making things last. There are two parts to taking care of equipment.
Maintenance: If you’ve got a machine with owner’s manual, read it. I know, nobody does that but you might save some money. Especially with more complicated machines, there might be some things you have to do to keep your equipment working properly. Applying lube to the right moving parts and knowing when to replace a cheap part can extend the lifespan greatly.
Properly lubing any moving parts is essential for any machine. How long would your car run without any oil in it? Not very long at all.
Replacing a cheap part might help last a machine last much longer as well. Maybe a $5 cheap part would fix your machine while not replacing it might destroy the whole thing.
Cleaning: Cleaning your equipment regularly doesn’t only help with keeping everything fresh, hygienic and presentable. Cleaning also helps with preventing excessive wear and tear. Sweat can be amazingly efficient in degrading plastics, paint and leather seat. Even metal can rust faster if you leave sweat on it for too long. Wipe down your equipment after using.
Just use a cleaner and paper towel after you’re finished with a machine to wipe down the parts that you’ve touched and sweated on during your workout. There is a reason why you often see those things in a commercial gym! Not only does it leave the machine cleaner for the next person, it also makes them last longer.
Do more expensive machines last longer? Often, you get what you pay for. But what you pay for isn’t necessarily quality. Extra electronics, screens and options cost more but can break easily. Sometimes you pay extra for quality in a specific model. Brand will have a bigger impact on lifespan.
Which lubricant should I use for my cable machine? Dry silicone lube is the best lubricant for cable machine cables and slides. Dry lube is important since it won’t attract dust like wet lube. Dry spray does have to be applied more often so make sure to keep an eye on your cables and slide.
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