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Building a Garage Gym

  • A quality gym at home is amazing… and possible. Thanks to some innovative companies and some stiff competition in the fitness industry, outfitting a genuine gym at home is more affordable than ever. Matter of fact, for not a lot more money than you would spend on junk equipment at a chain sporting goods store, you can get your hands on commercial-grade equipment that will probably outlive us all.
  • Where to start? Let me give a few suggestions based on my own personal experience with my garage gym along with some good information I’ve picked up on the web.
  • Of course the best equipment to start with will vary from person to person slightly, but I think that there are some essential pieces to consider right out of the gate.
  • 45 lb. Olympic Barbell.
    • Olympic Plates: Bumper-plates are great, but typically more expensive than standard steel plates. It also depends on what your lifting goals are. Buy as a set to save some money. You’ll want at least one pair of each 45 lb, 25 lb, 10 lb and 5 lbs. You may also consider 2½ lb plates.
    • Power Rack (Squat Rack): This will set you back a little. It will likely be your biggest expense in creating a gym. A rack allows you to safely lift without a spotter. Squats, bench press, clean, shoulder press… you name it, you can do it in a power rack. It should also have a pull up bar. Be sure and compare the ceiling height with the rack height. Especially important for older homes with 8′ ceilings.
    • Weight Bench: This is something you’ll probably want early on as well. Just a flat weight bench for starters. You can spend a little more and get an adjustable bench. I have an entire post comparing weight benches here.
    • Dumbbells: Do what I do, buy dumbbells as you need them. Spreads out the spending a little bit.
  • Jump rope: Jumping rope is just amazing. I’ve bought and then turned around and sold a couple pieces of cardio equipment in the last couple years. Can’t beat a $5 jump rope for true cardio. However, if you’re really big into using commercial gym type cardio equipment, like the Life Fitness or Precor bikes, ellipticals and treadmills, it is worth mentioning that these companies have alternative models of their commercial stuff for a bit less money… but they are still way more reliable and sturdy machines than the box sporting good store stuff.
  • So if you have a barbell, some plates and dumbbells, and get a power rack and bench, I’d think you’d be in a great position to get some awesome workout sessions started. Here are some things I think you’ll eventually want to pick up. I have added a lot of this to my original set up as well.
    • Medicine Balls of varying weights
    • Kettlebells of varying weights
    • Some form of plate and dumbbell storage.
    • Dip Station: Rogue racks have an add-on station called the Matador. Very solid.
    • Plyo box(es) (also can be used for dips).
    • Resistance bands: Many racks have band pegs for these.
    • Adjustable bench if you only purchased a flat bench initially.
    • Large mirror (if you’re into that).
    • Punching bag
    • Fan! It gets hot everywhere at some point. Get a good fan. Spend $75 on a high speed metal fan. They’re loud, but they work.
    • Flooring: Dense, rubber flooring is great for your joints and your equipment.
    • Programmable wall clock.
  • Dry Erase board. I personally track all my workouts in a book, but having a dry erase is nice for tracking records and other random notes, reminders, perhaps even motivational affirmations or whatever =)