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The 15 Garage Gym Essentials You Need Right Now

Setting up a garage gym can be one of the best things you can do for your health. Having the freedom to exercise 24/7 anytime you have a few spare minutes is great. You can spend your entire hour working out instead of spending 30 minutes driving to and from the gym. No more dealing with people in the gym. We all know what kind of creepy weirdness can happen at the best of gyms. Where do you start with a home gym? We are here to help with the garage gym essentials you need to get the most from home gym workout.

15 Garage Gym Essentials

Below is a set of equipment that will give you the foundation for most exercises. As you get more advanced with your training routine you will likely find more things you want and need. As a beginner it will give you a good start. Everyone has different goals for their exercise. Exercise isn’t a one size fits all activity. Are you more into powerlifting or is the crossfit gym more what you had in your garage gym idea.

1 – Dumbbells

Dumbbells are an extremely versatile piece of exercise equipment. You can do a ton of different lifts with them. If you are new to weight lifting you will need to use dumbbells or kettle bells to work your way up to any kind of barbell lift. An adjustable dumbbell set such as Powerblock or Bowflex Selecttech is a great way to go to save on space and cost. If you have a giant garage with lots of storage go for fixed dumbbells.

Another option is plate loaded dumbbells. I recommend going with Olympic sized if you go down this route so the weight plates will be compatible with your barbell that you will eventually get.

PowerBlock Personal Trainer Set, 5 to 50 Pounds per Dumbbell

PowerBlock Personal Trainer Set, 5 to 50 Pounds per Dumbbell

  • Adjusts from 5 to 50 pounds. 2.5-pound weight increments for maximum versatility
  • More compact and balanced than traditional dumbbells. Padded handle for wrist protection
  • Easy to adjust – Selector pin design lets you quickly change weight increment

2 – Kettlebells

Kettlebells are another really versatile piece of equipment. A kettlebell set can be used for various deadlift and swinging exercises. They come in both fixed weight versions and adjustable versions that help you save space and money.

3 – Pull up bar

Pull ups are a great strength building exercise. A pull up bar takes up very little space on the wall. If you get a power rack or squat rack later on it may have a pull up bar built into it. Your pull up bar can also be used with a set of suspension straps such as TRX straps to enable more exercises.

4 – Cardio Equipment

After you take care of the basic strength training items it’s time to consider cardio and endurance traininig. A basic jump rope is a quick and easy way to get your cardio in. Exercise bike, rowing machine, elipticals and treadmills are all good cardio exercises. It’s important to find a cardio exercise you enjoy or at least tolerate. I personally prefer elipticals and would rather use anything other than a treadmill. I like to mountain bike so another option is using a trainer stand with my bike.

5 – Olymic Barbell

If your goal is strength training than you need an Olympic bar. It is the cornerstone of many great strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses and more. Don’t skimp on this item or you’ll be buying another one after you start using it. Get a 45 lb bar with 150ksi strength steel shaft.

Synergee Regional Olympic 20kg Men’s and 15kg Women’s Hard Chrome & Black Phosphate Barbell

Synergee Regional Olympic 20kg Men’s Hard Chrome Barbell. Rated 1500lbs for Weightlifting, Powerlifting and Crossfit.

  • IMPRESSIVE DESIGN – This bar made from high-grade steel, giving it a tensile strength rating of 190 000 psi and 1500 lb capacity
  • EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE – The 1.2 mm diamond knurl provides the perfect amount of grip. 5 needle bearings per sleeve (10 total) provides great whip for weightlifting, yet enough stiffness for squats, deadlifts, and presses.
  • VERSATILE – These bars are best-sellers because they are affordable, functional, and perfect for athletes from every fitness domain.

6 – Weight plates

Your barbell isn’t going to do any good without weight plates. Bumper plates with a rubber or urethane coating won’t do as much damage to your flooring and won’t be as load if you drop them. Get Olympic sized plates to go with your barbell.

7 – Power rack or squat rack

A power rack will be the biggest and potentially most expensive item you buy for your home gym. A power rack will make squat exercises safer especially if you are doing them alone without a spotter. You shouldn’t skimp on this item. Stability and durability are important in preventing injuries. Almost any power rack has a pull up bar built in so it can also be used for pull ups and suspension strap exercises. If you are really short on budget go for a squat stand instead. Keep your personal safety in mind when doing exercises where a spotter is needed.

Titan Fitness T-3 4,400 LB Capacity Tall Power Rack

Titan Fitness T-3 4,400 LB Capacity Tall Power Rack 36" Depth with Safety Bars and J Hooks Strength Training Equipment

  • IMPROVE YOUR FORM: If you’re not lifting weights right, you might strain or injure a muscle, putting you out of the game for months. This rack has spotter bars designed to catch the barbell, helping you stay safe.
  • STURDY STEEL CONSTRUCTION: This power rack is made from heavy-duty, high-quality steel. It has a rackable capacity of 1100 lbs. and a total rack capacity of 4400 lbs.
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Setting up this power rack is super simple. It comes with weight holder attachments and J-hooks to help ease installation.

8 – Weight bench

A weight bench will let you do presses and a variety of dumbbell lifts. A flat bench will be more stable and be able to hold more weight. An adjustable bench will give you more versatility and allow you to do incline lifts in addition to a bench press. That is a tradeoff you will need to decide between. Make sure any bench you get can fit inside your power rack or squat rack.

Vanswe Adjustable Weight Bench 800 lbs

Adjustable Weight Bench 800 lbs Flat/Incline/Decline Utility Workout Bench Sit Up for Full Body Workout

  • 800 LBS WEIGHT CAPACITY This workout bench designed a unique structure with 2.75″×2″ heavy-duty powder coated steel which ensures a long term sturdiness and stability.
  • FULLY ADJUSTABLE This adjustable weight bench designed with 7 BACK POSITIONS (85°, 60°, 50°, 40°, 20°, 0°, -20°) and 3 SEAT POSITIONS (0°, 10°, 20°), easily for doing incline, decline, flat full-body workouts

9 – Foam Roller

A foam roller is very inexpensive and no garage or home gym should be without it. You can use a foam roller for stretching, working out knots, warming up muscles. They are also great for core strengthening and ab exercises. Everyone should incorporate a foam roller into their workout routine.

10 – Suspension straps (TRX)

Suspension exercises let you strengthen your core and balance by inducing instability. A set of TRX bands or gymnastic rings are cheap and take up almost no storage space. Use them with your pull up bar or power rack. You can do variations of almost any resistance training exercise using your body weight and straps.

TRX All In One Home Gym Bundle

TRX All In One Home Gym Bundle: Includes All-In-One Suspension Trainer, Indoor & Outdoor Anchors, TRX XMount Wall Anchor, 4 Exercise Bands & Shaker Bottle​

  • Workouts that are worth it – Achieve the results you have always wanted with the All In One Bundle. Set your TRX up in less than 60 seconds, progress at your own pace, and exceed every goal!
  • One bundle, everything you need – The all-in-one bundle includes all the gear you need for full body workouts anywhere you want, anytime you want!
  • Get results you can see – TRX will allow you to achieve the results you want. Build Muscle, Burn Fat, Strengthen Core, Increase Cardio Endurance & Improve Flexibility and transform the way you look, feel & think!

11 – Stability Ball

A stability ball is another cheap piece of exercise equipment that can be used for a ton of different exercises. You can use it for stretching and balance exercises. You can lay down on the floor and prop yourself on it for a variety of bodyweight lifts. You can do press lifts while sitting or laying on it to help strengthen your core.

12 – Resistance band

Resistance bands can add an extra kick to many other exercises. Use them for warming up. Use them to add an extra challenge to squats or lifts. You can use them with your pullup bar for assistance and a variety of different exercises. They are a cheap item that doesn’t take up much space and has a ton of uses.

13 – Flooring

You don’t want to exercise directly on your concrete garage floor. The hard floor will add more stress to your joints. You run the risk of cracking the concrete if you drop weights on it. Lay down a rubber flooring where you plan on exercising. One of the best and cheapest options for this is to use rubber horse stall mats which are available from Tractor Supply Co. They are 4′ by 6′ and 3/4inch thick. They will hold up to a horse for years so that should tell you how long they will last as gym flooring. Click here to shop for them.

This is by far the most economical and long lasting flooring you can use for your garage gym floor. It can still be a good idea to have an exercise mat or yoga mat around when you want to do yoga or floor exercises. For some other ideas on setting up a garage gym see our article on garage gym tips and our articles on heating a garage and cooling a garage.

14 – Music

You need a bluetooth speaker or stereo for playing your favorite music while your working out. Almost no one likes to workout in silence. Cardio is much easier to do when you have some distraction to help you pass the time. While you are at it a TV that can display Youtube is a good idea when you want an online Yoga or other fitness class.

15 – Leaf blower

If you still use your garage for storing you car and other normal garage things such as tool storage, get a leaf blower. Leafs and other yard and street debris will blow into your garage when the door is open. You’ll bring some in with your lawnmower and other yard tools. Use a leaf blower to blow your gym equipment off to keep it clean. You don’t want to use your exercise equipment with a lot of leaf and bug crap all over it.

Other home gym considerations

Before you dive into shopping for home gym essentials you should have a sit down with yourself and be honest about why you are making a home gym. Think about what your goals are and what you want to get out of exercising. Do you have any doctor recommended specialized workouts you need to do for rehabilition? What is your knowledge of personal training? Do you know enough about you and your body to make good buying decisions or would some time with a gym membership and personal trainer be time and money well spent.

The below video gives a good beginners weight training routine to get you started.

I’m personally more interested in creating a crossfit home gym with my garage gym equipment. You are creating your garage gym because you want a better experience than you got from a commercial gym so make it what you want. You can buy any kind of miscellaneous gym equipment you like such as a medicine ball or ab rollers.

What are your exercise goals?

Before you dive into shopping for gym equipment you should have a sit down with yourself and be honest about why you are making a home gym. Think about what your goals are and what you want to get out of exercising.

Do you want to focus on strength training or power lifting? Are you more focused on training for an activitity or crossfit workout in which case a crossfit garage gym may be more for you. This will help you figure out what equipment you need in your home gym. A power lifter will want a power rack and bench. Someone training for other outdoor sports may want a more balanced approach more focused on core strength.

Safety

Injuries suck. If you are new to weight training and working out in general, hire a personal trainer to teach you how to do lifting exercises properly. It is very easy to injure yourself through improper technique. You need to push yourself to make gains. Pay attention to your body and listen to it when it’s telling you, you are overdoing it.

Some equipment is inherently safer than others. A power rack is safet than a regular squat rack since it is boxed in with more ability to spot you. If you are working out alone in your garage it pays to invest in equipment like a power rack. If you are working out with your spouse or partner or some friends that can spot you, you may not need to worry about this.

Space

How much space can you devote to your garage gym? If you need to use your garage for parking your car, you may not have as much space. A power rack will take up a lot of space. A pull up bar mounted on the wall takes up much less space. A 10 foot by 10 foot space can accommodate and power rack, bench and cardio machine. You can use wall space with racks and hangers to store everything else.

Budget

Buying all of the gym essentials mentioned above will cost a few thousand dollars if they are all new. There are some items you shouldn’t skump on such as a olympic barbell and power rack. Other things can be more budget minded such as your weight plates. There are a ton of people who thought a garage or home gym was a great idea and bought one as part of their new years resolution. They used it for 1-2 months and forgot about it. What this means for you is that there is a lot of used home gym equipment out there for sale.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am a homeowner and love having get togethers and finding the best things to make spending time at home easier and more fun. We spend a lot of time at home so why shouldn’t we have a great time there?  I decided to start Great Home Gear as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things home living with everyone.

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