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You have a garage. You have some space. You love to workout. You hate waking up so early to drive 20 minutes to a gym. So, you finally decide to get that home gym you’ve always wanted. The question is: what should I get for my gym?
Spoiler alert: there are no right answers here. BUT tailor your garage gym to your workout goals. Maybe you want to gain muscle so a squat rack and weights is good for you. Or maybe you want to burn fat so an exercise bike/treadmill is best. The real winner here is you, so, no sweat!
However, there are some must-haves when it comes to a garage gym. So, here are five great garage gym ideas for you to start your garage gym.
There’s SO MUCH you can do with exercise bands! Stretching, resistance train, workout support, flexibility… Having an exercise band or two at different widths has been paramount in my training.
I do a lot of leg work with bands. I do banded box step-ups with the band across my waist and anchor it to my squat rack, which provides some tough resistance training depending on the hight of the box. I’ll stretch my hamstrings, IT bands, and groins as well.
Exercise bands are great for muscle burn-outs. I’ll loop my band through a pull-up bar, stick my foot in it and do pull-ups until I can’t do them anymore. This is especially good for those who cannot do pull-ups who’d like to get better.
Hand weights are a staple in any home gym. There are several workouts you can do to increase strength, muscle endurance, or stamina all by using dumbbells.
I prefer adjustable dumbbells. They’re compact, so they don’t take up space. It’s easy to change weight. And they have a wide range of weights to use. From beginners to advanced lifters, everyone can benefit from a good set of dumbbells.
If you’re a workout-on-the-go person, having a couple of stand-alone sets may be better for you. Even an eight pound dumbbell set can make you sweat if you’re working out hard enough! Those are great for endurance training if you don’t want to take the bulky adjustable dumbbells.
I LOVE MY EXERCISE MAT! It might be wimpy to say but it saves my back and knees from constant beatings. Workouts aren’t all about weights sometimes. Body weight exercises are a must for good training, and along with that comes being one with the floor.
I use mine for tons of ab exercises. It’s a little uncomfortable doing a side plank on my garage floor… I don’t think I want my elbows to be flat. No, thank you.
Get one with good cushion in it. I know a lot of Yoga mats are thinner, but if you’re doing more body weight exercises than doing Yoga then you’ll want some padding under yourself. You can always use it for Yoga too:)
Stretching is my focus for an exercise mat. I enjoy the feeling of laying on my mat after a good workout getting a good stretch. It saves joints from the unnecessary hardness of the garage floor during a stretch. Post-workout should be the most relaxing part of the workout, so make it enjoyable with a good, cushy, enjoyable mat!
I think the plyo box is often overlooked in garage gyms because it takes up space, it’s awkward to workout with if you’re not acquainted with it, and it can be a little intimidating to do a box jump onto a wooden box 30 inches high.
It’s one of the best things you can have in a home gym. Coupled with dumbbells, exercise bands, or body weight exercises a plyo box can amp up workouts. Tired of doing normal push-ups? Do incline push-ups. Dips? No problem. Want a better leg workout? Do a box jump squat at the top, then jump down and do another squat.
Also, sometimes you just need to sit and check your phone during a workout… I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again!
Yep. That’s right. The pull-up bar. It may not seem like a necessity but anyone who knows fitness will tell you that the pull-up is one of the most difficult staple exercises to do. I’ve seen many people struggle to do one pull-up, and even more I’ve seen several people who are in good shape grunt and kick their way over the bar.
A true test of fitness, the pull-up bar isn’t just about the arms. It improves back strength and core. You can get more intensity out of your workouts by adding exercises on a horizontal bar.
Pull-up bars aren’t just for pull ups either. You can alternate your grip and pull your knees to your chest. Or you can keep that alternating grip and pull your feet over the bar. Or you can see how long you can keep your feet out in front of you. OR you can even just see how long you can just hold yourself on a bar. I’ll tell you now, I can maybe do a little over a minute. It’ll break you off faster than you think.
And the best part about a pull-up bar: they’re relatively inexpensive and pretty wide-spread if you look for one.
Working Out In Your Garage Gym
I know that beginning to workout in your garage is frustrating at first. What equipment is most important? I don’t have a budget for the big stuff! You don’t always need the big stuff to get in shape. Just getting these five things won’t break the bank AND you’re able to get a good workout in.
There is no right or wrong way to start a garage gym. I know some people who got their equipment one at a time. Or there are people like me that just got a ton of stuff all at once. All that matters is that you get a great workout when you want, how you want, and with the equipment you want.