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It’s a tough decision to make when deciding what equipment to get. Let’s be honest, this stuff gets expensive! I know when I first thought about my home gym, I didn’t really know what to get until I framed how I wanted my workouts to go. I think that the best workout equipment for the home depends on what you want to get out of your workouts.
Having said that, though, there are some standard things to get for a home gym. So, I’ll first list out what you need to get and then I’ll suggest items that could make your gym more gym-like.
Garage Gym Must-Haves
Sometimes, the least expensive things are going to give you the most bang for your buck in your workouts. So, here’s my list for you:
You can do so much with a kettle bell! Kettle bell swings, goblet squats, farmers carries, weighted lunges, chest flies…etc. The list goes on. Kettle bells are staples for garage gyms because their light-weight (well, depending on how heavy you go), easier to manage than a barbell, and your exercises can vary.
The possibilities vast. Get two of these of the same weight. Don’t get some that are too light, but just enough to where you can grow into them. Which leaves the other side: don’t get some that are too heavy either.
I talked about exercise mats in my previous post. However, I’ll reiterate here that exercise mats save your back and knees. Even though you want to get your swoll on, you can’t do that if you don’t have a good back or knees. So, invest in one of these. It’s not too much.
You can take your mat anywhere. Do you want to do Yoga in the park? What about an ab workout? Are you doing some stretching in your garage? Do yourself a favor, and get a good exercise mat.
Your workouts expand 10-fold with dumbbells. There are so many dumbbell workouts you can do it’s insane. The best part with dumbbells is that you can do both upper and lower body for your workouts.
The huge drawback though is that a huge dumbbell rack takes up A LOT of space. I wrote a review on dumbbells that I highly recommend. It might be a little more expensive, but this is a great investment to your garage gym.
In college, I had one piece of equipment: an exercise band. I used it for curls, squats, stretching, overhead presses, pull-ups, push-ups… It was the best exercise buddy I had! It seems odd that an exercise band is one of the best things to have. But it really is the case.
Your body weight and an exercise band can give you a range of intensity along with increased or decreased level of difficulty to your workouts. I use mine for pull-ups all the time, because I’m trying to get better. When I get fatigued with pull-ups, I get the exercise band to help me do a few more. For stretching, it’s one of the best methods I use for my hamstrings.
Garage Gym Can-Haves
Getting a squat rack changed everything about my workouts. Suddenly, I could do compound lifts that would help me to achieve my goals. I’ve never been able to bench above 190. But with that squat rack I put a bench under there and worked up to 190 and hit it! My next goal is 200 and I’m excited!
I have been working on my squat form too. Getting back to squats has made my workouts more weight-focused, which has helped me out in my other training.
A squat rack can come with a pull-up bar too! So, you won’t have to use that door jam one you’ve been messing with. If you want something to look at, I did a review on the squat rack I have.
Barbell with Weights
Here’s another one you can have in your garage gym! Couple this with your squat rack and you’re unstoppable. With free weights, you can do more deadlifts and move into the Olympic lifts.
If you’re looking at more serious weight lifting, then this is a must-have for you in your garage gym. Those Olympic lifts are very technical, but are possible to practice at home.
In addition, your exercise repertoire will expand exponentially. You can do landmine presses, barbell push presses, any weighted squats you want… Let’s just say it’s a game-changer if you want to invest some cash into this.
I was on the fence with this one whether it should be a must have or a can have. It’s a can-have because although you can do a lot with a medicine ball it’s something that supplements your workouts rather than is part of your core workouts.
Medicine balls can increase your intensity and do more dynamic exercises. Slams, tosses, or ab exercises with a medicine ball can enhance an easier workout with only adding this piece of equipment.
I highly recommend floor mats when you have metal barbell weights. A great alternative is to get those rubber barbell weights to mitigate damage to your floor. If you’re going to get floor mats, don’t skimp out on that important purchase. You don’t want any issues with your garage floor after workouts.
Don’t Forget About This!
If you decide to get extra equipment for your gym, then you’ll really need some place to store it. There’s nothing more annoying than to trip all over your garage gym just to get into the car. Remember, you have to tailor your storage to your garage.
There are many ways to store your equipment. I got storage shelves from my local hardware store. Those have worked out fine, except I was a cheap-skate (rookie mistake) and now the shelves are drooping in the middle. However, I would look into ways to store your weights (especially the barbell weights and bar) on the wall. That has been a lifesaver for me.
Saving space is always going to be an issue. Let’s be honest, it’s not only a cost investment to get a garage gym but it’s also a space investment. My kids’ toys are always in my garage gym, so I have to move those before working out.
So, before you get your garage gym, make sure you have the space and the storage for it as well. It’ll save you a headache later on.
Make Your Gym Your Workout Sanctuary
Now that you have your stuff, you can customize it! That’s the funnest part. One thing I didn’t know about garage gyms was that flags are a big thing, so get a flag if that’s your thing. You can have your own stereo system in there for your music too.
A TV isn’t a bad option for when you’re on a stationary bike. Get a mirror for your squat rack to watch your form if that’s more your style.
If you’re going to spend a few hours a week in your home gym, you might as well make it your own. Go and make it happen!
I know that one concern for getting a full-blown garage gym is the cost. Yes, that cost is steep if you’re getting big equipment. And it’s not something to invest in if you’re not going to work out often. But, some things aren’t too expensive and will greatly improve your workouts.
Having said that, think about how much you’re paying for your gym membership. The cheapest I heard of was my friend having a gym membership deal for $10 per month. That’s $120 per year. He only went a handful of times during that year. You could get the Must-Haves on this list for less than $120 if you look for equipment that’s within your capability. It’s not fancy, but why look fancy when you’re going to be sweating all over it anyway?
So, if you only exercise a few times per year, you haven’t invested a ton on things you won’t use. Rather, you’ll work with what you have and still get a good workout.
Let me know what you think! What are some things you think are must-haves for a garage gym? Comment below! Alright, Garage Gym Goers, I’ll see you next time!