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There is a ton of awesome garage gym equipment out there that can make your home gym space incredible to work out in.
So today, we’re going to go over my top garage gym essentials so you can decide on what the most important pieces of exercise equipment are for your own setup.
Let’s get started!
Table Of Contents
- 1 Garage Gym Essentials
- 2 Power Rack
- 3 Barbells (Olympic, Trap, and Safety Squat)
- 4 Weight Plates
- 5 Adjustable Weight Bench
- 6 Adjustable Dumbbell Handles
- 7 Future Upgrades
- 8 Exercise Bike
- 9 What Else Should I Add To My Home Gym?
- 10 Is It Healthy To Work Out In A Garage?
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions
- 12 Conclusion
Garage Gym Essentials
The main pieces of garage gym equipment you want to invest in first are:
- Power Rack w/ Pull Up Bar
- Barbells: (Olympic, Trap, Safety Squat)
- Olympic Weight Plates
- Adjustable Bench
- Adjustable Dumbbells
The other pieces of equipment you can add to your own garage gym when your budget and space allow are:
- Leg Extension/Leg Curl Machine
- Functional Trainer/Pulley System
- Garage Gym Flooring
- Resistance Bands
- Exercise Bike
Everything on this list is garage gym equipment I’ve used myself. I wouldn’t recommend any of it if I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary.
The Squat Rack, this one piece of garage gym equipment, gives you the ability to do all the best exercises.
If you don’t have a squat rack, you can’t Squat or Bench. They also give you the ability to do an overhead press without needing to clean it from the ground.
Squat racks are the main piece of gym equipment you need in your own garage gym.
So make sure when buying one not to skimp on it, this needs to be reliable; one with a built-in pull up bar and dip attachments would be preferable.
The best pull up bar I recommend is a multi-grip option that allows for a bunch of pull up variations.
Plus it will allow you to do so in the same footprint without investing in a separate bar that requires you to mount it.
This is definitely a great idea that I recommend if you want a solid piece of equipment to do pull ups on.
As for the rack, I recommend the Rep Fitness PR-4000 Power Rack as you can upgrade it over time.
If you’re interested in my other recommendations, check out my best power rack guide here.
Plus, it has a built-in pull up bar that has a couple of different configurations.
You can get a standard straight pull up bar, a multi-grip pull up bar (which is what I recommend), or a globe grip pull up bar if you want to push your grip strength even harder.
The other important thing to check for is what gauge steel it is.
A bad squat rack is going to be only made out of 14-Gauge Steel.
You don’t want to be buying anything weaker than 12-Gauge Steel.
Buy nice, don’t buy twice.
If there’s anything you can’t skimp on when it comes to equipment, it should be your power rack.
Out of all the essentials you might need for your own garage gym if you want the best home gym possible, this is it.
If you’re not sure if you’ll need to go all on a Power Rack, check out my guide here. I laid out all the important factors on why purchasing a solid Power Rack is so important.
Barbells (Olympic, Trap, and Safety Squat)
A power rack is only useful if you have an Olympic barbell to use with it.
The best barbells I think you should be getting are – a standard Olympic barbell, a trap/hex bar, and a safety squat bar.
Here are the three that I have used in my own garage gym and have had no issues with whatsoever.
Rogue Ohio Bar
Made in the USA, The Ohio Bar is a top-of-the-line, multipurpose barbell. It's constructed of the highest quality materials with a 200,000 PSI shaft and chrome sleeves for a consistent spin. The Ohio Bar has a firm, non-abrasive grip and is perfect for both Powerlifting and Olympic lifts. With its unique balance of whip and rigidity, this bar is ideal for any serious lifter.
I’ve been using the Rogue Ohio Bar for over 4 years now, and it has handled up to 500 lbs multiple times with no sign of bending, wear, or tear.
The knurling isn’t incredibly sharp, which is a great thing when breaking in a new Olympic barbell.
Even after all this time, the knurling is solid, and the grip is second to none.
Plus, the Rogue Ohio Bar has 190,000 tensile strength which gives it a high loading capacity as well.
You really can’t go wrong with any of Rogues Bars, so definitely check them out here.
The quality and aesthetic (they all look damn cool) of these barbells put them in a league of their own!
Once again, no matter what your weight training goal is, a strong and durable Olympic barbell is the most important piece of equipment after a power rack in our garage gym essentials.
If you’re curious about how much a typical barbell weighs, check out my guide here on the most common bars.
Rep Fitness Open Trap Bar
The Rep Open Trap Bar is the best deadlift hex bar on the market if value and versatility are important to you. Not only does it have multiple handle options that are fully stainless steel, but it also has a built-in jack that keeps the bar balanced while performing trap bar deadlifts. The deadlift jack is also super handy for loading/unloading plates. You can also use Reps open hex bar just like a cambered squat or bench press bar, making it by far one of the best value trap bars by far!
The REP hex bar is a versatile and essential piece of equipment for any garage gym.
Its unique design places the weight directly in line with your center of gravity, unlike traditional barbells, which can make deadlifting less technique-intensive.
This design also allows for a wider range of movements, such as squats, lunges, and presses, making the bar a multi-purpose tool for your workouts.
One of the standout features is the integrated deadlift jack, which makes loading and unloading the bar a breeze.
The plastic liners on the feet protect your floors, while the jack also acts as a counterweight to keep the bar balanced.
The bar’s frame is comfortable to use as a cambered bar for both pressing and squatting, with a 6″ section of medium-light knurling to provide added grip when squatting.
It is also customizable, with removable and quickly interchangeable fully knurled stainless-steel handles.
You can choose the handles that will give you the best width inside the bar for your specific needs, whether that be narrow, standard, wide, or rotating handles.
This allows for a variety of lifting angles and added versatility in your strength training.
Additionally, the bar’s textured matte black powder coat provides an added level of grip, and the hard chrome plating on the sleeves stands up against sliding plates on and off.
Overall, the REP hex bar is an excellent investment for your own garage gym, providing variety and versatility to your strength training routine.
Titan Safety Squat Bar – V2
The Titan Safety Squat Bar – V2 is perfect for beginners! With its extra-thick shoulder pad, you can perform squats with ease and without worrying about injury. The shoulder pad also reduces pressure on your knees, making it a great choice for those just starting out. Additionally, the bar has a 1500 lb. weight capacity and comes with chrome sleeves and shaft coatings to help prevent rust.
The Titan Fitness Safety Squat Bar is a specialty barbell designed with a built-in padded harness that helps reduce strain on your shoulders, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and enthusiasts.
Traditional barbell squats can be painful and uncomfortable, especially as you progress to more intense weightlifting.
The padded harness on this safety squat bar helps distribute the weight more evenly across your shoulders and reduces the risk of wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck injuries.
This bar features extra-thick shoulder and arm pads that are designed to stay in place and prevent sliding while you’re squatting.
They also come in one piece, which ensures that they won’t shift during your lift, providing added safety and stability. The safety squat bar is versatile and can be used for traditional squats, front squats, lunges, rehab, and physical therapy.
The Titan Fitness SSB has a 5-inch drop that lowers the weight plates for a more stable center of gravity and better balance. Additionally, the bar features 6-inch-long hand grips that provide extra control when needed.
You can’t do much better than this bar at this price point.
Without Olympic weight plates to load your Olympic barbell and other pieces of equipment up with, you aren’t going to be getting much stronger; that’s for sure.
I recommend at least 300 lbs for your own garage gym to get started with; as you get stronger, you can buy more plates.
Make sure they’re the correct size for your Olympic barbell; otherwise, they won’t fit.
You want Olympic weight plates and barbells, not standard.
If you’re having trouble hunting down weight plates, check out my guide on the Best Ways To Buy Weight Plates.
The Strength Co. Olympic Iron Plates are some of the most well-designed plates on the market today. They have a deep lip on the edge for easy handling, and they're only between 0.3"-2.25" wide, while the inner diameter is 1.99". This makes them some of the thinnest and tightest plates on the market. Plus, the e-coating protects the paint from wear and tear, ensuring that your plates look good for years to come.
Strength Co. plates are American-made plates that are designed to be functional, accurate, and easy to handle.
The plates are cast of gray iron, using innovative technology that ensures a combination of toughness, precision, and reliability from casting all the way to finish.
The 45s and 25s are designed to be thin and have a deep lip for ease of handling, and the inner diameter of all the plates was designed to have a snug fit on the bar. Made of American iron, these plates are built to last a lifetime.
Following casting, the plates are machined along the outer and inner diameters to ensure a smooth finish and accurate size and weight specification.
Every single plate goes through the same machining process from 45s to 2.5s, ensuring accuracy to within 2% of design weight.
The inner diameter of all the plates is 1.99 inches, ensuring a precise fit on your Olympic barbell, and preventing wobbling and movement once on the bar.
The plates are electro-coated, adding durability and protection underneath the e-coat surface.
E-coating is a process that attaches paint to the surface of the iron using electricity, and is popular in the automotive and agriculture world for its durability, resistance to chipping, and uniform coating.
The finish prevents corrosion, ensuring that the plates remain in good condition for a long time.
Rogue's Echo Bumper Plates are made to the IWF standard diameter of 450mm and are within 1% of their target weight. The plates feature quality virgin rubber and stainless steel inserts, which give them a dead bounce and durability that is unmatched in the market. You can purchase full sets or individual pairs of Echo Bumper Plates from 10lb to 55lb weights.
Rogue Echo Bumpers are an affordable option for those looking for high-quality bumpers.
They come in a color-coded version, which makes them easy to identify and organize, especially in busy gym environments where multiple athletes are sharing pieces of equipment.
The plates have a 450mm diameter, which meets the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) standard, and the weight of each plate is accurate to within 1% of the claimed weight.
Made from quality virgin rubber and equipped with stainless steel inserts, they
This means you can trust that you are lifting the weight you intended to lift.
This makes them perfect for high-intensity training sessions, where you want to focus on the movement rather than the noise of the weights hitting the floor.
The Echo Bumpers are also available in various weight increments, from 10 LB to 55LB, and you can order them in full sets or as individual pairs to suit your needs.
While they are imported from China, Rogue’s quality control ensures that they meet the company’s high standards.
Adjustable Weight Bench
Upgrade your home gym with the AB-3000 2.0 FID Adjustable Weight Bench - the ultimate value for lifters seeking a sturdy, versatile bench. With leg rollers, adjustable pin, and a wide range of back and seat pad angles, this bench offers comfort and support for all exercises. Featuring upgraded CleanGrip pads, noise dampening, and rubber-covered bases for improved stability and grip, the AB-3000 2.0 is built to last. Available in multiple colors and with a 1,000lb weight capacity, this bench is a must-have for any serious lifter.
Having an adjustable incline bench to do Bench Press, Incline Presses, and Seated Military Presses expands the type of strength training you can do in your own garage gym.
For adjustable weight benches, I recommend investing in one that can hold at least 1000 lbs.
It’s not just holding the weight of your pressing movements but also your body weight which you need to factor in as well.
Plus, stability with a lot of lower quality weight benches is something you need to keep in mind for your garage gym as well.
A lot of them you screw in, and after it’s tightened down, you can wiggle back and forth, which is bad news when you’re trying to bench press a couple of hundred lbs over your face!
Do those two things and you should feel safe and stable in your own garage gym at all times.
Don’t skimp on your bench or any other piece of exercise equipment that needs a high loading capacity because if you do, your life could potentially be on the line.
Overall though, an adjustable bench offers far more variety than a basic flat bench and isn’t that much more expensive.
Adjustable Dumbbell Handles
If you have a gym membership to your local gym, you can only find dumbbells up to 100 lbs on average.
This is definitely plenty for most people.
When you have a garage gym, buying a full set of dumbbells isn’t really practical for most.
Think about it. Most dumbbells and weights, in general, are priced at 1 dollar a pound. This means 50 lb fixed dumbbells are around 50 dollars, and a set is 100 dollars.
Plus, the price of shipping for each and every dumbbell!
Let’s do the math for a complete set of dumbbells from 10 to 100 lbs on average.
- 10 lbs $20
- 15 lbs $30
- 20 lbs $40
- 25 lbs $50
- 30 lbs $60
- I’m gonna stop right there…
Basically, for a complete set of dumbbells from 10-100 lbs, you’re looking at over $2,000 if you don’t get any bulk discounts.
That is an insane amount of money to be spending on your own garage gym for just fixed dumbbells.
You can get a bunch of other exercise equipment for your garage gym instead.
A great power rack, a nice Olympic barbell, and over $400 worth of plates for your garage gym instead of that amount!
Not worth it in my eyes whatsoever.
So what do we do?
Buy adjustable Dumbbell Handles, of course!
If you want a budget pair, you can go with Titans’ loadable dumbbell handles.
The Titan Loadable 20-in Dumbbell Handles are designed with 6.5" loadable sleeves, inspired by Olympic barbells, which allows for custom weight adjustments. This makes them a space-efficient alternative to storing traditional dumbbells, as they can be used with Olympic-sized weight plates. The handles feature a medium diamond knurl texture for a secure grip with every lift and bronze bushings inside the sleeves for an extremely smooth and quiet spin. The design is balanced and long-lasting, ensuring that these handles will withstand heavy use over time.
At least that way you know for certain the quality matches the price for your equipment.
If you want a different option that’s a little more expensive but comes with all of the weights, I would definitely recommend Power Blocks.
They’re a quick system similar to BowFlex but they’re much higher quality I’ve found.
Your final option is Ironmasters which look very similar to regular dumbbells, and they’re definitely worth the price if you want to go that route.
The Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbell System is the latest generation of our adjustable dumbbells – now available in a smaller size set. You can quickly adjust each dumbbell from 5-45 lbs with our patented quick lock design in under 15 seconds!
Regardless of what you pick, there are certain movements that just require dumbbells to use.
And those movements are better for hypertrophy if you’re trying to train something like mid-delts, chest, etc.
It depends on if you feel like you need them, but for most people, I would definitely add these in as part of the garage gym essentials.
Leg Extension/Leg Curls Machine
This is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment I recommend you invest in.
I’ve tried a couple of different setups in my own garage gym for training leg curls and extensions.
In the end, they worked, but they’re a huge headache and waste a lot of time compared to just investing in a solid machine.
The main reason I recommend you pick one up is because of what leg extensions and seated leg curls allow you to do.
If you want complete muscular development, you need a way to train your hamstrings with knee flexion and not just hip extension like in a stiff leg deadlift.
So you absolutely have to do some type of leg curl in your training to get the biggest hamstrings possible.
You also need a leg extension variation to fully train the quads as well. You can’t really train the rectus femoris without it.
The best option I’ve found that I currently use is this seated leg extension/leg curl machine from Titan Fitness.
I’ve only used it for a couple of weeks in my own garage gym but I greatly appreciate the ease of using it, the amount of bracing it offers to push my sets hard, and it takes up less space than you think.
Which, for a garage gym, maximizing your floor space is definitely important.
Sure, it’s a great deal more expensive than other pieces of garage gym kit, but unless you have the skills to DIY it, I think it’s more than worth it.
Functional Trainer/Pulley System
Back when I first wrote this article, I definitely recommended
Now? I’ve seen it sell from between $115 to even $200!
Instead, I highly recommend you just invest in a pulley system in your squat rack or even a standalone functional trainer as they’re definitely worth it.
They allow for a ton of variety in your training and for muscle growth, they’re by far your best option. They’re more stable than dumbbells and barbells, and they allow for better bracing as well.
The FTX Functional Trainer is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a machine that offers complete freedom of movement. With thirty swivel pulley positions, you can work out in any direction you please. The two weight stacks provide plenty of resistance and the included accessories - triceps rope, deluxe D handles, chin/dip belt, and curl bar give you all the tools you need to get started. Plus, the Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer is backed by a limited lifetime warranty on the frame and all parts.
The best one I recommend that won’t completely break the bank is the Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer.
It has a ton of reviews from home gym owners and its track record as a fitness equipment company is solid as well.
Check out my full guide on the best functional trainers to see more that I recommend.
Garage Gym Flooring
Some type of flooring for your garage gym is one of the afterthoughts I think most people have had when it comes to building the garage gym of their dreams.
Unfortunately, most people buy squishy mats that do nothing to absorb force from heavy barbell strength training.
Instead of being one of those people, I recommend getting hard rubber mats that allow you to train hard, keep your feet rooted into the ground and stay safe.
If you have a bigger garage gym to outfit, you might go with something like this 25-pack from Rogue.
For everyone else, pick up 4-6 of these horse stall mats from a place like Tractor Supply, and you’re set.
If you're looking for a heavy-duty rubber floor mat, look no further than the Tractor Supply 3/4" Rubber Stall Mats. These mats are made of 100% recycled rubber and are noise and vibration absorbent. They are also anti-skid, making them safe and comfortable to lift on. These mats can be cut or interlocked to fit any surface as well.
They’re only around 40 bucks per 4×6 mat and you don’t have to waste money on delivery if you have a big truck.
Just be warned that horse stall mats are very heavy and will require a second set of hands to maneuver them.
Resistance bands are another great addition to your garage gym that are actually pretty cheap!
They have a bunch of uses in your own garage gym and don’t take up space as you just have to hang them somewhere.
You can use resistance bands to help build up to doing more bodyweight movements such as pull ups and dips, or you can just use them to warm up!
Another awesome thing that resistance bands allow for, is adding accommodating resistance to your exercises.
Meet the SUNPOW Assistance Bands set, your comprehensive fitness solution. This set offers five color-coded bands each with different resistance levels: Green (5-30 lbs) for speed barbell training and shoulder mobility, Blue (15-60 lbs) as a perfect beginner band for resistance training, Orange (35-115 lbs) for medium tension training and pull-up assistance, Red (50-135 lbs) for advanced barbell training and pull-up assistance, and Purple (60-170 lbs) for those needing extra resistance and pull-up aid. Enhance your workouts and reach your fitness goals with ease using SUNPOW Assistance Bands.
You can do banded exercises which change up the resistance profile of your strength training to make them harder at lockout or even make them easier in the bottom position where the lift is the hardest.
These are just different ways to add variety to your training but are great for strength training specifically.
The final thing that is a good idea to get for your garage gym are air bikes.
However, you could get an treadmill, elliptical, punching bag, jump rope, rowing machine – or any other cardio machines that you’ll use consistently.
The main reason I recommend air bikes over other cardio machines is that its low impact, and if you get the type with the handles like an air bike, it’s a full-body cardio workout.
This type of cardio equipment is perfect for doing on your off days to help reduce soreness, improve recovery, and help with heart health of course.
The air bike that I recommend the most is the Rogue Echo Bike.
Like everything Rogue – it’s incredibly high quality, durable, and comfortable as well.
The Echo Bike by Rogue is a heavy-duty steel stationary bike that can be customized for the user's needs. With a weight limit of 350 lbs, this bike can accommodate almost anyone. The easy portability and 1" polyurethane front wheels also make it easy to move around when needed. The belt-driven steel fan blade ensures a smoother ride, while the high-contrast, battery-powered LCD console tracks intervals, distance, calories burned, heart rate, and more.
Like I said before though, you can get any type of cardio equipment you might need but air bikes are a solid full-body option that minimizes wear and tear.
What Else Should I Add To My Home Gym?
Here is a small list of other pieces of home gym equipment that you might consider investing in.
Gymnastic rings are a great addition to any garage gym. They offer a full-body workout and can help to improve your balance, coordination, and overall fitness.
Gymnastic rings are versatile and can be used in a variety of exercises, making them a great option for all fitness levels.
They are also portable and adjustable, so you can take your workouts anywhere and increase or decrease the difficulty of an exercise.
Using gymnastic rings can be a fun and challenging way to switch up your workout routine. They require stability and control, making them a great way to challenge yourself and push past your limits.
Plyometric boxes, also known as plyo boxes, are a versatile and effective piece of equipment that can add a lot of value to your home gym setup.
They are commonly used for explosive movements, such as jumping, which can help improve your power, speed, and overall athleticism.
One of the best uses for soft plyo boxes I’ve found is for hip thrusts and glute bridges as they are comfortable and most are adjustable for different sized lifters.
Plyo boxes are available in different sizes, heights, and materials, so you can choose one that suits your fitness level and goals.
Additionally, plyometric exercises can also help increase your bone density, which is important for maintaining strong and healthy bones as you age.
Plyo boxes are also relatively affordable and take up minimal floor space in your garage gym, making them a convenient and cost-effective addition to your workout routine.
If you’re looking to add some variety to your home workout routine and improve your overall fitness, a yoga mat can be a great addition to your home gym.
A yoga mat provides a comfortable and non-slip surface to work out on, which can help prevent injury and improve your form.
With a gym mat, you can do a variety of exercises such as stretching, Pilates, bodyweight exercises, or any other form of workout that requires a comfortable surface.
It can also be used for meditation or relaxation exercises. The non-slip surface makes it safer to do exercises that require balance, such as lunges, squats, or push-ups.
In addition to the physical benefits, having a gym mat can also be convenient if you have hardwood or tile flooring in your home.
It can protect your floor from scratches and damage caused by workout equipment.
Adding a jump rope to your garage gym can be an excellent way to improve your overall fitness level.
Jumping rope is a high-intensity, low-impact cardiovascular exercise that can help you burn calories, build endurance, and improve coordination.
It’s also a great way to warm up before weightlifting or other strength training exercises.
Jumping rope can help you increase your heart rate quickly, making it an efficient and effective way to get your daily cardio in without investing in expensive cardio machines.
Another great benefit of jumping rope is that it is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take up much space. All you need is a jump rope and a small area to move around in, which makes it an ideal exercise to do at home.
Plus, jumping rope is a fun way to switch up your workout routine and challenge yourself.
There are a variety of jump rope exercises you can try, from basic jumps to more advanced moves like double unders and crossovers, which can keep your workout interesting and engaging.
There’s definitely a lot more you can add onto your home gym but if you want a complete comprehensive list, check out my full best home gym equipment guide.
Is It Healthy To Work Out In A Garage?
The answer to whether it is healthy to work out in a garage depends on several factors. Here are some things to consider:
Garages can be poorly ventilated, which can lead to a buildup of pollutants like carbon monoxide, which can be harmful to your health.
Make sure your garage is well-ventilated and open windows or doors to allow fresh air to circulate during your workout.
Garages can get very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, depending on where you live.
Extreme temperatures can make it difficult to work out safely and comfortably. Consider investing in a heater or air conditioner to regulate the temperature.
Most garages have concrete floors, which can be hard on your joints during high-impact exercises. Consider adding padding or using a workout mat to cushion your joints and prevent injury.
Make sure each piece of equipment is in good working order and is safe to use. If you’re using free weights, make sure they’re not rusty or damaged. If you’re using a treadmill or other exercise machine, make sure it’s properly maintained and lubricated.
Garages can be hazardous places, with sharp tools, chemicals, and other hazards. Make sure your workout area is free of clutter and that you have plenty of space to move around safely.
Consider installing a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in case of emergency.
In summary, working out in a garage can be a healthy and convenient option, but it’s important to consider factors like ventilation, temperature, flooring, pieces of equipment, and safety to ensure a safe and effective workout environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Regardless of your weight training style, I believe everybody needs at least the first 5 pieces above all else.
The other equipment is recommended based on what I’ve used in my garage gym for the past 10 years.
What pieces of equipment would you recommend for a badass home gym?
Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,