The Top 10 High-Value Garage Gym Essentials & Future Upgrades

There is a ton of awesome garage gym equipment out there that can make your training space incredible to workout 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 equipment are for your own setup.

Let’s get started!

Garage Gym Essentials

The main pieces of gym equipment you want to invest in first are: 

  • Power Rack w/ Pull Up Bar
  • Barbells: (Olympic, Trap, Safety Squat)
  • Olympic Weight Plates
  • Adjustable Weight Bench
  • Adjustable Dumbbells

The other pieces of equipment you can add to your 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. 

Power Rack w/ Pull Up Bar

The Squat Rack, this one piece of gym equipment, gives you the ability to do all the best exercises.

If you don’t have a Power 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.

A squat rack is the main piece of gym equipment you need in your 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 pull up 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 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 a barbell to use with it.

The best barbells I think you should be getting are – a standard Olympic barbell, a trap 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.

The Rogue Ohio Bar

The Ohio Bar – Black Oxide

Each Rogue Ohio Bar is machined and assembled in Columbus, Ohio, and includes a lifetime guarantee against bending*.


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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 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 heavy duty weight 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 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.

Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar

This Trap Bar from Rogue Fitness is awesome.

It has a 16″ Loadable sleeve, which is important for adding weight to the barbell.

Most Trap Bars on the market are incredibly short and can’t handle much weight at all.

Plus, if you’re using bumper plates in your garage gym, you’ll be lucky if you can fit 405 on there.

With Rogue’s Trap Bar, you can be sure that whatever weight you throw at it, it’ll handle it.

On top of that, having a raised handle allows taller lifters such as myself to deadlift comfortably.

This is important if you want to focus on getting stronger.

Trap bars are awesome if you can afford them, but make sure you get an Olympic barbell first before picking up one of them for your garage gym.

SB-1 – Rogue Safety Squat Bar

SB-1 – Rogue Safety Squat Bar

The weight distribution is unique to this bar. Training with the Rogue Safety Squat bar is known to tax your anterior chain; the weight distribution falls between the front squat and the high-bar back squat to vary your power output training. This bar is a safer option for intense squat progressions or maximum load lifts.This bar is known to increase your maximum working weight when compared to the traditional back squat.

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Like with a regular barbell, I wanted my clients who had trouble with squats to have an alternative.

Using the Safety Squat Bar allows you to get to depth easier!

This is awesome for new trainees that have common form issues.

The other problem it helps correct is where you need to be placing it on your back.

With the Safety Squat Bar, you no longer have to mess with High or Low Bar Squat positions, you just put it on your shoulders and squat.

That is the most significant benefit and something I really love about this type of barbell.

Definitely try out the Safety Squat Bar in your garage gym. It allows you to just shut up and squat without worrying too much about form.

Olympic Weight Plates

Without Olympic weight plates to load your barbell and other equipment up with, you aren’t going to be getting much stronger; that’s for sure.

I recommend at least 300 lbs for your garage gym to get started with; as you get stronger, you can buy more plates.

Make sure they’re the correct size for your barbell; otherwise, they won’t fit.

You want Olympic weight plates and barbells, not standard.

You can even spring for bumper plates if you need to keep the noise levels down in your home gym.

If you’re having trouble hunting down weight plates, check out my guide on the Best Ways To Buy Weight Plates.

If you can find them in stock, the Rep Equalizer Iron Plates are one of the best buys on the market you can get for your garage gym.

Most weights (and equipment in general, let’s be real) the past two years have been marked up to hell and back, unfortunately.

Sometimes costing 2 to even 3 dollars per pound which is just insane.

These Equalizer Plates don’t just look cool, they’re priced at around $1 per lb, which is a steal these days.

Again, though, IF they’re in stock. And that’s a big IF!

I recommend buying plates locally if you can, however! If you’ve never checked out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for equipment, get on it!

I purchased over 300 lbs of plates plus a used Barbell for only $100 bucks.

Often, you’re going to have to look for good deals because nobody is selling any in your area.

Just keep checking online and you’ll find the deals.

Sometimes you just have to be patient and pull the trigger when they’re available.

This is another one of the major garage gym essentials you need if you want a complete home gym, so try to save a good portion of your budget for them.

Adjustable Weight Bench

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 garage gym.

For an adjustable weight bench, 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 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 a couple of hundred lbs over your face!

So when in doubt, make sure it secures itself properly and has that 1,000 lb weight capacity.

Do those two things and you should feel safe and stable in your garage gym at all times.

So for this, I’m going to recommend Rep Fitness and their AB-3100 Adjustable Bench V3.

If you wanted a step-up that’s going to be even stronger, you can get the AB-5100 Adjustable Bench which is completely constructed out of 11-gauge steel, has 7 back adjustments, and 4 seat adjustments.

Don’t skimp on your bench or any other piece of exercise equipment that needs a high weight capacity because if you do, your life could potentially be on the line.

It’s just something to think about if you want to lift safely and prevent injuries in your home gym.

Adjustable Dumbbell Handles

If you have access to a commercial 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 a 50 lb dumbbell is 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.

GET READY…

  • 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 home gym for just fixed dumbbells.

You can get a bunch of other fitness equipment for your home gym instead.

A great power rack, a nice 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.

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.

Our Pick
Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbell System

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!

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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.

Future Upgrades

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 home 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 value option I’ve found that I currently use is this seated leg extension/leg curl machine from Titan Fitness.

Best Value Leg Extension/Leg Curl Machine
Titan Leg Extension And Curl Machine V2

The Leg Extension and Curl Machine is designed with 7 seat depth positions and 3 seat angle positions to suit different size athletes.

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I’ve only used it for a couple of weeks in my 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 home gym, maximizing your floor space is definitely important.

Sure, it’s a great deal more expensive than other pieces of gym equipment, 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 Spud Inc‘s Lat & Tricep Pulley System. It’s well built and was only around $60.

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.

Best Functional Trainer
Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer

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.

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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 their 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 home 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.

Tractor Supply 3/4" Rubber Stall Mats

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.

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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 they are heavy and you will most likely need help!

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are another great addition to your home gym that are actually pretty cheap!

They have a bunch of uses in your 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 exercises such as pull ups and dips, or you can just use them to warm up!

Exercises like band pull apart and shoulder dislocates are an awesome way to get your upper body ready to train.

Another awesome thing that resistance bands allow for, is adding accommodating resistance to your exercises.

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.

Regardless of what you decide to do with resistance bands in your garage gym, you’ll find a bunch of value in the bands that I recommend below.

They’re very high quality, have a ton of positive reviews, and I’ve used them for a couple of months without any sign of wear and tear.

Best Value Resistance Bands
SUNPOW Assistance Bands

Comes with multiple bands that are color coded for easy identification.


  • Green (5-30 lbs) - Best for speed barbell training and shoulder mobility.
  • Blue (15-60 lbs) - Perfect beginning bands for resistance training.
  • Orange (35-115 lbs) - Medium tension for resistance training and pull up assistance.
  • Red (50-135 lbs) - Ideal for pull up assistance, and advanced banded barbell training.
  • Purple (60-170 lbs) - Add even more assistance to your pull ups and resistance to your barbell workouts
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Exercise Bike

The final thing that is a good idea to get for your home gym is an exercise bike or some similar type of cardio exercise equipment.

You could get a treadmill, elliptical, punching bag, jump rope, a rowing machine – or anything else that you will do consistently.

The main reason I recommend an exercise bike is that it’s 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 helps 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.

Best Air Bike
Rogue Echo Bike

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.

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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 exercise equipment that you might consider investing in.

  • Gymnastic Rings – Using gymnastic rings for different pull up, dips, and bodyweight workouts is a great idea and can be setup anywhere.
  • Plyo Boxes – Plyo boxes allow for a spot to do box jumps, split squats, or even just another place to sit between sets.
  • Yoga Mat – Having a place to lay down and stretch or even do ab work is a great idea and cheap.
  • Jump Ropes – Other than just going outside for cardio, jump ropes are by far the cheapest option.
  • Flat Bench – Having a second bench is nice if you want something easier to manuever for just flat bench press work.

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. I cover every single piece of fitness equipment you could possibly want and my best recommendations for them!

Conclusion

Regardless of your weight training style, I believe everybody needs at least the first 5 pieces above all else.

Between a squat rack, a solid barbell, a couple of hundred pounds of weights, an adjustable weight bench, and adjustable dumbbells, you don’t need much else.

The other gym equipment are recommended based on what I’ve used in my garage gym for the past 10 years.

What gym equipment would you recommend for a badass home gym?

Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

-Dante Redgrave

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