Welcome to my home gym garage tour! This is Coop from Garage Gym Reviews (KIDDING)!
If you have no clue who that is or what that reference was, go check out garage gym reviews, but finish reading this blog first. He’s the GOAT of equipment reviews, and we made a ton of our choices based on his videos so I had to give him a shout-out.
Hi, if you’re new around here, I’m Annie Miller and today I am taking you on a tour of my home gym.
Before we get started, I just wanted to let you know that all the products we talk about today will be linked throughout this blog and there is a list at the end.
As we all learned, garage gym owners were the real MVPs of 2020.
We personally were attempting to put off building our home garage gym until we built our current house, but after gyms in Washington closed again in Nov 2020, we couldn’t wait any longer.
Obviously it is a privilege to be in a financial spot where we could buy ANY gym equipment, let alone equipment that we planned to put in our future home gym – which you see behind me in this photo:
That is exactly what we did. Our home gym takes up two car bays. Home or garage gyms are all about efficiency and functionality.
Therefore we held off on several larger, single function items for the most part.
Today, I’m walking you through what I think makes the most bang for your buck inside a garage gym, and links to the products I recommend.
Note: This is our garage gym, based on our training (to each their own). Take what makes sense for you, leave the rest.
For reference, we do general basic weight training equipment. Squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, hip thrust, bro splits, etc. Not CrossFit or MetCon style – for the most part.
Here’s a quick “cliff notes” what our gym includes:
For our flooring; we used these Horse Stall Mats from Tractor Supply Co.
The 4×6 ones don’t show up online, so linked are the 4×3 mats. We went in and asked for 4×6 and they had them there.
We used 21 of the 4×6 mats. You can totally cut these as well with just an Exacto knife, which we’ve done in several areas to fit around corners and poles and things like that.
Pro Tip: Try to find horse stall mats wherever you live because “gym” flooring can cost you 3x the price or more for the same or very similar materials.
If you’re Olympic Lifting, I do suggest building out a wood platform, but I do not have a tutorial on that, so do a Google search.
Flooring was a GAME CHANGER even before we got our rack and barbells when we lived in my mom’s house. She graciously allowed us to take half the garage to create a gym space during that time.
Just having a designated space that wasn’t a cement garage floor made a much larger difference in my adherence and workout experience than expected.
Before you can choose the best equipment, you truly need to know:
In any home gym, the name of the game is efficiency, but also… EASE.
If you’re having to set up something and break it down every time you want to use it, you’re far less likely to use it all.
You have the most options for squat racks, but as mentioned, the goal for most garage gyms is efficient use of space + function.
We went with the PRX Pro, I think it is the absolute GOAT for home gyms.
Features: Recesses back to be flush with the wall.
We went with the dual, uneven pull up bars – this was for ease of use. When the bar is in the rack, I can still stand on a bench and do pull ups on the higher bar, without having to clear the rack… It also makes pulley set up easier.
Other features that the PRX Pro comes with are the Safety Bars and the J Hooks. They are both things that add on to the squat rack.
**We added the landmine and tricep dip attachments, I don’t remember if they come with it or not.
For a lesser but highly useful rack, we originally went with the Fringe Sport Squat Rack with Pull Up Bar – Garage Gym Series. For only $290 this was a steal of a deal. The added pull up bar is MONEY.
Without a Squat Rack, we are limited to lifting what we can power clean up to our chests. For pressing, that’s no big deal, but when we want to back or front squat, this can be cumbersome, and in any sense, it’s a waste of energy.
If you’re doing barbell work, I highly suggest putting a squat rack at the top of your list.
The barbell is the holy grail – I literally have one tattooed on my body. We cannot disrespect her and build a home gym in the absence of a barbell, but picking a barbell might be harder than you think.
Things to consider:
1. Rogue Bella Bar
2. FringeSport Wonder Bar
These two suggestions are based on the fact that our hands on average are smaller than a male’s hands (I prefer a 15kg bar so that’s what I am suggesting).
This is not about the bar weighing less, but the diameter of the bar being smaller, to make grip more comfortable and less of a limiting factor. I wish more globo gyms offered 35lb bars.
Important Note: You are welcome to get a standard 45lb barbell with larger diameter. The Rogue Ohio bar line (many to choose from) and Fringe Sport Lone Star (power) or Fringe Sport Ceracolt (olympic) are winners here.
We ordered from Fringe Sport: 2x10lbs, 1x25lb, 4x45lb.
Due to the pandemic, bumper plates were among the toughest items to find at a not completely inflated price point. But I LOATHE metal weights, so it was pretty important for me to find some bumpers.
We got our change plates from rogue, the 37.5 change plate set – you certainly don’t need to. I just personally wanted the colors, and they are super high quality.
We got the Rogue Aluminum Collars.
I much prefer clamp collars over anything else. I actually prefer a plastic outer, but these have worked great and are way more aggressive in my opinion than what we even need.
At first we went with the Squat Rack with Pull Up Bar combo from Fringe Sport. At $290, this felt like a steal.
I said I’d mention this later – here we are:
A pull up bar is HUGE for at home gains because vertical pulling strength is one of the common missing pieces in home gyms. You can make do with a few dumbbells or kettlebells, even a barbell. However, none of those can give you a true vertical pull. Pull up bars also allow grip, core, and TRX work to be done.
With a pull up bar + bands or TRX, you now have your make-shift “pulley system.” You can mimic many lat pull-down variations, high face pulls, and isolation work like tricep extensions.
But also, you can snag Weight Cable Pulley System from Amazon for about $60.
Which has been amazing value for the money. When we added pulley work back into training, we really felt like we were filling those gaps. You CAN set this up for rows, but as I said, if you have to move or set something up every time you want to use it, you simply WON’T. So we use this for lat pull downs, triceps, and bicep work for the most part. And we use it, A LOT.
No need to remove it, we just slide it to the side, or move the peg and weights to the back of the rack. And we typically keep it loaded at all times.
We got the Rogue AB3 – It’s expensive (straight up). A flat bench or even a different adjustable bench is cheaper, for sure. If you’re tight on budget, go with that. But if you can swing it, an adjustable bench can open doors for more variety in movement and exercise selection.
ANY bench can be used for more than just bench press. Think Bulgarian split squats, hip thrusts, step ups, seated pressing, so on and so forth. With the adjustable piece, we can now add incline and decline, back supported upright work, as well as core work.
You’re going to pay a pretty penny for that upgrade , but if you’re buying a bench… I do suggest adjustable if you can.
We also added the leg attachment so we can do nordic curls or secure the legs at the top of the bench for decline core work as well.
This is definitely not essential, but I enjoy having it. The next thing that I suggest you have for a home gym is a box. I would suggest getting a 20x24x30 box. These are most common. You can get them in wood form or literally build one yourself. Many of my friends that have done that. I have a firm foam one from Rep Fitness and I have loved having it so far.
I use it for different step up variations, high box step up, low box step ups, box jumps and other plyometric work. So if you would like doing that work, then I highly suggest having this in addition to only having a bench.
Trap bars are also called “hex” bars due to their shape. These can provide a great hybrid between a squat and deadlift. You can use them for deadlift and Romanian deadlift variations and farmer carries.
I personally love a trap bar and it’s a MUST for me, but they are not an essential starter piece for a home gym by any means. Your standard barbell will be much more versatile.
Unless you have a cable system, you are pretty limited when it comes to accessory work. TRX takes almost no space, and opens opportunities for rows, single arm work, assisted lower body work and more. They are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment out there.
I prefer rings to TRX so that’s what we went with these: Rogue Gymnastics Wood Rings
You could totally have these hanging from any bar, so a pull-up bar on the squat rack would work. We decided to actually mount them to the ceiling because we have the space to do that in our home gym.
We only had two 25 lb kettlebells for almost a year. Those in combination with the barbells and plates make for a decent little set up.
We then invested in a 5-55 lb dumbbell set from rep fitness along with their rack for storage when they had a sale.
Much like the pulley system, having a full dumbbell set just allowed more specificity with training. I prefer a full set to power blocks, but power blocks are a GO TO choice for home gyms in terms of ease and saving space.
If you get dumbbells, I suggest you go through Fringe, Rep Fitness, or Rogue.
We got a variety of bands from Fringe Sport based on the resistance and assistance Nate and I needed. Bands are a great addition to a gym and are super versatile. They can be added to bars or kettlebells or used with body weight for added resistance.
Before we get into cardio machines, I want to talk about these Foam Incline Stretch Wedges and why I think they are a hidden gem in a home gym.
I use these stacked, so for front foot elevated work or any time I need a small step. They are money for any heel elevated work like cyclist squats or Bulgarian split squats with the heel elevated.
If you’ve never used wedges, they’re space efficient and give you more options in a home gym for exercise variation. Be sure to check those out.
Cardio machines are not truly a necessity, but can be very helpful for warming up, and of course, conditioning or doing circuits.
We got the Rogue Echo Bike back in May 2020 and I have loved having it – much more than I thought I would.
We also have the Bowflex 216 Elliptical. For me, after sitting most of the day, it’s nice to move in an upright position for cardio. Last year, mainly for pregnancy and postpartum, we added the SOLE Treadmill.
I now use this SOLE treadmill piece of cardio equipment more than anything. I prefer walking on a steep incline to most forms of cardio. Mainly because I stack tasks and work doing things like drafting podcasts, creating YouTube ideas, writing Instagram captions, etc.
Pro Tip: Choose your cardio equipment based on your likes, training needs, and space availability.
If you’ve made it this far, you get to hear about arguably the best part of our garage gym…HARRIET THE HEATER.
While the Pacific Northwest is pretty temperate, we did insulate our garage, and 30 degree weather is not the most motivating to start lifting in. Thus, we purchased a Master 140,000 from Tractor Supply Co and named her Harriet after a Harrier jet because she literally spits fire.
We do crack a window to minimize fumes because she runs on kerosene, but it literally only takes two to five minutes to warm up the entire garage. And most importantly, it lowers that barrier to entry.
Pro Tip: The more comfortable that you can make your training space, the more likely you are to use it.
We got a fan from our local Lowes home improvement store. Summers aren’t too terribly hot here and time of day makes a huge difference in temperature for training.
But the fan, like the heater, just makes training less uncomfortable due to climate.
Hip thrusting pad, mini bands, yoga mat, whatever else you may need for your preferred style of training.
So this big daddy is the Rogue Donkey.
Let me be so clear. This is very unessential for a home gym. It is freaking huge. It’s heavy. Once you put it down, you’re not moving it.
Make no mistake, this was terrible to move from our last rental into our house, but it is also one of my personal favorite pieces of equipment.
So if you do want to do things like GHD or Reverse Hypers, this is one of the best pieces of equipment that you can buy to do those things. Just note that it is huge and it is not efficient and it is not very multifunctional.
Note: Everything possible is linked throughout this blog, and you will find a list below. Some are affiliate links, some aren’t. Use them as you please. Appreciate your support as always.
I wish you happy lifting, whether you’re back in the gym, or assembling your home gym. Gains be with you, and I will catch you in the next blog.
Drop a comment below and let me know what piece of gym equipment you want to invest in next!
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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