Keeping It Simple: Assembling Your Garage Gym

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Keeping It Simple: Assembling Your Garage Gym
As some of my recent workouts have shown, my garage has been transformed into a gym of sorts. This is by no means novel, but I’ve received enough feedback regarding the pluses and minuses of such an endeavor that I thought it worth going into. I’ve compiled a series of top 5 lists that, in my opinion, should guide anyone’s pursuit of a garage gym. They are in order of importance. Please feel free to raise points I may have missed or question what I’ve written. This is an open forum and I’m all about learning.

5 Things You Need

1. Space

Without a doubt the biggest problem with most garage gyms is that people over do it.

The most vital component to your home gym is that it allows you space to move. That means height, area, and lack of clutter.
A clean, simple, efficient box is what you’re looking for, not a room filled with equipment that you imagine you might one day use. Guard free space with your life.

2. Pullup Bar

Can’t get around this one… you need it. Aside from the fact that pullups themselves are the quintessential upper body strength builder, the bar offers so many more uses that it cannot be omitted. From hanging rings to doing toes to bar, this is a staple. Because it is so important, you can’t just throw up some piece of crap and expect it to do what you want it to do. You need a bar that is secure, mounted far enough from the wall that you can kip, and ideally will allow you not to waste the valuable commodity that is #1. For affordable high quality ideas on this, look here.

3. Sandbag


Once made, this tool can be lifted, carried, thrown, swung, and slammed. Then it can be emptied.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t write “barbell” here. That’s because I think sandbags are better, more versatile, and cost less — therefore, they’re higher on my list. This is something that you make out of an old army sack and some double thick plastic trash bags. You can use an old couch cushion. You can use an old punching bag you find at a flea market. These are all things I have actually done in the past. Once made, this tool can be lifted, carried, thrown, swung, and slammed. Then it can be emptied. It’s adjustable in size, weight, and thickness. Don’t argue, just get one.

4. Barbell and Bumpers

Notice these go together, because a bar without bumpers is useless and vice versa. Don’t waste money on metal weights because you can’t drop them. If you go on Craigslist and find a great deal on Gold’s Gym hex plates, do yourself a favor and skip it. Look for used weights at competitive events or when places go out of business, but if that doesn’t work start scouring CrossFit outfitters like this. It’s not too difficult to find affordable deals and get what you need. Barbells are necessary if you intend to build real strength. You can only get so far before you have to deadlift and squat to improve.

5. Rubber flooring

You need this stuff to protect your floor while dropping all those newly bought bumper plates mentioned above. You don’t need it wall to wall, just enough for the width of the bar and a few feet to the front and back. A 3×5 stretch of ¾ inch thickness will do the trick. That will allow you to deadlift, clean and jerk, snatch, whatever. When you’re done you can slide it into the corner. Best place to find this stuff is either at pet supply stores or trucker supply stores. It can get pricey, but it will last forever.

5a) A rack

If you can’t do heavy squats, you can’t get strong.
Without some place to rack your bar, you can’t do heavy squats. If you can’t do heavy squats, you can’t get strong. This will also help when training jerks, thrusters, and overhead presses. You don’t need a cage; that just gets in the way. I’m simply referring to some way to load a secure bar at shoulder height. Portable metal racks, cinder blocks, whatever. I put this as 5a) because it isn’t as important as the flooring, but it still belongs on this list.

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