If you’re not already convinced that the garage gym life is for you, check out why it’s a good idea here. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, read on.
Jim Wendler said once, “Buy nice or buy twice”. I agree with that sentiment but I also think that it’s important, especially in the beginning stages of setting up a garage gym, to buy only what you need. This is holiday season and it’s tempting to chase sales for gym equipment but that’s not a good idea.
In the beginning there was only the newspaper and it was sparse. But now, aspiring garage gym athletes, have Craigslist, PlayItAgain Sports, Rogue Fitness, EliteFTS, Black Widow Training Gear and a plethora of other outlets for all of your equipment outfitting needs. Notice that I did not mention Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority. (side note. If you decide to shop at Dick’s Sporting Goods online, the website address is www.dickssportinggoods.com/. Do NOT experiment with other possible options for Dick’s Sporting Goods Online unless you are ready to have your life changed forever. You’ve been warned.)
Anyway, the fact that there are so many options now is both a blessing and a curse. It’s easy to get Equipment Purchase ADD especially if you think that you have to replace EVERYTHING you had at the gym you’re leaving. Understand, that as Elite powerlifter, Brandon Lilly pointed out, “European lifters are able to get strong with just a barbell”. World record holder Andrey Malanichev, who you see below absolutely destroying 1036lbs, ONLY performs the three competition lifts, squat, bench press and deadlift so it’s highly likely that you who are probably NOT Andrey Malanichev, can get by without a squat rack AND a Smith machine AND a leg press AND a hack squat AND a sled AND standing and seated calf raises AND . . . well you get the idea.
In the beginning, I would get a good dependable barbell, a sturdy adjustable bench and some sort of set up for squatting; either squat stands with safety stands or a power rack. Then a few horse stall mats from the local farm supply store. That’s it.
This may seem like not enough but I started my garage gym with a wooden box and a pair of
70lb dumbbells. I added to my equipment as I went along, slowly and based upon my needs.
Which is important because when you first embark on this garage gym lifestyle, you won’t know exactly what you need. Also, there are a ton of inexpensive options for equipment from PVC plate storage racks to homemade sleds made out of an old car tire and leftover junkyard chain. Finally, what if, as unlikely as it seems, you decide that this garage gym lifestyle is not for you? Now you’re stuck with a ton of equipment that you can’t get a refund on. Not good.
So start small and simple and add to it as you go along.
What pieces were must haves for you when you set up your garage gym? Comment below!
John Greaves III writes for a variety of outlets including Power Magazine, StrengthAdvocate.com and Powerlifting Watch. He is the founder of Garage Gym Life and has authored two fiction books involving powerlifting both of which are available on Amazon.com. He is a record holding Masters powerlifter, a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a former Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor and was a silver medalist at the 2001 International Kickboxing Federation National Championships. He is constantly seeking out interesting people who have rejected an average life in favor of building an extraordinary legacy. John’s been training for twenty-three years and from a garage gym for sixteen. You can contact him at email@example.com.