We get asked a lot where to start when putting together a garage gym. We’ve looked at the best strength and conditioning programs, as well as customer and athlete feedback, and put together several packages that are meant to suit the needs of the novice to the advanced exerciser. To elaborate on why we include the equipment that we do, we’ve categorized our gear into what its intended use is, and gone into detail about why they matter.
The three necessary ingredients to any good strength facility are a Barbell, Bumper Plates, and a Squat Rack.
Depending on whether you plan on making lifting and particularly Olympic lifting a major priority, there are various barbells and types of bumper plates you can look for. For general functional fitness training, getting high quality bumpers and a good all purpose barbell (good for both oly lifts and powerlifting) will usually do the trick. For those looking to take their Olympic Weightlifting to the next level, then getting a top of the line Oly training bar and competition plates are a must.
Squat racks also come in a few variations. The space you have available as well as your goals should determine what type of rack you get. For a rock solid, mobile, squat rack with a small footprint, something like this would do the job. If you’ve got the ceiling height and want a squat rack that will have multiple uses and benefits, getting a Squat + Pullup Rack or the power Kip Cage are both great investments because they serve not only as a squat rack but also as a pull-up bar and give you a stable platform to attach and hang gymnastics rings or strength bands.
The base of functional movement comes from the ability to control and move one’s body through space. With that in mind there are three pieces of equipment that can deliver dozens of exercises and develop total body strength and awareness.
Pull-up Bar, Gymnastics Rings, Abmat.
If you have a pull-up bar attached to your squat stand, perfect. If not, wall mounted pull-up bars are solid, and can easily go wherever it’s most convenient.
Gymnastic Rings are essential for developing pushing power (ring dips), pulling power (ring rows) and total body awareness and function (muscle-ups etc). If you do not have a pull-up yet, rings are ideal for building the pulling and core strength needed to progress to the pull-up bar.
The ab trainer has two main functions, however they are very important. Firstly it is used at a lumbar support during sit ups, forcing athletes to use abdominals instead of hip flexors to bring themselves through a full range of motion. Second, the ab trainer can and should be used as a pad to descend upon when doing handstand pushups - without it, your scalp and neck will suffer.
Strength and gymnastics equipment can both be used for general conditioning, in workouts like Fran for example this is obvious. However there are huge benefits that come from implementing these final three pieces of equipment.
Kettlebell, Speed Rope, Plyo Box
The Kettlebell is potentially the best full body strength and conditioning tool out there. You can so single or both arm swings and snatches, turkish get-ups, tons of different stabilization drills, as well as countless types of odd object workouts (burden runs, farmers carries etc). Having 2 or 3 kettlebells that range between 16-32KGs is ideal for just about everybody however if you're only looking to get one male beginners will most likely get the most out of a 24KG bell while females should start with a 16KG.
Speed Ropes are small, portable, and great for developing conditioning and coordination. Starting with single unders and progressing to doubles and then triples should keep you busy for at least a few months if not years.
The Plyo Box has a number of uses and is particularly good for jumps, weighted step-ups, and elevated pushups. Multi Sided Plyo’s are by far the best option for a garage gym setup and usually come 30in x 24in x 20in in dimension, which allows for easy scaling and use by athletes of all sizes.
Lastly. A rower or airdyne can be a game changer in not only your general conditioning and power endurance, but also recovery. Once all the above is accounted for, putting one of those on the gift list is a must.