Garage Gym of the Week: Todd Jenkins

What’s your name?  Todd Jenkins

How old are you? 55

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am a computer programmer by trade, but fitness fanatic by choice. I have participated in everything from high school track, road races from 5K to the marathon, motocross, BMX, mountain biking, cyclocross, white water kayaking, rock climbing, and Ironman triathlon. I currently run, mountain bike and ride cyclocross mostly. I have lifted the majority of my life, mostly in a support role for other sports. I have many nagging injuries that try to keep me down, but I try to find ways to continue to stay competitive as I age.

How would you describe your training style? I trail run, OCR type training run, mountain bike, bike on the road or ride cyclocross type trails several times a week, and also lift a couple of times a week as well. I also try to rock climb as time permits. I don’t follow a structured plan because I have found over the years I don’t enjoy that. As I have gotten older, I have put more focus on strength and mobility training to stay injury free. I love racing and I also love training just for the sake of training, and am always trying something new.

How would you describe your fitness/strength level, currently? I feel I am still in great shape. I am still winning my age group in running races, and hold my own in the over 40 mountain bike and cyclocross groups most of the time.

What are your fitness/strength goals? I really wanted to try Olympic lifting and clean and jerk my body weight this year, but old injuries are making that very difficult at the moment. I am also going to try a Spartan race this year. That falls into exactly the kind of training I love to do, so looking forward to that.

Describe your garage gym. 

  • Currently I have a bench with integrated squat rack.
  • Recently built a lifting platform for deadlift and Olympic lifting
  • Lots of iron weights I picked up from Craigslist
  • Weight racks, both commercial and DIY
  • Dumbells and rack 5 to 35 lbs
  • Kettlebells 30 – 80 lbs
  • Set of 5 lb Indian clubs
  • Several Ironmind grippers
  • Rock climbing hangboard
  • Pull up bar and 25’ climbing rope outside
  • Weighted dip and pullup belt
  • Various other DIY toys for grip training
  • Magnetic bike trainer

Who works out in your garage gym? I have 4 sons ranging in age from 7 to 18 and they all use the basement gym. My 15 and 18 year olds are serious at this point, enough that I needed the lifting platform to save my basement floor. Still trying to get my wife to use it instead of the commercial gym!

Why did you build a garage gym? Over 20 years ago a work friend and I dropped our YMCA memberships because we moved into a building with a locker room and showers. With that went my access to weights, so over the years I just built it up little by little using what used equipment I could find.

What’s your favorite piece of equipment in your garage? I think the pullup bar is my favorite. I have one outside and one inside, I love doing pullups and leg raises.

What piece of equipment was a waste? Probably my bike trainer. I live in North Carolina, so there is rarely weather bad enough I can’t ride outside with the proper clothes, and I hate riding on trainers.

What’s the next piece of equipment you’re going to get? Either a power rack or Wonder Bar depending on the funds available.

Any dream piece of equipment?  A full set of really nice, color coded bumper plates

How did you build your garage gym? Little by little over many years. I have built, bought, sold, traded and upgraded a lot of equipment over the years and really like what I have now, but am always looking for deals on used gear. You can never have too many plates!

Do you have any tips for anyone else looking to build a garage gym? I would say first and foremost you have to decide why you want a home gym. For some, it takes more motivation to train at home/alone than at a commercial gym, and the worst thing you can do is build a garage gym you never use. If you have the motivation though, it is great to be able work out when you want with what you want. You can tailor your garage gym to exactly your style of training and don’t have to deal with gyms that won’t allow chalk or don’t have lifting platforms or enough free weights and bars. Determine what will work best for you and start looking for gear! Don’t skimp on the basics: barbell, plates, bench and squat rack. Buy the best you can afford and it will last you a lifetime. Remember fitness is for LIFE!

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