How to build a garage gym for $500 (on Amazon!)

What’s up brothers and sisters of iron? We’re here today to show you how to build an amazing garage gym under $500 (yes, $500!) on Amazon. PK is going to run us through exactly what he would buy on Amazon for $500 to build out an awesome garage gym set up.

This is a starter gym, so you might want to upgrade this $500 garage gym at some point, and when you’re ready, we’re here for that ;) But, if you’ve only got $500 in your pocket to spend on a garage gym, we get it. You can still get a super high level of strength conditioning in your own home.

Let’s say you’ve only got $500, and in the form of an Amazon gift card, no less. You’re looking to get the best possible garage gym set-up with that $500. Here’s what we recommend that you get:

First, we’d recommend looking for a pull-up bar. A pull-up bar is pretty amazing, and bodyweight exercises are underrated. When you add a pull-up bar to your garage-gym arsenal, you’re going to add a plethora of exercises that are going to supplement your other bodyweight exercises you can potentially do with the pull-up bar. PK has a favorite that he’s got in his garage gym, and it’s the “Ultimate Body Press Wall Mounted Doorway Pull Up Bar” on Amazon for about $55.

This pull-up bar installs above a doorway, so if you’re putting it in your garage, PK recommends mounting this bar into the king studs above your doorway. That means you’re going to have to have (or know someone that has) some knowledge of how to use a drill and how to securely fasten the pull-up bar to the wall. This ensures that the pull-up bar won’t fall out. The biggest issue with other doorway pull-up bars is that if you have any sort of kipping motion in your pull-ups or swinging, they’re likely to fall out.

The second thing we recommend, and if you’ve seen our other videos you know this is true, is a kettlebell. Lucky for you, we sell our own kettlebells on Amazon. We understand that if you’re on a budget, you might want to go with a different brand. What size, you might ask? If we were on a budget, we’d go for the 24kg kettlebell. PK weighs about 185 pounds, and he’s a fairly strong guy. He can do A LOT with the 24kg kettlebell. 

We know that some of the classic exercises to do with a kettlebell include the kettlebell snatch and the clean and jerk. With that being said, we think that the Russian kettlebell swing is one of the most underrated kettlebell exercises there are. For PK, a 24kg kettlebell is going to enable him to do a lot, including Russian swings. It’s important to consider all of the movements you might be doing with your own kettlebell, and choose your weight wisely. If you were to choose something that you know, in the back of your mind, is too light, you’re doing yourself (and your Amazon gift card) a disservice.

The next thing we recommend is a very versatile conditioning item. We’d highly recommend a sandbag trainer (which we also sell on Amazon for $54!). You can go for the small or large shell sandbag trainer, and we recommend filling those with sand. If PK were to get his, he’d fill it with either 60lbs or 80lbs. We would strongly advise you to stick with those weights and no heavier in the sandbag. If you’re a female, someone with less of a strength training background, or a bit more untrained at this point in time, we recommend that you don’t fill the sandbag trainer as heavy, and stick to between 40lbs and 60lbs. If you’re used to moving a sandbag around or you’re a strong-strong person, then you can shoot between 60lbs and 80lbs. We’d recommend capping a strong-strong female at 60lbs.

With the sandbag trainer, there’s a multitude of exercises you can do, and PK really loves sandbag get-ups, burden runs, and even heavy rucking. You can do a lot of cleans, ground to shoulder exercises, and so much more.

So far, that puts us at about halfway through the allowance on our gift card.

Next, we have a specific barbell to recommend: the CAP Barbell “The Beast” Bar, which is a 7-foot Olympic barbell for $167.78. If you had a little more money in your pocket to spend on your garage gym, or more specifically a barbell, we’d absolutely recommend that you go for one of the barbells on our site. They’re better barbells than a CAP barbell, and the ones we offer have more likelihood to grow with you instead of being phased out as you grow in your garage gym journey.

That being said, the CAP Beast is the least expensive barbell that is not a total piece of crap. CAP has been making this barbell for probably 15 years or more, and back in the day, when PK would go to a lot of crossfit gyms, they’d have the CAP barbells even before CAP called them “The Beast.” They hold up for a long time, they’re not the greatest, but they’re also not a total piece of crap.

Adding that barbell to the cart puts us at about $422. What else can we get before we max out at $500?

What we would recommend next is a pack of strength bands. There can often be some quality issues with strength bands. They can snap and break on you, which we definitely don’t want to happen. We highly recommend that you check the reviews on the pack of bands you’re looking to get to make sure (as much as you can) that won’t happen.

The reason we’d go for some strength bands is because these bands will unlock even more exercises you can do at home, especially with the pull-up bar. Even if you don’t have the upper body strength yet to do pull-ups, strength bands can help you gain strength and confidence in your upper body.

One of the best ways to get pull-ups under your belt is to do negatives. You’ll hop up on the bar pulling your chin over with a jumping motion from the ground, and then slowly bring yourself down to full extension. What the strength bands will allow you to do is add support to get yourself up above the bar for assisted pull-ups. The strength bands are also going to add a lot of assistance in mobility work that you might not be able to do otherwise.

Those items bring us to $447.26. This is well under $500, and allows for sales tax or additional charges that you might incur with your purchase. If you were to add anything else to the cart before checkout, we might suggest a pair of clips for the CAP barbell in your cart.

PK has a little cheat for more items, specifically iron plates. He suggests that you go to your local Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Offer-up, something of the sort to look for iron plates to add to your collection for as inexpensively as possible. You’re building a garage gym on a budget, and while it’s nicer to lift on a great barbell and bumpers instead, iron is iron. When looking for plates to get on a budget, we recommend looking for plates for .25c to .50c per pound because that’s a decent price for resale iron that won’t break your bank.

You’ll notice that we didn’t mention a squat rack, and we don’t have a bench in our cart. We recommend focusing, at first, on deadlifts, and then finding some training videos online to work on cleans. Having a solid clean will allow you to get the bar from the ground to your shoulders, then, when you get the bar from the ground to your shoulders, you can work front squats, overhead press, and even overhead press to a behind the neck shoulder rack to work on back squats. When that’s the case, keep in mind that you don’t have a rack or safety bars to fail onto, so you need to know how to fail behind your back from a back squat or forward out of a front squat.

This is exactly how to spend $500 on Amazon, and get a pretty bare-bones, but awesome garage gym. What do you think? What other items might you get? Would you swap anything out for another item from the start? Let us know in the comments below! We want to hear about your top garage gym picks on a budget.

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Go out there and lift something heavy today. As always, lift heavy, lift happy :)

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