The almighty Home Gym.
Seriously, home gym owners are a different breed of people.
These are folks dedicated to becoming fitter in the comfort of their home and there's no bigger proponent of this movement than I.
I understand that training and accomplishing your physical goals can be difficult at times, but what if I were to tell you there was an easier way? A way that you no longer have to leave the comfort of your home to accomplish your goals. A way that is not only efficient but also economical.
I plan to show you the way to join tens of thousands of other who have decided to stop procrastinating and take the leap into creating their very own home gym.
I do have to warn you; this is a MASSIVE guide. I tried to provide as much value and information as possible, so feel free to bookmark it and come back if you'd rather not read it all in one sitting.
Let's do it!
Why You NEED a Home Gym
Let's first discuss why you need a home gym. Although I say need, it's really more of a want. Nobody NEEDS a decked out gym in their home, but you also don't need to save time, or lose weight, or do just about anything else.
Deciding to create a home gym, is less about need and more about wanting to optimize your life.
The goal for everyone reading this should be to achieve your best possible self. Anything and everything that helps you get closer to that goal should be explored. One of the greatest things I've found for myself and others I've helped is that starting a home gym does much more for you than simply give you a place to workout.
A home gym…
- increases your resolve by forcing you to often workout alone
- strengthens your body to take on tasks you previously could not
- improves the way you look, thus growing your self-esteem
- allows you to be closer to your family
- gives you more time to do the things you'd like to do, or simply train more
- will afford you more opportunities to workout, even if for just 15 minute
I seriously could go on and on about all the advantages of a home gym. Not only does it give back to you, but it also allows you to give back to others by allowing friends and family to train with you.
I've had some of the best training sessions grinding it out with people I hardly knew, but they had an interest in working out in my garage so I let them.
Want to increase your friendships? Get a home gym. Want to improve your relationship with your spouse? Get a home gym. Want to get bigger, stronger, and faster? Get a home gym.
Now, you may be thinking, a home gym sounds great and all, but can't I get strong by spending less at a commercial gym?
Home Gym vs. Commercial Gym
Here's what a typical trip to the gym looks like for most people:
- Change into clothes
- Pack up all of the stuff needed into a gym bag including supplements and shakers
- Get in the car and drive to the gym
- Warm up and wait for the guy doing curls to get out of the only squat rack in the gym
- Have the annoying guy who only goes to the gym to socialize come up and ask your opinion on the weightlifting shoes versus no shoes debate even though he doesn't even lift
- Mix your protein shake
- Drive home after a 2-hour workout that could have taken 45 minutes
Does that sound familiar?
Not only did you waste an exorbitant amount of time, but you also had to do things you'd rather not, like talk to Mr. No-Lifty All-Talky guy.
Here's how my typical training session goes:
- Throw on some shorts (I rarely wear a shirt)
- Head into the garage and warm-up how I want
- Turn my music up to 11 and start putting in work
- About an hour later I conclude my session, go inside, make a protein shake, and I'm done.
Not only am I able to work out how I want and when I want, but everything I need is right where I am; in my home.
Somedays my sessions will last upwards of 3 hours, and others will simply be 15-minute interval sessions. It doesn't matter because I'm not wasting any time driving, waiting, or anything else. All of my effort and time is going directly into the goal of getting bigger, stronger, and faster.
Now, although I absolutely love training with the training partners I have, I also like getting in sessions on my own.
This is another advantage of a home gym, building mental toughness.
You see, many people train on their own. If you go into your local globo gym, you'll find lots of people slaving away, BUT they're training in the company of others.
When you're in your home gym, you're truly training alone. There's no one you're trying to impress, no one to motivate you, and no one to make sure you're sticking to your goals. You are in control of your destiny.
For many, this is daunting and the reason they avoid having a home gym. But, if you stick with it for a couple months, you quickly realize you were missing out on one of the best reasons to train alone. Building the fortitude to train on your own takes time, but is one of the best things I've gotten out of my home gym.
If you can force yourself to train alone when you don't want to, you can do just about anything.
The next question that often comes up is, okay, having a home gym sounds ideal, but how can someone possibly afford it?
Costs of a Home Gym vs. Commercial Gym
A home gym can certainly be costly to start, but that doesn't mean it has to be.
Many people start with the essential items, or just make what they need and buy as they go.
Before I detail the typical costs of a home gym, as well as what I spent on mine, I'd like to talk about the costs of a commercial gym.
Commercial Gym Cost
According to StatisticBrain.com, the average gym membership cost in America is $58/month (and that study was done in 2013.) That's $58/month you're shelling out to use something in which the only thing you get in return is a place to workout.
Sure, many commercial gyms have hot tubs filled with all sorts of diseases and cardio rooms in which more TV is watched than work done, but overall, what you get is a place to workout.
If you stop paying for the gym, you're no longer able to use it. It's as simple as that.
Over a years time, taking the 2013 average of $58/month, you would spend just shy of $700. Over a decade, you'd pay $6,960, and that doesn't even factor in things like inflation and the rising costs of gym memberships. It also doesn't factor in any opportunity costs spent by wasting time, as well as the cost of gas for your commute.
As you can see, you're paying a lot of money that could be used elsewhere. But, not to go on too much of a rant, that's typical of our society. Get a car payment, instead of saving. Finance that thing you want but don't need just so you can have it now.
I have no statistics on this, but I would guess that Home Gym owners are typically much better with their money than those who spend $58/month at a gym.
Now, we also have the subject of CrossFit gyms/boxes.
This is an entirely different matter as the average cost for a CrossFit membership is $125/month and that once again was based on 2013 numbers.
So, that's $1,500/year and over a decade, that CrossFit membership would cost you $15,000!!!
But I can somewhat understand it. You get programming, coaching, and an environment that pushes you. Granted you could simply find an online coach and online programming for much less than what you're currently paying, but that's a different matter.
Home Gym Cost
The cost of a home gym can vary so dramatically, it's a bit difficult to show an average situation.
However, I'm going to pick the equipment that I view as essential. These are items that a majority of people training will want to start with and then grow from there.
Squat Rack with Pullup Bar – $445: Rogue SML-2 Squat Stand
Bumpers – $424: Fringe Sport 260 lb. Black Bumper Set
53 lb. Kettlebell – $63: Rogue Fitness 53 lb. Kettlebell
Gymnastic Rings – $40: ProCircle Wooden Gymnastic Rings
Jump Rope – $28: JumpNrope Speed Rope
Two Horse Stall Mats – $80: Tractor Supply Horse Stall Mats
Now, granted you'll have a little bit extra cost for shipping and tax, but this is about what you'll pay.
This is for all of the items I think you NEED to start a home gym. These are the basics, but my goodness, the number of workouts you could do with just these items is out of this world. The only reason you would need more equipment is to provide some more variety in your training. Other than that, you don't need much else.
These items are also all brand new. Much of the equipment in my garage is from resellers on Craigslist where you can find absolute steals!
You also need to keep in mind that these items are yours. You're not renting the opportunity to use them like you do at the gym. You can do whatever you want with them including sell them for future upgrades.
Here's a simple graph of the costs versus a commercial gym membership:
|Commercial Gym||CrossFit Gym||Home Gym|
|Average Monthly Cost||$58||$110||N/A|
|Average Yearly Cost||$696||$1,320||N/A|
|Average Cost over 10 Years||$6,960||$13,200||$1,330|
What Equipment Should You Buy?
The options for purchasing commercial quality gym equipment for economical prices are the most they've ever been.
The equipment you'll need is all based on your style of training. Powerlifters will need much different than CrossFitters, Strongmen, Bodybuilders, and general trainees as well as vise-versa.
This being said, there are a few companies I would suggest sticking to buying equipment from, and I've listed these below, as well as notable pieces:
Undoubtedly, Rogue Fitness is making the best gym equipment available.
Sure, you have to pay a bit of a premium, but you're also getting overbuilt, intelligently designed, Made in the USA, lifetime warranty covered equipment (that was a mouthful.) There's very few if any companies that can compare to Rogue on both price and quality.
Much of my gym is equipped with Rogue equipment (click here to see a walkthrough) and I have had very little if any problems with any gear I've used of theirs. If there was a problem, however, they were quick to fix the issue; a sign of a great company.
Now, although Rogue has a crazy amount of different gear available for purchase, here are some of my favorites:
I personally use the R-3 Power Rack, and it is a beast!
The Rogue Ohio Bar was the first bar I ever got and is my favorite; I even use it more than my Eleiko.
If you're looking for competition bumpers, these can't be beaten.
I've put my Abram GHD 2.0 through tons of abuse, and it still looks brand new.
Fringe Sport is producing some truly stellar equipment…for the price.
I certainly wouldn't say that Fringe Sport equipment is the BEST available, but I would definitely say that it's worth checking out if you're on a tight budget. Fringe Sport hits the sweet spot on price and quality. It's not nearly as expensive as Rogue, but you also get what you pay for.
I will say that Fringe Sport is run by a stand-up group of guys and I know that Pete Keller and his crew will take care of you. They also offer lifetime warranties on a lot of their gear which anybody who reads this site enough knows that's one of the best benefits I think a company can provide.
Fringe Sport has much fewer offerings than Rogue, but there's still quite a bit to weed through. Here are my favorites:
These are the best value bumpers available. They're practically indestructible.
The Wonder Bar is one of the best value bars available. It also comes with a Lifetime Warranty.
Gymnastic Rings are a must for any home gym. These are the exact rings I use.
American Barbell has been producing equipment for some time under the name GP Industries.
They've just recently decided to rename their functional fitness equipment under the name American Barbell to compete against the likes of Rogue Fitness. I've reviewed some of their equipment in the past including the American Barbell Training Bar and have found that they are making solid equipment.
Here are some of my favorites:
This bar is a solid all-around performer at a good price point.
If you need a bar for the Big-3, you can't go wrong here.
Get RXd is one of the best value companies around. Their equipment isn't going to be made in the USA and it's not going to be the ABSOLUTE best, but it's going to get the job done and at a great price.
If you're looking for conditioning equipment and don't want to pay the prices that Concept 2 ask for, check out their Xebex line as shown below. You can find my review of the Xebex Air Bike here and the Xebex Rower here.
The Xebex Air Bike is a beast. It also happens to be affordable.
The Xebex Rower is a great alternative to the Concept 2.
Vulcan Strength is the last company I'll mention. I have a love/hate relationship with Vulcan. They produce some great equipment, but their site is very hard to navigate, and their pricing is all over the map.
My favorite piece of equipment they're producing is their Competition Kettlebells:
These kettlebells are one piece steel that's hollow in the middle. Very innovative and high performers.
Now, although I've inundated you with all of the great stuff you can buy, there's quite a few different pieces that with the right amount of effort you can make yourself.
DIY Home Gym Equipment
I love Do-it-Yourself projects. There's just something about working with your hands to create equipment that is going to in turn reshape your body.
There are quite a few different pieces of equipment you can make on your own, but here are a few tutorials that I've put together to help you on your journey.
The Climbing Pegboard is the ultimate upper body muscle builder. Forget curls, forget rows, forget isolation. What you need is a healthy dose of pegboard.
If your primary focus is Olympic Weightlifting, you're going to need a platform.
There's no better way to stretch and mobilize than with a set of Stall Bars. Enjoy this quick DIY guide.
Build your own slamball that weighs up to 100 lbs. for less than $20.
Buying Used Equipment
One of the easiest ways to save money is through Craigslist.
The majority of items I've purchased for my personal garage gym were through Craigslist. Granted you may have to wait a while for the item you want to show up, but often the wait is worth it.
I'd suggest spending no more than 75% of retail, and for a lot of the items that have been used pretty heavily, quite a bit less than that.
If you're willing to have patience, you can without a doubt come a way a winner.
Where to Put the Home Gym?
This is often the next question.
“Coop, all of this equipment looks great, and I know I could save money, but where do I put it?
This can be difficult to answer because unfortunately, not everyone lives in an area where they can have a two-car garage like me:
Although a garage is the ideal place for a home gym, there's no reason you can't put it elsewhere, especially if you don't plan on dropping weights.
There are all sorts of places you could put your home gym; it's really only limited to your imagination.
One option is to turn a storage unit into a gym. This is has been written on pretty extensively, but if you split the cost of the unit with friends, you could get an awesome, secured space for next to nothing.
One easy way to get inspiration is to follow Garage Gym Reviews on Instagram.
Every week, I post a #GarageGymoftheWeek that one of my followers has sent in. There's no better way to see all the types of gyms than like this. Here's one of my favorites:
This week's #GarageGymoftheWeek goes to @elcontrastador This gym may be small, but my goodness is it mighty. You have just about every piece of equipment you could ever want and although I personally like more space, this gym is awesome. To nominate yourself tag me in your photo or use #GarageGymoftheWeek . Til' next week. Keep slangin' that iron.
What To Do Next?
If I haven't convinced you by now that you not only should have a home gym but that it's also achievable, then I don't think I ever will.
If you need more inspiration check out the interview I did with Jujimufu here on his apartment gym as well as this detailed write-up on Navy Seal Vet Jocko Willink's garage gym.
Now, although I've discussed in great detail all of the equipment that you should purchase, you could actually just get started with nothing.
Bodyweight training is some of the most practical training styles there is. If you can't move your own body, what's the point in moving other objects like barbells and dumbbells? Although I'm not a huge fan of the program, P90x has gotten lots of people to lose weight and gain some muscle without having to pay a gym membership. If that's your only option, then do it!
One thing I would suggest is to sign up for our newsletter. This is where I release new articles, deals on equipment, as well as giveaways… and it's completely free.
So stop making excuses and start making changes. Not only will you not regret making the transition
Stay Strong, Live Long,