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Are you ready to ditch the gym membership and go all-in on at-home workouts? Well, to get all the equipment you both need and want, it’s not going to be cheap. But fear not, that’s where our DIY gym equipment tutorials and step-by-step instructions come in.
Since the humble beginnings of Garage Gym Reviews, founder Coop Mitchell has shared DIY projects to show you how to create solid homemade gym equipment, save money, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Because there is so much valuable information about DIY gym equipment throughout our website, we curated a glossary to have it all in one place for you to reference (and share with your gym friends).
Sometimes creating DIY exercise equipment works better for your unique needs or the functionality of your space, and sometimes it’s just about saving money and doing it yourself.
Cost-effectiveness is one of the main motivators to build homemade fitness equipment. Some of the DIY projects that have been taken on by Coop and other members of the GGR team—namely Sam Presely, operations manager—are alternative ideas from big-name companies that can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
That said, when the price of lumber is inflated, it might be worth buying instead of building.
Customize Equipment to Your Space
Homemade fitness equipment can be helpful for folks who have small gyms, tricky entrances, or low ceilings. Building your own equipment can help you customize your space rather than spending a ton of money on equipment that either doesn’t fit in your home or awkwardly takes up too much room.
Plus, when you’re in control of the building process you can also customize for your fitness level, body size, and personal preferences.
Easier Than You Think
While there are some projects that will require extra help, knowledge of power tools, and access to a miter saw, there are plenty of projects that can be done simply and don’t have prerequisites. You may even enjoy the creative process and adding your personal touch to your home gym.
DIY Home Gym Equipment A to Z: Learn From the Pros
Over the years, Coop and Sam have taken on countless DIY projects—not only because they like building stuff, but because they know making homemade fitness equipment is essential to the home gym community.
The glossary below highlights each DIY home gym equipment project featured on GGR in alphabetical order. You’ll find a brief description and a link to either an in-depth written article or video for more guidance and inspiration on each project.
DIY Belt Squat Machine
A belt squat machine is a great addition to home gyms. You can strengthen the lower body without stressing the back. However, these pieces of equipment are often pricey–very pricey! So we put together an in-depth guide on how to build a belt squat.
DIY Clean a Barbell
When you put your barbell through tons of exercises week in and week out, eventually it’s not going to look brand new. You might notice rust in places, dirt, debris, and even build up of dead skin—yikes! For this reason, we have a written step-by-step tutorial and video to show you how to disassemble and clean your barbell.
DIY Climbing Peg Board
Are you looking for a bigger challenge than your average pull-up? It may be time to consider a climbing peg board if you want the ultimate grip, bicep, and back builder that doesn’t require any floor space in your home gym. If you already own some basic power tools, with a trip to the hardware store and some patience, you can create a climbing peg board for under $50.
DIY Concrete Dumbbells for Under $25
If the inflated price of dumbbells is getting you down, consider making a pair of dumbbells at home with concrete instead. While these DIY concrete dumbbells will end up being more bulky than your average dumbbell (and take you a few days to make) they held up to Coop’s drop test on rubber stall mats—we’ll call that a win!
DIY Crossover Symmetry System Replica
We’ll let you in on a little secret: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to strengthen your shoulders and increase your range of motion through the shoulder girdle. If you have a squat rack in your home gym, you can hack the Crossover Symmetry System with two sets of budget resistance bands and two trailer hitch pins. Anchor the pins to your squat rack, attach the bands to the pins, and voila—you’re in business!
DIY Insulate a Garage
So you’re a DIY junkie? If that’s the case your DIY projects probably don’t stop with home gym equipment. If you’re looking for a bigger project that will add value (and comfort) to your lifting sessions, consider DIY-ing insulation. With proper insulation you can regulate the temperature of your home gym, which is a prerequisite if you plan on adding a heating and cooling system later down the road.
DIY J Hooks
Although this DIY video doesn’t feature a list of supplies you can go out and grab from a hardware store, it does explore a better J-hook solution to protect your barbell’s knurling. In this video, Coop tests out a J-hook cap that was 3D-printed from a maker on Thingiverse.
DIY Lat Pulldown
If you want to get your creative juices flowing, watch this video where Coop designs a standalone, plate-loaded lat pulldown with a pair of uprights, some spare parts, and Rogue LT-1 Trolley. It turns into the ultimate upper body machine with high- and low-row options.
DIY Leg Press For Under $60
The leg press is typically reserved for large commercial gyms with the space to spare for the bulky machine. However, if you own a power rack (with four posts) and you’re pretty handy with power tools, you’ll find inspiration in this DIY leg press that uses a leverage design.
DIY Monkii Bars
Suspension trainers (like Monkii Bars or the TRX system) are versatile and ultra functional for experienced lifters and beginners alike. Coop will show you how he created his own DIY Monkii Bar system with paracord, locking carabiners, and PVC pipe and pipe caps—all for under $15, too.
DIY Outdoor Bodyweight Gym
While more involved than other DIY projects, this outdoor bodyweight gym is ideal for kids and adults alike. A GGR reader sent a detailed outline on just how he pulled this outdoor gym together, which includes parallel bars, dip station, rings, and a swing set!
DIY Outdoor Weightlifting Platform And Rack
Inspired by a Reddit user, this outdoor squat rack and platform is the ideal home gym setup for folks in warm climates. Imagine performing the squat, bench press, or deadlift in your own backyard. If this sounds interesting, we highlighted one Reddit users’ step-by-step guide.
DIY Plug-In Lights from NC Bright
Here’s a DIY project suitable for most folks: A kit of snap-together LED lights that can be designed to your liking. It’s lightweight (28 pounds) and can be screwed directly into drywall. While the kit has everything you need to hang this large lighting fixture, it will run you over $400 to outfit this in your home gym.
DIY Pulley System
If you own a power rack, you can DIY a pulley system with a fairly quick and cheap trip to your local hardware store. You really just need a swivel pulley, vinyl coated cable, rope clamps, and a few carabiners. Coop shows what to buy and how to set up both a low-row and high-row attachment.
DIY Reverse Hyper Machine For Under $100
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and save some significant cash on a reverse hyper machine, this is the DIY project for you. We suggest tackling this DIY project if you’re comfortable with power tools and a miter saw. That said, there is a detailed diagram and instructions to help with the entire process.
DIY Rock Climbing Wall For Under $100
If the DIY Peg Board wasn’t enough of a challenge, try this DIY rock climbing wall. With power tools, basic hardware, and climbing holds found on Amazon, you can have yourself a rock climbing wall ideal for the whole family—and priced under $100.
DIY Slam Ball For Under $25
Slam balls (different from a medicine ball) are ideal for full-body workouts, increasing heart rate, finishing a CrossFit workout, or making a HIIT session more difficult. For under $30 in materials, you can have your own custom slam ball that won’t require shipping fees—because let’s be honest, the heavier the slam ball, the more expensive shipping will be.
DIY Soundproof a Home Gym
While we’re not going to suggest setting up your home gym like a music recording studio, we have compiled 19 tips and tricks to help reduce noise and keep everyone in your home content. Some tricks will be a weekend project, while others are as simple as purchasing bumper plates or maintaining your gym equipment.
DIY Squat Rack Guide
Adventurous and budget-conscious home gym owners take notice: We have a step-by-step guide on building your four-post squat rack from four-by-four Douglas Fir wooden posts. You’ll find a materials list, power tools required, and instructions, and we estimate materials will cost around $200.
DIY Stall Bars
You don’t have to be a barbell fiend for this project. This DIY stall bar installation will leave any calisthenics enthusiast ready to jump in the car and hit the hardware store. Stall bars are ideal for performing difficult (and suspended) bodyweight training techniques. If you’re handy with tools and can follow instructions, consider this project, which would run you close to $600 if you were to purchase one from Rogue.
DIY Strongman Log Bar For Under $75
Who knew a bunch of four-by-four wooden posts (and a pair of wall-mounted plate holders) could create a Strongman log bar? To pull off this DIY Strongman log bar, you’ll want access to a miter saw for the diagonal cuts. All said and done, the materials to make a log bar won’t cost you more than $75.
DIY Utility Blocks
What’s not to love about a block that is heavy-duty and made for a ton of wear and tear. This DIY utility block project will leave you with a pair of blocks ideal for Olympic weightlifting, block pulls, step ups, box squats, and box jumps. You’ll want access to basic power tools, two-by-four wooden posts, and plywood.
DIY Weight Bench
Sam provides inspiration if you want to take on a weekend project and build your own weight bench. While it might not be as cushioned as a commercial bench, you’re in control of how much you add. Sam also offers a unique take with a semi-adjustable setting that stemmed from building the DIY utility blocks.
DIY Weight Plate Tree For Under $20
If you predominantly use barbells and free weights in your home gym, then you know that weight storage can actually become a hassle. Leaning plates against the wall or a squat rack only works for a few plates at time. That said, with $20 and some lumber, you can have yourself a legit weight tree similar to what you’d see in a commercial gym.
DIY Weight Plates
Whether you decide to create your own mold or use the one Coop features in this DIY video, you’ll have all the inspiration you need to make your own weight plates from concrete. The handy part about the features kit is it is sized to make these weight plates equivalent to Olympic-size plates.
DIY Weight Vest
Coop demonstrates how to make a tactical 20-pound weight vest using an inexpensive plate carrier found on Amazon. With some cardboard, zip ties, and weight plates you can have yourself a weighted vest for strength training or cardio sessions that rivals top brands.
DIY Weightlifting Platform With Squat Stand Attached
Whether you want your squat stand attached to a platform or not, this guide is a terrific place to start when it comes to understanding the materials and tools needed. This guide also provides a diagram of the weightlifting platform broken out in layers and provides a list of instructions.
FAQs: DIY Home Gym Equipment
Is it cheaper to make a home gym?
While some DIY fitness equipment equipment can be cheaper to build, you will also need to consider the cost of materials, the time it takes to build and install, and what kind of tools you’ll need. If you’re someone who builds stuff and tinkers in the garage, building homemade workout equipment might provide you with a lot of value.
If you’re someone who isn’t handy and doesn’t have a wide selection of power tools on hand, making your own equipment might not end up cheaper.
How do I make a home gym out of common household items?
If you are someone who doesn’t own a single piece of fitness equipment, to get started you can absolutely take advantage of items lying around your house. Instead of a kettlebell or dumbbell to add load to squats, you can try adding books to a backpack. You can also use your couch or a chair for step ups, pistol squats, and elevated glute bridges. Jugs of water can be used for upper body exercises, too.
What equipment is a must for a home gym?
While everyone’s workout routine is different, in our experience, most home gym owners find a lot of value in a set of adjustable dumbbells. For folks who lift with a barbell, a squat rack and barbell will absolutely be essential. Luckily for you, we have a curated list of home gym essentials we think most folks can benefit from.
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