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Building a home gym can be both a daunting and expensive task. I’ve had one now for nearly a decade and have taken pretty much all of my best advice and compiled it in this ultimate home gym guide. Whether you plan to build a garage gym, basement gym, spare bedroom gym, or even a backyard gym, this guide will help show you how a gym at home can not only be done on any budget, but it can also improve your health, wealth, and happiness.

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.

garage gym reviews

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.

ultimate home gym guide

A home gym…

  • Increases your resolve by forcing you to often work out alone.
  • Strengthens your body to take on tasks you previously couldn’t.
  • 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.
  • Affords you more opportunities to workout, even if for just 15 minutes.

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

home gym vs gym membership

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, like the Nike Romaleos 3 weightlifting shoes versus no shoe 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.
building a home gym

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 three 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 thebest 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?

Cost 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 where 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.

ultimate home gym

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!!!

Yikes!

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.

RELATED: Best Online Workout Programs

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.

home gym guide

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.

What Equipment Should You Buy?

Trying to decide what equipment to buy for the place you will now spend more time in than any other in your house, AKA your home gym, can be a bit difficult at first.

What I suggest to most people is determining your fitness goals or the type of workouts you prefer and then basing the equipment around said goals/workouts. For instance, when I first started my home gym, I competed in CrossFit. Here is me doing an EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute) workout of clean and jerks and ring muscle-ups (yes, I did muscle-ups into my attic in my first garage gym.)

garage gym

With all this said, a powerlifter (which is how I mostly train now) will use different equipment from someone who does CrossFit (lots of barbells and conditioning equipment) or Strongman (lots of DIY atlas stones and other gear) or Bodybuilding (lots of machines and ways to isolate various muscle groups.)

So, before you go and make a $10,000 order for equipment, decide your goals and training style.

Now that you’ve determined your training style, I’ll recommend some things that we see in most home gyms. Again, the best home gym equipment may vary by person, but it’s likely that some of these will find their way into your sanctum of strength.

Barbell

We likely get sent more photos/videos of home gyms than anyone in the world thanks to our large social media following. I love seeing setups, all of the differences between them, and what things are similar. By far, the item that we see more than any other in a home gym is the almighty barbell and this is for a very good reason. As I stated in an article I wrote for Mark Rippetoe at Starting Strength titled, ‘The Barbell is King’, I said,

“The barbell is simple enough that anyone and everyone could benefit from its use, yet effective enough that even the most advanced trainee should use it.”

There are very few other pieces of fitness equipment that this same statement could work for. Now, as anyone who’s followed me knows, I’m a big fan of the barbell and invest a lot of money in them. As of this writing, I own well over 50 Olympic Barbells (not because I’m a hoarder, but because I review them and like to have them to contrast with newer offerings) and have an ever-increasing collection.

I use the barbell for all sorts of things, but here are a few you’ve definitely heard of:

Here are a few exercises that you may have never heard of or considered, but I do often:

The benefit of a barbell is that it’s relatively cheap to own (they’re cheaper today than at any time in history,) they’re incredibly versatile, and using incremental loading afforded by the combination of a barbell along with weight plates can get you incredibly strong and fit.

Best Barbell For Most People

Rogue Bar 2.0

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Barbell made in the USA
  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • Multiple composite bushings
  • 28.5 mm shaft diameter
  • Dual knurl marks for Olympic lifts or powerlifting
  • Lifetime warranty

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 190K PSI tensile strength
  • Made in the USA
  • Multiple composite bushings
  • Good value
  • 28.5 mm diameter with dual knurl marks for versatility
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Black zinc coating can fade over time
  • Passive knurling

Bottom Line

The Rogue 2.0 Bar is a good barbell with great value. With a good tensile strength and versatile use, this is a great multipurpose bar for the home gym.

The barbell we recommend most often for most people is the Rogue Bar 2.0.

The Rogue Bar 2.0 is one of the most popular barbells in the world. Combining Rogue Fitness’s attention to detail, outstanding customer service, and large manufacturing power, the Rogue Bar 2.0 can perform for nearly every movement or training style imaginable. Not too long ago a barbell featuring 190k PSI tensile strength steel, a bushing rotation system, and a high-quality knurl with a lifetime warranty would have cost you nearly $1,000.

Thankfully, due to the growth of home gym owners and the popularity of basic barbell training, there are now a seemingly endless amount of high-quality barbells for under $300. Although the Rogue Bar 2.0 is our current top pick for the best Olympic Barbell for more people, there are many others worth considering.

Best Powerlifting Bar

Rogue Ohio Power Bar

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Volcano knurl provides a great grip
  • IPF-approved
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Four coating options: bare steel, black zinc, Cerakote, and stainless steel
  • 205K PSI tensile strength

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great value
  • Volcano knurl
  • Fantastic grip
  • IPF-approved
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Four coating options: bare steel, black zinc, Cerakote, and stainless steel
  • Made in the USA
  • 205K PSI tensile strength
  • F-8R rating
  • Self-oiling bronze bushings

Cons

  • 205K PSI tensile strength is not the strongest on the market
  • Some may feel the knurling is too passive
  • Bare steel Version rusts quickly

Bottom Line

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is the power bar we recommend most often. You cannot spend less and get a better bar. You can spend more, and depending on your preferences get something maybe better, but even then, it's debatable.

If you want a bar primarily for powerlifting, we again, recommend a Rogue bar that is the general favorite among the community due to its price to features ratio called the Rogue Ohio Power Bar.

The Rogue Ohio Power Bar, also known as the Rogue OPB, has been the go-to power bar for most people for some time. Rogue has combined its large manufacturing power, attention to detail, and ability to create industry-leading products at great prices to create, in our opinion, the best power bar for any strength level.

RELATED: Rogue Ohio Power Bar Review

Whether you’re a beginner learning the squat, deadlift, and bench or an experienced lifter, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar can handle whatever you throw at it. It is our top pick for the best powerlifting barbell for most people.

Best Budget Barbell

CAP OB-86B Barbell

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Priced under $200
  • Works well as a multipurpose bar
  • Comes in proprietary coatings

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Priced under $150
  • Ships free with Prime
  • Free returns
  • Fits Olympic weight plates

Cons

  • 30mm grip
  • 110KPSI tensile strength
  • Black phosphate finish

Bottom Line

The CAP Barbell is not the highest quality bar you can find, but it is one of the most affordable that we would still recommend for those who do not need a specialty bar or anything fancy.

If you just want a cheap barbell that will get the job done, it is easy to order (thank you Amazon) and really doesn’t break the bank then we recommend the CAP Beast Bar. It does have a low tensile strength of 110K PSI, but we’ve been using one for over five years as a beater bar for things like rack pulls and landmine work and it’s still as straight as the day we got it. If you’re squatting over 500 LB, we probably wouldn’t recommend it, but for most people it would work just fine.

Weight Plates

Although you definitely need a barbell, in order to maximize the effectiveness of said barbell, you’re going to need some Olympic Weight Plates to slide onto the sleeves.

rogue weight plates

Weight plates come in two basic varieties:

  1. Iron Plates
  2. Bumper Plates

Iron plates are most often made of cast iron, but are sometimes machined out of steel if your goal is to have a perfectly calibrated set of plates. For most people, we suggest iron. The reason being? Iron plates are much cheaper than bumper plates.

deadlift in home gym

Bumper plates are most often made out of virgin rubber and as with iron plates, there are a lot of varieties. If you want to see our full thoughts on the best bumper plates to buy, check out my guide here. In addition to rubber, bumper plates are made out of urethane or even plastic for really light and really cheap plates.

Regardless of whether you choose iron or bumper plates, we suggest checking Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist before buying new. Although we don’t necessarily believe with the argument that “weight = weight” because there are a lot of nuances between plates including durability, we do think that most home gym owners could get away just fine with buying what’s available on the second-hand market.

RELATED: Best Weight Plates

Despite our recommendation, if you’d like to buy new plates, here are a few we suggest:

Cheapest Iron Plates

CAP Barbell 2-Inch Olympic Grip Plate

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Easy-grip design
  • Available on Amazon in pairs or singles
  • Semi-gloss finish looks nice
  • Budget-friendly

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy-grip design
  • Available on Amazon in pairs or singles
  • Semi-gloss finish looks nice
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Not available in kilos
  • Not the most durable weight plates
  • CAP’s coating is known to chip and scuff easily

Bottom Line

If you want a very budget-friendly weight plate from Amazon, these are your best bet.

For those that simply want a cheap plate, the CAP Barbell 2-Inch Olympic Grip Plate is a best seller on Amazon with 500+ ratings and 4.5 out of 5 stars. I have quite a few of these plates that I use on my Reverse Hyper and weight sleds just because they’re cheap. They are a bit smaller than typical IPF approved weight plates, but not enough for it to matter in most garage gyms.

Best Budget Iron Plates

REP Equalizer Iron Plates

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Easy-grip design with six handles
  • Very reasonable pricing
  • Machine drilled center hole (not cast) for tight fit on bar
  • Powder coated
  • Weight tolerance guaranteed within 2%

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy-grip design with six handles
  • Very reasonable pricing
  • Three-year warranty
  • Machine drilled center hole (not cast) for tight fit on bar.
  • Sand blasted and machined for smooth surface.
  • All surfaces rounded, no sharp edges.
  • Sandblast before painting to ensure no surface rust is painted over.
  • Powdercoated and baked for 1 hour for superior toughness and resistance to chipping.
  • Symmetrical grip holes for easy lifting off the ground, and for using individual plates in exercises.
  • Weight tolerance guaranteed within 2%
  • "X" centered in between grip holes on 45, 35, and 25, as pictured on main image.

Cons

  • Rubber-coated version is not bumper plates: Don’t use them as such
  • Available only in pairs, not sets
  • Not a good pick for CrossFitters or Olympic weightlifters

Bottom Line

The six-hole design in these REP Fitness Equalizer Plates also makes them much easier to grip and move around than other types of plates, which means members are theoretically—emphasis on theoretically—less likely to drop weights on their toes.

If you want to upgrade from a basic CAP Barbell plate, we suggest the REP Fitness Equalizer Iron Olympic Plates. We did a full review on the Equalizer Plates and we were honestly surprised how accurate and nice the finish was despite the low price. They’re not as nice as some higher-priced plates like the Rogue 6-Shooter Olympic Grip Plates, but for the price, I think most people would enjoy having the lower-priced plates so they can spend more money elsewhere.

Best Bumper Plates

Fringe Sport Black Bumper Plates

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Use 100% virgin rubber
  • Shore Durometer of 85 sHA for a dead bounce
  • Strong 10-lb that withstand dropping plates
  • Free shipping
  • Weight tolerance is +/- 1% of stated weight

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Use 100% virgin rubber
  • Shore Durometer of 85 sHA for a dead bounce
  • Have a 55-lb option
  • Beveled edge that makes them easier to carry
  • Unique hooked insert so more surface area of the insert grabs onto the rubber
  • Free shipping
  • Claims it’s okay to drop the 10-lb plates
  • 3-Year Warranty comes standard
  • Weight tolerance is +/- 1% of stated weight

Cons

  • Wide plates
  • Can’t load more than 500 lbs on most bars

Bottom Line

The Fringe Sport Black Bumper Plates are generally the best value bumper plates that we've reviewed. They feature a good warranty, have a wide variety of weight increments, low bounce, and are extremely durable. If you're looking for bumper plates for Olympic Weightlifting or CrossFit and want something that will last without (totally) breaking the bank, then these are a great option.

If you’re looking for bumper plates, we suggest our top pick for the best bumper plates this year which are the Fringe Sport Bumper Plates. The Fringe Sport Bumper Plates are some of the best bang-for-the-buck bumper plates on the market. They come in a variety of styles, kilograms or pounds, have a high Shore A Durometer Rating which means a dead bounce, come with a three-year warranty, and are priced, when shipping is considered, as well or better than just about everyone else. Universally, Fringe Sport is one of the companies least complained about by our readers for customer service and product expectations being met.

Squat Rack

front squat in home gym

Once you have your barbell and plates, you’re going to need a place to use them. Most often, the place that trainees spend most of their time in is the squat rack.

Squat racks range from small, independent squat racks all the way up to the six post, 108” tall monster power rack that currently occupies my garage. We’ve created a guide on how to pick a squat rack that readers have found helpful as well as our guide to the best squat racks (there’s a lot of them.)

There are quite a few different types of squat racks, but the things we feel are most needed in a rack for home use is standard hole size and upright dimensions, a high weight capacity, and the ability to add accessories like pull-up bars.

We prefer the power rack due to the increased safety that comes from being enclosed in a squat cage as well as there being more uprights and holes to fill with attachments.

Rogue Fitness is generally making the best squat racks for most people, although they are definitely more expensive than the competition who are importing steel and racks. Rogue has three different lines of racks, the Infinity, Monster Lite, and Monster Series. Although we used to suggest the Infinity Line for most home gym owners, Rogue hasn’t put as much time creating accessories and providing support for the line as of late, so we’ve since started suggesting the Monster Lite series of racks.

Best Budget Rogue Rack

Rogue RML-390F Flat Foot Monster Lite Rack

GGR Score: 3.9 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Made in the USA
  • Self-stabilizing base (no need for bolting)
  • Compact, 48-inch base size
  •  Monster Lite J-Cups and pin pipe safeties included
  • Pull-up bar included

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The Rogue RML-390F Flat Foot Monster Lite Rack is one of the only flat footed power racks that Rogue sells (which probably explains why it's so popular.)
  • Although we have heard of Rogue screening their review sections, the RML-390F currently has over 140 reviews with a 5/5 star rating making it one of the most reviewed racks on Rogues site.
  • As with all racks in the Monster Lite line, this one uses 3"x3" 11-guage steel and ⅝" holes that allow it to be compatible with the entire line of Monster Lite Attachments such as pull-up bars, lever arms, and spotter safeties.
  • Due to the flat foot design, the rack doesn't have to be bolted to the ground to be used.
  • Because the rack is spaced 48" deep, you shouldn't have to worry about the rack falling over due to a lot of weight on the barbell for squats or bench press.
  • Pin Pipe Safeties are included with the rack, but they can be upgraded to straps (which we most often recommend to protect the knurling on your barbell.)
  • The entire rack is made in the USA with US-sourced steel, including the bolts.
  • Westside Hole Spacing is included through the bench area which means you can dial in your j-cups in 1" increments to get the perfect setup.
  • You can't use band pegs or half spotter safety arms on the rack because it's bolted down and could topple over if not careful.
  • A pull-up bar with Rogues signature textured powder coat is included, but can be upgraded if desired.

Cons

  • The RML-390F only comes in one height, 90", which may be too tall for basement home gyms or not tall enough for certain trainees.
  • The rack is definitely less stable than one bolted down, but for most home gym owners, it should be fine.

Bottom Line

The Rogue RML-390F Flat Foot Monster Lite Rack is a great squat rack option for home gym owners that don't want to bolt their rack to the ground. In our review, we've found that the rack is pretty stable due to its weight (even more stable if weight plates are added to plate posts) and it checks all the boxes for a typical overbuilt Rogue rack. This is honestly Rogue's best option for someone who doesn't want to bolt their rack to the ground and doesn't want a 6 post rack like a Rogue RM-6. However, understand that because it's made in the USA, it is pricier than some of the competition that is imported like Titan Fitness or Rep Fitness.

The Rogue RML-390F is one of Rogue’s best selling racks due to it featuring all of the great things that come with the Monster Lite line but instead of having to be bolted into concrete or a weightlifting platform, it is free-standing. This rack is extremely heavy-duty, made in the USA, and comes in any color you want so long as that color is black (I’ve pleaded with Rogue to start offering it in different colorways but they’ve refused thus far.)

Best Folding Rogue Rack

Rogue RML-3WC Fold Back Wall Mount Rack

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

The Rogue Custom Color Fold Back Rack includes all the features of our original retractable Monster Lite RML-3W Power Rack, with the added ability to select your own color finish for the unit's 90.375" uprights.

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The Rogue RML-3WC Folding Squat Rack is likely Rogue's best selling squat rack (it has almost twice the amount of reviews as any other rack.)
  • Featuring a rotating hinge system, the RML-3WC is able to fold away when not in use making it great for a garage gym that still wants to have access for a car to park or a home gym that wants a rack that goes out of the way.
  • The 3WC version differs from the RML-3W only in that it is available in various powder coat colors. Everything else is the same.
  • The uprights of the rack are made of 3"x3" 11-gauge steel that is the same as what's used in Rogue's highest-end line, the Monster Series of racks.
  • Due to the standard sizing of the uprights and a ⅝" hole size, the RML-3WC can use all of the Monster Lite line of accessories as well as those from other companies like Titan Fitness and Rep Fitness that use a similar geometry rack tubing.
  • When unfolded, the rack is far enough away from the wall that the weight plates as well as your head won't feel uncomfortable when squatting or benching.
  • A pull-up bar comes standard with the rack which detaches when not in use and adds stability when in use.
  • As with all Rogue Squat Racks, this is made entirely in the USA of US-sourced steel.
  • Rogue has developed a laser-cut stringer system that makes installing the rack pretty easy and looks much better than a DIY wood stringer.
  • The j-cups are rated for 1,000+ LB, and thanks to the weight being pretty close to centered on the upright, there isn't a ton of stress placed on your wall studs.
  • No need to bolt it into the floor, which saves your concrete foundation.

Cons

  • As with most Rogue racks, this isn't the cheapest folding squat rack available.
  • Due to what is required to fold the rack away, we've noticed that many people end up leaving the rack unfolded, which defeats the purpose and the extra expense that's paid for a folding squat rack.
  • Although folding away so the rack is out of the way is superior to a stand-alone rack for those with space considerations, a rack that folds up is an easier and quicker mechanism because no disassembly is required. For this reason, we recommend the PRx Performance Profile Rack if you can stomach the extra cost.

Bottom Line

The Rogue RML-3WC Fold Back Squat Rack is a very popular, space-saving squat rack for home gym owners. In our review, we've found the RML-3W to be an excellent folding rack, if you plan to actually disassemble the pull-up bar and fold it away. If not, then we suggest getting a stand-alone rack due to increased versatility. Regardless, this rack has the typical level of quality we've come to expect from Rogue at a fair price for made in the USA equipment.

If you’re short on space, then we suggest the Rogue RML-3WC which is a folding squat rack that allows you to still park in the garage even if it’s filled with gym equipment (this is sure to make your significant other happy.) This is yet another highly rated rack with a super high weight capacity, but with the addition of a wide range of colors and accessories.

Best REP Fitness Rack

REP PR-4000 Power Rack

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Heavy duty 11-gauge steel
  • 3" x 3" uprights
  • Rated for 1,000 lbs

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Affordable, high-quality rack
  • Several color options available
  • Laser-cut holes and logos
  • Uprights are numbered every 5 holes
  • Westside hole spacing
  • Can be built out to include weight storage, pull-up bar, strap safeties, etc.
  • 3x3-inch 11-gauge steel

Cons

  • Accessories for the PR-4000 and PR-5000 racks aren’t as good as the competition
  • Some of the welds and powder coating aren’t up to par

Bottom Line

The Rep Fitness PR-4000 Power Rack is honestly one of the best value power racks on the market. This rack has garnered excellent reviews from us and others and it's largely due to how great it's features are for the price point. This is still a pretty expensive rack for those on a tight budget and trying to build a home gym, but this is the type of rack you never have to upgrade. Is it better than the Rogue Monster Lite? No, but it is cheaper and very similar quality, although it is imported. We are big fans of the PR-4000 and recommend it.

Rogue is certainly not the only company making great squat racks, however. A very similar option to the Rogue Monster Lite series is the REP Fitness PR-4000 Power Rack series which is very similar, except it’s imported from overseas which drops the price pretty dramatically.

RELATED: Best Home Gyms

The PR-4000 combines excellent features, unlimited expandability, great quality, lots of customizability, and best of all, a great value. It looks and performs nearly as well as any rack on the market at a price that years ago would seem unfathomable.

Best Budget Titan Rack

Titan T-2 Series Power Rack

GGR Score: 3.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Affordable price
  • Walk-in design
  • Comes in either 71- or 83-inch height
  • Free shipping
  • 2,200-lb capacity

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Costs around $400
  • Comes in either 71- or 83-inch height
  • Free shipping
  • 2,200-lb capacity
  • Comes with safeties and a pull-up bar
  • Weighs just 130 lbs

Cons

  • 2x2" uprights wo't be compatible with all attachments
  • Should be bolted or weighted for maximum safety
  • Assembly required

Bottom Line

This is a true power rack that comes with pin/pipe safeties, weight horns and J-cups, all for around $400.

If you just want something that’s going to hold weight or you’re a beginner trying to determine if you really want to workout at home, than the Titan Fitness T-2 Power Rack is worth looking into. It’s not going to have the weight capacity of our other recommendations (700 LB weight limit) but it’s available in both a tall and short version that’s great for basement home gyms and it has Prime Shipping available on Amazon.

If the T-2 isn’t a low enough price, then the absolute bottom of the barrel that we would recommend buying for safety reasons is the Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage. It’s priced extremely low and does have a lat pulldown attachment that is a good option for those that would like one.

Weight Bench

Now that you’ve got your barbell, plates, and a squat rack, the next logical choice is going to be a weight bench. The bench press is one of, if not, THE best upper body lift there is (although we actually prefer the overhead press) and although you could get away with doing floor presses, a bench makes it so much more comfortable and versatile.

bench press in garage gym

Due to their price and ease of manufacturing, everyone and their mother is now making and selling benches. For most, a flat bench is good enough. Adjustable benches get expensive quick and there are many ways to turn your flat bench into a do-it-yourself incline bench.

We’ve gone into much more detail in our Best Weight Bench Guide, but here are some quick suggestions.

Cheapest Weight Bench

AmazonBasics Flat Weight Bench

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Priced under $50 shipped free with Prime
  • 17.1" height makes it right around IPF Powerlifting Standards
  • Tested with heavy weight with no issues

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • At under $50 shipped most often, the AmazonBasics Flat Weight Bench is one of the cheapest benches available.
  • There's nothing flashy about it, it just works.
  • 17.1" height makes it right around IPF Powerlifting Standards.
  • Although the weight limit is low, we tested it for much more than what they suggest without any issues.

Cons

  • Low suggested weight limit.
  • Weak gauge steel.
  • Short warranty.

Bottom Line

The AmazonBasics Flat Weight Bench is an extremely cheap bench that does what it's supposed to do. In our review, we found it to hold more weight than expected, be more sturdy than expected, and just overall well worth the price. If you want a cheap weight bench that just works (and don't mind the low weight limit) this is your best bet.

If you just want a flat bench to get by, the AmazonBasics Flat Bench is surprisingly good for the price. We actually tested and reviewed the AmazonBasics Flat Weight Bench to a much higher weight capacity than they suggested and still found it to hold up extremely well. It’s under $50 with Prime Shipping, has a good height, average weight capacity for most users, and assembles quickly.

Best Weight Bench

REP FB-5000 Competition Flat Bench

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Great price on a high-quality bench
  • Compatible with REP Wide Pad or Thompson Fat Pad
  • 3" x 3" 11-gauge steel provides solid construction
 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great price for a good value bench
  • 3” x 3” 11-gauge steel
  • Sturdy 3-post bench
  • Nothing in the way of your feet when you bench
  • Rated to 1,000 pounds
  • Meets the IPF specs for length, height, and width
  • Comes with a 4” thick pad on a plywood base with durable vinyl upholstery and the option to purchase an extra wide pad
  • Comes with a handle and wheels
  • Compatibility with 2 other bench pads including the extra wide and the Thompson Fat Pad
  • Easily assembled in less than 20 minutes.
  • Available in multiple colors and designs.

Cons

  • Shipping not included in price
  • Short manufacturer’s warranty
  • Some assembly required
  • 30-day return period and restocking fee applied to returns

Bottom Line

The Rep FB-5000 Flat Bench is the best value flat bench we've tested and reviewed. It offers an incredible combination of price and quality that many companies have overlooked for some time. With over 250 customer reviews, there is not 1 under 4 stars and most of those are for less than minor complaints. If you need a flat bench, this is the one we suggest. You could pay more, but it would still probably not be as good. Seriously.

If you bench above 300 pounds on the regular, we would suggest something more substantial (although it doesn’t cost that much more) and that is the REP FB-5000 Competition Flat Bench. We’ve talked about the FB-5000 to anyone who would listen everywhere we have a voice because it’s just that good of a value. When you factor in the number of great features and detailed thought that went into to the FB-5000 and compare it to the price point as well as the price point of the competition, it’s no wonder that this bench received over 80% of votes when we asked the Garage Gym Community what the “best flat bench for most people” was.

Best Adjustable Bench

REP AB-3000 FID Adjustable Bench

GGR Score: 3.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Flat, incline, and decline capabilities
  • Portable with wheels and handle
  • Maximum versatility
  • Wide seat
  • 1000 lbs limit

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The AB-3000 Adjustable Bench V3 by Rep Fitness is a 1,000 pound rated, adjustable bench, that includes a decline option for less than $300. To find an adjustable bench with a decline option at this price is a difficult task.
  • When flat, the top of the pad is 17.5" high which is in line with the IPF powerlifting standard.
  • While the bench is relatively heavy at 85 pounds, the handle and wheels make it easy to move when needed.
  • 7 back pad adjustments from 85 degrees to -20 degrees and 3 seat pad adjustments.
  • The pad is an excellent size at 2.5" thick and almost a foot wide. It provides comfort for even the biggest lifters along with the versatility to accommodate any size person.
  • A solid steel frame with variable thickness.
  • Great customer reviews. One reviewer states, "Probably the best adjustable bench for the price. It's durable and easily movable." This review is indicative of the mostly 5-star reviews this bench receives.
  • You can achieve every bench angle that you need with just one machine.
  • A 10-year frame warranty.
  • Easy, 15-minute assembly.

Cons

  • Only 1 decline position at -20 degrees, and some lifters would prefer the option to go down further than that.
  • While the frame warranty is good, the cushion and pad warranty is almost nonexistent.
  • It is not an American made product, which matters to some.

Bottom Line

The combination of price, quality, and versatility make the Rep AB-3000 FID Bench one of the best value buys for an adjustable bench. The ability to do decline movements also lifts the value of this bench and makes it very difficult to find something of this quality at this price. Although it is manufactured overseas, you still get a good frame warranty, especially for the starting price. The bench is also very comfortable and is a great addition to your garage or home gym. If you are looking for an adjustable bench at a great price, you don't really have to look any further.

If you do want to spend the money on an adjustable bench, we would suggest avoiding many of the really cheap options and going for something more substantial like the REP AB-3000 FID Adjustable Bench. Rep is on the bench list quite often because frankly, they’re making the best overall value benches currently available. It’s obvious that the people behind Rep actually workout as their new product offerings are offering great features at a price point many others aren’t able to hit.

Cardio Equipment

You’ve pretty much got everything you need for a home gym besides some miscellaneous items. Some decide to include cardio equipment in their home gym because they prefer it to doing long runs, bodyweight movements, or sprints outside.

RELATED: Best cardio machine

If you’re going to add cardio equipment to your home gym and you want it to be a “budget home gym” than we suggest avoiding a treadmill and either going with an air bike like the Rogue Echo Bike or the best rowing machine like the Concept 2 Model D Rower.

Best Air Bike

Rogue Echo Bike

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Heavy duty steel
  • Overbuilt for smooth ride 
  • 350 lb weight limit 
  • Solid foundation for max outs 
  • Easily portable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Extremely durable, beefy construction
  • Very little rocking or side-to-side movement
  • Black powder-coated metal on almost everything
  • Belt-driven fan for much less maintenance.
  • Easy-to-read LCD console screen
  • Legs feature adjustable leveling feet
  • Somewhat compact
  • Oversized, heavy-duty front wheels
  • Sleek, attractive look

Cons

  • Larger than other stationary bikes
  • Belt drive is overall harder to push than a chain drive
  • Not the cheapest air bike on the market

Bottom Line

We’ve tested just about every air bike on the market, and the Echo combines many of our favorite features into one. The belt drive is much more durable and requires less maintenance than a chain drive. The size and weight make it extremely stable, and the price is much less than we’d expect for such a quality piece of equipment.

The Rogue Echo Bike is by far our favorite exercise bike to be found in garage gyms. Check out my in-depth Rogue Echo Bike review via video and multiple articles because we like it that much. For most of our readers, this is the bike we suggest due to its durability, warranty, availability, and ease of use. If you want to be absolutely smoked at the end of a workout without having to learn a lot of technique or put a lot of thought into it, the Echo Bike is king.

Best Rowing Machine

Concept2 RowErg

GGR Score: 3.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Priced around $1,000
  • Uses air resistance generated by the fanned flywheel
  • Advanced PM5 Performance Monitor
  • Low impact full-body workout fitness machine
  • Lightweight and easily portable
  • Can be broken down into two pieces for storage
  • Can also be hung for storage

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Best-selling rowing machine in the world
  • Easy assembly
  • Accommodates users up to 6.6 feet tall and 500-pound weight
  • Ergonomic seat and handlebar
  • Seat is 14”
  • 10-degree angle on handle for natural grip
  • Air-resistance
  • Adjustable airflow
  • Performance Monitor 5 (PM5) monitor
  • Nickel-plated steel chain
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Easy to store
  • Limited 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Priced around $1,000
  • Few built-in workouts

Bottom Line

The Concept 2 Model D Rower is the best rowing machine we've tested and reviewed, including those that are much more expensive like the WaterRower. There's a reason you can find Concept 2 products in nearly every gym in the world, including CrossFit Boxes, and home gyms. After having the Model D for over two years, we are still as satisfied with it as we were on day one.

The Concept 2 Model D Rower is made in the USA, is considered the gold standard by practically everyone who’s used one, and can be seen in nearly every quality gym in the world. The Model D Rower is perfect for athletes at all training levels as well. There are a ton of rowing machines on the market today (Concept 2 actually created the first rower) yet the Model D is still the best rowing machine ever created…at any price point. Yes, we don’t believe there is a better rower at a price above or below. We also think the Model D is a great value for those in a home gym. If you decide you don’t like it, you can always sell it for practically what you paid for it minus shipping, it’s that sought after.

Best Weight Sled

Rogue Slice Sled

GGR Score: 3.7 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Push/pull weight sled
  • Fold-flat, stackable storage
  • 14" bolt-on center post
  • Load capacity of well over 300 lbs

Made in USA Made in USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Push/pull weight sled
  • Quality steel construction
  • Fold-flat, stackable storage
  • Comes standard with two 40" upright push handles
  • Laser-cut hole, sled strap, and carabiner also included
  • Weighs 65 lbs unloaded
  • 14" bolt-on center post
  • Load capacity of well over 300 lbs 

Cons

  • Handles might be too short for some
  • Shipping cost not included in price

Bottom Line

Whether you want to do sled drags, rope pulls, or traditional prowler sprints, these can all be accomplished with the Slice Sled despite its compact form.

If you want something minimalist that also has a strength training component then we suggest a sled/prowler like the Rogue Slice Sled that doubles as a push and pull sled, is made from a single piece of steel, and is made to last. Your neighbors probably won’t love you for having one of these, but your legs will (after a few days of the DOMs setting in.)

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.

DIY Climbing Pegboard

diy climbing pegboard

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.

DIY Weightlifting Platform

If your primary focus is Olympic Weightlifting, you’re going to need a platform.

DIY Stall Bars

diy stall bars

There’s no better way to stretch and mobilize than with a set of Stall Bars. Enjoy this quick DIY guide.

DIY Slamball

diy slamball

Build your own slamball that weighs up to 100 pounds 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 Your 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.

Jujimufu, the craziest guy in the fitness industry (seriously, check out his Instagram) has carved out a space next to his kitchen in his two-bedroom apartment and placed a Rogue RM-6 Squat Rack:

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:

ultimate home gym

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 adjustable 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. You won’t regret it.

Ultimate Home Gym Guide: FAQs

What is a must for a home gym?

This is really going to depend on your goals, but I would suggest starting with a power rack, barbell, and a set of plates or a pair of adjustable dumbbells if you’re short on space. You may also consider cardio equipment like a treadmill or a stationary bike.

For more in-depth information, check out my full guide to home gym essentials.

Are home workouts effective as the gym?

Yes, they can be just as effective with or without top of the line equipment. The most effective workout is often the one you complete. So, if having a home gym allows you the flexibility to get your weekly training sessions done, then you can consider it more effective.

Is 10×10 big enough for a home gym?

It can be with a little ingenuity. A 10 x 10 is considered common for home gyms because it allows you to fit the essentials, but is still somewhat cramped at 100 square feet. Your ideal home gym footage should be around 150 to 250 square feet. If you’re low on space, you might consider purchasing equipment that can easily be folded and stored when not in use. 

RELATED: Best Compact Exercise Equipment

How much weight should a beginner have at home gym?

Aim to start small and work your way up. There are several dumbbell sets that range from five to 25 pounds that are great for when you’re just getting started. If you’re going the barbell route, keep in mind that the bar itself can weigh from 25 to 45 pounds depending on the type. So, consider starting with lighter plates. Starting small may also save you money as you can add to your weights over time rather than dropping a large amount of cash on a massive set that you aren’t prepared to use yet.

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