Garage Gym: Ultimate Guide to Building a Garage Gym on a Budget

So you finally decided to build a garage gym (or at least you’re considering building one). If I told you it was easy, I would be lying to you. But with the right information and knowledge, you can set up your dream home gym that won’t break the bank.

That’s why we wrote this ultimate guide. That is the benefits of owning a personal gym at the comfort of your home, the requirements, the different options available for you, and tips and trick to make it an easy process. So let’s get started.

Benefits of a Garage Gym

Why build a garage gym in the first place?

1. Convenience

Personally, the ability to exercise at any time I decide to is the most significant benefit of all. Commercial gyms have predefined hours that they operate, and you need to find a way to fit that into your schedule.

As a writer, this was not an option for me. That’s because I work anytime inspiration hits me. The ability to have a quick ten minutes run on the treadmill or a barbell session before taking a shower, to me, is priceless.

When you own a home gym, you don’t have to wait for someone to finish with a piece of equipment anymore. Neither will you be searching for a parking space at a gym, ever. Plus, you are going to have a distraction-free exercise every day.

2. No monthly fees

Well, wasn’t this one obvious. Owning a home gym means you are never paying for monthly gym fees. You might be thinking, the cost of setting up a garage gym is expensive. But with the options and recommendations which will be discussed later in this article, you’ll realize it is worth investing in a home gym.

3. Save extra cash on gas and transportation

Committing to your gym routine means visiting the gym at least four times a week. Having a home gym will cut down your expenses by saving you gas money

Requirements of a Garage Gym

These are the three things you need to focus on when building a home gym in your garage.

  • Garage space
  • Gym Equipment
  • Garage gym flooring

Garage space – How much space do you need?

space required for garage gym
How much space do you have in your garage?

The space in your garage determines the number of equipment you can fit in there, as well as the type of workout you can perform.

The space required in the garage depends on your fitness goals and the type of equipment you’ll purchase.

20′ x 20′ is the average garage size. But just to confirm, you can use a tape measure to check the dimensions.

To make this process simpler, step back and just take a look at the space you have available if it will be enough to install a squat rack, a weight bench, and an extra space to store the free weights. If you think that is possible, you are good to go.

You’ll need more space if you wish to have cardio gym equipment like a treadmill or a stationary bike.

How to free up space in your garage

Perhaps, you already have lots of stuff cluttering your garage space. To free up this space, take some time to go through all of the items, and find the ones you don’t use anymore and probably don’t need as well. You will definitely find stuff that is taking space but not worth keeping.

Organize a garage sale or put them on eBay or Craigslist to sell. If you are feeling generous, donate it or give it out to someone.

Now with the few items which are left, purchase a storage shelf for your garage and store them on it. It will help keep your garage organized and give you more floor space for your gym.

Gym Equipment

A lot of people don’t know where to start when it comes to getting gym equipment for their garage gyms. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. So that is what this section of this article will cover.

For starters, these are the essential gym equipment required for your home gym.

  • Power Rack
  • Bench
  • Barbell
  • Plates
  • Dumbbells

There are other nice-to-have pieces of equipment you can choose to add with time. But getting the essentials first will save you some cash.

If you are trying to lose weight/shed off some calories and improve your overall health and wellbeing, it will be worth adding a few cardio pieces of equipment, which will be discussed as well.

Used gym equipment

It’s a no-brainer that purchasing pre-owned gym equipment is the best way to go. You can build a fully-functional garage gym for one-third the price if you focus on finding good deals on used gym equipment.

There are quite several places you can find used gym equipment. Some are mentioned below

Craigslist

Facebook marketplace

Buy and Sell Fitness

Global Fitness

Fit4Sale, just to mention a few.

And there is more. In fact, I wrote a post on where and how to buy used fitness equipment, so you can find the best deals for less the price. And I recommend you read it here. Just go through the list and find listed equipment in your locality. That way, you can find go and inspect the equipment for quality.

Facebook marketplace is, however, my go-to place for best deals on pre-owned equipment. It’s a community-based marketplace, which in my opinion, is the best.

Brand New Equipment – Cheaper options

The home gym industry has been around for a while. Meaning, new companies have evolved and are making equipment for the everyday person. These equipment are as effective as commercial gym equipment at a fraction of the price. Established gym brands are not left out as too. These types of equipment usually occupy less space, as compared to the commercial version.

Now let’s talk about some of the best garage gym essentials available today.

Power Rack

A power rack is a vital tool in any gym. It is a safety tool that holds your barbell after each set when you feel exhausted. The best options are discussed below.

NamePicturePrice
Rep Fitness PR-1000Check Current Price
Fitness Reality 810XLT Super MaxCheck Current Price
CAP Barbell Power RackCheck Current Price

Rep Fitness PR-1000 Power Rack

Rep Fitness has gained a lot of reputation in the home gym space. It’s no surprise, because they may high-quality but budget-friendly products. The PR-1000 is no exception. It can hold up to 700lb of weight, which is the standard weight capacity.

This particular model became popular because of its numerous add-ons. At an additional cost, you can attach addons such as

Dip attachment

Lat/Row attachment

Weight storage, for your plates

Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage

This is another beast of a rack. The Fitness Reality 810XLT Power Cage has received a lot of fantastic positive reviews on Amazon, which shows people love it.  It has a weight capacity of 800lbs, and the safety bars height level can be adjusted as well. The price is very budget-friendly also.

At an additional cost, you can get Lat/Pull-down attachment for this power cage. There are also additional J-Hooks, plate holders dip bars, and landmine, which can be purchased and attached to this rack. This is worth noting if you plan on upgrading your power rack rig later.

CAP Barbell Power Rack

CAP has been in the gym business for well, over 30 years, and is a well-known brand when it comes to the home gym space. This power rack made by them is the cheapest option on this list.

It has a maximum weight capacity of 500lbs, and the pull-up bar found on top of the power rack can handle up to 750lbs. Its design makes it possible to store your plates safely and comes in different colors.

The CAP Barbell Power Rack is worth checking out if you are on a tight budget.

Bench

Your power rack is never complete without a bench, and having a suitable bench for your fitness goal is vital. These are the recommended benches for your home gym, based on my experience and review from other users.

NamePicturePrice
Rep Fitness FB 3000Check Current Price
Fitness Reality 1000 Super MaxCheck Current Price
Bowflex 5.1 Adjustable BenchCheck Current Price

Rep Fitness FB-3000 Flat Bench

At such a low price, this Flat Bench from Rep Fitness is capable of handling up 1000lbs of weight, but surprisingly it weighs just 45lbs. This means it very easy to move around. The frame is made of gauge steel, making it extremely durable and sturdy.

The FB-3000 is perfect for exercises with dumbbells, power racks or cages, and even smith machines. Rep Fitness is so confident in this product; they offer a 30-day warranty on the foam pad and a ten-year warranty on the gauge steel frame.

Fitness Reality 1000 Super Max Weight Bench

Fitness Reality did a great job on this bench for such a low price. This is an adjustable weight bench, meaning it is much more versatile than a flat bench. It is capable of handling up to 800lbs of weight, which is excellent for even the experienced bodybuilder.

It is one of the best-selling bench press on Amazon for its versatility, sturdiness, and stability. And for the price, it’s a no-brainer. All the benches discussed are excellent. However, this is my favorite pick.

Bowflex 5.1 Adjustable Bench

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on a bench, the Bowflex 5.1 Adjustable Bench is an excellent choice.

You can adjust the backrest in six different positions, giving you the needed posture to lift weights properly.

Just in case you’re wondering if it’s durable enough, Bowflex gives you thirty years warranty on the frames, and then a one-year warranty on the pad.

Barbell

When it comes to buying a barbell for your gym, as much as we want to save some capital, getting a quality one is extremely necessary. You want a barbell that can last for a long time. Not something you will use for a few months and dispose of.

There are several options available, and the higher the price, the better the quality. I will recommend three reliable options, which are industry standard when it comes to building a garage gym.

NamePicturePrice
Rep Fitness Gladiator Olympic BarbellCheck Current Price
CAP "The Beast" Olympic BarbellCheck Current Price
Rep Fitness Sabre Olympic BarCheck Current Price

Rep Fitness Gladiator Olympic Barbell

The Gladiator Olympic Bar is built to last a lifetime. You should never worry about bending this bar because it is capable of holding up to 1500lbs, which is more than enough for a bodybuilder. This is a performance bar designed for athletes and serious powerlifters. It has a length of

Additionally, this bar is also coated with Hard Chrome, making it rust-resistant, and less to no maintenance is required to keep this barbell in good shape. The price, way cheaper than most barbells in this category.

CAP “The Beast” Olympic Bar

This is a highly sought after barbell used in both Commercial and Home gyms. “The Beast,” as they call it, is a beast of a barbell and a budget-friendly option as well. This bar weighs 20kg, that is, about 44lbs and has a length of 7.’

The material used to build this barbell is cold rolled steel and coated with an oxide finish. There is no way this bar will rust, even in a humid atmosphere. Since CAP has been in the gym industry for a while now, chances are you have used this barbell if you have worked out before.

REP FITNESS Sabre Olympic Bar

The Rep Fitness Sabre Olympic bar is another excellent barbell worth checking out. It has a maximum weight capacity of 1000lbs. It is rated 150k when it comes to tensile strength. That makes it ideal for all sorts of barbell powerlifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench press.

The Bushing functionality makes it possible to adjust your sleeves on the barbell during workouts. Zinc coating makes the bar virtually impossible to rust.

Plates

barbell plates for garage gym

There are two main types of weight plates, which is the iron plate and bumper plates. There have been numerous debates as to which one is the better option.

Personally, I prefer iron plates because they are cheaper, about half the price of a bumper plate of the same weight. They are even less expensive when you decide to buy a pre-owned version from the Facebook marketplace, eBay, or any other place. I recommend you buy them used. That’s because these plates will be in excellent condition, no matter how long it has been used.

Bumper plates, however, have a few advantages over iron plates. Firstly, they make less noise.

Additionally, if you are part of the few people who prefers dropping weights from overhead or waist position, then bumper plates are for you. They help absorb shock from massive drops, thereby saving your garage floor.

When it comes to industry-standard garage gym bumper plates, three brands come to mind: Rep Fitness, Titan Fitness, and Fringe Sports. You can’t go wrong with these brands.

NamePicturePrice
Titan Fitness Olympic Bumper PlatesCheck Current Price
Fringe Sport OneFitWonder Bumper PlatesCheck Current Price
Rep Fitness Competition PlatesCheck Current Price

Titan Fitness Olympic Bumper Plates

Titan Fitness is a well-recognized brand in the fitness industry, and so is their Olympic bumper plates. They come in a set of 4 pairs, and they weigh 10lb, 25lb, 35lb, and 45lb.

They have color-coded every pair, making it easy to identify. This is a common feature for most competition plates. You can use these bumper plates for a lifetime, and they will still be in good condition.

Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Bumper Plates

The One Fit Wonder bumper plates by Fringe Sport is also another great option. This also comes in 4 pairs, but there are a 5-pair and a 6-pair version as well.

If you are looking for durability, you should consider the One Fit Wonder. There have been several drop tests on these plates, and they remain as good as new. This is great for deadlifts and powerlifters.

It fits perfectly on any type of Olympic barbell, because of its 2-inch hole. Plates are also color-coded for easy identification. You get a 1-year warranty from Fringe Sport as well.

Rep Fitness Competition Plates

Rep Fitness competition plates are my favorite. The colorful plates add up to the aesthetics of your garage gym. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are also built to last a lifetime. These plates factory tested for over 30,000 drops, and they remained sturdy with no sign of damage.

Dumbbells

dumbbells for garage gym

The versatility of dumbbells makes it a requirement for every home gym. These are pieces of gym equipment that can be used for all kinds of fitness exercises. They are mobile, which means you can exercise with it anywhere in your house, not just your garage gym, and they don’t take up much space.

There are numerous options of dumbbells available, and some can be very expensive, but since we are building our garage gym on a budget, here are the best budget-friendly dumbbells on the market right now.

NamePicturePrice
Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable DumbbellsCheck Current Price
Powerblock Elite DumbbellsCheck Current Price

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells

This is my top recommended dumbbell for two reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t take up much space. These dumbbells come with plastic made base that is used to store them securely, and also makes it possible to adjust the weights of the dumbbells. With the help of an adjustable dial on the dumbbells, you can easily customize each pair from 5lbs to 52.5lbs.

Secondly, they are one of the cheapest options for a home gym, considering the functionality, and how much room it can save you in your garage.

The handle of the dumbbell and the locking mechanism found in the base is made of metal, but the plates themselves are made of rubber. Regardless, it feels like a regular dumbbell. Since the plates are made of rubber, you need to keep in mind not to drop it from a height; else you might damage it. This is really not an issue because most people gently drop dumbbells anyway.

Powerblock Elite Dumbbell

This does not look like your traditional dumbbell, but it has been an industry-standard and one of the most popular home gym dumbbells so far. The Powerblock is also an adjustable dumbbell, and weights can be adjusted from 5lbs to 50lbs, just like the Bowflex dumbbells discussed above.

Because it’s an adjustable type of dumbbell, you know you are saving a lot of gym space, and it doesn’t require any dumbbell rack to keep them safe. It comes with a 10-year warranty so that you can buy with confidence.  And wait, did I mention they are incredibly cheap too?

Nice-to-Haves

I call these equipment “nice-to-haves” because if you have all the recommended gym equipment we have discussed, then you are good to go. However, these equipment are excellent for various exercises. Here is a huge list of gym equipment you can add to your garage gym

Purchase these pieces of equipment over time to build a solid home gym, but if you have the budget to get them right now, go ahead. What I recommend is, bookmark this page, and then revisit it when you are ready to grab these. Now let’s get into it.

Kettlebells

Kettlebell is on top of this list because, just like dumbbells, this is a versatile piece of gym equipment. It’s useful for a lot of exercises and is definitely a must-have after you’ve got the essentials covered.

Name PicturePrice
Bowflex Adjustable KettlebellCheck Current Price
Kettle GrypCheck Current Price

Bowflex Adjustable Kettlebells

Bowflex does not only make excellent dumbbells, but their adjustable kettlebell is also a great option. You can select between 8lbs and 40lbs with just a turn of a dial. Bowflex makes their equipment straightforward to use. Just as their dumbbells, they don’t occupy so much space.

The weight settings of this kettlebell (in pounds) are 8, 12, 20, 25, 35, and 40. That is six kettlebells in one.

Kettle Gryp

If you are tight on your budget, this is a cool option. In essence, this is not a kettlebell. Instead, they turn a regular dumbbell into a kettlebell.

They “gryp” onto the handle of your dumbbell, hence making it possible to perform regular kettlebell swings and other kettlebell workouts. It takes a bit of getting used to. That’s because dumbbells are wider than traditional kettlebells. Hence you’ll realize you have to open your legs a bit wider than the usual.

I’ve used the Kettle Gryp before, and personally, I didn’t enjoy using them. So I recommend getting a regular kettlebell, or an adjustable option if you can. They are great. People love the Kettle Gryp, though, and they are dirt cheap.

Stability Ball

You won’t find this in a lot of home gyms, but this is a very useful piece of gym gear. There are 100’s of exercises which can be done with the stability ball. If you want to build your abs, your core stability and strength, you need to get one of these in your home gym.

URBNFit Exercise Stability Ball

This is the industry standard Stability Ball. The manufacturer paid a lot of attention to the build quality, using the Highest Quality PVC material on earth. Meaning it can withstand any vigorous exercise without bursting.

The URBNFit Stability ball comes in different colors, and the package includes a pump for easy and straightforward inflation within a few minutes.

Cardio Equipment

If you didn’t know this already, cardio exercises get your heart pumping, making your blood circulate faster in your body. To improve your wellbeing, health, and overall fitness, you need at least one cardio equipment in your gym. I will recommend three cardio should consider getting for your home gym.

Concept 2 Rowing Machine

This machine is designed to give your body a complete workout. It is a low impact exercise equipment, which means this machine is excellent for anybody who wants to be fit. It helps improve your muscle tone and increase your heart rate in the process, making it an excellent option for a cardio exercise.

There is no denying the fact that Concept2 Rowing Machine is the best so far. On Amazon, It is the best-selling rowing machine and has thousands of reviews and ratings.

This won’t take up much space in your garage gym because you can fold it securely store it on a rack or the floor. It also features a monitor used for tracking your performance in realtime, as you use the rowing machine. The Concept2 can also connect to any heart rate monitoring app or belt to track and record your heart rate speed, and more.

Sonic Boom M-2 Speed Rope

Jump ropes remain one of the best cardio exercises to perform, and the ropes are very affordable. Sonic Boom remains one of the best jump ropes I’ve ever used. They are a bit pricey compared to the cheaper options available, but these are built to last.

There is a bearing inside the handle, which makes it easy for the rope to spin whether you rotate your hand or not. They are lightweight and can go extremely fast as well. You should definitely get one of these for your gym.

Treadmill: NordicTrack T Series

At first, I never paid attention to treadmills because I preferred sight-jogging (sightseeing and jogging). That was until winter; then, I realized the momentum I’ve gathered over the few months of actively jogging was dropping. The weather gets so cold I don’t feel like stepping outside. Then I knew I have to get a treadmill for my home gym.

Treadmills can be very expensive, but NordicTrack made the T Series specifically for the garage gym builders on a budget. This means they had to strip a few features away. However, it still comes packed with a lot of cool features.

If you have an iFit membership plan, then you are in luck, because the NordicTrack integrates with the app to give you personalized interactive training. The Bluetooth feature of this treadmill makes it possible for the iFit app to adjust the speed of the treadmill.

There is also an iPad holder on this treadmill, which means you can enjoy tv shows or watch your favorite videos whilst you workout.

Garage Gym Flooring

garage gym flooring

You want to protect your garage floor from any impact from your dumbbell or barbell sets. You also want to reduce the noise in situations where your gym equipment falls to the ground. This is why getting proper flooring for your home gym is important

Luckily, there are superb home gym mats that solve this problem for us. I’ve reviewed some of the garage gym flooring options in this post. Make sure you check it out. But here are my top three picks.

NamePicturePrice
Rubber Cal Shark Heavy Duty MatCheck Current Price
Clevr 1 "Extra-Thick" Interlocking MatsCheck Current Price
Gxxmat Extra Large MatCheck Current Price

Rubber-Cal Shark Heavy Duty Mat

This mat remains my top pick because I have been using them in my home gym for years, and they still look the same. The same material used for making car tires are used for these mats.

This is a thick mat which can absorb any dumbbell or barbell drop, or any high impact drop, whilst protecting your garage floor.

Bottom line, I use these mats, they are great, I love them, and I highly recommend it.

Clevr 1 “Extra-Thick” Interlocking Mats

This is another excellent option for your home gym. It is made of foam, which makes them feel so comfortable under your feet. They are noise and water-resistant. Due to their thickness, they are able to withstand a bit of pressure and protect your floor.

However, since they are made of foam, you should be cautious when you are dropping a dumbbell on it, else it will gradually deteriorate.

They come in 12 pieces and covers 48 square feet of floor space after they are assembled. Clevr gives you a one-year limited warranty.

Gxxmat Extra Large Mat

If you are looking for a mat suitable for low impact exercises, then you should consider the Gxxmat. They are great for aerobic and bodyweight exercises. They are also perfect for Yoga. The smooth surface, made of foam, makes it so comfortable to exercise on.

And they can be easily rolled up and stored as well.

Wrapping it up…

We have covered a lot of things in this ultimate guide. Just as discussed earlier, start with the essentials, and build your way up. But if you have the budget, don’t hesitate to grab all the equipment you need. With a budget of $1500 – $2000, you can build a solid garage gym that will last for a lifetime.

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