Home Gyms

Home gyms are awesome- They allow you to dress, act, experiment, listen to your own music, and really cut loose without having to worry about upsetting gym staff or other lifters.
They are as bare bones or as fancy as you want them to be.
You never have to wait in line for equipment, and no one asks you how many sets you have left for the bench as they hover around impatiently for you to finish.
They have the potential to be more effective than going to a full gym. For one you don’t have to go far to get to it, and you are more willing to fail in private, than in public and this is where you start to make the progress. Failing is a powerful tool to greater gains.

A few years ago, i used the garage gym exclusively, and found that on my return to the regular public gym, my gains in strength were much better than those around me. Looking in almost all of the historic strongman stories, a home gym, “cave” or “dungeon” had been the starting point for their success.

What to do?
Now, looking at the prices of most equipment, and the prices for weights and bars etc, how do you get one going without going broke. With patience. Pure and simple. Patience.

Do not go and get the whole garage filled up in one shot. Use a few guidelines for selecting what you buy:

  • Can this be used in more than one way?
  • Is it well made, and will it last? ( think in terms of 10-15 years)
  • Can I pay for it outright, with no credit or payment plans? ( important point, cash on hand )
  • Will I use this? Does this fit into my routine now or in the future?

These are just a few of the questions i use to help buy a piece of equipment. My collection in the picture has been built using patience, and a tight wallet over the past 10 years. My family comes first from the pocket, then work, then myself so to buy something new, the wife has got to bless off on it as well. Here is what is pictured, what it cost, and when i got it:

  1. Dumbbells- 3×50; 2×45; 2×25; 2×10; 1×70. Paid $0.25 a pound about 10 years ago. Db’s are a must.
  2. Adjustable bench (not pictured) $25, 10 years ago with the db’s
  3. Multi purpose weight machine. Got this monster on sale 7 years ago. Just got married, and had some “single money” left, so i got it for our new house. $500. It has all the gym cable machines all in one.
  4. Bench, bar, 425 lbs of plates- free. When people move, they leave stuff, and offer to give things away. Take advantage of this when it happens. I got this 6 years ago, and have used the hell out of it. My first 300 bench was on this, with the wife spotting me. (also got some rubber floor mats with it as well)
  5. Treadmill (not pictured) – $100 from friends that did not use it, and then they bought something else they didn’t use.
  6. Wood blocks for pinch grip training- made myself out of scrap wood. 6yrs
  7. Wrist roller attachment for the barbell – made myself from scraps and an old cargo strap. 6yrs
  8. Boxes to stand on for deficit deadlifts- made from scraps, 6yrs
  9. Grippers from Ironmind, Beef Builder all bought individually at $20 a piece. I started buying them 8 years ago, and bought the last one 3 years ago. They are very well made.
  10. Kettle bells- the 20lb one was under $30, but the 24kg, was a little pricey at $153. Buying any weights in Alaska is pricey. I’ve had these for 3 years.
  11. 80 lb sand bag- i make a new one every place i go to. Wood pellets, or play ground sand and a duffle bag. Super cheap, super effective.
  12. 8lb Sledge hammer- awesome for the forearms. 6yrs ago, free.
  13. Pull up station- $78, or something close to that. Prior to this recent purchase, i had a bar hanging from the back porch. Pull ups outside at -25degrees is not cool/ pull ups with swarms of mosquitoes in the summer, torture.
  14. Broken mirror- lesson learned, be carefull when parking the car in the garage.

There are more items scattered around bought over the years. The big thing here was that all of these items were picked up piece meal, and when they became available, not when i wanted them. I use the hell out of these things, and will continue to indefinitely.

Home gyms are awesome and highly recommended. With patience and a good eye, they can be built up relatively cheap. The occasional big purchase item may look expensive in the short term, but if it meets all the criteria you are looking for, over the years it will turn into an investment that will have more than paid itself off.

Till next time, take care and good lifting,


Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Jim Besenyei

     /  April 15, 2012

    Looks like a good setup Tim.

    I agree with you 100% on how great it is to be able to go into the garage, basement, backyard, extra room, or whatever, and grunt, sweat, swear (if one is so inclined), use chalk, and blast some inspirational music when lifting. I don’t have nearly as wide a variety in my garage as you do in yours, but I hit Craigslist and the local classifieds every couple of days looking for great deals–and, they are definitely out there–and hope to have a more useable gym by years end.

    Actually, your article has inspired me to lift in my garage at least once this week. It will force me to be creative and give me a break from the spandex & hair product crowd I’m usually surrounded by.

  2. “My first 300 bench was on this, with the wife spotting me. ”

    This quote alone made the article…hahaha…this is the “other” essential of a home gym, the wifey spotting you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: