Build my garage gym for me - or talk me out of it.

3forks

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Oct 4, 2014
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300
I’ve been an endurance type guy my whole life... I like to run, hike, and I’ve even tried to make a living racing my bike in my not too distant past.

While most people like going downhill on a bike, I like going up. Most people don’t like cardio and like to lift weights - I’m the opposite. I’m also 48, and getting soft. We eat pretty clean, but I seem to be gaining weight, and I think it’s because quit going to the gym a few years ago. My CV system still tests at an athlete/elite level, but I know I need to focus on strength training at this point in my life. I can still hike all day and have no trouble with altitude with a light pack, but the hike in and pack outs are getting to be more of a consideration.

Anyway, I mention this because I’ve never concentrated on the gym and strength training. However, I feel like I need to incorporate some weight training into my life and want to put together a SMALL but versatile system in my garage for strength training. I’m skeptical of the one machine home gym, but would consider one if it was truly the best option. I’m mostly envisioning getting an adjustable bench, and some sort of squat rack type system that would allow me to use more free weights, bars, and those strap type systems.

Am I going about this the wrong way? Should I just do push ups and get a pull up bar and skip getting some kind of gym? I‘ve considered something like CrossFit, but I just want something I can do with my limited time without having to drive to a gym (Any other free alone time I have I like to spend at the archery range or hiking/running/riding).

Also, please note - I‘m not trying to build muscle to show off at spring break and don’t want to get so far into this strength training bullshit that I start chugging Mountain Ops, wearing Axe body spray, or flat bill hats. I’m looking to keep what strength I’ve got, regain some intensity, and help fight off middle age.

So, I’m all ears and would appreciate any suggestions you guys may have for me!
 

HuntHarder

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Aug 4, 2014
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Phoenix, Az
I was gonna help until you said you weren't into chugging MT. Ops. How else are you gonna get those #gainz? J/k In all honesty, I tried the garage gym and I could not motivate myself, while at home with my kids bothering me. I had to join a gym and make time to go there. It sucked at first, but now is like therapy.

If I were doing a garage gym, Dip bar, squat rack, bench if you got room and a decent assortment of dumb bells. Of course, a bar and some weights as well. If you want to avoid a bar and free weights, pretty much any exercise can be done with dumb bells as well. Lunges, deadlifts, anything upper body.
 

Ratbeetle

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Jul 20, 2018
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542
Location
Colorado
Mine is set up with a homebrew lifting platform, olympic bar, a few hundred pounds of bumper plates, some dumbbells, a couple kettlebells, a pull up station, rings and assorted bands. I can do 95% of anything I would have normally done at a commercial gym. Might add a GHD sometime soon.

Had a power rack and sold it after back surgery. These days, if I can't clean it, I'm not squatting it.
 

lyle_destroys

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Joined
Sep 7, 2018
Messages
629
I was gonna help until you said you weren't into chugging MT. Ops. How else are you gonna get those #gainz? J/k In all honesty, I tried the garage gym and I could not motivate myself, while at home with my kids bothering me. I had to join a gym and make time to go there. It sucked at first, but now is like therapy.

If I were doing a garage gym, Dip bar, squat rack, bench if you got room and a decent assortment of dumb bells. Of course, a bar and some weights as well. If you want to avoid a bar and free weights, pretty much any exercise can be done with dumb bells as well. Lunges, deadlifts, anything upper body.
It's funny how different our lifestyles can all be. I always loved going to the gym but now with a family and work I dont have the time to drive 30 mins there and 30 mins back. The only option for me was to set up my basement as my own little gym. I find myself using it much more than I would if I had to drive to one.
 

nettereo16

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Joined
Feb 7, 2017
Messages
118
Location
NC
You can score some serious deals on FB Marketplace. However, with all the gyms closed due to the virus everyone is looking to make a garage gym...
 

elkguide

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Jan 26, 2016
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2,928
Location
Vermont
Let me begin by saying that I hate lifting weights and even though my wife is a gym rat, I would never go into one. I paint houses for a living and have to lift and set ladders all summer long. I spent 10 years guiding elk hunters in Wyoming and even though I live at sea level, it only took me a day or two to acclimate to the 6000' base camp elevation, BUT...……….. now that I've cracked the 60 year old mark, even though I ride a bicycle and average 4500 miles in the summer, ride a trainer inside all winter long, leaving me with a fairly lean body with a resting pulse rate of 51, I find the hills of Idaho and Wyoming getting a lot taller every year. I have a set of dumb bells and a barbell in my office that if I don't work out with at least 3 days a week, I can't even get that 40' ladder off my truck rack. And as much as I dislike machines, I bought a used Bowflex Max Trainer 5. It's a HIIT machine that in just 14 minutes I can keep my hill climbing, elk pack out legs and lungs in half way decent shape. So when they say that you begin to lose body, muscle mass after 40.... they aren't kidding and if you let it go too far it is really hard to make it back up and get back to the point of being able to have fun in the hills. I would recommend that you get some sort of a machine that you like and then commit to it, you'll do fine. Once summer gets here, even though I am riding my bike every chance I get, I also make time to get on my trainer or go for a couple mile walk in the fields or hills, with a weighted pack as unless you are doing nothing but climbing on your bike, you won't get enough cardio to prepare you for the hills in the fall.

Good luck and mostly keep it fun!
 

TxxAgg

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Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
251
I'm no expert, but I love walking out the door and working out 20 seconds later...running or kettlebells, etc. in the garage. I also have a dip bar and chin up bar.

For motivation, I watch youtube or antenna channels on a little tv in the garage.

I also laid down some horse stall mats from Tractor Supply so I work out barefoot. Put in a mirror as well...sounds silly but it helps.
 

SgtTanner

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
87
My wife and I have a pretty good garage gym setup. The things I use most:
C2 Rower
Bar/Plates/Rack
Pull up bar
Kettlebells
Boxes

For the boxes, we have two, they’re both the type that can be turned on a different side to get different heights. One is 20x24x30, the other is 12x14x16 or something close to that. The larger is good for jumping and the smaller is good for higher rep weighted steps and such. You can spend the money on the fancy Rogue boxes, but I’ve had good luck with some off brand versions I found on amazon. And they’re cheaper. Or you could make your own. I’m pretty handy, but I worry I’d end up with a box that wasn’t perfectly square. And then I’d break my neck.

Horse stall mats for the floor.
 

tdot

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Joined
Aug 18, 2014
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1,075
Location
BC
What sort of a budget are you considering? What sort of space do you have?

These will define your final setup more then just about anything else.

Make the space comfortable and enjoyable to be in, then you're more likely to use it. Rubber mats, mirror on the wall, good lighting and heat, will all go along way to keeping you in a good headspace and focused.

If you havent been lifting regularly, I'd stay away from the heavy bar and any type of Olympic lifting.

Personally, I'd start with 3 or 4 single Kettlebells, a small series of dumbbells or some adjustable ones, an adjustable bench, TRX, bosu ball. Build from the knowledge you gain, start identifying weaknesses and then add equipment from there.

Chinup/dip rack. Double up on some heavy Kettlebells. Heavy bar, with plates, etc.
 

wesfromky

Senior Member
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Nov 23, 2016
Messages
290
Location
KY
As many have mentioned already, a rack, bench, bar and some plates will go a long, long way. My suggested additions would be a couple mid weight kettle-bells, and some non traditional, but very effective for functional training bits. For example a sandbag, iron maces, Indian clubs, bands, and trx. Give you the abiltiy to lift heavy, but also do a lot of mobility and "prehab" type stuff.
 

deerslayer9000

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
13
Find a power rack, adjustable bench, and one bar (to start) from somewhere reputable like Rogue or EliteFTS that fits your budget. Search Craiglist for dumbbells and plates. They always pop up and its not like they go bad over the years. Sometimes you can find entire sets from schools looking to offload old equipment.

Remember, start slow and work on your form and flexibility.
 

jmcd22

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Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
419
Location
Idaho
You can score some serious deals on FB Marketplace. However, with all the gyms closed due to the virus everyone is looking to make a garage gym...
Yep...Wait until this all passes and they start popping up on Craigslist, FB Marketplace and the like, huge deals to be had, I'm sure. You definitely dont need much; just a bar and plates will be fine to start or if you don't want to spend a fortune.
 
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3forks

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2014
Messages
300
Damnit! I knew none of you bastards would talk me out of this...

I’m kidding, and thanks to everyone for their suggestions!

The space I‘ve got to work with is 11 feet long along a wall, and I’d like to keep whatever I put up against that wall limited to about 50 inches. The garage as 14 foot ceilings, so height isn’t really a limiting factor.

There‘s some equipment on Rogue Fitness that seems to fit the general idea of what I had in mind.


So, something like this rack and adjustable bench, a flat bar, and some kettlebells ought to get me a good enough system, right?
 
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