By Strength Oldschool
A number of years back I purchased my own house, finally getting on the property ladder which is extremely hard to do financially, by yourself. One of the great things about the house was that it had a garage which was a bit small but it had potential to become a great home garage gym. Everyone needs something to look forward to, a small pleasure in life, a hobby, anything that allows you to take your mind off things and enjoy yourself. My pleasure is weight training. Therefore upon moving into my house I decided to transform my garage into a gym.
Before moving into my own house, I previously rented (at different times of course) two ground floor flats over the course of several years. My first flat was pretty big - three bedrooms and I turned one of the rooms into a gym. Nothing fancy, I simply purchased two adjustable dumbbells, an Olympic barbell, about 200kg worth of Olympic, rubber weight plates, a weight tree and a set of squat stands, which I could use for squatting obviously but also shoulder pressing movements without having to clean the barbell from the floor. I opted at that point in time to discard any chest work like bench pressing. I simply focused on shoulders, back, legs and some arms. Fast forward a few years later to my next flat. This rented accommodation wasn't big by any means, It was a nice flat on the ground floor again, open plan which was great but only one bedroom. So training technically had to be done in the kitchen area. All my weights were situated behind a leather couch. There was no cupboard space to place the weights away when I wasn't training. But I didn't care to be honest, a one bedroom flat was all I could afford at that time and so I made do with what I had.
In the past, especially when I began training seriously, I used to for a long time train at commercial gyms. If I’m honest though, I always hated that. Those gyms had lots of good equipment and most of the people there were great, BUT.... the travelling, paying gym fees and having to wait on gym equipment when it was busy and most importantly, being surrounded by arseholes (no offense) from time to time, wasn’t my idea of fun. Back then, working all day and then having to travel to a commercial gym became stressful for me. I knew back then that either, I was going to switch to another gym that was less busy or stop going completely! The thought of switching gyms just didn't appeal to me and so by habit, sheer laziness and apprehension, I just remained at my usual, busy gym. I later lost enthusiasm to train and began training less often. So I came to my senses and opted to buy some gym equipment to use at home. It became the best decision I ever made. I could train seven days a week, as many times a day as I wished and at any time I desired.... BLOODY BRILLIANT!! Anyway, fast forward to the present date and I’ve never been happier having my “OWN” Home Garage Gym. I highly recommend to anyone to do the same if you have similar feelings as I did. I can be a pricey investment to begin with, but in the long run, it pays for itself immensely.
It can be very intimidating for some people (skinny, overweight, females, beginners etc) to join a gym these days. Some people (Let's face it most of us are) are extremely self-conscious or just simply don’t like to be surrounded by many people. Some people just don’t want to train at commercial gyms anymore because of idiot teenagers (let me just say not every teenager is an idiot) training beside them. I remember training years ago at my local commercial gym and listening to a few guys talk about beatin’ the shit out of someone! Who wants to listen to that? You also get people who seem like they just go the gym to mingle and socialise. I never understood that. Be friendly and pleasant yes, but I always liked to just focus on my ‘training’ and keep talking to a minimum. At the end of the day, I just wanted to train and get the hell out of the gym as quickly as possible as I had other things in my life to take care of. I had no time to spend over 2 hours in one training session. Forget that bollocks!!
So let’s assume you have the space. You have a garage which you plan to turn into your very own gymnasium. Congratulations! If it’s anything like my own garage, it won’t be all that big and you’ll have low ceilings which is a pain in the arse but it’s yours... All YOURS!! Your own home garage gym…Sounds good huh? I bet it does. Here’s some picts of my own gym to motivate you….
HOW MY HOME GARAGE GYM USED TO LOOK
Check this video out...
AFTER SOME RENOVATING
MORE RENOVATING WITH GYM EQUIPMENT
This was the first video I made after my garage gym (at that point in time) was setup.
I was lucky enough to already have lighting in my garage. But I wanted to add more lights so I obtained the services of an electrician and installed more lighting plus extra switches so that I could turn off all lights individually. This is a handy feature to have as I can easily train with only a couple of lights on. I usually turn them all on anyway but I always have the option. Before the electrician worked his magic, the only way I could turn off the garage lights was to leave the garage, walk into my house and flip the off-switch from there. This became a pain as I would always forget to do this after training and after locking up the garage. My garage isn’t attached to my house, it resides partly in my garden and has a handy side door for quick access. Overall, I love my own home garage gym. It took months to complete but it was worth it in the end. No more waiting on gym equipment, no more listening to other peoples bullshit, no more paying gym fees but the best bit of all… I can train whenever I wish, on holidays, 7 days a week, 365(6) days a year, at any time of the day. It’s great. I’m now one of many to be the owner of a Home Garage Gym and I love it!
Even since creating my own garage gym, I've installed new equipment and tweaked the gym slightly to suit my needs. Check out these videos...
Keep up to date on the evolution of my Home Garage Gym - Check out my videos which can be viewed on my Strength Oldschool Youtube channel by clicking here.
Let's now move on to my recommended choice of gym equipment.
GYM EQUIPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
So you have your own home garage gym but no equipment yet… Let me help you. The following gym equipment are my own personal recommendations and as a bonus I already own and use the following equipment. I’m not going to recommend something that I’ve never used before.
1. Body-Solid Commercial Multi-Press and Squat Rack [ BUY ]
Every weight trainer in my personal opinion should use some kind of Power Rack. No matter if you don’t have space for any other kind of equipment, make sure you get a Power Rack of some kind. This is a 14-position gunrack which can handle over 1,000 lbs! I highly recommend this rack for full body power training. I always wanted a Power Cage. But because my garage ceiling is quite low, I had to settle for something that at the time I didn’t really want. Now though, I love it. But I’m not going to lie, if I ever get the chance to move again and have a bigger home garage gym with higher ceilings then I’d definitely buy a Power Rack. Power Racks offer lifters who train by themselves the ultimate safety protection. You would be a fool not to invest money in a good Power Rack. Now the one I use and recommend is pictured above and it’s great. You can set the safety pins on either side of the rack to different heights for bench pressing, shoulder pressing, deadlifts, rows, squats, barbell curls, floor presses etc. Check out my Youtube Training videos to see me using the rack. There is another version of this rack but I opted to buy the stronger version because it could handle over 1,000 lbs of weights, therefore great for strength training. This also gives me tremendous confidence in handling heavy weights which is must for any lifter. It also has extra Olympic weight storage as you can see from the picture. So if you have quite a few Olympic weight plates then this rack will take a lot. I would recommend this rack to anyone. This is a Heavy Duty Rack and is currently being sold for around £400.00. Well worth the money.
2. Body Power 185kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Set [ BUY ]
A gym with no weights isn’t a gym so let’s get you some weights. I recommend Body Power 185kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Set. Unless you’re a strength athlete, 185kg of Olympic weight plates should start you off nicely. It’s a great idea to buy ‘Rubber Encased’ Olympic weights as ordinary cast iron Olympic plates would be more damaging to your gym floors and noisy. Yes it costs extra money to buy rubber encased plates but its worth the money in my book. The 185kg of Olympic weight plates will break down as follows:
1 x 7ft Chrome 320kg rated Olympic Bar (Weight: 20kg)
4 x 20kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Disks
2 x 15kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Disks
2 x 10kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Disks
4 x 5kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Disks
4 x 2.5g Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Disks
4 x 1.25kg Rubber Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Disks
1 x pair Olympic spring collars
This Olympic Weight Set will cost you around £385.00.
The Olympic spring collars do there job and prevent the Olympic plates from sliding across the bar, but there shit! I will recommend much better safety collars in a moment. Keep reading!!
3. Body Power – 1kg to 30kg Rubber Hex Dumbbell Set [ BUY ]
Dumbbells are great to have for any gym. They can help add variety to any training program. This stunning set comprises of 18 pairs of Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbells. The set includes 1-10Kg in 1 Kg increments & 12.5Kg-30Kg in 2.5Kg increments, a total weight of 450Kg. These dumbbells will reduce noise and protect your floors. Highly recommended. I have the exact same dumbbells. This set of dumbbells will cost you around £830.00.
Now if you don’t have the space to store so many dumbbells, then there are other alternatives out there.
Alternative Dumbbells for limited Storage:
A. Bowflex (4 - 41Kg) - SelectTech Dumbbells (Pair) [ BUY ]
One pair of dumbbells which can be adjusted in weight from 4kg right up to 41kg by simply adjusting a dial. Quick and easy. I’ve never used these before but they are pretty popular. These dumbbells will cost you anywhere between £330.00 and £500.00.
B. Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells [ BUY ]
I purchased Ironmaster Dumbbells about a number of years ago. At the time I was still living at home with my parents and so only had a small bedroom to store some weights in. So at the time I opted to buy Ironmaster for the convenience of being so compact. They didn’t look space-age, there appearance resembled more like a dumbbell which appealed to me. They were solid and very compact which I loved. I don’t have them anymore as I gave them to my brother to use a few years back. I remember they were pretty expensive. Upon researching the web, a pair of Adjustable Ironmaster Dumbbells with Rack included (to store all the weight plates) will cost £547.00. The dumbbells range from 2.2kg right up to 34kg. And more weight can be purchased as I believe the dumbbells can be loaded right up to 150 lbs. Ironmaster also sell barbells and their specific weight plate design fits both dumbbells and barbells. These plates work by rotating the circular nozzle at each end of the dumbbell until its loose enough to pull off. The black square weight plates all come in different poundage sizes, and these basically slide off with ease. They kind of fit on one another like a jig saw before you place the circular nozzle back on to tighten all the weight plates together. So it’s not as quick and easy as turning a dial as featured with Boxflex but it’s still pretty straightforward.
Check out this honest, no bullshit review I did on Ironmaster Dumbbells...
To read a more in depth review on Ironmaster Dumbbells, click here.
C. Powerblock Sport 9.0 Dumbbells [ BUY ]
These adjustable weight plates operate through a Selector Pin System. A pair of Powerblocks can be loaded from only 1kg right up to 41kg. It can be purchased as Starter Kit 1 which allows you to only load the dumbbells up to 22.5kg. If you want to load the dumbbells up to 41kg you will need to purchase the Stage 2 Kit. I have never used Powerblocks before so I can’t really comment on whether or not they are good. They do look very space-age which may be off putting to some people but they get good reviews so maybe worth checking out. Prices for Powerblock stage 1 kit are around £240.00. If you buy both kits together that will cost you around £460.00. These types of heavy, quickly adjustable dumbbells are not cheap by any means but I suppose you are paying for the convenience of not having 20 or so sets of dumbbells taking up space! That’s definitely something to think about.
If you are having problems deciding on which type of adjustable dumbbells to buy, please watch my 'Ironmaster Video Review' above and / or read my article on why I think Ironmaster Dumbbells are the best adjustable dumbbells on the market today! Click here.
Ok moving on from Dumbbells, let’s get back to recommending some great gym equipment..
4. Horizon T4000 Premier Folding Treadmill [ BUY ]
This is a solid Treadmill to use for walking/running. Every home gym (if you have the space) should have a treadmill. Superb for cardiovascular reasons, help keep your heart healthy. This Treadmill doesn’t look fancy and it doesn’t have all the fancy gadgets which more modern treadmills have. Its very basic. The reason why I chose this Treadmill was purely because its well-made and strong and will last years. It’s also a bonus that its foldable and it folds away very easily. I’d definitely recommend this type of Treadmill to anyone. This Treadmill will cost you around £1000.00. You’re not paying for gadgets, you’re paying for strong build quality which will last. It also comes with a two or three year warranty I believe.
5. Body-Solid Dipping Station [ BUY ]
If you still have space in your Home Garage Gym to include other equipment then I’d recommend getting a Body-Solid Dipping Station. Now you can get any kind of dipping station you like but this is the exact same one I have and its pretty damn SOLID. Very stable piece of equipment which will help you build thicker triceps, chest and shoulders. There’s a reason why this exercise is called the ‘Upper Body Squat’ because it’s so damn effective! This Dipping Station will cost you around £180.00.
6. Body Power Olympic Weight Tree [ BUY ]
Get one of these bad boys to hold all your Olympic Weight Plates to help keep your gym nice and tidy. I have two of these in my own gym and there fantastic. One of these will set you back around £35.00.
7. Rogue HG Olympic Lock Jaw Collars [ BUY ]
Earlier I had said that spring collars that come with the Olympic Weight Set were shit and that I’d recommend much better safety collars and here they are…Rogue HG Lock Jaw Collars. I have two sets of these, one black, one red. They are brilliant, a little costly, but well worth it. So much easier sliding one of these on to secure weights than squeezing a shitty spring collar. Highly recommended. A set of Rogue Lock Jaw Collars will cost you around £20.00.
8. 0.5kg Fractional Olympic Weight Plate [ BUY ]
If there’s one thing I’d recommend to anyone who weight trains is to buy yourself a set of 0.5kg Olympic weight plates. Get 4 of these if you can. Adding weight in small increments is so much better than jumping up too big. Going up only 1kg may seem pointless on the big exercises like squats (but it’s not) but it definitely is handy on shoulder and arm exercises, small muscle groups. These 0.5kg weight plates can be costly but are very much worth the investment. They will set you back around £20.00. These babies are the secret to helping you get strong faster. I kid you not.
Starting a Home Garage Gym will be the best decision you ever make, trust me. And even if you cannot afford to buy the equipment I’ve listed above, don’t worry, just make sure you get a good Power Rack because safety is paramount when training by yourself. A good rack, basic Olympic barbell and around 100 to 200kg of Olympic weights is all you need. Obviously the amount of free weights will be less or more depending on how strong you are.
Here’s a little tip for you…Always check Gumtree or your local newspaper ads or ebay for deals on second hand weights. You might be surprised by what you might find online. Always worth a look.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I’ve been meaning to write something like this for awhile but just haven’t had the time to get round to doing it which is typical. If you like this article please share it to all social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you have any questions or comments, use the comments box below.
Keep training hard,