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Garage gym build for strength programming

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  • #16
    I don't think you should do anything under the platform for 1/4" over 8'. You might not even have rolling unless you shove the bar...rubber stall mats are firm but still a resilient material. If it's a problem, I second cwd's pad idea, with bar parallel to slope. Something mildly compressible like yoga mat or low pile commercial carpet, under the plates.


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the suggestions. So far I haven't had any problems with the barbell rolling on the platform. I have it set up parallel to the slope. We also put a thin layer of some kind of foam carpet backing that is made for basements. It's supposed to help with sound dampening and prevent moisture from accumulating. So that may help too. My rack, on the other had, is perpendicular to the slope and required a couple of thin shims. I had to arrange things that way so I could still get the car in. It's a very slight slope. I don't notice it when I'm lifting.

  • #17
    I have run strength 1 and currently running the untamed training cycle. I have a very small gym space, 10 x 8 with a little less than 8ft ceiling height. I have a titan t3 short rack, its a rogue r3 clone and is perfect for what I need. I got plates from tag sales, craigslist and facebook market place. I have a few bands and started with a rep fitness bench. If your looking for an adjustable bench I hear the rep fitiness fid is great but I found an ironmaster super bench for cheap in new condition. I have a cap barbell that is similar to the rogue power bar without the price tag. It all works great. I just added the pulley system for my rack so I can do lat work.


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for your advice. I'm in a small area as well. My single bay of a 2 car garage may be a wee bit bigger. It's cozy. I spend a lot of time moving stuff around. I went with a shorty rack too. How's the pulley system working for you? Is it a DIY system? Or did you get Spud or one of the other set ups? I'm curious because I'd like to set up something closer to a proper belt squat.

  • #18
    Small 66.9 sq. ft. Basement gym(I measured)!
    8’x6’ platform - built (Home Depot/Tractor supply)
    REP PR-4000 80” tall 24” deep rack
    ReP FB-5000 flat bench
    Rogue B&R 2.0 Bar
    Various plates and bumpers I’ve picked up over the years
    Power Block Elite EXP 5-90 lbs w/ stand
    I can tally it up but the recent purchases (rack, bench, power blocks) came to less than $3k.

    the ability to train when I want/can is invaluable during this interesting time. My kids’ daycare has been closed and I’m working from home. I have trained every day during their naps or while they watch a movie.

    Good luck! Can’t wait to see your setup when it’s finished.


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      Sweet, functional set up you have there. I'll try to get a photo mine. Training at home has been the best thing for my progress because it keeps me consistent. I used to train at a globo gym not far from home. But after the ownership changed hands, the new owners banned "powerlifting." I switched to a proper barbell dungeon for a while. But it was out of the way and my training wasn't as consistent. The only downside to lifting in the garage is the lack of climate control. In the summer heat, I train early in the morning. In the winter, I layer up and train in the evening.

  • #19
    Hi Rod, I'm sorry it's super challenging to acquire items for your home gym. I was lucky to have leveraged Rogue's "Black Friday" sale last November to pull the trigger on a new home gym. This wasn't absolutely necessary as my wife and I have a gym membership and that's where we train all the time and the idea was to build this in our weekend place. I'm cheap and wanted to just wait on the idea. But, wife was more pragmatic about it and if we want to leave town early and need to get a training session while we're away, we'd have problems. Good call by her and we executed on it.

    While I enjoyed Olympic lifts in the past, our focus is purely on strength and powerlifting, so I made the following decisions for our gym setup:
    (2) Rogue Monster Lite Squat stands with feet (I had no interest in drilling and making semi-permanent decisions for the racks)
    (2) Rogue Ohio Power Bars 45 lb Stainless Steel
    (2) Rogue Monster Utility Bench 2.0 Short with Competition Fat Pad
    (1) Vertical Plate Tree Bumper Stacker Wheel Set
    About 1,000 lbs of Rogue Calibrated Steel Plate weights
    (2) Custom made deadlift platforms, 4'x8', 3 plies of 3/4" board, 3/4" plywood, and 3/4" stall mat
    (1) Rogue Deadlift Bar Jack
    (1) Rogue HG 2.0 Collars for wife
    (1) OSO Barbell Collars for me

    I made a video of the gym coming together here: You can get a good idea of what it looks like and how I planned it. I'm happy to also send you more detailed pictures of anything that may help.

    You'll notice some choices above reflecting my philosophy of "buy once". I hate buying crap and replacing/throwing away things. So, I've learned through life that I much rather take the pain of paying more upfront and just not have to deal with issues later. So, there are opportunities to save some money above choosing other items than what I did, but now that I have about 6+ months of solid use of this gym, I wouldn't change anything.

    A couple of more items you may think about for conditioning and items that I have:
    (1) Concept 2 Rower
    A range of Kettlebells from 15 lb to 50 lb (facilitates some bicep, tricep, row variation work)

    There's, of course, a whole world of other things you can buy. But, we've kept ours minimalist on purpose to suit our needs and not just accumulate stuff. I would like to have an actual deadlift bar, especially since I compete. But, I've been too cheap to do so yet. Plus, I figure I can continue to get strong on a stiff bar and get that nice +5-10% (surprise) advantage when I do reach competition...

    Hope that helps...


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for your recommendations. Your garage gym is sweet.! A plate tree on wheels is helpful. I went with a less expensive one that doesn't roll, and I wish I had the option. My garage is rather cozy. I'm always moving equipment around depending on the day. Do the OSO collars bite like the HG 2.0? Unlocking them is like trying to get cheese out of a mousetrap. Thanks for sharing the video.

  • #20
    Just a disclaimer, half my family is Scottish so I’m not the kind of guy that will pay full price for anything. I’m in the same boat, trying to build a cheap home gym and here is what I’ve found.

    1. I’ve watched a bunch of Garage Gym Reviews and videos of people staring gyms. I’m going to disagree with most people and say you don’t need a Rogue Barbell. I have heard the “buy it to last” debate and set out to buy a Rogue barbell. At the warehouse that sold them the rep had me try one of his Chinese barbells and compared it to the rogue. I ended up getting the cheaper one because I was able to get it for a third of the price of the rogue bar and then bought a couple of no name 45 lb plates with the money I saved. The bar stays inside and I use it pretty regularly. It will be stronger than me for some time and I haven’t had any issues with it. You probably don’t need a Rogue bar?

    2. because of Covid there are a lot of Gym that are closing for good, especially some of the CrossFit boxes. I would try rounding up some equipment from them as they try and liquidate their inventories. Even stable gyms are always trying to get rid of stuff.

    Hope you find what you are looking for! Good luck.


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the tips. No shame in being thrifty! Most of us work pretty hard for our pennies. Yes, Coop (Garage Gym Reviews) is a good resource. I know Jordan dislikes Reddit. But I found the home gym subreddit helpful. As for my choice of barbell, I picked the OPB because I wanted to train on the same bar I'd compete with. That said, it's a terrible match with the R3 rack due to the collars. I think I may have been better off with a different rack. I'm glad I started this project before the pandemic shut down the gyms. Lifting is my coping mechanism.

  • #21
    Thanks to everyone for your replies. I posted my question over a year ago. I really appreciate all the advice you all offered. I thought I should follow up here to summarize what I acquired and what I learned. I'm lucky I put together most of my garage gym back in summer of 2019. So I've been unaffected by the current scarcities in equipment. One thing about having a garage gym is there always seems like there is another piece of equipment that would be nice to have.

    Rack & attachments: Rouge R3 shorty. Turns out a Rouge rack and a Rouge Ohio Power Bar aren't a great combination. Clipping the rack when walking out a squat with the OPB can be a problem if your attention waivers for an instant. This absolutely sucks when doing heavy squats. Otherwise, the rack has held up ok. It has some dings and chips in the cerakote primarily from clipping it on walk-outs. I haven't missed any reps yet. So I can't speak to how well it performs in that situation. Some other disadvantages to the R3 is that all the sweet attachments that go with the Monster and Monster Lite series racks aren't available. I did get 2 sets of J-cups and I'm glad I did. It makes setting up for the next lift a little easier. Although my garage would've just fit a standard height rack, I'm a shorty. It's nice not to have to jump or stand on a stool to reach the pull-up bar. I did get the spotter arms to do overhead press outside the rack. I got both pin and strap safeties. You don't need both. If you are going to do rack pulls in the rack as opposed to using blocks, straps are nice so you don't damage the knurling of the barbell. But the pins are more frequently useful for performing the pin variations. I did get the Matador dip attachment. Dips are a bit difficult for me as a small person using the Matador. The bars are spaced a bit too wide. So I have to grip as close to the proximal end of the dip arms, which means my chest brushes the attachment support. Not a big deal. The Landmine attachment has proved to be useful. I rotate between bent-over rows and lever rows. I also use it for belt squats. Not necessary. But nice to have the option for a little variety. Whatever rack you buy, order shims with it. I needed a few to make it level and ordered them after the fact. So I had to wait a week or so for those to arrive before bolting the rack down. But that gave me a week to experiment with the final rack placement.

    Bench: Rep Fitness AB-3100 adjustable bench. I wanted to be able to do incline variations, but didn't have the budget for the nice adjustable benches. I settled on the AB-3100. It's Rep's least expensive adjustable bench. The good: It's stable and fairly easy to roll around when you need to get it out of the way. (If you're training in limited space, you may be surprised to discover how much time you spend moving things around.) The bad: The gap between the incline bench and the seat seems to be exactly where I want to put my butt every time. Also, the height is shorter than the Rouge Flat Bench, which is fine with me. But that might be a problem for larger lifters.

    Bar: Rouge Ohio Power Bar (45 pound). My reason was the gym that hosts local USAPL meets uses OPBs. Again, I'm a small person and wanted to get used to a 29mm bar without whip. I really prefer the 28.5mm diameter of the TPB. Hook gripping an OPB doesn't work for me. I can barely get my middle finger and thumb to touch. Also, I live in the humid southeast. So I ordered the OPB with a cerakote finish. It has held up ok but I would just get the raw steel bar and do the maintenance if I had it to do over. It would be really nice to have a second barbell to superset with. And, as I pointed out above, the collars on the OPB clip the R3 easily when walking out squats.

    Collars: Rouge HG 2.0. These were free with the barbell and I understand why. These are like securing your plates with a couple of mousetraps.

    Plates: Troy Premium Olympic black plates from Adamant Barbell. I'm not impressed. The black paint has flaked off some of them. The black paint also seems to be matte on some plates and glossy on others. And some plates it appears the paint bubbled before it dried. The bubbles look bad but provide a stippled effect, which makes the plates a little easier to hold. The paint issue is cosmetic and doesn't affect their performance. The black plates are just gray plates with black paint. Speaking of performance, one of the 45s chipped along the inside of the hole. I just avoid deadlifting with that one for now. Eventually, I'll need it once my deadlift gets to 405. Unfortunately, Adamant has gone out of business since I purchased the plates. Anyway, in retrospect, I would've just picked the Plain Jane Standard plates.

    Plate storage: I went with the Troy VTX Olympic plate tree since I ordered Troy plates. It was a bit of a pain to assemble. But it hold the plates fine.

    Deadlift platform: I made one with the help of a carpenter friend according to Alan Thrall's exact specifications minus the logo. After a year of regular deadlifting, my garage floor seems to be fine thanks to the platform. That said, if I had to do it over again, I'd make two changes. First, I'd build it in thirds. As one solid piece, it's impossible to move by myself. It would take three or four stout folks to move it very far. I do lean it against the garage wall when not in use, which requires lifting one side. This can be a challenge after I'm already spent from deadlifts. Second, I might make the portions with horse stall matts wider and the center plywood section more narrow. The deadlift jack has scratched the plywood quite a bit. Also, sumo on the plywood can be slippery. As for the band pegs, they are just like the one's in Alan's video from Titan. They work, but some of the welds are a sloppy. Anyway, I've seen some other DIY platforms with less expensive DIY band peg attachments. If you're building a platform, you might consider going that route.

    Deadlift jack: I splurged here and bought the full sized Rouge deadlift jack. I used a "Dead Wedge" for a while before when I deadlifted at a globo gym, and having a full sized jack is just a lot faster and easier on the back.

    30" industrial fan: This is a necessary piece of gym equipment in the hot, humid southeast. I don't remember the specific brand. I picked it up on sale as a floor model at a big box store. A regular box fan just doesn't move enough air.

    Rouge R2 Concept Rower: I wasn't planning on getting any conditioning equipment. But I stumbled onto a great deal for a gently used one. It was nice to have this as an option last winter when the weather wouldn't cooperate for cycling or running. A rower is great for general warm-up and HIIT. LISS on a rower is tedious because I can't let my attention wander like I can on a bike or treadmill.

    Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbells: These were a Black Friday sale acquisition. Adjustable dumbbells are great because you can do a lot of exercises for a relatively small footprint. That said, these aren't quite like using the standard pancake plate or hexagonal dumbbells. It's hard to explain precisely, but they feel different in the hand than typical dumbbells. The balance is different and not as pleasant. I know Ironmaster has a video on their website of them dropping these down the stairs. But you cannot drop them. You'll end up with quite a crack in your concrete floor if you do. To prevent that from happening again, I bought some 3 inch thick playground tiles. 3 inches is actually too thick because they impart too much bounce to the dumbbell, which bounced off and cracked the floor again. Maybe a 1.5 inch version of a playground tile would work better? Why is this even an issue? If you're using a dumbbell for an AMRAP, you need to be able to drop it. I've hit myself in the chest and leg a few times with the corners trying to control the drop. If you go this route, the stand is nice to have. Not only does it work as plate storage, but it gives you a decent surface to swap out plates on. Changing plates is a PITA, but you get the hang of it.

    45lb Bumper Plates: CAP, not Rouge. I bought these out of a car trunk behind the jail. No kidding. Turns out the combination of iron plates, deadlift platform, and the cinderblock walls of a garage means deadlifts and Pendlay rows are kinda loud. These plus a layer of carpet backing between the plywood of the platform and the concrete floor of the garage deadens the noise a bit.

    DIY Blocks for block pulls: My carpenter friend made these for me with some leftover 2x4s and leftover horse stall mat. Pretty sweet. Only downside is they aren't adjustable. But they're prefect for me.

    Jump Rope: This is a great tool for general warm up. Skipping rope is a great way to get your heart rate up quickly, especially if you're not good at it. No, I didn't get the $50 Rouge version. I think mine was $14 from Amazon.

    Inflatable Exercise Ball: I like to use one of these for crunches because it helps to isolate the rectus abdominis, or so I think. But, I left it on the front porch one night and it wasn't there the next morning.

    Ab Roller: This is a great, cheap option when planks get too boring or too easy. Just make sure you're doing it right.

    Keg, spare tire, tow rope, play sand: Wuuuuuut? Lately, I've been trying to add some variety to my conditioning. I got this idea from Alan Thrall also. Unless strongman adds a battle gnome division, I'm not likely to compete. But strongman is a great corner of strength athletics to get inspiration for GPP. Even better, I managed to scrounge up this stuff for free.

    That covers everything. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks again for everyone's input.
    Last edited by Rod; 07-22-2020, 11:25 AM. Reason: Spelling


    • #22
      Addendum: I forgot I added an EZ curl bar at some point over the winter from EliteFTS. It wasn't expensive, although I don't recall how much it was.


      • #23
        Thanks for the update, especially liked the strongman section. I need to get one of those fans.


        • #24
          Photos as promised...


          • #25
            Nice setup, Rod. We got some of the same stuff... :-) My wife bought us that same orange industrial fan!! Yeah, the plate tree I like a lot and glad I got the heavy duty casters. I was really nervous about a stand being able to hold all 1,000+ lbs of my weight, but Rogue said not to worry and it can do just fine. They are right so far, the stuff is extra heavy gauge in all respects and I've not had any worries. Now, moving a half a ton, even on casters, is work.... trust me LOL But, yes, you have the option to move things around, which is great. Especially if you take off a few hundred pounds, it'll move easily. I like every decision I made here and would highly recommend the components I have to anyone. Minimalist gym, not a lot of stuff, but like it that way for now.


            • Rod
              Rod commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, I emailed Rouge to ask how much the rolling plate tree could hold when I was researching my options. I was skeptical at first. But if it's like most of the other stuff Rouge makes, it's sturdy and overbuilt. So no worries. In retrospect, I'm sorry I didn't get it. I was trying to save money, and went with the less expensive Troy plate tree that doesn't roll. Oh well.

              And yes, the big fan makes all the difference. My garage tends to run 10 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature. This is an advantage in the winter, but a big disadvantage in the summer. I haven't found a space heater that makes any difference in the winter. The garage doesn't have the heavy duty wiring to run a proper shop heater. I'm reluctant to run a propane heater in an enclosed space. Last winter wasn't unbearable though.

              I definitely have all the basics covered. There are a few things I'd still like to add:
              1) A second barbell so I can superset. But to do that, I'll need more plates also. Decent plates are really hard to come by or silly expensive if you can find them these days. Anyway, I'd like to get a Texas Power Bar. I've trained with them before. I really prefer the diameter better than the OPB and the wider collars when squatting.
              2) Safety Squat Bar. This seems like the easiest way to add the ability to do more squat variations.
              3) Landmine close-grip handle for close-grip T-bar rows. I'm trying to catch my back musculature up with the rest of me.
              4) Chains. Nice to have eventually. I'm getting by with bands for now.
              5) Dumbbells >75 lbs or the 120 lb extension kit for the Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells. The standard Ironmaster set goes up to 75 lbs. I don't need more than 75 lb. dumbbells yet. But I'm getting there. I'm leaning toward just slowly acquiring heavier regular dumbbells as I need them. The Ironmasters get the job done. But they aren't as nice to lift with as regular pancake plate or hexagonal dumbbells.
              6) Different collars. I call the Rouge HG 2.0's "mousetraps" because they'll bite your fingers when they snap open if you aren't careful. I'd like a pair that don't do that. I'll also need another pair once I get a second barbell.

          • #26
            Hi All,

            My name is Travon. I work for a company by the name of Fringe Sport. If you haven't heard of us check us out here:

            Garage gym equipment as we all know if super hard to come about at this time! But I do have a magic wand that still has some inventory in it and some on the way(:

            Anyone that is in the market for some great quality equipment with great service please email me [email protected] and let see if we can make your garage gym dreams come true(:

            Thanks again


            • #27
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