No announcement yet.

Garage gym build for strength programming

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Garage gym build for strength programming

    Apologies if this isn't the appropriate forum for this question. That said, I'm planning a garage gym build in preparation to do the beginner's template and then plan to proceed to the strength I template. The gym I train at now isn't equipped for barbell lifting. No power racks, no deadlifting allowed, no chalk, the barbells are 30+mm junk, etc. I've checked out other local gyms, but can't find anything that I can make work due to my varied schedule. All the decent barbell gyms are a long drive away and seem to keep banker's hours. So, my plan is to buy a Rouge R3 rack, bench, barbell and plates, and build a deadlift platform. (Thanks to Alan Thrall for the excellent YouTube video on how to build one.) Can anyone recommend any additional equipment I may need for the beginner's and Strength I template or, thinking ahead, what else I might need? I am on a tight budget. (I've watched my local Craigslist like a hawk now for months, and so far nothing. I've visited the local used sports equipment reseller many times, and they have nothing either.) Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

  • #2
    I think it somewhat depends on what your budget is. I lift in my garage gym and I use a lot of Titan equipment because its cheaper. In terms of quality they are definitely a step down for Rogue, but I think they are a good fit for garage gyms. I'd get a tall rack that is 36 deep if you have the space for it with a High low pulley system. That is going to run you $700 with Titan and higher with Rogue.

    I'd also buy a middle of the line bench. I have the Titan FID and I like it ($175), but there are a lot of similar options out there. Don't go too cheap on the bench.

    I'd get two barbells, one with center knurling (for squatting) and one without. I'd get one nice bar ($300) and one strong (PSI 190,000) but cheap bar ($135). I'd go with Rogue for the expensive bar and probably Titan for the cheap bar. I have a bunch of speciality bars from Titan and over time they are nice to acquire. I have their Safety Squat Bar version 2.0. I have one used it once so I cannot give a definitive review but it got good reviews after their first one tanked. I also going to order a Titan Bison Bar when it comes back in stock because squatting aggravates my shoulder. I bought a cambered multi-grip bar from Titan and would probably the non-cambered one if I got a re-do because I paid an extra $60 for the camber and I don't really use it.

    A couple of the other items I have that I really like are an adjustable pair of dumbbells. I got a knock off pair of the Bowflex 1090's for $400. They look just like the Bowflex 1090's, but don't have any brand on them. They adjust from every weight between 10 and 90 pounds in 5 pound increments, but in reality in you can do 2.5 pound increments by putting the two dials on different numbers (for example putting one dial on 35 pounds and the other dial on 30 pounds would give you a 32.5 dumbbell). I am pretty happy with that buy. I also bought a cheaper Glute Ham Raise machine. So far I haven't used it enough to justify the price, but I am hoping to work that into my workouts more in the future.

    I got my lifting belt ($125) and dip belt ($50) from Rogue and like both of them.

    In terms of plates definitely buy them used. They are advertised on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. A good price for used plates is 50 centers a pound where I live. That said if you are impatient its easier to find an ad for about 70 cents a pound for iron plates.

    All in all, I think you can get a budget gym with all the essentials for $1000 dollars ($300 rack, $135 bar, $150 bench, 300 pounds of weight for $225), plus a couple other things.

    I think you can get a pretty nice gym for around $4,000 with things like a nicer powerrack, specialty bars, adjustable dumbbells, a vertical leg press and other fun, but unnecessary toys.

    I think for about $10,000 you can probably get a commercial gym quality garage gym.

    My gym is the middle option and I like it a lot.
    Last edited by philibusters; 06-24-2019, 08:29 PM.


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for your reply. My budget is $3K. I do have a couple of belts (4" Best Belt, 3" Pioneer DL belt), as this isn't my first rodeo. But it'll be my first garage rodeo. I'll check out FB Marketplace. Adjustable DBs aren't something I'd considered. Thank you.

  • #3
    I just wanted to suggest a squat stand like the Rogue monster lite or the equivalent Titan X3. It saved me money and more importantly space and I haven't yet encountered a reason for needing a rack. I use the Rogue version at my commercial gym and the Titan at home and there’s no difference in the quality.


    • cwd
      cwd commented
      Editing a comment
      I've been using a Rogue S-1 stand for years, the only drawbacks I've noticed are:
      * can't attach dip handles or landmine pivot
      * no band pegs
      * mine is too short for good chins (bought it to fit under a low ceiling, taller stands are OK for chins)
      * deeper footprint than a rack -- feet are 4' deep for stability w/o being bolted down

  • #4
    Some kind of audio setup to play music!


    • Rod
      Rod commented
      Editing a comment
      WiFi, Bluetooth speaker and Spotify is my current set up.

  • #5
    Originally posted by sciomako
    Some kind of audio setup to play music!
    I use a $50 amazon dot for that but I could see a music connoisseur wanting more.


    • #6
      Buy once, cry once seems a good philosophy for high wear items like barbells, support gear an racks, but you don't need Rouge plates to compliment your Rouge Power bar. So you can save a bunch of money there using good old oly cast plates. ( Dont forget, Rouge has that boneyard sale thing on blemished or less than perfect items, so you can keep an eye out there)

      As a point of interest, or not, a Rouge Ohio bar runs to $561 and an SSB to $745 here in Aus.

      I have:
      2 x barbells - new
      1 x SSB - new
      1x Spud squat belt - new
      1 x dipping belt - new
      1 x dipping station - used
      1 x Force USA rack - used
      1 x home made landmine gimbal
      A bunch of plates - new and used
      1 x flat bench - new
      1 x incline bench - new
      An old PC running Windows 98 where all my tunes and templates live - very used.
      Probably around 2K for the lot.

      A glute / ham station will be next in line if I can find one at the right price.

      This has been more than enough equipment for the several BBM programs I've run.


      • Rod
        Rod commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks! Which incline bench did you go with? I have my eye on the Rep Fitness AB-3100 v3.

      • Dave_E
        Dave_E commented
        Editing a comment
        Some rickety brand I wouldn't recommend. Only bought it because it was on sale with the flat bench.
        I think a good rule of thumb is that if you need to 'brace' before moving your equipment around, you're on a winner.

    • #7
      $3k is plenty in the US.

      I have a Rogue S-1 stand & safeties, flat bench, good barbell (B&R), used iron plates, platform. Works fine, don't really *need* anything more.

      But since you have budget for more, here are some other things I've found to be worth money, even though I'm a cheapskate:

      * High powered fan (my garage lacks air conditioning)
      * farmer's walk handles (Titan, $90)
      * one pair 45, one pair 25 lb bumpers, one pair 5 lb plastic spacers -- for teaching beginners to deadlift, and for power cleans, and quieter deadlifts
      * extra pair of J-hooks
      * plate storage tree
      * chains
      * DBs (I have a pair each of 10, 20, 30, and one 40 from various yard-sales, super-cheap)
      * ab roller wheel ($15)
      * shoes, chalk, straps, etc
      * dip stand or rack-attached dip handles, dip/chin weight belt


      • Rod
        Rod commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the advice. I have the ab roller! Where did you get your chains?

      • cwd
        cwd commented
        Editing a comment
        Rogue, and the hardware store.

    • #8
      I had a Rack, platform, bar and plates along with an elliptical and successfully did The bridge, 12 week press, and hypertrophy templates.


      • Rod
        Rod commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks! I appreciate your input. Glad I can keep it simple.

    • #9
      Originally posted by dherko
      I had a Rack, platform, bar and plates along with an elliptical and successfully did The bridge, 12 week press, and hypertrophy templates.
      No problem. You can find a lot of the stuff on facebook marketplace or craigslist for cheap just to see if it will work for you then upgrade as you progress. I didn't have things such as a SSB and leg press but the templates give variants that worked out well. Just one other piece of advice. Don't skimp on the bar. The Ohio Power Bar is a good all purpose bar.


      • #10
        I think you'll be fine running these programs using the basic equipment you listed. You can also do the powerbuilding and hypertrophy but it's nice to have the options for more variety there. The time and flexibility you gain from a home gym is as much a benefit as having the right equipment! I also started with a limited budget, and add a few things each year around Black Friday. I already had adjustable dumbbells (ironmaster) but these are optional. Also had a Concept 2 rower which I still use for cardio.

        To start:
        • Rogue R3-rack.
        • Built a platform.
        • Rogue B&R bar. Collars.
        • Flat utility bench.
        • Used plates (Craigslist). Used a bathroom scale to get matched pairs, and wrote weight on all plates with paint marker.
        • Rubber fractional plates (CFF Fitness).
        • 4" Belt (Best Belts).
        • Shoes.

        What I got later:
        • Plate storage: Pair of CAP plate trees from Amazon.
        • Rogue Matador dip attachment. Very sturdy and infinitely better than setting up barbells across pipe safeties.
        • Rogue monolift attachment and strap safeties. Both have been great for benching alone.
        • I built a lat pulldown using loading pin plus hardware from Home Depot.
        • Added gripper vinyl to bench.
        • Straps (Ironmind): I don't compete so I use straps for top sets of pulling, also high rep pulling.
        • Wrist wraps (SBD, flexible medium) for pressing.
        • 2.5" Belt (Best Belts)
        • SSB for lower body variety (splurged on Kabuki transformer bar but this is still much less than a belt squat or leg press!)

        • Adjustable incline bench for upper body variety
        • Safety spotter arms for pin presses.
        • Homemade blocks for block pulls.
        • SBD knee sleeves.
        • Farmers walk handles.


        • Rod
          Rod commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for your detailed reply! This is very helpful.

      • #11
        It seems like the safety squat bar tends to be the first specialty bar that most garage gyms get.


        • #12
          Another useful accessory -- a barbell pad.

          These get a lot of derision online, people call them a "pussy pad". I don't recommend one for back squats.

          But they are darn-near required for Zercher squats and carries and hip thrusts, which are all very good exercises. I made my pad from a pool noodle, so it was nearly free.


          • Rod
            Rod commented
            Editing a comment
            One pool noodle added to the list. Thanks! That's clever. I'll admit to using a pad years ago when I had no clue what I was doing. Not a new newbie lifter. But I'm new to the whole garage gym thing, and returning after a six-month layoff. I want to do this right. Looking forward to trying Zercher squats. Do you know program included them? Strength I? Thanks again.

        • #13
          I am going to try to categorize gym equipment into three categories, Necessary, Very Useful, and Nice to Have and also include some links. This assumes you are doing a powerlifting style of weight training. By contrast if you were doing say a bodybuilding style of training I would take some things off this list and add other things to the list (e.g. a cable machine isn't used much in a powerlifting program, but would be very useful for a bodybuilding style routine.


          1. Power rack or squat stand: You cannot do a powerlifting program without access to either a power rack or squat stand. The main two benefit to a power rack over a squat stand are its safer if you do not have a spotter and you can attach more accessories to it that allows you to do more exercises than squat stands. The main advantage to squat stands is they take up less space, which could be the most important factor in a garage gym. I would recommend getting a power rack combo that includes a high low pulley system (an example of one of the accessories you can put on a power rack that you cannot put on squat stands). A 2 x 2 power rack will work but a 2 x 3 or 3 x 3 rack will be studier. If you have the space a power rack with 36 inches of depth is idea though 24 inches will work. Also for pull ups or chin ups getting a tall power race is preferable. An example of what I think would be a good fit for a garage gym ($800)

          2. Barbell: You need one barbell but if you have the money you should get two for a couple reasons. One so you have a beater if you have some exercises where you intend to treat he bar roughly you have a cheaper bar you are less worried about damaging. Second it allows you to superset two exercises that require barbells. In high volume routines supersetting is an effective way to save time. I would get one bar with center knurling for squatting and one bar with center knurling for overhead pressing and Powercleans. My recommendations are:

          a Expensive Bar: Rogue Bar 2.0 (no center knurling) ($265) I would use this one for deadlifting, power cleans, barbell rows, and overhead press

          . Cheaper Bar: This Titan Bar with center knurling is an example of what I think would be idea for a second bar ... with 190 PSI strength and 30 mm thickness you can squat heavy without worrying about bending the bar and its idea for both benching (where I prefer a thicker bar) ($130) Due to the center knurling its not idea for power cleans or overhead press and due to the thickness its not idea for deadlifting or barbell press because it will be harder to grip and you won't get any bend out of the bar.

          3. Set of weight plates: You should be able to find a set of iron weight plates used online for about 75 centers per pound. Try to find ones that have the standard diameter as if they are smaller than standard$18 you will be doing all your deadlifts out of about a one inch deficit.

          4. Weight Bench: You only need a flat bench and you can get one of those for around $100. That said I would get Flat Incline Decline (FID) Bench with at least a $600 pound weight capacity. This bench is a good example of what I think is idea for a garage gym ($180)
          If you were going to do more of a bodybuilding style lifting, I might get something that let you do leg extensions and hamstrings curls on it like this...

          5. Flooring: I would make an 8 foot by 4 foot lifting platform out of horsestall mats and plywood. The reason I would go 8 by 4 rather than 4 by 4 is you should be able to put your power rack under it if its 8 by 4 and you can actually secure the power rack to the flooring which will make the power rack really stable. Having this flooring will protect you garage's cement flooring, less noise, and make the power rack stable. Estimated cost of project ($500)

          6. Basic lifting clothing: Includes Lifting belt ($130), shoes ($130), straps and wrist wraps ($30).

          7. Clips to keep the weights from falling off the bar (Just go to amazon, I paid like $12 per pair)


          I am going to edit this post and provide more information on the below items including what they are useful for and links with examples, but for now I will just list them. Let me know if people think I am missing any useful items for a powerlifting program.

          VERY USEFUL

          1. Dip Bars: If you have a power rack you must likely going to want them as an attachment to the rack. However there are stand alone dip bars available. The options cost starting at $30 and up. The most popular ones seem to be Rogue's Matador and the various knockoffs of the matador. This is Titan's knock off ($30-$100)
          2. Spotter Arms for power rack (necessary if you want to do the pin overhead press and you powerrack is not tall enough to let you do it in the rack-also useful for loading and unloading plates when deadlifting) ($50)
          3. Tree for Weight plates ($50)
          4. Holder for bars ($75)
          5. Curling Bar: Useful for both bicep curls and lying tricep extensions. In terms of bicep curls you actually hit the muscle slightly better with a straight bar according to rip, but if you are like me, it may aggravate your elbow in which case a curling bar becomes the best option. Its also great for lying tricep extensions. Make sure you get one that fits 2 inch plates ($50)
          6. Bumper Plates: Make sure to check to see if the price includes shipping if you order online! Since we are talking about 100's of pounds being shipped, that is important. ($300-$1000)
          7. Fractional plate set (usually a 5 pound set that includes two 1 pounders, two .75 pounders, two .5 pounders, and two .25 pounders) Necessary to micro-load-- for me they are almost a must have... ($30)
          8. Ab roller ($15)
          9. Chains or bands Great for overloads Maybe buy 3 sets including one set that offers a lot of resistance at two sets that are on the lower end (you can always combine the two sets that offer low resistance to form a medium set)...

          NICE TO HAVE

          1. Safety Squat Bar
          2. Multi-grip Football bar
          3. Hex-Bar
          4. Cambered bar (like the bison bar)
          5. Plyo-box
          6. Front Squat Vest
          7. Vertical Leg Press or Leg Press attachment for Power Rack
          8. Adjustable Dumbbells
          9. Landmine'
          10. Dip Belt or weight vest
          11. Glute Hamstring Developer
          12. Reverse Hyper
          13. Bench designed for Incline Sit-ups
          14. Bench for back extensions
          15. Slingshot for Bench
          Last edited by philibusters; 06-28-2019, 04:18 PM.


          • Rod
            Rod commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you for your very thorough reply. I appreciate that took some time. Definitely more powerlifting-style training, although I doubt I'll compete unless it is as a masters. We'll see in a few years. Did bodybuilding style training up until about a year ago. It's boring. Lifting heavy things is fun. I noticed you didn't mention dumbbells. Not needed? I've had others suggest them, either the loadable DBs or those adjustable, box-shaped DBs. Not planning on getting them now, as I'm sticking to just the necessities for now. But your list is helpful so I know what to prioritize and keep my eye out for. I'm not a new lifter. Just new to the garage gym thing and newish to BBM training, although I've been following Leah and the Good Doctors for a while now. I appreciate their evidence-based approach. I have a squat belt and a DL belt, squat shoes, DL (wrestling) shoes, bands, ab roller, etc. (but no foam roller! haha!). Thanks again.

          • philibusters
            philibusters commented
            Editing a comment
            Hi Rod.

            Sounds like you have a good plan. I did mention dumbbells I just put them in the 3rd category of nice to have. For whatever reason I prefer dumbbells for myoreps and amraps and for things like bicep curls, but I definitely don't think they are necessary for powerlifting style weight training.

        • #14
          I have a question for you guys/gals with a deadlift platform in your garage. My garage is sloped (per code) so the bar will roll on me when doing deadlifts. I am planning to build a platform but I'm not sure if I should just lift parallel to the slope (meaning one side would be slightly lower than the other) or shim it with some old roofing tiles to level it out. One concern I have with shimming is if that put extra strain in the middle where it may not be touching the floor.

          Other concern not shimming would be is that enough of a difference (1/4' over 8' is the slope amount) to cause a noticeable difference in pulling strength/leverage/etc.

          Thanks for any input!


          • Rod
            Rod commented
            Editing a comment
            It's been a while. I hope you found a solution. I remember seeing a YouTube video long ago of a platform built on an uneven floor. They used a lot of shims.

        • #15
          My garage sloped more -- about 1.25" across the diagonal of the 8'x'8 platform. The problem with the slope is for lifts that start from the floor, like deadlifts, cleans, snatches, etc. The bar tends to roll around making setup a pain. I don't think the slope is bothersome or dangerous otherwise.

          You could just turn the bar perpendicular to the slope, if that doesn't interfere with where you placed the rack.
          Or, you can just put a shim or pad under the bar to stop its rolling.
          Or, you can level the floor under the platform.

          I personally leveled the floor with "leveling compound" i.e. a kind of runny cement. I made a rectangular frame of 2x4 boards, mixed the compound in buckets and poured it in. It took multiple sacks of compound, and cost a couple hundred dollars.

          Since I expect to sell my house someday, I put some tape down under the compound to make it easier to scrape it off and restore normal garage drainage for the next buyer.

          I've noticed in the years since that the compound has cracked and some has flaked away under the edge of the platform, but so far this has not caused any practical problems.
          My platform is (bottom to top) leveling cement, 3/4" OSB, 1/2" plywood, 1" rubber horse-stall mats.

          Layers are connected sparsely with screws. It's important to only screw down the rubber along the inside seams, to allow for expansion and contraction with temperature w/o buckling up. Garage temps vary a lot with the season.