How To Build a Garage Gym

Written by Sarah Strong

When the COIVD-19 pandemic closed gyms across the country, many active gym-goers rushed to build home gyms. Building a home gym can be very expensive. So if you are going to spend the money to buy quality equipment, you want to make sure you’re building efficiently and making the most of your space. To make the process easier, I have compiled some tips for building an effective home gym specific for powerlifters. 

Questions to ask before purchasing:

  1. SPACE. What does your “gym” space look like? Inside the garage? In your house? Outside? How big is that space? 
    1. The space you are using is going to greatly determine how much you can do. Things to consider in your given space would be flooring, safety, dimensions, and weather. It would be best for your space to be a dedicated gym space, though I know this is not always possible. 
    2. For outside gym spaces, consider the weather and how you can protect your equipment from both the elements as well as from being stolen. 
  2. BUDGET. How much can you spend on building a home facility? As previously mentioned, building a home gym can be quite costly. It is important to set a budget before you begin. Also, consider if you will need to pay for added utilities (like air conditioning added to a garage). You may also factor in canceling a membership to a commercial gym and using that money toward your budget for your home gym. 

Start with the basics

Barbell- Fortunately, many companies are having barbells in stock again. If you’re a powerlifter, you need to have this staple in your gym. You don’t need to go all out on a high-end bar to start. There are plenty of basic Olympic bars that are reasonably priced. Check with local retailers first to avoid shipping. You can create additional resistance by adding plates and/or bands. These items are still difficult to find due to the pandemic but are worth the money. 

Rack- Whether you make or purchase a rack, this is a solid investment. If you do decide to make a rack (or any equipment, for that matter), ensure that it is sturdy and safe. If you have a small space, consider a rack that folds out from the wall. If you’ve got the money to spend, opt for something like a full power rack. 

Bench- If you can only buy one bench, I personally recommend getting a flat bench at competition height. While there is a lot of utility with an adjustable bench, I prefer to make sure that I can first focus on my competition lifts. 

Weights- As mentioned, these seem to be the most difficult to find still. So, my recommendation is that you shop around and don’t overpay. A good assortment of plates would be ideal to have. If buying a full set of dumbbells isn’t possible, resistance bands with various handles and attachments can work as an excellent alternative. Amazon has a huge selection of bands that are reasonably priced. 

Additional Items

Specialty bars- If you can, investing in specialty bars can take your home gym to another level. Kabuki has a transformer bar that is three bars in one—it can be used as an SSB bar, cambered bar, or duffalo bar. Though it has a hefty price tag of $640, its 48 different positional variations give it stellar reviews that it’s worth the money. Other bars to consider would be a deadlift bar, technique bars, trap bar, and/or multi-grip bars. 

Platform-I put a platform in the non-essential category, but it really depends on where you are lifting and your current flooring. In my home gym, I am able to safely lift with some inexpensive flooring pads on top of the concrete. Eventually, it would be nice to have a platform, but it’s not a necessity for my space. Again, plenty of tutorials exist on building this particular piece of equipment. 

Boxes, blocks, mats- You might be able to make some of these accessories after a trip to the hardware store. You can also check tractor supply stores for mats that can be used to lift on or to create a deficit. A box at the right height can be used for multiple functions—box squats, step-ups, plyometrics, etc. 

Machines- Adding machines to your home gym will greatly depend on the size of your space and your budget. There is so much variety out there. Think about what you use most often at the gym and use that as a guide for deciding which machines to potentially add. 

Décor & comfort items- Banners and mirrors can add a lot of personality to your space to personalize it. Also consider a speaker, lighting, fans, and flooring. In addition, don’t forget cleaning supplies and any tools or maintenance materials needed for your equipment. Make your space unique and everything you’ve dreamed of in a gym.

Insurance- If you’re going to invest in a home gym, make sure you protect it. Insuring your items through renters’ or homeowners’ insurance is completely worth it. Also, consider additional insurances if you are training others at your home. At the end of the day, it’s always wise to protect yourself and your investments. 

We could get into a lot of nitty-gritty details about building a home gym. There are some excellent product reviews on Garage Gym Reviews, and they also have some tutorials for building your own equipment. This list is not exhaustive; but, it provides a great base for considerations in creating a home workout space as a powerlifter.

Good luck in the search for equipment, and happy lifting!


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