Informational Guide

Home Garage Gym Essentials

Looking for must-have garage gym essentials? Check out this guide for the ultimate list of at-home fitness equipment.

by Josh Mitchell

So, you have determined to get healthy by starting a new diet and exercise regimen. Good for you! Now, where do you start? Well, the diet will require some serious research, but creating an exercise area for you to do exercises from home can help with that. Let’s go over the must-have fitness equipment for any home gym. By the end of this article, you will understand why a home gym is worth the investment.

  • Fitness Goals 
    You will first need to develop a set of goals. Do you plan to shed fat, build muscle, or a little of both? This will determine whether you focus on weights or cardio-style equipment for your space.
  • The Budget 
    With any home renovation, you will want to put together a budget for new equipment. This will vary depending on the equipment you plan to purchase and may change throughout the project. Just be sure to start small and work your way up as you decide what equipment is necessary.
  • The Equipment  
    Here is where that budget comes into play. Remember we said to start small? That is because you may not need a bunch of equipment to get started. You will, however, want to buy quality equipment so that you never have to purchase the same gear twice. Quality exercise equipment could last a very long time, so be sure to invest with that in mind. So how much should you plan to spend on your new home gym? That will be determined by your goals and the amount of space you plan to use, but for the sake of generality, with the purchase of some cardio equipment, some weights, and a few miscellaneous associated items, you should look to spend roughly $1,500. That may seem like a large chunk, but if you compare that to the cost of a gym membership, a home or garage gym could pay for itself within the first year.
Garage Gym Equipment

Garage Gym Essentials: Must-Have Equipment For Any Home Gym

  1. 1
    Somewhat new to the exercising arena, kettlebells are a great universal strength-building tool. They come in plenty of sizes and can be used to strengthen almost every muscle group in the body. You can use kettlebells for squats and lunges, deadlifts, or shoulder shrugs, not to mention they are great for circuit workouts and farmer's carries!
  2. 2
    Pull Up Bar 
    The ultimate pride killer, a pull-up bar will be the true test of strength gains. They are inexpensive to purchase but one of the most challenging exercises to perfect. A pull-up bar is a must-have to build upper body strength. There is almost nothing better than good old-fashioned pull-ups for lats, shoulders, core, and arm strength.
  3. 3
    Gym Rings 
    While you may not be training for the Olympic Games, you may want to purchase a set of gym rings. These are great for everything from stretching to reverse crunches. You can hang from the rings and do a variety of different core muscle exercises, or you can even use them for tricep dips.
  4. 4
    Olympic Barbell 
    If you have space, purchasing an Olympic barbell will be well worth the cost. From deadlifts to squats to barbell curls, this piece of equipment will be one you use most in your garage gym. You can buy weights for these barbells in varying sizes, making them the better value overall.
  5. 5
    Weight Plates 
    Pairing some plates with the barbell will make for a wide range of upper and lower body workouts. They can also be used without a bar for specialty exercises that work shoulder and back muscles. You will be able to purchase iron plates or steel plates, and each may come with or without a rubberized coating. We recommend purchasing the plates that do have the coating, as it prevents the plates from rusting over time.
  6. 6
    Dumbbell Set  
    Beach muscles come from dumbbell sets. These can be purchased as an adjustable set that saves a ton of space in your garage gym. Dumbbells are used for every muscle group in the upper body but can also be held for extra resistance when doing bodyweight squats, lunges, or step-up exercises. Mastering dumbbell curls will build biceps and sculpt arm muscle groups.
  7. 7
    Adjustable Bench  
    An adjustable bench is the cornerstone of any fitness area. From stretching to improvised pushups or dips to utilizing every other weight we have discussed so far, you will not be able to call your fitness area a "gym" without a bench. If you can find an adjustable bench that is padded and has wheels, it will make the bench infinitely more useful and easier to manipulate for different workouts.
  8. 8
    Resistance Bands 
    Not just for stretching, resistance bands are great for toning muscle with high rep count exercises. The low resistance and high repetitions burn fat and sculpt muscle groups. They are great for getting warmed up and great for toning. These bands usually are sold in a set of 3 or 4 and have varying resistance levels. They are typically inexpensive and tend to wear out over time, so do not spend too much on these with the idea that you will need to replace them in the future regardless.
  9. 9
    Cardio is the tried and true method for getting in shape. Purchasing a stationary bike, treadmill, or rowing machine will be the key to success for your transformation. Burning calories and building stamina are the major benefits of cardio equipment. A few minutes a day using any of these will pay off in no time.
  10. 10
    Plyometric Box 
    Remember those step-up exercises? This is where the plyometric box comes into play. You can usually purchase an adjustable unit or set. The small boxes are great for lunges, and as you build lower body strength, you will graduate to box jumps. These boxes are simple but effective; you may even be able to make some yourself.
  11. 11
    You may not think about it much, but the flooring of your workout area is another area you will want to focus on. Whether you are on concrete or hardwood, exercise equipment can damage the surface. You will want to place rubber or foam mats on your gym floor to prevent this damage from occurring. The rubber or foam also creates a comfortable surface for lifting and stretching.
  12. 12
    Cleaning Equipment  
    Being sweaty is great for losing weight, but it is not great when it comes to making a mess. Whether or not you are the only one using your home gym, it needs to be sanitary. You will want to be sure and purchase some cleaning wipes and sanitizing spray to keep all of your new equipment in top condition and appearance.
  13. 13
    Power/Squat Racks 
    Having a rack set up in your gym is great for squats, but it also works as a hanger for most of your weights. This not only maximizes floor space but keeps your equipment off the ground, where it may collect moisture or excessive dust. Plus, it is better to pick up weights from an elevated plane rather than lifting directly from the ground.

Building Your Garage Gym Equipment

Alternatives to buying new equipment for your home gym online are vast. You could shop the internet classifieds or even yard sales to pick up some used equipment.  If you find yourself to be handy with lumber and some simple tools like saws and drills, you may find it less expensive to create some of the home gym equipment on your own instead of purchasing it online. In this case, you may have to be a bit creative, but with the many instructional videos and websites on the internet, you may save yourself hundreds of dollars in your overall budget.

DIY Sandbags

Sandbags can be used similarly to kettlebells or punching bags but could cost much less if made at home. The easiest way is to purchase the durable bags used for building dams or temporary walls and fill them with play sand that you could buy from a local hardware store or online. Once filled, wrap the bags in some duct tape to provide extra durability. Sandbags can be hung for boxing and kicking or used as a kettlebell for lifting exercises.

DIY Plyo Box

To build a box, purchase some lumber at the local lumber yard or hardware store along with home decking screws. They should have capabilities for cutting the lumber right in-store, so as long as you have a blueprint or measurements, all you will have to do is fasten the boards together with the screws and a drill once you get home.

DIY Balance Board

Balance boards are one of the most underrated core workout tools in a home gym. They are also one of the easiest to build yourself. All you will need is a 12" long piece of 6" diameter PVC pipe and a platform made of wood that is a bit wider than the width of your shoulders. For safety, you may want to fasten thin bumpers made of 1”x1” lumber on the underside of the platform along the ends so that the pipe can not slip out from underneath when in use. Overall, these are quite easy to use and are great for leg exercises.

DIY Weights

Have you ever used a commercial water cooler like those you would see in a movie or television show based in an office? Perfect, now if you use your imagination, you can picture those large water jugs as perfect homemade weights! The containers can be partially or filled with water or sand as makeshift dumbbells in your home gym. Just go online and order the containers or purchase some from a local recycling facility.

DIY Medicine ball

Making a medicine ball at home is probably the easiest of homemade gym accessories. All you need is an old sports ball, like a basketball, soccer ball, or volleyball, and some sand to fill it with. Take the old ball and deflate the air, then cut open a "V" shape flap. This will allow you to pour in the sand. Fill up the ball as much as possible. Next, use duct tape to wrap the entire ball and prevent any sand from spilling out. Just like that, you have your very own medicine ball for your home gym!

Building Your Garage Gym Equipment

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What exercise equipment should not be put in a garage gym?

Depending on the space's size, you will not want to add large or bulky equipment to your fitness area. The idea is to maximize floor space and efficiency of equipment in a home setting. You also want to be sure to have enough room for stretching out or doing calisthenic style workouts, so nothing that takes up more room than what it is worth.

How do I ventilate my garage gym?

Ventilation in a home gym will not be your main concern, but installing an air-purifying unit or air conditioner may be in your best interest. In a worst-case scenario, make sure you have a window or door that will allow you to bring in some fresh air during your workouts, as you will be breathing heavily. Also, having some ventilation will help keep moisture levels from building up in the workout area.

How do you insulate a garage for a gym?

You could use traditional fiberglass insulation in the walls, install foam board insulation on the walls and ceiling, or even have a contractor come in and install spray foam to insulate the space. The best way for you will depend on construction and budget constraints.

How do you keep a garage gym clean?

Home gym hygiene and keeping the equipment and space clean when working out in the garage can be tough. We recommend covering equipment with plastic when not in use to prevent moisture and dust build-up.

What are the essentials for a CrossFit garage gym?

To build a CrossFit-style gym in your garage, you will need a pull-up bar, a medicine ball, and a set of plyometric boxes at a minimum. You could purchase some battle ropes to round out the CrossFit setup.


As we have discussed, building a home gym may seem like a tall order when first deciding to get healthy. The financial savings, paired with the convenience and time savings, make having a home or garage gym a great investment all around. Now all you need is a diet and some determination so that you can be on your way to a happier and healthier life.