Ever know that person who could eat anything they wanted and never gain a pound? If you’re that person, please remember, your behavior is out of line and incredibly frustrating to the rest of us. The majority of the human race is not like you. Once that croissant (covered with chocolate and powdered sugar) goes down, you can be sure a half-pound is tacked on. But we all know the solution to this complex issue; you can either tell said croissant to hit the road, or down it in all its glory, and then hit the gym. 

The gym serves a variety of objectives, depending on the person. But whatever your goals, a good gym routine yields a host of positive side effects. Folks that work out regularly are generally healthier, more active in all aspects of life, and generally happier. It’s hard to measure that last category, but getting a good sweat in is undoubtedly satisfying. 

We’re living in unique times with COVID-19 keeping us locked at home. Home gyms were popular before the pandemic hit, providing users the customization and flexibility to work out when they wanted. With COVID-19, this has only grown, and setting up a gym in your garage is one of the best things you can do, both for your health and overall sanity.   

How Much Does It Cost to Turn a Garage into a Gym?

How much does it cost to turn a garage into a gym?

Most garages, if organized correctly, will yield the space needed to put together a home gym. There are garage gyms that look like something out of a fitness catalog, while others are more modest. It’s possible to invest as little as $500 and have a decent, working garage gym. Others exceed this amount, hitting the $10,000 range with a set-up that rivals a professional athlete. But who cares – if you’ve got $10,000 to drop on a home gym and enjoy your workouts, then go for it!

If you’re seeking to put together a garage home gym on a budget, sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and garage sales are excellent resources for used gym equipment. You’ll have to put in the work, visiting folks and making sure everything is in working condition. But if you have some hours to spare, you will undoubtedly find some real bargains.

Another option is building your own equipment. If you’re handy or want to deep-dive into some YouTube tutorials, building a power rack, for example, will save you a considerable amount of money. As will fabricating your own bench and a plethora of other accessories. Again, not the easiest route to take, but a lot of people enjoy the challenge and are crafty by nature. 

If, however, you know you’re in the market for new equipment, then keep reading. We’ve rounded up some of the best essential gym equipment to kickstart your garage makeover. So put that protein shake down and read up!  

Garage Gym Essentials


We start with the power rack. This is a staple for many home-gymers, mainly because of all the different exercises you’ll accomplish with it. Squatting is the primary exercise folks associate with a rack, but you can also bench press, shoulder press, do bicep curls, deadlifting, etc. The rack serves as the centerpiece of the gym, and most exercises are organized either within or around it.  

Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage 

Fitness Reality power cage for home gyms.

The best part of this rack cage is the walk in space. Side-to-side movement are straightforward, and the cage in general is surprisingly stable for not needing to be bolted down. Rated for up to 800 pounds, the Super Max Power Cage adjusts to a whopping nineteen different height levels and is ideal for incline/decline bench presses, shrugs, squats, chin-ups/pull-ups and similar strength training exercises.

In terms of assembly, it’s recommended to have two people to help things go faster.

To learn more, click here.

Murphy Rack Fold Up Squat Rack, Wall Mounted Folding Power Rack 

Fold up mounted rack by Murphy Rack for home gyms.

If spare space is an issue, this folding power rack is a better bet. Able to hold up to 1,000 pounds, all you need is a wall to attach this rack, and fully installed it only extends twenty-two inches off the wall. But better yet, once it’s folded up, this rack takes up only four inches off the wall. Impressive stuff, but do keep in mind you’ll need at least 108 inches of ceiling height.

The Murphy Rack is made of high-quality steel and comes in a sleek black powder coat finish. If you want to engage in bench presses and overhead presses, you’ll need to add a weight bench. But once that’s done (plus of course the requisite barbells and weights), you’ll have a full gym in a compact space in no time.  

Ready to buy? Click here.


Another fundamental “must-have” for all home gyms, barbells are made up of three parts – a straight metal bar and then weights attached at either end. Most folks use barbells for curls and bench presses, but you can also engage in deadlifts, squats, and even more complex bodybuilding exercises.

Club Quality 4-Weight Deluxe Barbell Set by Step Fitness 

Barbell set by Step Fitness.

One of the best barbell sets on the market, this online review really sums this product up best – “Working in a busy hospital physical therapy department requires me to keep strong and in good shape. These are the best weights ever for my workout.” It’s hard to beat that high of a rating these days!

Ideal for home workouts, the total weight including the bar of the set is sixty pounds. The bar is made of a weighty gauge steel and finished off with powder coating. The grip is what stands out with Step Fitness; they have long been lauded as exceptional in this area, and grip is everything when working out with barbells. The collars are hinged, and slipping weights on and off is a snap. An excellent addition for a starter barbell set.

To read the latest reviews, click here.


You are only as strong as the number of plates you can lift, and you won’t get anywhere near your target without a full set of plates to grow with over time. After your home gym is set up, you’ll still want to keep your shirt on during that first summer. You’ll need a couple months of regular workouts to get those shoulders, biceps, and chest in prime working condition. A good set of bumper plates is key, and they are also preferred to standard plates because they’re quieter and will inflict less damage to the floor if dropped.

XMark Texas Star Olympic Plates 

Olympic plates for working out by Xmark.

A trusted brand for decades now, these Texas Star Olympic Plates are manufactured from a sturdy and durable rubber, so drops, bumps, or bruises will not affect their quality one bit. In fact, these plates have received rave reviews in terms of reliability over time.

Some plates do not fit all bars, but according to reviewers, these plates fit every bar that’s been thrown at them. Another plus with high-quality rubber plates is doing deadlifts with these is a lot less noisy when they hit the ground compared to cast iron weights.

To see pricing, click here.

Papababe Color Olympic Bumper Plate, Weight Plates

Bumper plates by Papababe.

Easily the greatest characteristic of these weights is their colors. Who wants to be pumping iron, breaking a sweat, jamming out to Bon Jovi with stale, grey, off-color boring plates? Nobody, that’s who, and thanks to Papababe, you have a choice of red, blue, yellow, or green plates to outfit your barbell and rack set.

To ensure these colorful plates don’t come flying off and damaging your home gym set-up, a sturdy steel ring insert is bonded to the rubber and prevents the collar from slipping or sliding. This is an issue with some plates, because over time the insert can wear down, and having a plate slide off while you’re lifting is no laughing matter. Safety before everything, and these plates take it quite seriously.  

Love it? Click here to buy now.


Referred to either as a weight bench or workout bench, benches are essential for lifting weights and allow you to engage in other exercises like tricep dips or leg lowers as well. You can choose from a simple flat bench or one that inclines, which is typically more expensive. Yet, with incline benches, you significantly increase the types of exercises you can do, and this gives you room to grow moving forward.

Harison Weight Bench Adjustable-Utility Exercise Workout Bench

Harison adjustable weight and workout bench.

Remember when we talked about handy folks making their own benches? Good luck producing anything remotely similar to this bench. Fully adjustable and manufactured with heavy-duty steel, this weight bench provides up to six back positions and three seat positions. High-density foam padding keeps users comfortable while breaking a sweat, and the only assembly you need to worry about is the front support tube coupled with the foam rollers. The bench arrives pre-assembled, which is hard to come by these days.

The measurements on this bench are a bit longer than competing models. A bench like this is only recommended if you have carved out a significant amount of space in the garage; it’s definitely not for small corners.

To learn more, click here.


Toning your arms, chest, and shoulders requires work and effort. Dumbbells are critical free-weights to any garage gym, and can be used for a host of different exercises.

CAP Barbell PVC-Coated Hex Dumbbell Pair Set

PVC-coated dumbbell set by Cap.

The online comments that come up frequently with this pair are how well built and sturdy they are. One commenter noted, “These were just what I needed for my home workouts.” There were plenty of others that echoed the same. Visually, these dumbbells look to be extremely strong, but once you pick them up, the quality of the product really comes through.

This set is hexagon shaped to prevent rolling, and it also makes them easy to store. Some people mentioned a strong smell at first; apparently, this is normal with iron dumbbells, and those same commenters did indicate the smell went away after a couple weeks.  

Ready to buy? Click here.

TELK Neoprene Dumbbells 

Telk dumbbells with non-slip grip.

These dumbbells are wrapped in a neoprene non-slip grip. They’re available in a range of fun colors like teal, gray, orange, green, and black. These dumbbells are definitely made for lighter workouts; you won’t be banging them on the ground or tossing them around.

If you’re just starting out, these would be an acceptable pair of dumbbells, but you’ll likely need to upgrade once you get a bit more serious.

To read the most recent reviews, click here.


Kettlebells were certainly not part of the greater gym lexicon a decade ago. But kettlebell lifting, a sport that entails bending over and lifting these cast iron steel balls, began to catch fire. Crossfit training ensued, and next thing you knew Mary from Finance and Jim from Marketing were turning into absolute hulks overnight. Kettlebells come in an array of shapes and are used to combine strength training, cardio fitness, and flexibility.   

Unipack Powder Coated Solid Cast Iron Kettlebell Weights 

Cast iron kettlebells by Unipack.

If you’re looking for a kettlebell that will last, this is it. There are no welds, seams, or weak spots to be found on this pair. The powder-coated surface prevents chipping and corrosion, and the glossy finish is surprisingly non-slippery. A cool feature with these kettlebells is the flat bottom which allows for upright storage, but you can also set them down and perform kettle push-ups, a popular Kettlebell pastime activity.

If you thought Kettlebells were only for the hard-core workout fanatic, think again. They’re also excellent for beginners because of how they strengthen and exercise multiple parts of the body at once.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell with Handle

Soft kettlebell with handle by Bionic Body.

This kettlebell is made of heavy-duty yet soft materials and looks like a giant sandbag. But make no mistake, this isn’t a sack of sand. Your colleagues Mary and Jim have likely worked out with this kettlebell as it’s a Crossfit staple, and one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own in your garage gym arsenal.

This model comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty and an array of complementary training products. If you choose to dive deep into the kettlebell world, then additional products are not far behind.

To see pricing, click here.

Cardio Equipment

Likely the best way to stay in shape is through regular cardio exercise. Some folks love it, while others completely despise it. But biology is real, and the only way to burn fat and lose or maintain weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn in a given day. Cardio exercise will get you there, but you’re going to need to put the time in.  

Gruper Jump Rope Adjustable & Self-Locking Aluminum Skipping Rope

Adjustable aluminum jump rope by Gruper.

An absolute classic, the jump rope is the most cost-efficient way to turn that 1-pack into a 6-pack in no time. Granted, you’ll need to cut out the pizzas and hot-dogs in between workouts, but if you can manage regular workouts with this outstanding rope, you’ll see results in no time. This rope is coated with PVC, which means no cracking and no breaking. The handle is anti-skid, and moreover, each handle is outfitted with 360-degree ball bearings. This helps to avoid tangling and twisting, something all too common in the jump roping world.

Storage is a snap with this product, and you can order your rope in red, blue, black, or silver. Thinking more about your garage gym, if you’ve carved out just a corner, jumping rope might be a bit tough. You need to have enough space to swing the rope behind and in front of you to engage appropriately.

To learn more, click here.

Vintage Style Wood Rowing Machine by Mr. Captain

Vintage style wood rowing machine by Mr. Captain.

Think you’re going to be hitting the open seas, wind-swept hair and fancy boat shoes? Think again, this is a rowing machine, no water necessary. A rowing machine is a true full-body workout. Your heart rate is going to get racing with this model from Mr. Captain, and the Bluetooth controlled monitor allows you to customize this model to your personal preferences.

The rower itself takes up space, but you can fold it up and store it in a garage corner. A nice complement to your workout routine, no doubt about it.

Like it? Click here to buy now.

To Sum it Up

How many calories did you manage to burn reading this post? We’ve touched on some of the ways to think about where to place that garage gym, and even if you only have a corner, you can still set up something efficient and practical.

Next is determining your budget. If you’re handy or have the time to scrounge around for used equipment, we highly recommend it. But if you want to jumpstart this garage gym right, purchasing new equipment is the route to take. A rack, barbells, plates, a bench, dumbbells, kettlebells, and cardio equipment are the staple gym components.

It’s time to finally take the plunge. It only takes a couple of months of diligent work and adjusting your diet. Now clean out the garage and let’s get to work!