The minimalists garage gym: ditch the crowded gym, workout at home, and get strong with only 10 pieces of equipment on a shoestring budget

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Are you tired of paying gym membership fees, crowded workout facilities, and having to commute to and from the gym?

You are not alone, and you're in luck.

I don't like those things either. One of my biggest pet peeves is going to use a squat rack and someone is hanging out on their phone or taking pictures of themselves at the gym, but not actually lifting.

Those days are over.

I decided to create my own garage gym, and I want to help you do the same. You shouldn't have to pay a bunch of money to get in shape, and wait to use equipment. I mean if you are going to pay for something you should be able to use it whenever you want to right?

I'm going to take the guesswork out of it for you, and show you exactly:

  • What equipment you will need to have a fully functional garage gym

  • Where to get it, and how much it costs

  • The minimum equipment you will need to get started

  • Two sample workouts you can do

  • Tips on setting up your garage

Sound alright with you? 

Great! Let's get started.

Equipment needed to have a fully functional Garage Gym

Kettlebell - This is one of the best fitness tools that you can have in your arsenal, because there are so many things you can do with one. My brother swears by these things. He showed me how to do a movement called the "turkish get-up". It destroyed me in the best way possible.

If you are new to fitness or haven't been in the game in a while, a good weight is probably 20-35#.

You can pick one of these babies up for around $45 at Titan Fitness or find one on Amazon for around the same price. 

If you want to pay extra, but add some coolness to one, you can check out Onnit, they have some awesome kettle-bells.

Barbell - Can't skimp on this. You can honestly to a full body workout with one of these everyday for the rest of your life. If there is one piece of equipment that you need. It is this.

Make sure that it is a 7' Olympic Sized Barbell with 2" ends. This way almost are bumper plates will fit onto it. I picked mine up from Titan Fitness for $116 or Amazon has one from XMark called the Lumberjack that would be awesome as well for $130, and it was worth every penny.

Bumper plates –  A good place to start learning all of the different movements is just a bare barbell. However, as you get stronger and your technique improves, you will want to get some bumper plates.

You don't have to get them all right away, you might only need a pair of 15#'s or a pair of 35# to start out with.

I got a pair of 15# and a pair of 45# from Titan Fitness

However, there are sets of 260# or more on amazon for under $439 if you want to get them all right now.

I recommend getting some 45# and some 15# to start. 


Pull-up bar –  Wow, I can't tell you how important it is to have a pull-up bar hanging around (see what I did there). This is probably the second most important piece of hardware you can have.

You can get a complete upper body workout just from this thing alone.

I have a wall mounted one, which I prefer, or you can get an overhead one.

You can make one like this guy, which is actually pretty genius.

Or if you just want to have one for your doorway you can get those too.

If you can't do a pull-up yet, its no big deal, you can do assisted pull-ups with a band or a chair, or you can do two other exercises called:

  • Jumping Pull-ups

  • Negatives

Watch my video on how to do a proper pull-up.

Dip bar – You can make with PVC or Use Rings - $20

**** If you get a power rack dip bars or pull up bars usually come as attachments, but may cost extra.

Gymnastics Rings - $30 on amazon, these can be used for dips, pull-ups, rows, holds and pulls. Most of these are advanced movements, but you will be there in no time.

Speed rope - Basically its a jump rope, but allows you to do double-under a little better than using a big clunky jump rope. These are $10 on Amazon.

Ply box – You can build this yourself for around $20, These are for box jumps. Here is a tutorial on how to build one.

WALL MOUNT PULL-UP Bar - Using weighted Vest

WALL MOUNT PULL-UP Bar - Using weighted Vest

Tire – Search Free tires on Craigslist or Tires, and you should find some for FREE or cheap.

Rope to Climb – 15’-30' climbing rope. This one you will most likely need to put outside, and won't use as often but it is a great way to get a forearm and upper body workout. Get one from Titan Fitness when you are ready.

**** Some will tell you to get a rowing machine or get an assault bike, but I would just get a bicycle and run.

A good gym membership will cost you around $900 - $1000 – So you’re ROI is 1 year. However, the investment on not commuting (Saving Gas), Waiting to use equipment, and just the hassle in general is huge.

You also don’t have to buy the rack, or buy all the bumper plates until you are able to lift more weight, just purchase as you grow in strength.

What you really Need: The bare necessities

The 3 main pieces of equipment that you want right now and can still get an awesome effective workout are:

  • Barbell and Bumper Plates (I use Titan Fitness)

  • Pull-up Bar (I prefer wall mount or overhead mount)

  • Kettle Bell (20-35# is a great starting point)

I call this PB & K. (Pull-up Bar, Barbell & Kettle bell). These are the pieces of equipment you absolutely can't live without. You can get phenomenal workouts and results from using these in various combinations.

However, if there is only one piece of equipment that you can get right now, I would tell you to get a barbell.


It is the most functional piece of equipment that you can get. There are so many movements that you can do and learn:

  • Dead-lifts

  • Push-Press

  • Overhead Press

  • Hang Cleans

  • Clean and Jerk

  • Push Jerk

  • Hang Snatch

  • Snatch

  • Back Squat

  • Front Squat

  • Power Clean

  • Frog Complex

  • Many More...

I bought mine from Titan Fitness on Amazon, but you can also search craigslist or let-go to try and find one for cheaper.

Don't skimp on this though, make sure it is Olympic 7', over 1000# capacity, and 2" in diameter to match bumper plates.

Sample workouts with minimal equipment

Pull, Clean, Run

  • 5 sets of max regular pull-ups, 5 sets of curl-ups, 5 sets of L-sit pull-ups, 5 sets of kipping pull-ups (If you can't do a pull-up use an assist band or a chair)

  • 6 sets of hang cleans, use a weight that allows you to get (4-8 reps)

  • 20-15-10-5 of: Hang Cleans (use 20%-40% of body-weight), clapping push-ups, burpees

  • 50 sit-ups

  • 100 Russian twists

  • 2 mile run (moderate pace)

This might seem intimidating or overwhelming, but you can scale it however you need. The point is that there is a simple, highly effective workout that you can do in your garage with 2-3 pieces of equipment.

Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Deadlift

  • Start With the Snatch. Start light do 3 reps, increase weight 5-20#, snatch again, do this until you fail twice, or 8 sets.

  • Move to Clean and Jerk. Same thing here. 3 reps, increase weight 5-20# until you miss two or 6 sets.

  • Move to Dead-lift. Add 10-50# until you fail on 3 reps. Then do 2 reps at that weight.

  • Do 50-100 sit-ups

  • Run two 400 m sprints (rest 60-90 sec between each)


Tips on Setting up your garage gym

A couple more things (I promise), that you should do before getting started.

  • Make sure you have enough space to do barbell movements. (You probably only need about a 10’ x 10’ space.)

  • Also make sure there is nothing overhead for you to hit when lifting overhead.

  • Get a whiteboard to write down the workout you are doing

  • Get a speaker or amplifier to listen to music (Optional)

  • Make sure you have a clean area, put stuff away on shelves etc...

It doesn't have to be perfect, you can always add as you, go. Remember, it's your gym. The sky is the limit and you can make it look and feel however you want.

I look forward to hearing from you about your garage gym success, and would love to see pictures of your set-up and pictures of you getting after it. Use #360manproject and I will be able to see it immediately.

Don't stop at the graveyard, ...keep going.

- Stephen

P.S. Rogue Fitness has some Awesome Equipment Packages that you can check out