How To Build Your Own Garage Gym Without Spending A Fortune




“You can make most of the equipment for a home gym. It may not be as fancy as store bought equipment but it will get the job done just as well.”

Podcast Synopsis

Today, I answer a listener’s question about how they can start their own garage gym. I started building my garage gym 20 years ago and it has spiraled out of control. It takes up my garage and some of the driveway. Over the years I have collected more equipment than most commercial gyms. I didn’t buy all this stuff at once. In fact, it was put together piece by piece over 20 years. I built or made as much of the stuff that we use as possible and anything else is purchased with donations to the gym. It is free to everyone and I have never turned anyone away.

So how do you start your own gym? First of all you don’t really need anything… You can achieve great fitness with nothing more than bodyweight. However, equipment certainly keeps things varied and there are exercises that you can’t do without certain equipment. You are capable of making most of the gear that you would want to buy, all you need is some imagination and the internet. The contraptions you make might not be as fancy as buying equipment but it will certainly get the job done just as well. Don’t let finances hold you back from building a home gym because there are cost efficient ways of making some workout gear. Here is a link to DIY workout equipment from my friend Ross Enamait or

Ross Training - Homemade Equipment Links

The question I received was “If you could start over, what equipment would you buy?”

Here is what I would do if I had to build my home gym all over again from scratch. I would be very concerned with equipment that was multi use and extremely versatile. Space and budget are usually a major determining factor in the choice of equipment:

First I would find a place to start the home gym. It doesn’t need to be a big spot but having a dedicated space is important. The first thing I would add is a pull up bar. Don’t skimp here. I used to make my pullups bars out of plumbing supplies but they were constantly breaking and quite unsafe. Later I moved to 4x4 wood posts holding up a metal bar. This was definitely better but still no where near the durability and safety of todays commercially available rigs. Rogue Fitness makes several types that are not too expensive and extremely safe and durable. They have one that easily mounts on the rafters or studs of the ceiling. That one is very sturdy. It is called a Rogue P6-V Garage Pull-up System and you can see it by clicking here.

I had those but as my group grew I needed more pullups stations. Eventually I progressed to an Infinity Rig that is mounted into the ground. I started out with a 4 foot by 6 foot rig. It is called an infinity rig because you can continue adding pieces to it for as long as you want. I did just that and my rig is now over 36 feet long and 6 feet wide. Do you need this? Of course not…you just need a place do pullups safely. For most people the P6-V will be perfect.

Second is getting a set of dumbbells, which you can usually find at a yard sale. A squat rack with weights that fit in the workout spot in your house is crucial to a real setup. Dedicated Squat racks allow you to squat safely but some people also want a bench press, a sled and other things. Most people don’t have room or money for 3-4 pieces of equipment. The most useful piece of equipment I have is called a yoke, and its basically a heavy duty squat stand but far more versatile. The Yoke has feet on it so you can push it like a sled, carry it like a strong man tool, use it a squat rack, or bench press. Its a very versatile tool. When you put the pull-up bar above the yoke, you have your entire gym in one piece of equipment.

Then as time goes on slowly grow the gym by slowly buying additional pieces of equipment. Some of the things I would consider a next step would be an Air Bike or a Rower. Kettlebells, a medicine ball, a few jump ropes and maybe a sandbag are really all you need to do most CrossFit workouts and certainly way more than is necessary to achieve elite fitness.

Like I said in the last podcast, “build the habit first, then start adding gear because nothing is worse then buying all this gear and seeing it collect dust or turn into a clothes rack.” One barbell, a couple of weights and kettle bells, maybe a medicine ball, a jump rope, and a pull-up bar is the perfect set up.

If you like this idea, please take a second and be an inspiration to someone around you. Text the link to this article or podcast to a friend who may get motivated and build their own garage gym, or go in together and create a workout group. Share it on your social media. For quick reference, here is the direct link to the podcast:

Just copy that link and paste it in a text to your friends.


00:00:00 “How To Build Your Own Gym”

00:02:10 “First thing to think about”

00:03:25 “ What to get”

00:03:32 “Determine a spot”

00:03:55 “What to start out with”

00:04:32 “Rogue fitness

00:06:10 “Squat racks

00:06:35 “Most versatile piece of gear

00:07:20 “Pull-up bar

00:08:25 “other equipment to get”

00:08:50 “grow your home gym slowly”

00:09:10 “develop the habit “

00:10:05 “summary of suggested equipment”

00:10:50 “wrapping the podcast up”

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See you next week - no excuses,

-Tom Rowland