Here’s a peek into our garage gym and how you can set one up in your home so you can workout when and how you want.
Barbara and I are always encouraging our readers to get into strength training. We’ve been doing it for over seven years, and it’s something everyone over the age of 40 should really be doing.
We’ve told you how we do it. We’ve also shown you videos of us doing it, but we’ve never shown you our gym or told you how you can set one up in your home.
In this post, we’ll give you a peek into our home gym.
Commercial Gyms Versus Home Gyms
If you like commercial gyms, that’s great. Commercial gyms have a lot of positives. They have machines for resistance training if that’s what you’re into. Some have barbell equipment. Some have good instructors. They also offer a social environment.
However, commercial gyms are not for me. I don’t want to spend time traveling back and forth to the gym, especially in the winter time.
Most commercial gyms don’t have barbell equipment, and the ones that do usually don’t have a lot. That means more wasted time waiting to get your sets in.
With my home gym, I can lift when I want and how I want. And no one can shut me down. Once I bought the initial equipment, there were no more fees.
I also don’t need to worry about someone spotting me. Most equipment today has attachable spotter arms that will protect you in case you miss a lift badly.
The only limitation to a home gym is space. If you have a garage or a basement, you’re good. If you’re creative, you can practically make any space work.
If you have a downstairs neighbor, it’s probably not a good idea to do heavy deadlifts. Something like resistance band exercises might substitute for deadlifts.
Then you could use dumbbells to accomplish the other exercises.
But if you want to stop the eventual loss of muscle, you have to figure out something.
For example, during our move to NC, I was restricted to using the hotel gym, and my son’s apartment building’s gym. It was better than not having any place at all.
Okay, on to our garage gym.
Our Garage Gym
As I said, the program you choose will determine the equipment you need. Our program revolves around four main lifts: bench press, squats, overhead press, and deadlifts.
In order to do the above exercises correctly, you’ll need an Olympic bar. An Olympic bar accommodates weight plates that have a bigger center diameter than a standard bar. A standard bar is the one that sporting goods stores used to sell to people wanting to get into weightlifting back in the day.
You don’t want to skimp on a bar. Ours is from Rogue. They make good equipment. Sometimes they’re a little pricey. But their equipment is well made and lasts a long time.
The Rogue Bar
Rogue’s Ohio Bar would be a good choice as well.
Okay, here’s an important thing about Oylmpic bars. The bar weighs 44 pounds. So if you’re a woman and can’t lift 44 lbs over your head, you may want to get a lighter bar.
This is the Bella Bar from Rogue. It weighs about 33 lbs.
Cost: $ 235.00.
Since the Bella Bar is shorter than a standard bar, I don’t know how practical it is for deadlifts or squats.
For overhead press, Barbara was using dumbbells until a friend gave us a short standard steel bar. You can find them on Amazon.
You’ll need something to secure the weight to the bar. We bought our bar during a special sale, and it came with these collars.
These spring collars look like they might work as well and are a lot cheaper. However, I have not personally used them and don’t know how difficult they are to put on if you don’t have a strong grip.
You’re going to want to load the bar with weights so you need to purchase plates.
I bought my plates from Rogue. If you’re going to deadlift, you probably want to get bumper plates so you don’t damage your concrete floor. My other plates are iron from Rogue. I have about 300 lbs in these weights.
You can purchase more plates as you increase in strength. But if you’re going to start deadlifting, you’ll need at least two 10 lbs bumper plates. With the bar that makes 65 lbs.
Rogue HG 2.0 Bumper Plates
2 – 45 lbs $185.00
4 – 25 lbs $230.00
2 – 10 lbs $62.50
Rogue Iron Plates
2 – 10 lbs $37.50
4 – 5 lbs $22.50
2 – 2.5 lbs $12.50
2 – 1.25 lbs $11.50
2 – 0.5 lbs $15.00
Plate Holder (Optional)
A plate holder is an easy way to keep your plates organized. This is the one I use from Rogue. It has wheels on it so I can move plates around the gym easily. Beware, the 45 lbs bumpers are difficult to carry.
Monster Rack With Safeties
In order to do bench press, overhead press, and squats, you need some kind of rack system. This is another area where I didn’t want to skimp. I knew my rack was going to get a lot of work so I wanted something I knew would last.
Don’t buy one of those cheap bench press units you see on Amazon. Buy something to last.
When I bought my rack, I had a height limitation in the basement I was using for my first home gym. So the one I have isn’t the one I would buy now. Cost was also a factor at the time.
So I decided on the monster lite from Rogue. It’s technically a squat stand but works for bench and overhead press. It’s only 70” high so it fit with my 74” ceiling.
It’s a beast. It’s been used by 5 lifters 4 days a week for seven years and is still like brand new.
I purchased the attachable spotter arms so I can lift without a spotter if I choose.
Cost: $610.00 (with spotter arms)
If I had a higher ceiling originally, I would have probably bought a power rack.
Titan makes some good equipment, but I don’t know how it compares to Rogue.
Of course, if you’re going to bench press, you’ll need a bench. I’ve been in gyms where they had benches that got all torn up. I wanted a bench that was stable and would last.
So I got a rogue bench. It’s solid and comfortable, and, like the stand, it’s still mint after 7 years.
You probably can get a good bench cheaper than Rogue’s if you prefer.
In order to protect your floor from heavy deadlifts, you’ll probably want to have some kind of rubber platform to absorb the shock of the weight.
Commercial platforms are rather expensive. But you can make your own cheaply. There are plenty of videos on YouTube on how to do this.
I have a piece of ½” x 4’ x 8’ plywood cut into two 2’ x 2’ and one 4’ x 4 sections. On the 2’ x 2’ sections, I have rubber mats I bought at Home Depot. The platform has worked well for years.
I might upgrade to better mats in the future. People who do this generally use horse stall mats from Tractor Supply. When selecting plywood, get plywood that has been sanded. You don’t want splinters.
Cost: 1 sheet of plywood plus mats
Once you start lifting heavy weights, you’ll want to get a weight belt. People think a belt supports your spine. It does but not in the way most people think. The belt allows you to build up greater intra-abdominal pressure which stabilizes the spine.
This is the one I have. It’s lasted for 5 years and is still like new.
Since I have weak wrists and they’ve been injured in the past on heavy weight, I use wrist wraps.
Here are the ones I use.
Knee sleeves are a necessity if you’re going to do squats. Because of differences in anatomy, some people tend to put more stress on the knee joint. Knee sleeves will provide some support but also provide good warmth to the joint.
Most importantly, though, good form and sometimes stretching cure a lot of knee problems.
These are the knee sleeves I have.
I was suffering from some hip pain from squats and determined that it was probably coming from some joint stiffness. Squat University suggested some exercises with bands. Amazingly, after doing the exercises for a few weeks, the pain went away.
Bands are not a necessity, but if you need them Amazon has tons.
I generally don’t do a lot of dumbbell work. They are useful for some accessory exercises. And if you’re starting out and a 35 lbs bar is too heavy, dumbbells can get you on the right track.
Find them as cheaply as you can. Used works. I assume there’s always someone trying to get rid of theirs.
I’ve had a curl bar for many years, but I don’t use it any more. However, Barbara and our daughter, Nicole, use it regularly. They like the toned arm look! An Olympic curl bar weighs about 13 lbs.
Here’s a typical curl bar.
Last summer, I couldn’t figure out why on heavy deadlifts the bar was slipping out of my hands. It just wasn’t heavy enough to do that. Well, I figured it out. My hands were sweating just enough to make the bar slick. Duh!
Solution: chalk. After using it, I was amazed at how the bar stuck to my hands as if it was glued there. Problem solved!
If you use chalk, keep it in a sealed Tupperware container as this will prevent moisture from getting to it.
Running shoes are not good for deadlift and squatting. They are too unstable. Many people deadlift in their bare or stocking feet. That’s not for me so I use power-lifting shoes. These shoes have a non-flexible sole and a raised heel which are perfect for squats and deadlifts.
This is the new model for the ones I have.
If I were to buy them again, I might have saved up and gotten a more expensive pair with a higher heel.
These are the basic necessities for equipping a barbell resistance training program.
Three New Additions
We recently purchased three new pieces of equipment. They are awesome.
The Rogue landmine is a device that attaches to your rack. You place one end of the bar into the device, and it acts as a lever. This allows you to do various exercises such as landmine squats.
Barbara hates, hates, hates to do back squats. So she can now work her legs with the landmine. She loves this device!
Rogue Parallel Landmine Handle
This parallel landmine handle is a piece of equipment that attaches to the bar that is already attached to the landmine. This allows me to do heavy rows. Rows are one of the few accessory exercises I do. They build up hand grip and exercise the Lats.
They are an excellent exercise in helping to increase deadlift strength.
Hex Deadlift Bar
I thought I would mix up standard deadlifts with hex bar deadlifts. I purchased this hex bar from Titan. Titan’s bar is really well made and reasonably priced. If you don’t expect to load a lot of weight on the bar you can get a smaller one for about half the price.
It turns out that Barbara liked the bar so much that she is now doing hex deadlifts exclusively. They are a lot more forgiving on your lower back.
Okay, that’s about it for this post. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Remember, “the strong shall survive” and “the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing.”
Blessings and have a great week.
Read this next
- How I’m Using Creatine To Get Stronger - February 17, 2022
- How to Set Up a Home Gym: A Look at Our Garage Gym - January 26, 2022
- 65 Years Old And Getting Stronger: How We’re Doing It! - January 20, 2022
- If You’re Over 40 You’re Probably Losing Strength. You Must Deal With It Now! - January 4, 2022
- Get A Good Grip: How Your Hand Grip Strength Predicts Longevity - August 17, 2021