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Garage Gym | Top Things To Consider

The Garage Gym is the ultimate workout room for those who want the convenience of working out from home. Let’s face it, going to the gym can be a hassle sometimes, and even when you go, you will occasionally run into situations where some millennial is hogging the equipment. You know the type, some poser looking at their phone while lifting or, in this case, not lifting. It totally throws off your routine.

Garage Gym

With a Garage Gym, you know what to expect, and it is there 24/7 calling your name. Another huge perk is now you don’t have to worry about catching the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other virus while lifting. Now, of course, there are plenty of disadvantages, such as cost, space, and temperature control.

Lawn Mowers | Get them Out

For those that mow their lawns and keep their mowers in their garage, you will want to move that sucker somewhere else. Decaying grass that collects under the mower is not a pleasant smell, and you certainly don’t want that in your gym. It doesn’t matter if it is an electric mower like I have or a gas-powered one, you will want it somewhere else.

If you have space, buying a shed from places like Home Depot or Lowes will allow you to move the mower somewhere else.

Garage GYM Flooring

Most people I know who own Garage Gyms or are planning to set one up, generally like to get 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch rubber mats. Some of the best and most economical ones I have found are horse stall mats. I opted for the 6′ x 4′ x 3/4 inch rubber horse stall mats that I picked up from our local Tractor Supply store. Prices for the mats run from $35 to $50 per mat for the 4′ x 6′ versions.

Note: Be aware though, these Horse Stall Mats are heavy (80 to 100+ pounds) and usually will require 2 people to move and position. If you plan on picking up flooring for your garage gym, I recommend a truck so you can get multiple mats at one time.

Rubber Horse Stall Mat

Buy Once And Forget About It

One huge mistake many beginner Garage Gym owners do is buy on the cheap. What we are talking about is buying equipment that you’re not going to love to use and not going to love to look at, but simply buying it because it was cheaper.

Buy Once – Cry Once

Remember this phrase “Buy Once – Cry Once”, and you will be good to go.

Let’s face it if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, buy quality products that you will be happy with for the long term. Cheaper products are usually cheaper for a reason, be it cheaper parts, cheaper quality and of course cheaper build. Some good examples are Rogue’s standard of quality products vs Chinese knockoffs.

Next, decide if you want to buy American Made products (Assuming you live in the US). In most cases, those products will be more expensive than their Chinese counterparts. Rogue Fitness, for instance, makes and manufactures its equipment in the US, which obviously adds to the overall price tag.

Note: Some of the best companies out there right now are Rogue Fitness, Vulcan, and Sorinex.

Buy Used

Unless you are made of money, buying used is a very economical way to go when buying weights and gym equipment. It’s like buying a car, let someone else take the initial hit on price and you will get a better deal down the road.

I have 2 great examples. I picked up a Life Fitness Signature Series Multi-Adjustable Bench (commercial grade) for $200 on Craigslist. If I had purchased that same bench retail, it would have set me back over $1,100. I also picked up a Rogue Fitness WestSide Bench from Facebook Marketplace for $500. That same bench, if new, would have also been around $1,100 with shipping and tax. So combined I saved over $1,500 by buying used.

Life Fitness Signature Series Multi-Adjustable Bench

The other advantage of buying used is if you do decide to sell something, you most likely will not take as big a hit had you bought it retail.

The downside to buying used is you don’t get any type of warranty and most manufacturers only give warranties to the original owner.

Another conundrum is finding the product you want. You simply might not find it or have to settle for something not exactly what you want. In those cases, it might be better to simply save up money and live by the golden rule “Buy Once – Cry Once

Look For Sales

If buying used isn’t an option, but you still want to save money, look for sales. Rogue Fitness usually has an internet Black Friday Sale and American Barbell usually has some sort of overstock or surplus sale.

To Bumper Or Not

The Question some may ask is when buying weights do you need Bumper Plates or can get get the less costly all metal cast iron plates. It really boils down to preference, but if you’re into aesthetics, you really can’t beat the overall appearance of a nice set of competition bumper plates.

  • Bumper Plates are quieter than iron plates when they smack together or hit the ground – If throwing the weights to the ground sounds fun, then you will want bumper plates.
  • Bumper Plates don’t damage equipment as easy – Since Bumper plates have a rubber or urethane outer shell they don’t bang against each other as metal plates would.
  • Bumper Plates just look damn good, especially competition bumper plates.
Vulcan Bumper Plates

Personally, I have been looking to buy some used Rogue Fitness bumper plates, but so far I have been out of luck because they have been listed for almost what new ones cost. For the lighter weights, 5 and 10 pounds, I might go with Rogue’s change plates. I did buy a set of 25 lb green competition bumper plates from Vulcan.

Note: Bumper plates come in pounds and kilos and at least right now the trend seems to be to go with kilos, but I want to stick with pounds.

The BarBell

Now you certainly can skimp on an Olympic barbell, but I would highly recommend getting one like the Rogue Fitness Ohio bar. It is simply one of the best all-around barbells out there right now. Many Garage Gym owners have multiple Olympic bars, but I don’t really see needing more than 2 or 3 for my set up. I am thinking about picking up a 35 lb for my wife and then maybe another one at some point for me.

Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar with E-Coat

I found one used on Facebook and when I say used, it really looked brand new. I did my research and settled on the Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar with E-Coat, so I shouldn’t have to worry about the bar rusting.

Dumbbells and Kettlebells

I wrote a pretty lengthy article on Urethane Dumbbells, my favorite ones to use. Currently, urethane dumbells are the most compact and feel the best when lifting. That said, they are so much more expensive than the rubber ones, so it really boils down to preference.


There are other types of dumbbells that are called adjustable or selectable dumbbells. Bowflex probably makes the most commonly heard of adjustable dumbbell, but for me, they just never felt good to workout with.

I have 3-4 Kettlebells and they are great for overall conditioning and doing rows. I let mine get wet and they rusted pretty good. After a lot of sanding and grinding and then painting, they look almost new again.

About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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