Are you stuck at home social distancing? Left without a gym to get your workout in at? Or maybe you’re just looking to finally piece together that home gym. Whatever the reason, here’s a great place to start with some pieces that I think are essential for a home gym, at least to start or get by! I’m also going to give you a few different options ranging on what I think is the best value gear all the way up to what I would prefer to use personally.
This guide answers a lot of the questions I get when people are first starting to piece together a home gym and is always going to be a work in progress. Absolutely NONE of the things I’m recommending are things that I wouldn’t use personally! So shop any of these products with confidence! Also, keep in mind that this stuff is mainly value to midrange equipment, with home gym’s, sky is the limit so I decided to make this guide a little more friendly for budget shoppers.
In the current equipment climate that we’re in right now, things are limited and are sold out! Another thing to keep in mind when shopping is that one of the main things you need to factor in to price is SHIPPING. IF you can buy local, that’s always the best bet since you usually get a local discount! Shopping locally is CRUCIAL right now, as you’ll be supporting local businesses that really need help! Some brands that I might not list are because logistical reasons are: Kiloflex (Oregon), Frey Fitness (Tennessee), GetRxd (Houston, Texas), Wright Equipment (Alabama) Lynx Barbell (Georgia) and Raptor Fitness (Colorado). They all offer great prices if you can pick them up!
Arguably the most important part of your home gym. Honestly, dropping bumper plates in your garage probably won’t destroy the floor but gf you want to further protect the ground, make sure you get some flooring. I would recommend getting 6×4′ .75″ thick stall mats from your local tack and feed store. Kahoots, Red Barn, or Tractor Supply has them in Southern California for about $45-50 per mat with discounts if you buy in bulk. Some places will even deliver them for free, which is a godsend, because they weigh 100lbs each.
ProMounds 8mm Rubber Flooring – If you don’t have a tractor supply nearby, this is a pretty good option for something that’s shipped for free. You can cut this roll into pieces using a utility knife so customize away. The rolls come in 4×6, 4×10, and 4×15′ lengths, but I would only really opt for the 15′ and just cut it to your liking. 8mm should be fine for protecting your floor in conjunction with bumper plates. If you’re using irons, it should be fine too because you’re likely not dropping weights.
$154.80 with free shipping.
Titan Fitness Silencer Drop Pads – These are the lowest price per pair drop pads on the market (factor shipping into others), and perform excellent! Even with bumper plates, if you plan on dropping your weight at all, this is an essential item.
$150 with free shipping for the pair!
If you’re doing CrossFit, get yourself a pair of dumbbells to start, they’re the most versatile pieces of equipment you’ll find in a garage gym. Luckily, if you’re not outfitting a complete gym, they’re also not that expensive depending on where you go.
Cap Barbell Coated Hex Dumbbells – You can spend a TON on DB’s, but with the right care, you wont’ have to because even cheaper ones hold up well. These DB’s are what I use in my CrossFit affiliate and even with the amount of stress I put them through, I haven’t had a single one break. Elite CF’ers should get 70/50’s, Advanced 50/35, Beginner 35/20
You want to be at or under $1 per lb, plus free shipping – which most of these are from Wal-Mart.com. Honestly, these are so good, there’s no reason to look elsewhere.
Another staple for any home gym that you could alternate for dumbbells. Though I do think the former are a little more versatile, you can get an amazing workout done with a single kettlebell. Like with DB’s, shipping becomes a big factor when shopping, so make sure you look into that when picking a brand. Some companies will offer free shipping, but that cost will just be rolled into the actual price of the KB.
Rep Fitness Kettlebells – If you’re living on the West Coast, shipping from Rogue can get pretty costly, so Rep Fitness offers just as high quality kettlebell as Rogue does, with cheaper prices and shipping. Like Rogue, Rep’s kettlebells have the same diameter handles throughout their weight range but they don’t have the same grippy texture as Rogue’s. Still, I personally prefer that so I don’t tear my hands up doing kettlebell movements.
Price range from 1.35 to 1.15 per lb. Free pickup in Colorado and cheaper shipping to the West Coast.
Rogue Fitness Kettlebells– In today’s equipment climate, there aren’t a lot of options to get cheap-ish kettlebells, so you might as well go with one of the best. Rogue’s KB’s have a very grippy texture and matching handle sizes so even the lighter ones grip the same as the heavier ones. They’re color coded so that you can easily pick them apart as well! Elite 70/53, Advanced 53/35, Beginner 35/26.
Prices range from 1.70/lb to 1.30/lb, with the option to pick these up which furthers the savings!
Fringe Sport Kettlebells – For everyone in between where shipping might get crazy or people living in Austin, Fringe Sport offers free shipping on their KB’s and discounts for pick-up!
Love them or hate them, a good medicine ball is integral to any home gym build out. I personally don’t think you should cheap out on a wall ball since they take a beating and you want them to last. Luckily, a lot of manufacturers have really stepped up their build quality when it comes to these so options for good ones are plentiful!
Rep Fitness V2 Medicine Ball– My very first wall ball purchase was from Rep Fitness and I still have it to this day in my affiliate. True story, the gals at the gym literally fight over the 14lb ball that I have in my gym! Slightly softer than the Rogue balls, but still hold their form well enough. These V2 balls also have an improved texture to the synthetic leather shell so that they’re a little easier to grip.
They don’t offer free shipping on these, but their prices are low and shipping is cheap (to California at least) enough to still remain cheaper than both Fringe and Rogue’s offerings.
Fringe Sport Immortal Wall Ball – I have no clue why these haven’t caught on, but Fringe’s Immortal wall balls are by far my favorite to use. Unlike normal wall balls that are soft and can be a little bit harder to catch, the Immortal wall ball is made from rubber and holds it’s form. Holding on to this style ball for longer sets is MUCH easier to do than a normal wall ball. They also bounce off the wall a little bit more so you won’t run into that dead fall that a normal medicine ball will do if there’s not enough force applied to it.
You can get these from 10-100lb’s! Free shipping throughout the range too!
Rogue Medicine Balls – If you wanted a more traditional style wall-ball, look no further than Rogue’s offerings. Previously Dynamax was the standard, but I honestly think that Rogue’s outer shell is a little more durable. These double stitched, made in the USA balls have withstood the test of time and abuse in my affiliate with minimal wear. They hold their shape well enough for longer sets and the surface of them is easy to hold on to even when things get a little sweaty.
Best of all, they include free shipping on these wall balls! Range goes from 4lb to 30lbs.
If you’re short on space, a stand alone pull-up bar to go with independent squat stands is probably the best way to go. Luckily, pull-up bar’s alone are pretty inexpensive so even just starting with one is a cheap way to get your hanging movements done and likely won’t impact your purchasing decision, say you want to go with a squat/power rack that has a pull-up bar on it. ALSO, keep in mind that this is going to be the best way to do bar muscle-ups!
Rogue Fitness P-6V Pull-Up System – This is going to be one of the best choices for elite or advanced athletes looking to do bar muscle-ups in their training, granted you have the space for it. You can either hang it from the ceiling or from the wall and it extends 32″ away from what you mount it to. With all Rogue’s pull-up systems, they include a powdercoated bar, but you can head to the hardware store and pick up a 1.25″ bare steel bar to replace that for better grip. You can also daisy chain these together to make a long pull-up “rig”.
Retails for $125 plus shipping. To California, shipping ends up being a costly $55.
Titan Fitness Wall Mounted Pull-Up Bar – Honestly, if you just needed something to get it done, this is one of the best options. I’m usually pretty critical about Titan’s finish but for something like this pull-up bar, they should be fine. Like the Rogue, you can head to the hardware store to swap the pull-up bar with something uncoated and daisy chain them. But unlike the Rogue, you don’t have the option to put the pull-up bar closer to the wall. 32″ spacing should be fine for bar muscle-ups and toes to bar!
Retail is $74 shipped! So cheap you can buy two of them!
Fringe Sport Pull-Up Bar System – If you’re absolutely against Titan and you still wanted to save a little bit of money on a pull-up bar, Fringe offers a great solution for that. Maximum distance away from the wall is 24″ so you wont be able to do bar muscle-ups, but it should be able to handle anything else. You can mount it on the ceiling or wall depending on preference and you can daisy chain them like both the other options.
This one goes for $129 with free shipping.
Honestly, I wouldn’t spend a whole lot here if you’re looking for a wooden box, because they all pretty much perform the same. Avoid metal boxes like the plague because they’re literally safety hazards waiting to happen. If you’re going for a soft plyobox, make sure it’s got a weight inside of it!
Rep Fitness 3-1 20x24x30″ Box – Rep’s plyobox comes puzzle cut with pre-drilled holes so that all you need to do when you get it is screw them in with a screwdriver! Cuts are CNC machined and the edges are sanded down so you can jump semi worry free!
$130 with PRIME Shipping!
Titan Fitness 3-in-1 Heavy Foam Plyo Box – If you’re one of those people terrified about jumping on boxes, this one will ease your mind. It’s got a PVC coating around a soft foam layer followed by a solid box with a weight inside of it for stability. In total, it weighs 67lbs which will be fine for stability on the 20″ and 24″ sides, though I wouldn’t recommend using this one for 30″ jumps (the soft layer makes it a little less stable). Another thing I don’t care to do on soft boxes is DB box step overs because the movement can make the box tip as well.
Another great, versatile though not entirely necessary piece of anybody’s kit should be a good weighted vest. While you don’t exactly need one, having a good one around will serve you for a long time and can be used to spice up even the most mundane workouts.
Bear Komplex Carrier – If you’re looking for a low profile plate carrier to use for fitness, this is the one to get. Obviously there are going to be better choices for actual military or LEO use, but for fitness, the minimal size of this one makes it the best choice. It’s made of a 1000D nylon fabric, has plenty of velcro hook and loop for patches, and molle webbing just in case you wanted to attach anything to it.
Like most plate carriers, this one doesn’t come with plates. Luckily, CATI Armor makes a great set of 8.75″ plates that are slim and ergonomically shaped that will fit right into the BK carrier.
Carrier goes for $130 and the plates go for $85, both with free shipping.
Northgym Adjustable Weighted Vest – If you wanted to go for another alternative that you can pick-up on Amazon that comes with ergonomic plates included, the Northgym carrier is an excellent option. They come with two sets of side straps so depending on if you’re smaller or bigger, you have options. Unlike most weighted vests, the plates on these load through the side and the fit is very streamlined so there’s not a lot of empty space. Also, the most important thing about these is that they come with a lot of velcro hook and loop for all your patches!
The set retails for $150 with Prime shipping!
The value of this one really depends on the person and what they’re doing. I know in CrossFit, bench pressing isn’t quite so valuable, but I still LOVE it! If you just need a bench to do a couple workouts with (Linda), you could scrape by with the bare minimum. But, if you love benching like me and plan on putting up big numbers, you might want to look into something sturdier.
Just to get by:
Marcy Flat Utility Bench– Although it has a low rated weight limit of 600lbs, that probably more that most people are going to bench along with their own bodyweight. I spent a lot of time on this bench and though I never personally surpassed a 300lb bench on this, I’m sure it would handle it just fine. The alternative to this bench is the Amazon Basics bench, which is also decent to just get by, but I do prefer the pad on this bench a little more (they’re both flimsy). Get this only if the benching you’re looking to do is in a CrossFit workout, or if you wanted something to sit on in between squat sets.
The Marcy goes for $50 with Prime shipping and the Amazon goes for $54.
Rep Fitness FB-3000 Flat Bench – Honestly, this is going to be way more than enough to just get by unless you’re a giant of a person. For most people, this is going to be the end all be all bench. Pad measures in at 12″ wide and the length is 47″, though the 17″ height might make it difficult for shorter athletes to keep their feet down. The frame of the bench is 11ga steel and the base of the pad uses actual plywood. The pad itself is 2.5″ thick and is coated with a non-slip vinyl.
Goes for $139 (blue or red) with free Prime shipping or $94 plus shipping via RepFitness.
Rogue Flat Utility Bench – This is the bench that I personally use and has always done right by me. Unless you needed a FID bench, look no further. This thing is sturdy, the pad is stiff yet comfortable (you can add the Thomson Fat Pad if you’re buff) and the design is streamlined so you really don’t have to worry about anything bending or breaking. Uses the same powdercoated 2×3″ 11ga steel found in Rogue’s squat racks so you know this thing is going to last you a lifetime!
$179.99 not including shipping or tax ($233 to California).
Kind of not a necessity since there are so many good apps for your phone – unless of course you wanted to use your phone to record your workout!
USA Timer Pro Garage Edition Timer– This little guy has everything anyone is going to need for their home or small affiliate. I’ve had one for YEARS and it’s still doing just fine; started in my garage but ended up as the door timer in my affiliate. I would definitely opt for the $29 travel pack, as it gives you the option to take this thing on the go!
Goes for $119 with free shipping, the add on travel pack costs $29.
I know everyone is dying to get their hands on their own barbell, but keep in mind that you’ll also need to budget getting a set of bumper plates too! That being said, I do think that you should budget the most you can into your barbell, then spend whatever else on your plates. The bar will largely dictate your lifting experience, not the weights.
I Sell Fitness BAM Bar – If you’re looking for a bar to use for CrossFit or Oly and you don’t have much to spend (since you gotta buy plates too yanno), look no further – this is the bar to get. 28mm, 190k PSI tensile with great whip, 10-needle bearing AND ceramic coating for UNDER $200? What more could you want?! Yeah, you could save a couple bucks with the Everyday bar, but I highly recommend just stepping it up to the BAM bar since you’re getting a huge boost in performance with those bearings.
I personally had input on the knurling and whip of this barbell, the final product is exactly what I’m looking for in a CrossFit/Oly training barbell. I’d take this over any 28.5mm barbell any day of the week.
Best Power Bar:
I Sell Fitness Power Bar – CrossFit or Oly not your thing? If you’re just looking for an insane deal on a power bar, the ISF is also the best you’re going to get for the price. It has a 29mm 205k PSI tensile strength shaft, center knurling and the depth of all the knurling on this bar is aggressive! You can opt for a ceramic or phosphate coating, but if you want to retain the most amount of knurling feel, you’re best going with the bare steel option. All sleeves come with chrome coating to minimize sleeve wear. In my testing, I found this bar to be stiff with minimal bounce for squatting and the knurling to be aggressive, yet still comfortable with ceramic coating.
Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar– All the recommendations for this barbell are beating a dead horse, but it’s tried and true and one of the best all arounder’s you can get. What makes it an all around barbell? To be honest, it’s not particularly great for anything, which makes it good for everything. 28.5mm shaft means that it’s going to have some whip for Oly, but it’s not going to be too whippy for squatting and presses. Composite bushings will provide adequate spin for cleans and snatches but won’t be turning while you’re benching. The knurling is cut probably a little more towards medium depth, but isn’t aggressive and should suffice most people unless you really like to tear your hands up on the bar. Quite possibly the best part about buying Rogue is that you’ll get top dollar for it if you decide to sell it on the black market!
My pro-tip is to just wait until they have Boneyard bars in stock. I’ve never had a single issue with any of mine and Rogue’s B-stock is usually better than most A-stock.
Other great options for a 28.5mm barbell include the Vulcan Standard, Fringe Ceracolt, and Colorado Strength Colorado Bar. All of these barbells are basically the same barbell, but variants made for different companies. The Vulcan has great light knurling, but only comes in zinc options for $300 shipped. The Fringe has two options for knurling depending on the color you go with (orange: light, green: aggressive) and comes with cerakote but the coating adds a fair amount of thickness to the bar making it over 29mm. The Ceracolt retails for $369 with free shipping. The Colorado bar has medium depth knurling similar to the Rogue, only comes in zinc, but only retails for $250 not including shipping.
Rogue Fitness 28MM IWF Oly Bar – Let’s be real here, if you had all the money in the world, I would recommend dropping it on a Uesaka Competition bar, which is my favorite oly bar of all time. Unfortunately, that’s not really a reality for most people, so I think if you still had a good amount of change to drop on a bar, the Rogue 28mm IWF approved Oly bar is the one to go with. Pretty much all of Rogue’s Oly bars come with EU steel now which provides excellent whip and feel. The knurling, while on the lighter side, is still plenty grippy to hold and is never uncomfortable for reps, should you decide to use this for a WOD. You can also step this bar up and get cerakote, but keep in mind that it does dull down the knurling a little bit. Don’t be worried if this is your single bar and you have to squat or press with it, Olympic champions squat with 28mm bearing bars all the time. If they can do it, so can you.
Retails from $495-545 with free shipping!
I honestly don’t think you should spend that much on bumper plates, but I do think you should buy a quality set that won’t break on you. Keep in mind that you’re probably going to treat your own bumpers a lot better than the ones you’re going to find in a gym. Durability on 10’s and 15’s is great, but probably not as essential as it would be in an affiliate setting. Everyone loves the look of competition plates, but they’re not really going to dictate your lifting experience unless you’re going for some heavy deadlifts, in which case you might be better of getting iron plates.
X-Training Equipment Premium Black Bumpers – These basic bumper plates use a little bit of an older style mold (Rogue HG 1.0), but it’s not a bad one and works well despite the bumpers being a little bit thicker than more current designs. Each size has a lip that makes picking them up a little bit easier to do, handy when picking them up when laid flat on the ground. Virgin rubber means they’re going to stink for a little bit, be greasy when you first get them and show wear more than their crumb counter parts, but they do have much lower bounce!
A 160lb ($319) set should be okay for beginners, but if you’re edging the advanced side, I would recommend upgrading to the 260lb($419) set. From 1.99/lb to 1.39/lb. Prices include shipping and no tax! Also, there’s a 7% discount for LEO/Military!
Fringe Sport Black Bumper Plates – Fringe is the standard for black bumper plates in the CrossFit world. They’re durable, low bounce, use a current style mold where the heavier plates are a little thinner and lighter plates are a little thicker. You can load 5 45’s on a normal bar with room for a collar just in case you wanted to max out your deadlift. Collars are co-molded into the plate so you don’t have to worry about the inner ring becoming loose over time. Not to mention they’re backed with a solid 3 year warranty on the bigger plates and a 1 year on the smaller ones. They are virgin rubber so you’re going to run into the same off gassing as the XTraining ones, but they won’t be as greasy!
You can order normal denominations or you can get a bulk set if you wanted to really kit yourself up and maximize the savings. A 160lb set will set you back $289 which makes them a better deal than XTrainings, but a 260lb set will cost you a little more at $449. As always, free shipping in the lower 48 states from Fringe!
Best Value Competition Plates:
Rep Fitness Competition Bumper Plates – If you wanted to step it up to something a little bit nicer than normal plates, or you’re trying to focus on Oly on a budget, there’s nothing better for the money than these. These bumper plates are amazing quality without breaking the bank even despite not having free shipping tied to them. They have extremely low bounce, the center hub is rock solid, they fit tight onto bars and they have a 5 year warranty backing them.
Sets go from $490 to $750 – Most beginner, intermediate lifters should be able to get away with just 90kg, but if you’re a more advanced lifter, I’d recommend getting that 140kg set. They also do come in pounds, if that’s your thing.
Best Value Iron Plates:
Cap Barbell Olympic Cast Iron Plates– Not planning on dropping your weights and just need to get the job done on the cheap? This is the one, iron is tried, true and will last you forever even with minimal to no maintenance. Keep in mind that these will absolutely damage your barbell sleeves, but if you’re shopping for irons, you probably don’t care. A little birdie told me these are the same plates some of the big names use…
Prices range from 12.50 to the big boy hundos for $125. Roughly 1.25 per lb across the range with FREE SHIPPING.
You can get pretty crazy here, so we’re going to stick with the essentials of what you need to get by. I would always recommend getting a wall mounted pull-up bar and a squat rack but if you needed to get a squat/pull-up rack, make sure you get some playground sand to weigh the base down for kipping movements, if you don’t plan on bolting the rack down.
Absolutely DO NOT buy a squat racks that look like this:
Best Bang for the Buck:
Rage Fitness Squat Rack– This one was a HUGE surprise to me – I picked it up last Black Friday on sale for $120 on a whim and was blown away by the fit, finish and just how sturdy it was! It’s build quality exceeds its price: tubing is 2×2 11ga steel that has a painted finish, hole spacing is kind of far apart but it’s something you can deal with for the price. J-Hooks are the biggest surprise as they’re nicely finished with green paint and have pretty thick UHMW pieces line them to protect your bars knurling. Weight rating says 300lbs, but I loaded this thing up with 400 to squat and had no issues.
$180 with free shipping!
Best Bang for the Buck (Indy):
Bells of Steel Squat Stands 3.0: Free shipping on this one makes it one of the best buy’s you can get when it comes to independent stands. 2×3″ 11ga steel tubing and features both 2″ and 1″ spacing! J-Hooks are even UHMW lined, all of these features are what you’d find on racks that cost double the price. 600lb rated capacity means most normal people aren’t even getting close to their max on these stands. They even have wheels for ease of moving them around!
$219 with free shipping!
Vulcan Strength H-Basic Squat Stand or Oly-1 – These two squat stands are some of the best you’re going to get for the money AND they include free shipping. The H-Basic stand is your traditional, no frills squat rack featuring 11ga 2×3″ tubing with 2″ hole spacing throughout. J-cups are UHMW lined and even the hardware is blacked out for that stealthy look.
If you were pressed for space and wanted to go for some indy stands, the Oly-1 stands are one of the best options you can get. Though they look like your typical run of the mill budget stands, they’re built 100x better with 11ga steel, UHMW lined j-hooks and spotter arms and have a 5/8″ pin! Each upright adjusts to 70″ and the combined total of the stand is 110lbs.
The H-Basic goes for $350 and the Oly-1 for $330 both have FREE shipping and NO TAX. (At least in California)
Rogue Fitness S-1 Squat Stand – There is no doubt that Rogue makes some of the best steel products around and it really shows in their squat racks. 11ga, 2×3″ steel tubing with the nicest powder coating job in the business. You get the option of 2″ spacing through for squat height and 1″ Westside spacing for bench. J-Hooks are equally as nice as the rack and are UHMW lined. Price of the Echo stand is a lot lower, which may make it look a little bit more budget friendly, but when you add in shipping to that rack it becomes almost the same price as this one!* I haven’t met a weight that the S-1 couldn’t handle.
Retails for $345 plus shipping and tax ($425 to CA).
*The Echo Squat Stand is STILL a great value if you’re looking to add a couple more items to your order and get Rogue’s 3-Ships Free deal. You can add a couple of small items and get it shipped in the low $300’s. It has a lot of the same features as the S-1, with a slightly less stable base (still plenty fine) and Westside hole spacing.
Rowers and Bikes?
In my honest opinion, if you’re going to get one of these machines, it’s gotta be a rower first then bike. The industry standard is Concept2, but we now have a lower priced, compelling option for you to get your fitness on with if you don’t plan on using them for a competition.
Vulcan Scull Rower – Though you might not be able to use it for the CrossFit Games, this rower offers the closest experience to a Concept2 rower than any other rower has before. The frame is heavier, leading to a more planted feel and the overall build quality is something that you’d expect C2 to make. I did have some quibbles with the monitor in my review, but overall it’s still plenty usable and the readout works well enough. Ergonomics are a little different, but not totally game changing; I prefer the pedal width on the Vulcan but I do like the more upright seating position of the C2 more. When it comes down to effort, you’ll probably hit your goals a little bit quicker on the Vulcan (maybe 4-5 cals quicker) but the rowing experience feels just as hard.
Retails for $660 on sale right now, shipping not included ($857 shipped to CA). Shipping is the make it or break it on this one – If you’re around Vulcan to pick-up or get cheaper shipping, it’s a steal. If you’re far off like me, the savings diminish when you add shipping and you’re probably better off buying a Concept2.
Assault Air Bike or Rogue Echo Bike? – The better machine here is the Rogue by far, but it’s not the standard plus its a little bit harder. If you wanted the better built and quieter training tool for your home, I would pick the Rogue all day.
The case for the Assault bike is still pretty solid – it’s the standard in Crossfit. If you’re a competitor, it’s the one to go with. Not to mention that it takes up a little less space and for me, the ergonomics (seating position) works better. The Echo is tough to ride if you’re a smaller athlete.
The unspoken king of the home is the Concept2 Bike Erg. Though it’s more expensive than any of the other bikes, I would still pick this one over either of those, given the option. It’s not close to the same experience of the other bikes at all since it loses out on the arm functionality, but it’s the only one you’re willingly going to want to get on. You can hop on this thing, turn on a movie and you’ll be done with a 1h30m ride before you know it. You can spice things up by doing a standing ride, or not and just enjoy the show.