I’ve talked a lot about people who have influenced me as a coach and a gym owner. One of the top people that come to mind is Zach Even-Esh.

He is the owner of The Underground Strength Gym(s) in NJ.

When it comes to garage gyms, he is the founding father in my opinion.

He was building a garage where monsters would come to train before it was even a thing. To be honest, having a gym in your garage wasn’t really a popular thing until fairly recently. He was also one of the first pioneers on YouTube in the strength training community.

My Garage Gym Inspiration

With Zach’s inspiration, I decided to start my own garage gym in my aunt’s garage where people would come and train. I wanted to do what Zach did until I could make the move and afford my own space. My aunt’s garage would later be known as “The Grind House” where a young crazy entrepreneur would have over 100 people come to train and do all sorts of craziness and mayhem.

It’s crazy to look back on those days and to be honest, they were some of the most fun and raw training sessions. Here are a few archives.

Nothing like a good old’ tire battle

Garage Gym Essentials and Layout

Small space in a garage means that you have to be space-efficient

With a two-car garage you will run out of space really fast, so you have to make the most count with equipment purchases and layout. In the video, I show (which is outdated because I’ve changed things up again) you what is included in my 5,000 square foot gym called The Lions Den located in Colmar PA but I want to talk more about the basics for the home gym set up that I have found to be the best and cost-effective for training.

Sometimes I get caught up in wanting more equipment but then will reflect on being back in the small garage gym and quickly realize how unnecessary a lot of it really is.

So, if you are looking to make a home gym here would be my recommendations for some basics! I also want to say that I buy most of my equipment from Rogue Fitness, but I have also used Craigslist, Titan Fitness, and a ton of other smaller companies to purchase equipment.

Now before we go into this, the equipment you NEED will be dependent on what you are training for.

Are you a powerlifter? Crossfitter? Strongman? General strength & conditioning? Yoga? You get the point.

The items below are going to be items I think across the board are a solid foundation for a person with strength goals.

*NOTE* garage gyms CAN be expensive, just like anything else. Any hobby can become expensive, but it also doesn’t have to be. You can find a ton of bargains online and used equipment can hold up nicely.

BUT There is also an important lesson myself and others have learned about buying once. I suggest finding the best bang for your buck, but also getting decent equipment for the main items to keep you safe, and also not having to spend more money long term because it’s crap quality and it breaks.

What My Garage Gym Included

Rack: This could be a full power rack or a half rack of some sort. My first rack was a rogue half rack that included a pull-up bar. This is necessary to have a place for any barbell work. This will also depend on space for what rack you can get.

Barbell: I’ve made a video on barbells before that can be found HERE. You want to choose a bar that will be the most versatile for your goals, that will be different for everyone. I don’t think you should be cheap with a barbell, so do your research on which bars are best for you!

Plates: Starting out I had a mixture of iron and bumper plates. I would search online for people selling iron. Depending on what type of lifts you are doing bumper may be a nice alternative to sound reduction and keeping your floors intact.

Bench: A bench is necessary and can serve multi-purposes depending on the type of bench. You don’t need to go overboard on price with this but definitely a staple!

Pull up bar: Depending on your set up you can either have a pull-up bar attached to the rack, or you can get a wall mount of some sort that is easy to set up.

Dip bar: Most racks will allow for attachments from the company that it was purchased from. It’s not absolutely necessary but can be good to have. If no dip bar, you can do dips off of your bench.

Dumbbells: I would search for these on Craigslist, FB marketplace, any friends who may be looking to get rid of them. My recommendation is to buy new ones.

Mats: I would suggest checking Craigslist for 4×6 ¾ inch thick Horse Stall mats that are used. You will spend a fortune on the mat if you purchase them through any gym distributor. Facebook Marketplace has had some great finds as well.

Self-made box jump box: Saves a ton of money just making them yourself

Chlorine Jugs filled with rocks and water for farmer walks

Parallette bars made of PVC

Atlas stones

Old ass big stereo: PUMP UP THE JAMS!!!

Tires for tire flips (Free just went to a tire distributor)

Chains found at a shipyard (free)

Sandbags for a killer sandbag shred

The rest of the equipment is accumulated over time and slowly.

The main issue with the garage gym is going to be floor space. Depending on how much floor space you have, and who lives in the house will determine how much or how little you can pack it out with.

Hopefully, this helps you in your quest to build your garage gym. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us and we will direct you in the best possible way!

Here’s a memory of the Grind House Garage Gym

Joey Szatmary
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Joey Szatmary

Founder of Szat Strength and current Overall 2019 National Heavy Weight Strongman Champion.