Cost Of A Home Garage Gym You Will Use Forever - Priceless!
June 26th 2019
When building your home garage gym, you may find it a bit intimidating. Many first-time gym builders often scratch their heads about the cost of this operation and whether or not it would be worth it in the end. But more often than not, it is the price of the entire home gym that puts doubt into anyone’s mind.
What is the cost of a home garage gym?
If you are a beginner to intermediate strength athlete and lifting around 500lbs, you can develop a garage gym at around $1000. Depending on your strength levels and training equipment, your home garage gym can cost between $1000-5000.
Before building a home garage gym, consider this:
Will you actually use your home garage gym? This is an important question to ask yourself because what is the point of purchasing over a thousand dollars for barbells, bumper plates, power cages, extra plate sets, and so much more. You need to honestly answer the initial question first before you even think about planning to build your home garage gym.
If you answer anything but hell yes, you may be better off spending time at a commercial gym before purchasing your own equipment. You can actually put your expectations and wants to the test - get an extended gym membership at a commercial gym. Get a 6 month to a year’s worth of membership at a commercial gym that has all the equipment you need - so this includes barbells, dumbbells, bench press setups, power cages, etc.
In fact, before I even purchased a power cage and a starter weight set, I made sure this is something I wanted. How did I test myself? I made sure I set up a workout schedule and that I strictly followed it for over three years. This happened around the time I was in college, from freshman year to junior year. I had ideas about having a home garage gym but I did not know how badly I wanted it. So, I did the next best thing and got gym memberships whenever I was not in school and when I was in school, I would go to the gym and hit my required workouts as per my workout routine demanded.
For most of us, we would not have a problem staying committed to the gym. However, in addition to proving to yourself that you DO want a home garage gym, you can learn invaluable lessons while being a commercial gym. You can learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of your facility. You may even meet a couple of cool training partners or like-minded people who want to achieve their goals.
Also, consider time traveled to the gym
Most lifters do not live close to their gyms and the time you travel to the gym adds up quickly. Let us say an hour round trip is what it takes to go and come back from the gym. If you would out three times a week, this is 106 hours a year you are spending on just traveling to the gym. The next question you need to ask yourself, is this worth it?
A home garage gym saves you a lot of time since it is within a few seconds of walking. However, lifters need to use the gym in order for it to be worth the price.
You do not have to buy everything at once
For a lot of people, it can be difficult to purchase every single piece of equipment to complete your home gym. That is just not realistic. But you know what is? Setting up small goals that you can accomplish along the way.
To start having a proper squat or overhead press workout, all you need is a power cage, barbell, and plates. To have a proper deadlift workout, all you need is a barbell and plates. To have a proper bench press workout, you will need a flat bench, power cage, barbell, and plates. Everything else is just extra equipment that will help you get stronger with the big 4.
You may have read other articles saying that you should start small and buy some dumbbells or kettlebells to test the waters of your commitment. I wholeheartedly disagree.
If you know what you want, you need to go balls to the wall, 100% into that mess. If you have even a tiny bit of hesitation, extend your gym membership by 6 more months to truly decide whether or not a home garage gym is right for you.
There is really no way of forcing this issue - either you will start to build your home garage gym or just have a gym membership. There is no gray area in terms of utilizing your money to your maximum potential. With either decision, you win.
Training goals for your home garage gym
Always keep in mind what your goals are before purchasing even one piece of equipment. Are you training to be an elite powerlifter? Strongman? General strength athlete?
As you may already be aware of, different strength sports will demand their athletes to perform different tasks. What is optimal for a powerlifter may not transfer over to a Strongman gym. There is some overlap, no doubt. But this is why you should know exactly what your training goals are. You can save both time and money in deciding what equipment to get. This saves you from a lot of heartache and headaches.
New, used or free equipment?
As a future home gym owner, you should be aware of what type of equipment you want to purchase. For me, I always purchased new equipment. Depending on the deal I see online, I may side with cheaper options than go for the quality. However, my theory behind buying cheaper plates may shift if they do not withstand the test of time.
For instance, my entire garage home gym setup cost around $1000. This included 490lbs of weights (including the bar), a sturdy bar, a flat bench, a power cage, one piece of rubber flooring, and clips.
At the same time, you will probably hear people spending over two grand on plates alone. Or you probably heard about someone spending $1000 on just their barbell and plate sets. This would be an average cost for any home gym owner.
When I read other blog posts or watch Youtube videos about home garage gym building, there is always a heated discussion about whether or not you should purchase cheap equipment or not. Will a higher price tag last me longer?
First, you need to be realistic with yourself. Would you be happy if you purchase higher priced equipment? What about cheaper ones? Next, you need to consider your budget. For me, I know that I am the type of person who would purchase cheaper to mid-priced equipment to test out the quality. Then, based on that experience, I would evaluate my next plan. So far, everything is looking good for my home garage gym setup but buying higher priced bumper plates has piqued my interest over the last couple of months. So, as my strength level continues to climb, my home garage gym will have some new plate set additions.
Prepping your area
Your gym equipment budget may be set but did you know that there are other expenses to enhance your training experience? Aside from paint jobs, take a look at other costs you may be missing in your budget:
Chances are your garage has lighting, so you probably did not need to consider this. However, poorly lit areas can make dangerous lifting conditions. But chances are, your garage gym is outdoors so you will have at least one angle where you can open up your garage doors and have the fresh sunlight beaming into the home gym.
For me, I only have one lightbulb for my home garage gym and that is the only source of light I used when I trained at night. It was sufficient but the area was definitely not well-lit. This does not bother me that much but it depends on your wants and expectations.
A lot of home garage gym owners skip this step, thinking they can get away with using no flooring. But if you are doing any compound lifts, especially deadlifts, it is better safe than sorry to protect your concrete slabs.
I have read other articles that revealed people floor their garage with carpet? I have never seen or heard about this but this is an upgrade above having no flooring. You may mitigate some damage to your floors but not 100%.
Rubber tiles or rubber mats are other low-cost options for protecting your floors. They are relatively easy to install as well.
In my opinion, the best option to protect your home garage gym floors is to use a platform. You can make your own just like Alan Thrall did or purchase them online. With an elevated surface above your ground, you have a very low chance of damaging your floors - unless you literally miss your clean and jerk and slammed your weight on the ground next to your platform.
What Are The Essentials For A Home Garage Gym?
One of the strengths of owning your own home gym is that you are the boss. You get to customize what you want to put into it. However, there are staples that every home garage gym should include - a power cage, barbell, 3-4 plate sets, and bench. Dumbbells, extra plate sets, chains, bands, dip belts are added bonuses.
Your power cage
This is the centerpiece of your home gym. In almost every single compound variation, you will utilize a power cage, specifically for any squatting or pressing movement.
What price range should your power cage be at? Under $200? $300-400? Around $600? Over $1000?
Power cages under $200 dollars
If you find a power cage for under $200, it is probably not a “power cage.” It may be a power rack or a half cage or something that takes away some stability of the entire structure. This is your plan - if you plan on lifting weights for more than a year, do not purchase any “rack” under $200 dollars. You will outgrow your equipment, which is one of the last things we want.
Power cages - $300-400 dollars
This is where you can find the most bare-bones power cages you will find on the market. You literally pay for a power cage, that’s it. Anything else is will bump the price up.
Personally, I am currently using a power cage in this price range. So far, it has been holding up and I enjoy training in my home gym very much.
Power cages - Around $600 dollars
These power cages seem to come with a bit more equipment and have some more safety features that allow the entire set-up not to tip over.
Power cages - Over $1000 dollars
Depending on your goals, you may need to purchase a very expensive power cage. Some writers may say that this is a rip-off or overkill but who are we to say what you should and should not do?
If you get value from your expensive power cage, then the price is justified. You can have an awesome training experience. Period. I am confident these are the power cages that some 800+lbs squatters use and it seems to be worth it for them.
You can get a decent barbell for under $200 USD. As long as you do not have a starter bar that was given to you free for purchasing a weight set, you should be good to go.
What do I mean? Weight sets that include a barbell will include a very low-quality barbell. I mean it when I say that. I purchased that set and I can see the barbell start to bend when I failed 350lbs on a squat attempt. So, if you want to continue to train without anything holding you back, making sure to pay upfront for a quality barbell is the way to go.
Your plate sets
Whether you go iron plates or bumper plates, you need weights to train with. Sure, you can get more precise 45lbs plates by paying more. But is it really worth it? Only you can be the judge of that.
If you are a competitive powerlifter who needs to train in competition-liker settings all the time, it would be better if you could train with calibrated plates. On the other hand, 99% of the population can train with any sort of iron, bumper or urethane plates.
Whether you choose a flat bench or an adjustable bench, you need to make sure you have a stable platform where you can perform any pressing movements. This makes a significant difference when planning out your budget.
You may totally forget about this and may have to improvise. Nothing wrong with that; before equipment became mass produced for the consumer, people trained with anything they could get their hands on. If they needed to train their upper body, using their surroundings plays a role. Stones, trees, hills, boulders, etc. were all utilized in training back then. Hell, you can even sit on a bucket and train.
For me, I decided to get a high-quality flat bench - to do a regular bench press. However, I would be lying if I said there were not times I wished I purchased an adjustable bench. However, hindsight is 20/20.
My biggest fear of getting an adjustable bench was that I did not want to purchase any piece of equipment due to the moveable pins. At that time, I decided that getting a flat bench was good enough for my progress (that part is true).
Accessories - dumbbells
Depending on your workout program and your fitness goals, dumbbells will either be a luxury or a necessity. There are tons of videos, guides, forums and blog posts about how to choose your dumbbell set. For a bare-bones gym, you do not need any. I did not have any for over 6 years. Sure, they could have helped me get stronger on some accessory lifts but my main focus has been on compound barbell lifts. And what is the best way to get stronger with them? By continuously performing the movement, varying the different sets, reps, frequency, and intensity.
Accessories - collars
If you purchased metal collars, most of them suck. I know because I have two pairs and they are extremely difficult to pry open. But this is the result of going cheap with your collars.
Accessories - bands
Bands are a nice accessory to have for your home garage gym but are not required. You can use your bands for stretches or help you with your accessory exercises. For a lot of lifters, they have already purchased a couple of bands prior to building their home gym.
Should I purchase a cardio machine?
If your goal is to strength train, there is no need to purchase a cardio machine. In my experience, a cardio machine is just a waste of money and space. I would rather go play basketball, run a trail, hike swim or bike. There are so many other variations I would rather do than to get on a cardio machine.
However, your goals and interests may be different from mine. With that said, low tier cardio machines cost less than $1000. Mid-tier cardio equipment cost between $1000-2000. Then, you have “higher-end” cardio machines that can cost well over $3000. Though these prices are not set in stone, this is an approximate range you can expect to pay for a new cardio machine.
Should I purchase an all in one home gym?
If you have a limited budget, it would be wiser to slowly build out your home garage gym. All in one home gyms usually cost over $1000 but are generally not over $2000, unless it comes with extra equipment. In my opinion, unless you really have the money to spend, it is not worth it to purchase an all in one home gym.
Your money would be better invested if you purchase more weight plates, a higher quality barbell, and a better power cage. Many of your accessories exercises can be variations of your main lifts; isolation exercises that are recommended online are meant for people who are just casually reading and looking for ideas.
Action takers, like you and I, are looking for solutions that will generate results. Doing main compound movements yielded results. Doing modified compound movements also yielded results. So, unless it is broken, do not bother trying to tinker with it.
So, to wrap up that idea, it is nice to have extra equipment to perform isolation exercises. There is nothing wrong with that but if you need to shell out a couple of grand to set that up, it really depends on your budget. If you have the cash to do all these upgrades at once, that is ideal. But if you are like me with a budget, you need to think strategically about how you want to build out your garage gym. Do not forget about the space requirements (one of the biggest reasons why I cannot have an all in one home gym in my garage).
Where are we up to now?
As you can see, the costs just keep going up and up as we list more factors that play a role in your home garage gym. This is why I distilled garage home gym building down to its basics - a power cage, a barbell, some weight plate sets, and a bench.
The first two pieces of equipment you need to even begin working out are the barbell and weight plate sets. That way, you can start off doing deadlifts. If you need to do squats and overhead presses, you will need to clean the weight off the floor if you do not have the equipment to assist you.
I have listed the equipment I purchased above and am thinking about getting one more set of weighted plates as my deadlift strength increases. If you need any help or another perspective on what you should do for your home gym, you can always reach out to me on my contact page.