Thursday, March 13, 2014

Garage Gym Ideas for the Budget Minded Athlete

Ok...admittedly, before starting today's post I was staring at this picture for a while.  This certainly is an inspiring home gym location isn't it?  There isn't much equipment wise that I'd keep that's in here but that view and the huge glass overhead door would be amazing, no?

So, for the rest of us that can only dream big, what exactly are the best garage gym equipment items that we won't have to take a second mortgage for.  If you've got the budget, go for it, but even if I had the resources that this gym owner had, I would have invested differently.

For the budget minded athlete like most of us, here's our take on Garage Gym ideas that will keep you picking up and using your investment every time you are in the gym rather than letting it collect dust.

  • Versatility - we're always up on that soap box about how if you can't use a piece of equipment 5 ways then it had better be low priced or stellar at what it does.  See?  There we are.  At it again.  But, it holds muster.   When we look at items like kettlebells and gymnastics rings versus items like a treadmill, it becomes apparent to budget minded athletes like us that we can outfit our gym with a bunch of versatile, useful equipment for the cost of even one treadmill.
    • Kettlebells -
      we wrote an article a while back on 19 different kettlebell exercises.  How's that for versatility?  Two to three different sizes is all you need to be well equipped.  And one of the greatest aspects of kettlebell training is that the movements can mimic that of barbell training.  The clean, the snatch, the jerk all can performed with the kettlebell.  And the single arm movements of kettlebell training can develop your shoulder strength in different ways than the barbell.
    • Gymnastics Rings -
      If it were up to me, I'd put a set of gymnastics rings in the hands of every aspiring home gym athlete in the US.  Why?  We haven't found another equipment item that is so versatile, so portable and this affordable that has such a wide range of uses that it can challenge the beginning athlete to the olympic level athlete.  Think you're just not ready for them?  Have a look at the gymnastic ring exercises we listed here for beginners.  One of the outstanding characteristics about rings is that you can vary the intensity of the exercise by varying your body position relative to the rings.  If standard plank ring push ups are becoming too easy just raise your feet.  Too hard?  Raise the rings.
    • Sandbags -
      add them to most any bodyweight movement - squats, lunges, running, push ups and more.  The sandbag is a versatile tool to add intensity.  And you can fill it with a bunch of different stuff - pea gravel, wood pellets, sand, or rice.  And as your strength increases, add more to the sandbag.  Equally weighted filler bags make adjusting weight in the sandbag fast and easy, too.  And as far as filling it goes we like wood pellets - they are inexpensive and environment friendly.  And dropping the sandbag won't hurt you, the floor or the sandbag.  Everyone wins.
    • Resistance Bands -
      Yep.  Resistance bands add a ton of versatility whether they are used to attach a kettlebell around your waist for weighted pull ups or dips or if you use them for resisted push ups.  They are also great for helping you get a good stretch before and after your training.  And resistance bands are great for assistance with the pull up or bar muscle up and dips, too.
  • Portability - Something else I like to keep in mind when outfitting a home gym is having equipment that is portable.  For those of us in the northern states, winter can bite hard and since my garage isn't heated, I am forced to retreat to my basement over the winter.  That means I move equipment every spring and fall up and down stairs and around corners.  By having portable equipment I can get the move done easily and quickly.  The other great thing about having portable equipment is that I can take it with me on family vacations.  Throwing a set of gymnastics rings and a few kettlebells or a sandbag in the car for the week is easy.
See what other equipment is on the top of our list for outfitting your Garage Gym here.