home gym in the garage


I want to help you build your home gym and help you avoid the mistakes I made. Your home gym should be personalized based on your needs and with the space that you have.

When I first started my home gym, it was grabbing whatever piece of equipment that I could find at the cheapest price. The problem was that I couldn’t do all the exercises I needed with this approach.

If I could rewind and start over, I would have done my homework on the equipment that will give me the biggest bang for my buck.

The most versatile and needed pieces of equipment.

This is very important in the beginning because it is expensive to build your home gym. Start with the most versatile pieces so you can get a full workout in with progressions while saving for the next piece.

Starting off I recommend 5 pieces of equipment that you need to start your home gym.

  1. Adjustable Dumbbells (powerblocks)
  2. Suspension Trainer
  3. Adjustable Bench
  4. Horse Stall Mats
  5. Super Bands

Let’s discuss why for each one.


This was one of my biggest mistakes, I didn’t start with adjustable dumbbells. I got some hand me downs and only a few of them. I was limited on the exercises I could do in the home gym, especially for the upper body.

I recommend adjustable because in the home gym, you’re likely to be limited on space. Having adjustable dumbbells with weights 5lbs-90lbs takes no space at all.

It will also save you money from purchasing each weight individually.  The purchase of an adjustable dumbbell is a lot upfront, but it will save you money from buying all the dumbbells, and did I mention it saves you on space?

I might be biased but I recommend the Powerblock brand. They are easy to use, sturdy, and have 2.5lb increments from 5lbs-90lbs.

I should have saved in the beginning of my home gym journey for these. It was frustrating having to change my workout because I didn’t have the dumbbells to do them.

Avoid my mistake and start your home gym with adjustable dumbbells. You can easily get a full body workout in with just dumbbells and progress in weight. As I mentioned earlier, they are versatile, which means you can do almost any exercise with dumbbells.

Speaking of versatile pieces of equipment, lets talk about the suspension trainer.


The suspension trainer is a piece of equipment that should be in everyone’s home gym.

You can easily hit every part of the body with the suspension trainer alone, and the best part is it is cheap for how useful it is.

It is a simple piece of equipment, but it gives you the most bang for your buck. Personally, I use it for every workout because of how easy it is to set up.

I have a small garage gym, so I do not have a lot of space for equipment. Luckily the suspension trainer takes up no space at all but can be used for many different exercises. You use your body weight and the angles to change the difficulty of an exercise.

One last point, the suspension trainer can easily be packed up and transported to be used at any location. If you are going on a trip and do not want to miss a workout, the suspension trainer can be packed up and used.


You will need an adjustable bench in your home gym. Some exercises are just not possible without one or very awkward.

I like the adjustable option because many exercises require different angles on the bench. Having the bench will not only help you with all your upper body exercises, but with your lower body ones as well.

The bench is one where you need it for many exercises and will give you the most bang for your buck piece of equipment.

The combination of the bench and dumbbells and you will have many options for your workout routine.


Building a home gym, you’re going to need mats. The mats will protect your floor and your equipment. IF you are somewhere that has seasonal changes, the mats will keep your feet from the cold concrete.

So why horse stall mats and not gym mats?

That’s an easy answer, it will save you money and give you more bang for your buck. Horse stall mats are thick, which is perfect for a gym. You can get it in different sizes but for a 4’x6’ mat with ¾’ thick you can get it for 55 bucks.

Google fitness mats and you will get options of puzzled foam mats, rubber mats, and more. The problem with the foam mats is the thickness. If you ever plan to get bigger equipment and plan to deadlift, those mats will do nothing to protect your floor.

The rubber mats are crazy expensive, and you get less of it compared to the horse stall mats. The downside of the horse stall mats is the weight of them.

Due to the thickness and size, the mats weight around 100lbs each and very awkward to move around.

Besides the weight of the mats, I really like them in my gym. It didn’t cost me much to cover half my garage, it protects the floor and my equipment. If you are building a home gym, highly recommend looking at horse stall mats for your flooring.


Last item for your home gym is another versatile piece of equipment that I use in all my workouts in some capacity, they are super bands.

If you are not familiar with super bands, they are the large loop bands that people will use for assisted chin ups, joint mobilizations, and more.

So why the bands?

  1. They are cheap
  2. When you buy a set, they come in different sizes. (Different resistance)
  3. They can be used for many exercises; warm up, strength, power, accessories)
  4. Takes up no space

Cable machines are expensive and takes up a lot of space. These super bands can be used in replacement of the cable exercises. Its not perfect, but in a home gym it’s a really good alternative, unless you want to spend a few grand on the piece of equipment.

Just like the suspension trainer, bands are easily portable when you want to take your fitness away from the home gym.

Even though I have a home gym, I like to go to a public gym every now and then for the environment. When I go, I always pack up and bring my bands with me. Most gyms have limited options for bands, or they are taken so I like to bring mine, so I know I have it when I need it.


Building your home gym is a constant adventure and will always be something to improve on. My hope for this blog is to help you get started with what you might need in the beginning.

Everything I listed you can get amazing results while saving to get more equipment. Notice how I didn’t mention the barbell, or a squat rack?

A good barbell, trap bar, squat safety bar, and rack will cost more or will limit you on what you can do compared to what I have listed above.

I suggest you save your money for those things so you can get what you want and need and not get the cheapest thing you can find on marketplace or amazon.

Unfortunately, that’s what I did, and I wish I would have saved my money. I have been building my home gym for 2 years now and finally just got the adjustable dumbbells. There has been a lot of frustration with my workouts when it required dumbbells, which is almost every workout.

I hope this helps you with your home gym project. If you have questions, email me at cory@caruthersfitness.com, I am happy to help.

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