T Nation

Designing a Home Gym

I have finally decided to build my own gym! Now that the gym that I liked has relocated to about an hour away I am faced with the choice of joining the local YMCA or using the cash that is spent on gym memberships to build a home gym. I have two sons who need to grow up big and strong so that they can push my wheelchair around for me when I’m old, so I figure building my own is the way to go.

My problem is that I start with a simple idea and it snowballs into me putting a full-on commercial gym in the back yard. I need help from the T-Nation.

I plan on having the definite basics (power rack, adjustable bench, deadlifting area, dumbells(other than myself), and a dip/chin station) and my wife would like me to include a treadmill for her (I keep telling her she isn’t a hamster, but you pick your battles, right?). The problem is that after that, I start snowballing the things that I would “like” to have, as well, and get myself into a quandry of what size building to construct for said gym. Obviously, it wouldn’t be prudent (or cost effective) to put up an arena-sized building, but I don’t want to be ultra-cramped either.

If any of you have built a gym in your back yards, how big did you build it?
What size building would you suggest to have enough space as not to be cramped, but still not over-do it?

Second, are there any “gotta-have-its” that I may be overlooking?

I think it’s just the way we are wired - no matter what project I start planning, snowballs are just part of the process.

I didn’t build my gym, but it is in the back of my office building. It sits in a corner - about 20’X15’. We have a power rack, bench, dip station, another bench w/rack (piece of crap - you don’t need that) a weight tree, and 600 pounds of free weights. I have the oly sized DB’s that you can put oly plates on. It’s bulky but a lot cheaper than buying an entire rack of DB’s.

I’d much rather have too much room than not enough.

Just my 2 cents.

There are some articles on making a home gym on the elite fitness website. They also have a package where you get a power rack, a texas power bar, 300lbs of plates, and a sled for a reasonable price.

Here’s mine right now: an olympic bar, 230 lbs. bumper plates, 400 pound standard plates, a 1-pood through a 2.5 pood, a bench with adjustable squat rack. Basically all I need. I quit my gym memberships.

Nick

Another good place is NyBarbell.com.

The one thing I miss at the gym i’m at now is an open space where nothing is going on. Every square inch of the gym is occupied by a piece of equipment or a class. Be sure you plan an empty space (for deads, snatches, plyo’s ect.) and enough room to grow as you add to your collection.

La’
REdsol1

Thanks for the input, guys!
I’m thinking that a 20’X 40’ building should suffice. I’m definely jazzed about the starter deal at elite fitness.
Please keep suggestions coming…

I’m in the process of collecting equipment for my home gym. I am a Pler and I was wondering if anyone knew where I could get a 3" thick bar. The solid-steel one at nybarbell is $350, and I don’t want a hollow bar if I can find a solid thinck bar cheap enough. Anyone know a good site?

~Pitbull

For thick bars try Torque Athletic. I believe they should have what you’re looking for and there stuff is high quality.


Here’s where I work out. It’s my garage and I accumulated all this equipment over the years.

If you are going to buy, buy the best you can afford. I have wasted a lot of money on crap I didn’t need (but thought I did).

My setup:
Crepinsek Power rack (no monolift attachment)

Pro Reverse Hyper

Adjustable bench

SSB

barbell

DBs from 5-85, and a set of 120’s

Lat pulldown

Modified Yukon Fitness thing that works as a GHR - but it is starting to show signs of it’s weakness. It will be replaced shortly with a GHR from elitefts

assorted attachments for Lat pulldown

Full set of bands

Homemade box for squatting with 3 different heights on the sides for variation

A treadmill downstairs I rarely use anymore

A grip machine I had made by taking a picture of an ironmind go-really grip thing to a local welder and gave him dimensions. I saved almost $200 by doing this and you really can’t tell the difference.

CoC grippers #1 #2

Here’s a pic

Here’s another pic…


Third…

Since this picture was taken, I took the front pullup bar and flipped it over, giving me several more inches of room for pullups. I originally had the rack customized with the pullup bar lower than normal because I started with this in my basement. Now, I can flip it back or forth if I ever have to move it for various ceiling heights. The rack itself is 7’6", except for the pullup bar which the top is about 7’9" or so from the ground. I’m 6’1 and with my arms stretched overhead, I can just barely grip it when my feet flat on the platform.

My must have recommendation would be a squat/power cage. You get squats, deadlifts, pull ups on the top bar, and the safety stops work nicely for benching heavy when you don’t have a spotter. Mine fits in a space probably 8x8 ft with the bench included.

Last one…

The bands on the reverse hyper are for some variation and it also helped dampen the momentum at the top of the lift because the strap wanted to move around on my lower legs.

All this stuff I acquired over several years.

If you look around in local classifieds you can sometimes find great deals on plates and DBs. Some of the smaller sporting goods stores also will deal with you on stuff too. I once got DBs for .39 a lb. new locally.

All in all, I probably have between 4-5k invested in my gym. The reverse hyper and the rack being the most expensive parts.

If money is no object, check into the Crepinsek racks. They have 1/2" adjustment for everything. They bolt together from the side so it can be assembled right to the ceiling and Ralph Crepinsek is a great guy and will customize it for you. It comes with predrilled holes on the footings for bolting it down, but it’s so heavy it really doesn’t need to be.

The platform my rack is on I made from instructions I got on www.ironmind.com. I located a fitness store nearby that was liquidating an 8’x8’ rubber mat (4 pieces that interlock) and it covered the plywood perfectly.

I like working out at home with the garage door open so I can get strange looks from my neighbors who have probably never seen anyone squat in their life, let alone a box squat or a suspended SSB good morning.

There was a really good “Think-Tank Dialogs” on Hardcore Home Training that I have saved for when I finally put my masterpiece together… umm, when I get a house, that is. Gimme time. But here is the thread:

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=523224

I have seen photos from some of Charles Staley’s threads of his home set-up. Try not to look at those too carefully or your snowball will soon reach epic proportions. His set-up is beautiful.

Kuz

[quote]Kuz wrote:
There was a really good “Think-Tank Dialogs” on Hardcore Home Training that I have saved for when I finally put my masterpiece together… umm, when I get a house, that is. Gimme time. But here is the thread:

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=523224

I have seen photos from some of Charles Staley’s threads of his home set-up. Try not to look at those too carefully or your snowball will soon reach epic proportions. His set-up is beautiful.

Kuz[/quote]

You’re right! Now I also need to get a big ass tire among other stuff!

Charles Staley himself gave me some good ideas to do this right AND save some dough in the process. Thanks, Charles!

If money is not a concern, Power Block adjustable dumbbells are an excellent addition to any home (or other) gym. They give you the benefits of a whole rack of dumbbells in a very compact format (something like 2.5 feet square)

The 5-125 Lbs. set with stand will run about $1100, but the “Home Gym Warehouse” sells them on a (3) payment plan with no interest.

Crowbar

Hey Kuz, thanks alot for that link bro, helped me out greatly.

I like www.atomicathletics.com

They got Strongman, Forza, Cages, Hammers, you name it hardcore its there.

I have some Hammers and a pulling chain from there. It fricken rocks.

Here’s something worth looking into if you plan on actually constructing the building for your home gym:

My buddy and I work out in his garage. Our gym consists of: a TAPS Pullup System, a full set of 16, 24, and 32 kg Kettlebells, a trap bar, and a set of olympic bars from the regulation size to a two inch, two and a half inch, and three inch bar. We also have three hundred pound set of plates and two 100 pound plates. To finish off our ensemble we utilize a ab wheel, bands, and a set of Captains of Crush hand grippers. That is the basic stuff that we use and there is plently of room in the garage to workout in.