Gym or garage? Where should you train?

I’ve always been a bit of a home body. I don’t know what it is about me but I don’t like leaving the comfort of my home, so for me, when it comes to lifting weights, I’ve always been more of a garage type of guy. I got a decent setup with some free weights, a freestanding pull up bar and a bench that came with lat pull down and leg attachments.

In his book, “The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding “, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommends that in order to compete in competition bodybuilding you absolutely have to join a gym.  If competition bodybuilding is something you want to pursue, you can’t beat all that a gym as to offer. But if winning the Mr Olympia title isn’t on your to do list anytime soon, you can get by just fine working out in your garage, backyard or any random room in your house. All you need is a few items.

What Do You Need For A Home Gym?

This list is pretty basic and if you’ve already been lifting weights for a while, then you might already have everything you need. Let’s not get crazy with this list here.

Any standard 100lbs weight set will have most of the plates and bars already included

  • Four 5 lbs plates, Four 10 lbs plates, Four 2 lbs plates, Four 15 lbs plates Two 25 lbs plates
  • 1 barbell
  • 2 dumbbells
  • pull up bar

As you can see I added some extra plates in addition to what already comes with a standard 100lbs weight set.


  • bench

The weight bench is optional. You can do everything you need to on the floor but if you gotta have a bench then by all means get one. But if you pay more then $200 for it you’re wasting your money.

That should be enough to get you started. Simple huh? Keep in mind this is only this is the bare minimum for starting a home gym. If you are just starting out this will be more then enough to get you through your first year in bodybuilding. Once you’ve advanced to the next level then you can add more equipment as you see fit.

 You can pick up a decent weight set with all the plates you need anywhere from your local swap meat to neighborhood garage sales. I don’t recommend getting them from a sporting goods store since those are way too expensive. Stick to garage sales and flea markets and you’ll save yourself about $100. These will usually come with 2 dumbbells and a barbell. If not keep looking until you got everything. You’re bound to find what you need for a fraction of what you’d pay at the sporting goods store.

You’ll also need some way to do pull ups. Whether it be a free standing pull up bar, or the type you jam in your door way, you’re gonna need to do pull ups. I got a free standing pull up bar that I got at the flea market for $10. I also have the door jam pull up bar that you stick in your  door way for $20. Whatever you choose will be fine.

Standard Vs Olympic Weights

Start off with about 100lbs of weight. Make sure you pick up two dumbbells and one barbell. They come in two sizes, standard and Olympic. You can tell the difference by the size of the hole in the middle of the weight. Standard size weights are a little under 1inch in diameter. The holes in the Olympic weights are 2 inches. Another difference is the length and width of the bars. Olympic bars are 2 inches(duh) and are always 7 ft long and weigh 44lbs.  Standard bars come in 5ft 6 ft and 7ft lengths. Gold star if you can guess it’s diameter. If you said a little under 1 inch congratulations.

Pros And Cons Of Working Out At Home

By working out at home you can save a ton of money on gym fees. The only negative side of not joining a gym is that you don’t get to see a whole lot of hot girls in your garage. That can suck. But hey, you’re in this to get buff, not stare at hot girls. If you wanna stare at girls, hang up some pics.

Sorry guys. You don't get this view in your garage.

Another negative is that you have a lot more equipment to choose from at the gym. You can do things there that you could never do at home.

Bottom line is this. If you prefer to workout in the gym, then by all means go right ahead. A plus side to gym membership is the tremendous amount of positive reinforcement you get by working out with others. You can get a lot of motivation by working out with a partner or having some of your gym pals pushing you into doing those last reps and all know how hard those last few reps are.

So whether you prefer the gym or working out at home in your garage, just remember the most important aspect of any workout routine. Getting off your ass and actually lifting the weights. Now stop reading and go lift.


About Michael

Just a dude that loves the sport of bodybuilding. Read my About Me section