Equipment Recommendations for a Home/Garage Gym

By Rob Shaul
I receive this question often from athletes following MTI programming and frustrated with commercial gym choices or base gym overcrowding.
They ask for equipment suggestions to outfit a home/garage gym. Below are my recommendations.
Please note: This article includes affiliate links to Rogue Fitness for which MTI receives a small commission on any sales.
Squat Stand: Rogue Echo Squat Stand 2.0 $395
Barbell: Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 $265
Plates: Rogue HG 2.0 Bumpers or Rogue Iron Plate (Iron) $795 (350# Set)
Flat Bench: Rogue Utility Flat Bench $195
Sandbag: MTI Sandbags $65
Dumbells: Rogue Dumbbells $540 (25, 35, 45, 55 lbs.)
Pull Up Bar: Rogue P-3 Pull Up System $145
Weight Vest: 25 lbs V-Force Weight Vest $147
Plyo Box: Rogue Fitness Boxes $125
TOTAL: $2,672

1. Moveable, but solid, Squat Stand

When I first started Mountain Athlete years ago I spent thousands on full-sized Bigger/Faster/Stronger power racks. These were more like “cages”  – bug, overbuilt, heavy, and immobile.
The squat stands available at that time were sold in pairs – one stand for each side of the barbell. I found these far too unstable and dangerous.
I started before CrossFit became a rage, but when it did, equipment choice increased exponentially, and prices dropped significantly! Nearly 10 years ago I bought some simple, movable squat stands and we’ve used them ever since. They have been absolutely bomber!
For years I’ve used Rogue Fitness as my primary source of most fitness equipment. Rogue owes CrossFit for its success – but the company itself is solid, prices fair, and service great.
Rogue currently offers 20 separate styles of squat stands.
The one I recommend and purchased for my facility is the cheapest. I bought the Rogue Echo Squat Stand 2.0 for MTI.
The first power racks I purchased from Bigger, Faster, Stronger cost around $2,000 each!
The beauty of these rogue stands is how movable they are … we stack our 6 up together out of the way when not in use up against a wall. One person can move these – and for the home garage gym, they can easily be moved to the side when not in use or dragged outside to train in the weather when it allows.

2. Basic Lifting 45# Barbell

The barbells sold in big box sporting goods stores are made for powerlifting – bench, squat, etc., and don’t “spin” well for cleans. You’ll want a barbell that spins well.
Our first barbells at MTI I dug out of the trash bin at the Bigger Faster Stronger warehouse in Salt Lake City. A few years later I purchased some Oly Barbells from Rogue and they were like doing cleans with butter!
I’m not an Olympic Weightlifting coach, and have no idea of the various levels and quality of the higher-end Oly barbells. Rogue’s current barbell choices are head-spinning…. 43 choices by my count – of regular 45-pound barbells!
But, at MTI we’ve been using simple, cheap Rogue Fitness Oly barbells for 15 years now.
The one I recommend is the simple, base level, Rogue Echo Bar 2.0.

3. Bumper Plates, Iron Plates, and Pair of Collars

Bumper Plates:
Size      Number
45#          4
25#          2
10#         2
Iron Plates:
Size   Number
10#       2
5#         2
2.5#     2
The only change I’d make here is to add a pair of 45# plates if you are super strong … but for most male athletes completing MTI programming, this is all you will need.
I’ve bought most of our bumpers from Rogue Fitness – though others are out there. Rogue offers multiple levels of bumper plates … I bought their cheapest and they’ve been bomber. Specifically, the Rogue HG 2.0 Bumpers for the recommended list above.
Iron Plates: Rogue Iron Plate

4. Flat Bench

Used for Bench Press variations, Incline Press variations, Box Squats, and step ups in a pinch. (Step ups will eventually destroy the cover).

5. Pull Up Bar

Rogue makes squat stands that have pull-up bars, but I wouldn’t recommend one of these. Too many of our strength circuits pair a barbell exercise which requires a rack, and a pull-up version – for example pairing front squats and pull-ups. It would be a frustrating hassle to move the barbell each time to complete a pull-up.
Instead – purchase a pull-up bar you can bolt into the wall. Rogue P-3 Pull-Up System.

6. Sandbags

Made in the USA, and damn near impossible to tear. The newest version includes a liner to ensure nothing leaks out and buckle system similar to a water bag that keeps it all in there. Rubber mulch or sand from your local hardware store for the filler.
40-pound and 60-pound for women.
60-pound and 80-pound for men.

7. Dumbbells

Pair Size
For women, add a pair of 15’s.
Add $37 for a pair of 15’s if needed.
What about kettlebells? Not needed for MTI programming. They are nice to have, and fun to use.
If you want them, I’d recommend pairs of 12kg, 15kg, 20kg, 24kg, 28kg, and if you’re strong, 32kg.
Kettlebells are fun but expensive. This setup from Rogue Fitness would set you back $735.10! …. including a pair of 32kg.

8.  25-Pound Weight Vest

We’ve abused these V-Force vests from for over 8 years now and they have been bomber.

9. Old Backpack

Use it for step ups (dumbbells or plates for load), or weighted pull ups.

10. Step Up Bench

16-18″ bench or box. Ours are custom built and 17″ high. You can use your flat bench, but know you’ll eventually ruin the cover and will have to apply copious amounts of duct tape to repair …

11. Plyo Boxes

You’ll want two of them and we recommend 20″ x 24″ x 30″.

Possible Extras …

– Rubber Flooring. Not needed with bumper plates, but nice to have. We use 1/2 inch 4’x6′ mats in MTI. More horse stalls are 4’x6′ are 3/4″ high and you can purchase at a feed or ag store. Rogue sells 2’x2′ rubber tiles which would be super simple to move but seem explosive.
– Wall Mounted Interval Clock – so nice, but definitely not a necessity. Here’s one off of Amazon for around $50.
– Exercise Mat – needed for sandbag get ups, kettlebell floor presses, etc. if you don’t have rubber flooring. $15 and up.

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