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.
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. The Rogue Echo Squat Stand 2.0 – $275. I bought version 1.0 of these 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 literally 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 10 years now.
The one I recommend is the simple, base level, Rogue Echo Bar 2.0 – $205.
3. Bumper Plates, Iron Plates, and Pair of Collars
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 – $647.50 for the recommended list above.
Collars: OSO Mighty Collars – $27.50
Iron Plates: Rogue Iron Plate …. $47.75
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 which 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 – $135.
40-pound and 60-pound for women.
60-pound and 80-pound for men.
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 weightvest.com 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″.
Here are Rogue Fitness Boxes – $250 for two.
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.
Squat Stand $275
Iron Plates $47.75
Flat Bench $179.50
Pull Up Bar $135
Weight Vest $152.99
Plyo Boxes $250
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