If you’re just starting CrossFit and have no clue as to what equipment you’ll need for your garage/home gym this article will help. I have compiled a list that will get you up and running in no time. There are different thoughts on expenses needed for a CrossFit garage/home gym. Some people say to use the minimalist approach and use or build what you need with whatever you have at your disposal. Yet others suggest buying new. I think it is up to individual preference, your wallet and skill at building. I thought long and hard about it, looked at online instructions on how to build some of the stuff, but in the end I figured it was much easier and less time consuming to just buy what I needed off the shelf.
If you’re just starting out and lack all the equipment needed its no problem and it should not keep you from getting started. Just do what you can, with what you have, supplement exercises for what you’re lacking and purchase what you need over time. Before long you’ll have a fully functional CrossFit garage/home gym.
As you know, I bought my base set of equipment from Rogue fitness. The stuff is great, really well built and I would highly recommend it. The package I ordered (Warrior CF-P) is great for initially outfitting your gym but lacks some pieces essential to a fully functional gym. Without the additional items you might find yourself not being able to do a WOD or two. So here is my list of what I purchased from Rogue, what I have yet to buy and what I think every CrossFit garage/home gym needs in it’s arsenal.
Stuff I purchased or had.
Bumper plates – Yes you can use regular weights, but if you need to drop them, you, your weights and floor are screwed. Crossfitters use them for a reason; they bounce and cause less damage than traditional weights id dropped. I would also recommend getting a decent amount of weight but not going to crazy. You can get by with a few hundred lbs and be content for quite awhile. Even if you’re the strongest guy at your gym, you’ll soon notice how humbling it is to try to lift after you do some serious cardio. Heck, try and do an overhead squat with just a bar when your first starting out and you’ll know what I mean. The money you save by not over doing it on weights can be used toward other equipment.
A nice bar– No explanation here. The Rogue package came with a nice bar, no complaints.
Rings– Still getting used to these, but you need them because there are a bunch of exercises that use them. You do need a place to hang them that has adequate height. I currently have them hanging on a bar in an 8’ doorway. From this height I have to bend my legs and my knees almost touch when I hang. Since the top of the door is in the way, there is no way to do a muscle-up. This setup only allows for dips and some other exercises. I have plans to hang them from 9 feet, which will allow me to attempt muscle-ups. But even at 9 feet I will have to lower the rings enough that my knees are almost touching, so that when I reach the top of the muscle-up my head does not hit my roof. It stands to reason that if your shorter you’ll need less ceiling height and taller you’ll need more. I did a few preliminary measurements and found that I would need to hang the rings from 12 feet to have enough overhead space to allow me to hang without my legs bending at the bottom while providing me with ample head space. The only real solution for me is to build another outside bar for this purpose, or live with bent knees.
Paralletts – I used these the other day for push-ups, it was a great workout.
Ball– for wall balls. Both my wife and I use a 20 lb Dynamax; I bought the heaviest they had in the package. It is heavy, but I think if you go too much lighter you’ll end up having to buy another pretty soon, just my opinion though.
Speed rope – Your gonna be doing double unders (Jump rope terminology) and other rope work and need this item.
Kettlebell – I think most people could easily get enough from a 35lb. If you have never tried a kettlebell swing, you’re in for a treat. I am a decent sized guy and anything more just starting out and your asking to hurt yourself. My wife could have used a little less weight maybe 20lb or so. The Rogue kit came with two 35lb’s, two 53 lb’s and a huge 70 lb monster. I have quite a way to go before I am going to start swinging the 70 lb weight anywhere near my crotch.
Climbing rope – The kit came with a 20 foot rope, but I have yet to hang it from the tree out front.
Rower – You need one of these, if you don’t have it you’ll be missing out on many a WOD. The cardio is fantastic, it is gonna set you back a grand or so but it is well worth it. Get to saving your cash.
Abmat – Rogue has a nice one, it also came with the package. It’s simple yet effective.
Flat bench– I have yet to buy one because I have a universal with a press built in. I figured I needed other stuff more and decided to wait until I save a bit more cash, but I am getting one for sure.
Squat rack – Eventually your gonna be past the baby stages of just squatting the bar and you’ll need something to hold the weight when your done. Don’t buy a piece of junk from K-Mart or you’ll regret it. It needs to be sturdy! Rogue offered one with my package but I was lacking the funds. The package also included a bench, I wish I had purchased it, but that’s life.
Pull Up Bar– Another must have, you gotta have one. There are many on the market but I’m still looking to build my own since the ones that will actually support my 260lbs are either super expensive or claim to hold more than I think possible. I’m sorry but two lag bolts through a piece of plate steel hanging directly over your head while you swing back and forth is just asking for a visit to the hospital. These might work if you’re around 150 lbs, but I ain’t. For now I have a 1-inch hole drilled into a doorframe in the gym with a steel pipe inserted. It works great, but lacks the height I need, especially when I hang the rings.
Bar for rings – See 3 and 12. (I could mount these outside, but with a normal 10 degrees in the winter and blowing snow I need something indoors also.)
GHD – (Glute Hamstring Devolper) Another thing I need to purchase. If you’ve ever used one you’ll know how it builds your lower back. Reverse that and you get crazy ab burning sit-ups.
Dumbbells – You should have pairs from 10 lbs on up to 45 or fifty’s. I am still looking to buy some, but these should be next on my list. Don’t forget a dumb bell rack either.
Weight tree – It’s crazy that I forgot about this key piece of gear. My weights currently reside on the floor. Two reasons this sucks, first when your changing weights it’s hard to pick them off the floor. And second they take up to much floor space just lying around.
Plyo Box – A bunch of the WOD’s call for a 24” box jump. If you don’t have one, some sites suggest using old tires etc… My kit was lacking one, so it’s another item to add to my list. I have been substituting by doing wall jumps, but it’s not the same.
Ipod and speakers – I don’t need to explain this.
A fan - or air conditioner or heater in colder climates.
Gymnast Hand Chalk – The bars and kettle bells get very slippery when you’re sweating.
White Board - Chalkboard or something to write down your times.
Rubber floor mats – Protect your floors from the weights and more importantly keep you from slipping and falling. Another thing I have to purchase very very soon.
This is by no means a definitive list, and is of course from a CrossFit newbie, and recent garage gym virgin. This is what I have found I needed so far, and this list could be added to in the near future. If you have any input I’d love to hear it in the comments section. I do have a few more observations below.
* A quick note on space and size requirements for your garage/home gym. Any garage should work, but it needs to be clear of clutter and you really should have 9’ ceilings, especially if your over 6’ tall. When you begin overhead presses and kettle bell swings you’ll need the height, trust me. As for the space, I built my gym in my old office which measures 19 x 12. I put all the machinery (Rower, universal, elliptical) on one side and the weights on the other but is way too crowded in my opinion. So my solution is either to move the weights or machinery to the garage. Since I park in the garage it would not be feasible to convert the entire garage. So I’m still deciding on that one though.
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