Equip Your Garage Gym for Less Than $1000 [Titan Fitness Edition]

By Matt Walter
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Equip Your Garage Gym for Less Than 1000

I’ll show you how to equip your garage gym for less than $1000 with brand new Titan Fitness equipment.

I had a friend in high school whose parents owned a very well-known fast-food chain. His house was ridiculous, complete with a full gym. Normal folks don’t live like that, but I always thought, “When I grow up I want a home gym.”

Today, it’s not all that uncommon. I started buying my own equipment in 2012. Mostly used, found anywhere I could. Now, just past the Pandemic, a lot more people are into the idea of having their own gym and being able to train whenever they want.

So I got to thinking. What if I were starting today and wanted to equip my own garage gym as fast as possible with only $1,000?

I went through a few different companies and gym setups and came up with this list.

Heads up: this page includes affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products or equipment I have personally vetted.

Table of Contents

Why Titan Fitness?

I like Titan Fitness. I have bought a ton of their equipment, and what I’ve bought high quality. Not only that, their prices are nearly impossible to beat and they ship FREE!

Hey, I’m willing to wait a bit longer if I can get free shipping, especially on heavy gym equipment. I was shocked, however, with how fast my gear got to me, and even more impressed with the way they package.

I bought a 70-pound slamball. It showed up on my doorstep less than two weeks later, packed in a box, surrounded by a wood enclosure. Sure, it was a pain to open, but the product was in mint condition.

These recommendations are based on my experience with this company from my own personal purchases, and because you can outfit your own home gym through them for less than $1,000.

This post will feature two very different options so that you can choose the equipment that will most likely help you reach your goals.

Garage Gym Option 1: Squat Cage, Barbell, and Weight Plates – $998.63 After Tax (as of this writing)

Let’s start with the tried and true method. A squat cage, barbell, and weight plates will allow you to do pretty much any gym movement you want, right from the comfort of your very own home. What I’m going to detail for you here will get you 255-pounds worth of weights (including your 45-pound bar), which is all most of really need.

Josh Bridges, one of the most famous and successful CrossFit athletes ever, started working out at home with no more than 225 pounds worth of weight. And Lee Haney, 8-time Mr. Olympia, was famously quoted as saying that he never trained with more than 225 pounds after winning The O.

For most people, this is probably your best starting option.

Squat Cage or Power Rack

A squat cage or power rack will allow you do barbell movements, pull-ups, and band movements

This is always the first piece of equipment I recommend most people buy. A good squat cage doesn’t have to cost too much, will come with a pull-up attachment of some sort, and will allow you to grow into most movements.

For inexpensive options that will meet the needs of most people, I recommend either the T-3 Series Short Folding Power Rack or the T-2 Series Power Rack.

T-3 Series Short Folding Power Rack – $399

Folding power racks have become immensely popular lately with gyms being shut down and more and more people needing to work out at home. The folding power racks save a ton of space!

Titan Fitness allows you to customize your folding power rack here a bit.

The rack ranges in price from $359 to $459 depending on the height and depth you choose. Before you make your choice head out to your garage, basement, or wherever you are going to set up your gym, along with a tape measure. Measure the depths listed on Titan’s website and the height and see what is going to meet your needs.

If you are going to be doing regular, strict pull-ups from the attached pull-up bar, you can probably get away with the lower height of 82 inches and the 21-inch depth. If you play to CrossFit style kip your pull-ups or do toes-to-bars you will definitely want to go with the 41-inch depth so you’re not kicking your walls. Trust me, the family will get annoyed with that real quick.

For most people, with this setup, I’d recommend the 21-inch depth and 82-inch height.

Total cost: $399

While I love the fact that the folding racks save space, I do a bit too much with my cage and want the flexibility to move it around and have all the clearance that I need. This is why I prefer the T-2 Series Power Rack.

T-2 Series Power Rack – $379 to $399

This is a straightforward squat cage that will allow you to do squats, bench presses (if you have a bench), and pull-ups. I also hang my TRX bands from my pull-up bar, tie bands around it for mobility and stretching, and I even hang a rope from time to time.

This rack comes in two heights; 71 and 83-inches. The 71-inch version costs $379 and the 83-inch option is $399. Spend the extra $20 and get the height.

I have really long arms and can too easily reach the pull-up bar on most squat cages. With my cage, I bought two 12-foot 2×10 boards from Home Depot and had them cut in half. At home, I stacked the boards, screwed them together, placed my squat cage on the boards, and secured it all together with 3/4-inch lag bolts. Super cheap, got me the height I wanted, and it’s incredibly secure.

Titan Fitness Barbells

Barbells are incredibly versatile and will allow you to do most any workout

You don’t need to go nuts here and get the best equipment money can buy. Remember, we’re just trying to get the job done and get you not missing workouts. You can always upgrade later.

My first barbell was an awesome piece of garbage. The knurling was worn completely smooth and the bearings were so rusted that the sleeves wouldn’t spin. I bought that in 2012. It was my only barbell for 3 years. I loved it. I eventually came across another barbell that was also used but in better condition. That became my go-to bar, but I still used old rusty for deadlifts and as a second bar if a workout called for it. I gave that barbell away when I sold some old weight plates to a guy in need.

Titan has two options if you are trying to get as much equipment as possible for less than $1000. The Regular Barbell and the Economy Olympic Barbell

Economy Olympic Barbell – $119

$119 for a barbell that has bushings…not bad.

This is a standard 7-foot, 45-pound barbell.

This barbell is about as cheap as you are going to find anywhere, especially for the quality. It is rated to hold 700-pounds, which is more than most people are going to be lifting. Maybe you can, but if you aren’t deadlifting 700 hundy this bar should fit your needs just fine.

This bar is a bit thicker than the normal bar, coming in a 30mm, as opposed to the standard 28.5mm diameter seen on most bars. I’m guessing this was an attempt to make a bar with less expensive materials that could still handle a good deal of weight. Job well done, Titan! Most people aren’t really going to notice the difference, and a thicker bar is actually going to strengthen your grip faster. So, don’t let this hold you back.

Regular Barbell – $139

This is almost identical to the Economy Olympic Barbell, but for $20 you get a 1,000-pound capacity.

The reviews on both bars are good.

We’ll see how this shakes out on the total bill. If possible, I’m going to spend the extra $20. Let’s go with the Regular Barbell for $130, bringing our total so far to $538.

Weight Plates

Bumper and Steel Plates

Rubber for speed, steel for strength.

Think first about what you are going to be doing in the gym. Are you going to do any Olympic lifting or CrossFit style workouts? If so you need to look at bumper plates. Going for powerlifting, bodybuilding, or just recreational, regular lifting? Compare the bumper plates with steel plates and see which is cheaper.

Here I’m recommending bumper plates because they are less expensive, quieter, and you can do more with them than with steel.

Economy Bumper Plates – $294

We’re working to get you started here, so let’s go too nuts on weights. I like bumper plates because they are more versatile than steel, but I like steel for small plates.

Get a pair of 45-pound plates, a pair of 25’s, and a pair of 10’s. You can get that for less than $300, brand new.

This will allow you to lift 65-pounds, 95-pounds, 115-pounds, 135-pounds, 155-pounds, 185-pounds, and 205-pounds.

If you need to lift more weight than that, an extra set of 10’s for $49 (that’ll get you up to 225-pounds), or a pair of 25’s for $84 (those 25’s will go a long way!).

Let’s say you go with the extra set of 25’s, bringing your grand total here to $379.

Along with our $538 for the cage and barbell, you are now at $917.00. With tax, that should work out to a grand total of $998.63! And, since there offer free shipping, you’re set!

For $1,000 you just got a brand new squat cage with pull-up capability, a new barbell, and enough weight plates to keep you busy for quite a while. And we didn’t even go with the cheapest options here. We chose equipment that will meet the needs of most people, but you may be able to get away with less weight or a cheaper squat cage, saving some coin or giving you a little wiggle room.

And if you were able to find a used barbell in your local area for less, or maybe some weight plates, you may have some money left over for some fun accessories like bands, a box, kettlebells, or dumbbells.

But this should get you started and give you everything you need for any style of workout.

Garage Gym Option 2 – Free Weights and Calesthenics

Maybe you don’t think you’ll need a squat cage and all of the weights that we just looked at. This option won’t have as much weight to it, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that you won’t be able to get a great workout, get stronger, or get fitter. With the equipment that I’m going to recommend, you can get incredibly strong, build an indestructible core, push your cardiorespiratory fitness, and burn calories like it’s your job.

Run with all of the options below, or pick and choose to outfit your perfect home gym.

Plyometric Box: $119 – $199

Plyometric boxes can be used for calisthenics, weight training, and stretching

I love plyo boxes. They are so versatile and I use mine every single day. Most people think box jumps when they see plyo boxes, but they are also great for step-ups, box squats, feet-elevated push-ups, dips, single-leg drop squats, and stretching. Even if my workout doesn’t call for a box on a given day, I can likely be found warming up my hips, ankles, knees, and shoulders using a box.

Titan Fitness has a couple of options I really like in this category. First, go with foam instead of wood. A 3in-1 wood plyo box (20″ x 24″ x 30″, which is definitely what you want) will cost you $119, as opposed to $149 or $199 in the two options that I’m about to show you. If it means the difference between being able to get some other piece of equipment that you really want, by all means, go with wood. I have a wood box. I’ve owned mine since around 2014 and at that time all of the boxes were wood.

Wood Plyo Box

But foam has some major advantages over wood.

  • Foam is lighter and easier to move around (not a huge deal, but hey)
  • Foam is much more forgiving if you crash or misstep (whcih can happen to anyone at any time)
  • Foam is slightly less stable to stand on, whcih is going to give your ankles and feet a bit of a workout
  • If you compete in CrossFit or Grid, all of the competitions are going to use foam, and that makes a difference

Any time I go to my local CrossFit gym and we do a workout that calls for anything with a box, I opt for foam. The extra instability when standing on top of the box gives my lower body a bit more work, and I’ve definitely noticed how much more tired my legs get using foam instead of wood.

So here I’m going to recommend the following foam 3 in 1 plyometric boxes. We’ll see how the total price works out in the end.

3-in-1 Heavy Foam Plyometric Box – 20-in x 24-in x 30-in – $199

Titan’s Heavy Foam Box is a beast, and will be my next purchase. It’s made from high-density heavy foam that is rated to handle 330-pounds. This box will give you the comfort and safety you’re looking for in foam, but without the squishiness of most other foam boxes on the market.

3-in-1 Soft Foam Plyometric Box – 20-in x 24-in x 30-in – $149

Titan’s Soft Foam Box is what I’m used to using at the gym and in local competitions. This box has a bit more give when you land than a wood box or the heavy foam option, but not so much that I’ve ever felt unsafe, even with weighted step-ups. And they’re so nice for Bulgarian Split Squats!

The biggest thing I noticed the first time I got to use one of these was how tired my feet, ankles, calves, and shins got. I was in a competition and we did 2 rounds of a 1000m row coupled with 40 box jump-overs. Probably the hardest workout I’ve ever done in a competition. This box fried my legs! Every time I have the chance to use one of these since that day, I do.

This box is made from Pro-duty firm foam and is rated up to 350 pounds.

Right now I’m assuming you’re just getting started with your home gym, so we’re going to go with the Soft Foam Box for $149.

Now we need a pull-up bar.

Pull-Up Bar: $63.99 – $64.99

Ceiling Mount Pull-Up Bar

Since you don’t have a squat cage with a pull-up bar you’re going to want to get one. Even if you can’t do a pull-up! Working your way toward a pull-up is a great goal for everyone. If you can’t do one, read this article on alternatives that you can do to still get a great workout and earn your way toward being able to do this incredible movement. Not only that, you can hang bands or a TRX suspension system from your bar for stretching and alternative workouts.

And these aren’t going to cost you that much. Both of these options are basically the same price ($1 difference). The difference is whether you need to mount to your garage wall or ceiling.

Medium Adjustable Ceiling Wall-Mount Pull-Up Bar – $63.99

This pull-up bar is meant to hang from your ceiling, obviously, and is meant for a ceiling height of 9-feet. Great for pull-ups, knee raises, and toes-to-bars, not great for muscle-ups.

Adjustable Depth Wall-Mounted Pull-Up Bar – $64.99

This is the pull-up bar that I have. Yep, even along with a squat cage that has a pull-up bar, I still have this one. Actually, I bought this first and have had it for a long time. It’s a great piece of equipment. My biggest suggestion with this is to secure some 2×10 wood boards running perpendicular to the studs in your wall, and then mount the pull-up bar through the 2×10 and the studs in the wall. Call me cautious. Most people I know don’t do this. But I did.

Okay, so far we’re up to $213.99. Not bad. Let’s go buy some weights.

Titan Fitness Kettlebells: $59.99 – $89.99

Kettlebell thruster Setup

There is so much you can do with a kettlebell, both for strength and for conditioning. These are incredibly versatile and will give you an amazing workout, especially if you’re working out at home. You can get a lot done with just a couple of bells.

My personal favorites are cast iron kettlebells. Competition-style bells are cool, but I’m not as comfortable with them. And they’re a bit more expensive.

For now, since you’re just getting started, we’re going to go with two bells; 16 kg (~35 pounds) and 24 kg (~53 pounds). These are two of the most common weights you’ll run into. In fact, kettlebells are commonly measured in “poods,” a Russian term where 1 pood is equal to 16.38 kg (36 pounds). A 1-pood, 1.5-pood (24 kg), and 2-pood (32 kg) are the three most common kettlebell measurements.

A 16 kg kettlebell is going to run you $69.99 and a 24 kg costs $89.99, for a grand total of $159.98.

But go in and look around. Maybe you think these weights are a bit too much and you want to go a bit higher. That’ll save you a couple of bucks. These are designed to be a bit heavy, though. You’ll be surprised how much weight you can use performing swings with these, and you can work your way up to snatches and cleans as you get stronger and learn mechanics.

Why are we going with only one of each weight? A lot of the time you will only work with one bell at a time, especially if you are a beginner. That’s part of the beauty of using these; they build unilateral strength. Sometimes you will hold the bell with both hands, like when doing swings or goblet squats, but sometimes you will go one-handed for exercises like snatches, clean and jerks, overhead squats, and the Turkish Getup.

16 kg will give you a weight that is light enough that you can start learning some of these unilateral movements, and the 24 kg will be heavy enough to challenge you with swings, squats, and carries.

So far, $373.97.

On to dumbbells.

Titan Fitness Dumbbells: $80.97 – $170.97

Rubber Hex Dumbbell Pair

Similar to the kettlebells you don’t need to go with a lot of different weights. I’m going to go with CrossFit’s lead here, and we’re going to focus on a few weights that are both usable and challenging enough to perform a lot of different movements.

Just think about all the exercises you can do with a single pair of dumbbells: push-ups, presses, lunges, squats, curls, rows, snatches, cleans, thrusters, bench presses, flys, deadlifts; the possibilities are endless.

For our purpose here, I’m going to recommend a pair of 35s and a pair of ’50s. But follow the link and check out the weights for yourself. If you can only get one pair, I’d opt for the 35’s. They may be a bit light for some exercises, but you’ll probably be able to perform most exercises. That’s better than not being able to do something because your dumbbells are too heavy.

A pair of 35-pound dumbbells cost $129.99 and a pair of 50’s cost $189, for a total of $319.98. Again, use your discretion here. You may want to go with a pair of 25’s and 40’s instead.

Total so far: $693.95

I do want to mention here that you could go in a slightly different direction. Instead of buying the dumbbells, you could go for one of the bars I mentioned earlier, and a pair each of 10-pound, 25-pound, and 45-pound weight plates. that’s going to cost you about $100 more, but might be more in line with what you plan on doing. Just a thought.

You’ve got about $200 more to spend to stay under $1,000 after tax. I’m going to throw some ideas at you that you can pick and choose from. Or, go buy 4 horse stall mats (explained later) to start covering your floor and setting up your area.

Other Options to Pick and Choose From

Wall Ball – $58.99 to $64.99

Wall Ball at Home Gym

I love these things. One of my favorite pieces of equipment. Wall ball shots (if you haven’t done CrossFit before this involves holding the bar around your collarbone area, dropping into a full squat, and then exploding up and throwing the ball to a 9-ft or 10-ft target. Talk about cardio!) are one of my favorite exercises, but these wall balls are great for cleans, presses, wall squats, and push-ups as well. Go for either their 14-Pound or 20-pound version.

Oh, and I love the composite as opposed to the leather versions. They are a lot more grippy, and they seem to hold their shape for a lot longer than their leather alternatives.

70-Pound Rubber Tread Slam Ball – $109.99

I own this as well. I actually have 3 weights: 70-pounds, 100, and 150. The 70 is incredibly useful. I can do far more with it and get a better workout with it most of the time than I do with the 100-pounder. And the 150 I rarely use. That’s just for getting ready to compete, honestly. Otherwise, it gets used mostly as a chair when I’m putting on my shoes.

With this ball I can lunge, squat, clean, do ground-to-over-the-shoulder movements, carries; really just a ton of work that kicks my butt. If you can only get one of these, err on the side of too light rather than too heavy. You’ll be able to do more things with it.

40-Pound Adjustable Weighted Vest – $74.99

You’re working out at home and you don’t have a ton of equipment. That means you may end up doing more bodyweight movements than you did when you were going to the gym and had your pick of more equipment than you were ever actually going to use.

A weight vest is a great way to add a bit of weight to your own body and make movements like box step-ups, lunges, and squats a bit more difficult. I have an identical version of this vest that I picked up in 2013 when I did Murph for the first time. This vest is comfortable (as comfortable as a weighted vest can be, anyway), doesn’t flop all over the place when you’re working out, and easily adjusts to lighter weights.

And you’ll be able to get in on the fun of Murph next Memorial Day!

1.5-Inch Battle Rope – $59.99 to $104.99

Battle Rope

Here’s a great way to get a killer workout in a short amount of time. Battle ropes are brutal, but are also scalable to everyone from total beginners to seasoned gym veterans.

I like the 1.5-in diameter ropes, which are the same diameter that you commonly see used for climbing ropes. A 2-in diameter is bigger than most people think and really taxes your grip. The other cool thing about getting 1.5″ diameter battle ropes is that you can hang them from your rafters (if your garage ceiling isn’t finished) and perform rope climbs or pull-ups.

The longer the rope, the harder these are. If you are new to these or haven’t used them a lot, opt for the 30-ft version. Go to the 40-ft or 50-ft if you’ve used these, like them, and want them to challenge you for years to come.

Adjustable Bench – $149.99

This isn’t my favorite option in the list, but it has its place. This movable bench adjusts from flat to a fully upright position, so there’ a lot you can do with it. If you bought dumbbells or kettlebells, or if you plan on getting a barbell and/or a squat cage in the future, this could be a great option for you.

A Quick Note On Garage Gym Flooring

Garage gym flooring comes at a premium and is really hard to find in stock. With everyone wanting a home gym, most places are out of stock.

My entire garage gym area is put together using 3/4-inch, 4-ft x 6-ft horse stall mats (some places call them barn mats). In fact, my local CrossFit gym uses the same. Google search horse stall or barn mats with the dimensions I just mentioned and you’ll find places close to you (most likely) that stock them. they usually cost about $45 each.

Conclusion: Equip Your Garage Gym for Less Than $1000

There you have it. Two very different options that should meet your needs, all for less than $1,000. Play around and pick up the equipment that’s going to keep you motivated. Have fun and chase your goals.

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AUTHOR

Matt has been a personal trainer for more than 18 years. He is also a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, has a master's degree in teaching, and is a former competitive powerlifter and CrossFit athlete. His passion is helping others get in shape from mid-life and beyond.

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