You’ve outfitted your garage gym with all the basic essentials. You have a rack, a barbell, plates and maybe even a bench. You have everything you need to do a limitless amount of workouts. Now you’re looking to pick up a few more accessories to round out your garage gym experience.
While you could always get some dumbbells or perhaps a rower, those are purchases that are going to run you a few hundred dollars.
What I’m going through in this article are garage gym accessories that you can pick up pretty cheaply. Think of these as the ‘finishing touches’ that make a garage gym feel complete.
Table of Contents
Garage Gym Accessories
1. Foam Roller
This is a great pickup for anyone with a garage or at-home gym. Regardless of how you like to workout, everyone can benefit from having a foam roller available.
If you’re not familiar with a foam roller or what a foam roller does, they are firm cylinders that can be used for self-myofascial release. That’s a fancy way of saying ‘working out knots in the muscles’.
Rolling on a foam roller allows you to use your body weight to create pressure into your muscles similar to how a massage therapist would. This pressure can help release knots and trigger points in the muscle.
Adding a few minutes of foam rolling before a workout as part of your warmup or as part of a recovery session on an off day can add a very beneficial layer to your training.
The best part is, you can pick up a basic foam roller for less than $20 online and at many big-box sporting goods stores. Money well spent.
When it comes to buying a foam roller, try not to overthink it too much. Foam Rollers have gotten unnecessarily complicated over the last few years. I recommend getting a simple foam roller from a highly reputable company.
2. Lacrosse Ball
It’s hard for me to mention foam rollers without also mentioning lacrosse balls. A lacrosse ball can work in the same fashion as a foam roller but can get much more targeted in specific areas. Lacrosse balls are also typically denser than most foam rollers and therefore can generate more pressure into the muscle.
Lacrosse balls are great for working on the mid-scap and traps, glutes and calves. All places that can be hard to get to with a bigger roller and are super dense to really dig in.
Lacrosse balls are cheap and can be picked up at any sporting goods store.
3. Weightlifting Straps
Weightlifting Straps can be really useful for aiding your grip when performing heavy pulling exercises. Think anything from deadlifts to heavy rows. If you find your grip being the first thing that gives out on those exercises, straps can be a great solution. Should you work on improving your grip strength. Obviously yes, but there’s nothing wrong with using straps for the really heavy sets.
Secondly, straps can help your hands from becoming destroyed if you’re doing a lot of Olympic lifts. Lots of pulling coupled with the heat and humidity in a garage in the summer can be recipe for disaster for your hands. Straps can help take some of that wear and tear off your hands and get you to the next workout without 800 blisters on your hands.
There are dozens of companies that make lifting straps. If you need some help deciding, I bought and tried out 7 of the best weightlifting straps on the market – here are the pros and cons of each and which ones I now use the most.
4. Gym Chalk
While we’re talking about grip, I want to talk about another great gym accessory item that you can pick up for cheap. Chalk.
If you’re lifting in a garage gym in the summer anywhere where it gets hot, chalk is a must. It’s July in Atlanta at the moment and it’s been 90+ degrees here for the past couple of weeks. I’m typically drenched in sweat by the time I’m done with my warmup.
Chalk is critical if you plan on being able to grip anything with somewhat dry hands. Chalk, like Weightlifting Straps, can help ward off blisters on your hands from doing pulls, pull-ups and basically anything that involves gripping a weight.
A block of chalk is only going to cost you a couple of bucks, which makes it a great accessory for under $20.
5. Jump Rope
In my opinion, a jump rope might be the best value, dollar for dollar, of any piece of workout equipment. Jumping rope can serve as a warmup, part of a circuit or as a workout all of its own.
Want to get your heart rate up in a small space? Work on your footwork? Coordination? Make your feet and ankles stronger, thereby reducing injuries? Get a great cardiovascular workout in while burning a ton of calories? Have a piece of workout equipment you can easily take with you anywhere?
I think you can see where I’m going with this. A jump rope checks all those boxes and a good jump rope (not the crappy $3 ones that will fall apart in a week. Go ahead and “splurge” on your rope) will easily cost you less than $20.
6. Resistance Bands
Resistance Bands come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, lengths and colors. The list of uses for resistance bands is probably even longer than the list of band varieties. Point is, an entire article could easily be dedicated just to breaking down bands.
For the purposes of this article I’m going to give you a couple of bands that I have and what I use them for. I have two of what Power Systems refers to as their Strength Band. I have a thin one (Referred to as a ‘Light’ band and is generally red) and a thicker one (a green ‘Extra Heavy’ band).
The thin one I use for band walks, band tears along with other corrective-type exercises especially for the shoulders. This is where the band excels. It’s thin enough to be able to focus on smaller muscle groups and you can easily adjust the resistance by increasing or decreasing the tension on the band.
If I’m being honest, the thicker one I primarily use for arms. I don’t do arms often anymore and when I do I don’t usually feel like loading up a bar just to do curls. Band Curls and band pressdowns are a really easy and efficient way to get a good arm pump in.
Having said that, you can do an almost limitless amount of exercises with a green band.
You can get a red band for under $20. A green band is going to be a little more than $20, typically around $40, but it is well worth the money.
You’ll be amazed at how many different uses you’ll find for a green band.
7. A Flag (and other garage gym decor)
Flags, memorabilia and other wall decor are a staple of any great garage gym. You can go with a complete theme – I’ve seen pretty awesome Marvel and 80s WWF Wrestling-themed gyms – or just a random assortment of stuff you like or are inspired by. Either way, bare walls are not really an option.
Personally, I have a collection of some of my favorite memorabilia from different schools that I’ve worked at throughout my career. I have a poster of the 2005 Tennessee Men’s Tennis Team, the first team I got to call myself a Head Strength Coach with.
I have a really cool metal piece of my current school, Georgia Tech, hanging over my squat rack. Those are my favorite two pieces, but I also have some other flags and posters covering my walls. All stuff that brings back great memories.
Setting up a garage gym includes a big upfront cost. Items like racks, barbells and plates do not come cheap. At least not if you want quality equipment that is going to last. Once you get past that upfront cost there are lots of cool accessories that you can pick up for not a lot of money. These accessories will make your workouts better and customize your gym to really make it your own.