BUILDING A GARAGE GYM Part 3 - Keep the cost down, get creative with additional equipment.

Intro - you've got the basics, but training should not just be effective, it should also be fun.

So you've go your squat rack, your barbells, plates, and platform. As stated in my earlier blogs, this is pretty much all you need. This foundation is enough to ensure you have the equipment to make progress and get jacked.

This post is going to cover a few fun ideas that are cost effective, but completely bang for your buck.

Get unorthodox

If you wanted to train like everyone else, I assume you would have just joined a commercial gym. But you didn't, you built a garage gym so that you can train in an environment centred around you. It may be the most selfishly bad ass thing you can do. It kicks ass, and your friends will be wondering how to broach the subject of getting their own with their significant other.

So now its time to get a few things that would just not fit in that overly sanitised commercial environment. The kind of equipment that requires some creativity, the type of creativity that corporate overlords at commercial gyms couldn't possibly trust joe public playing around with. They might hurt themselves. It might make to much noise. Go back to the smith machine and stay safe.

Get tired with a tyre - Get a Tyre [Cost $0]


Admit it, you've always wanted to try and flip a tyre. You've seen strongmen do it. You've always wondered how hard it is.

The tyre flip is one of the weirdest exercises. It walks this strange line between cardio and strength. Tyres are resilient so you're not going to break it with brute force, however there are many nuances in the movement to perform it. It is a marriage between brute force and a graceful explosion of technique.

But the flip isn't your only option. Use it for box jumps, dips, attach straps to it and drag it like a sled,  carry it, press it (depending how big the tyre is of course). Do Press ups with your feet or hands up on it. Smash it with a sledge hammer. Seriously the possibilities are endless.

45 Likes, 4 Comments - Damien Rabaud (@damienlifts) on Instagram: "TYRE FLIP FINISHER - This was on the back end of the 100 deadlift challenge posted a couple of..."

The best things of tyres (well at least the ones you are going to use for your garage gym) is that they are free. Seriously. Tyres cost money to dispose of, so you are doing tyre companies favour by taking them off their hands. Get on the phone and get hold of your local tyre shop. They will have a whole range of tyres from cars and tractors they have serviced and replaced them. Sometimes they will even deliver them to you.

Now in regards to size, this is up to you. I have a couple of tyres of different sizes. A bigger one that I use for flipping and jumping uo and down on, and a smaller one I use for tyre drags and pulls.

I am yet to pick up a HUGE tractor tyre (200-300kg) but it is definitely on my "things I want" list.

Anger Management - Sledge Hammer ($30-$100)

Hitting a tyre with a sledge hammer may be some of the best upper body conditioning available. Your shoulders will scream at you, your abs and obliques will beg you to stop, and your lungs will be set on fire. But when its over, you'll feel like a million bucks.

You can buy a sledge hammer from a exercise equipment store. I can't find a reason why on earth you would do this, unless you feel like paying way to much money for a piece of equipment that was long perfected in the labouring world.

Why would you pay this for a sledgehammer?

Why would you pay this for a sledgehammer?

I do advise though that you purchase a sledge hammer with a wooden handle, and not one of the fibre glass ones with rubber grips. They will rip your hands apart, and not in the  "I'm proud of my callused hands because I've been deadlifting" kind of way.

Tie Downs/ Tow Straps ($20-$30)

These are just useful to own. You'll probably need to transport something at some point on the roof of your car or in a trailer. So chalk this one up to a necessity to own for every day life.

But put one of these bad boys around a tyre and you now have a way to drag it around. Whether its pulling it, sprinting, or bear crawling, this is a great way to get some conditioning out of your tyre.


Awkward and heavy is good - Sandbags ($10-30)

Have you ever been in a situation where the weather has turned on us mortals, and is bucketing rain down? All that carefully laid out draining is failing around your house and you watched, horrified as flooding enters, threatening to destroy what ever devices you were currently watching Netflix on?

If you've been in the horrendous situation you may have braved the storm and rushed to sandbag up your house. Carrying those hessian sacks backwards and forwards to block where ever the water was coming in.

Well if you haven't, trust me when I say this. It is an exhausting affair. You could say, its quite the work out.


Believe it or not, you don't require a storm to reap the benefits of sandbag training. It's relatively cheap, you just purchase the sand and some hessian sacks. Fill them to various amounts to change the weight of them. For bonus points, buy them at a hardware store on a day where it's sunny and clearly no chance of rain. Leave the store workers wondering if you know something they don't.

Having an awkward weight like this you can perform almost ANY exercise. Squat it, press it, clean it, and (my personal favourite) carry it. Thats right, just pick it up, and go for a walk. It's like a misbehaving obese baby that just refuses to sit still. It is exhausting, and a fraction of the price of having an actual child. It will take the abuse, especially when you throw it at the floor in frustrated and exhausted agony (the sandbag, not the child).

Squat it, press it, throw it, drag it carry it...what ever.

Squat it, press it, throw it, drag it carry it...what ever.

Don't have to be a gymnast, but you can wear the spandex if you want - Olympic Rings (~$70)

I can deadlift in the 200kgs, shrug and row in the 100kgs. But I tell you what, I have never had something so challenging on my back and core as olympic rings. The DOMS are insane. I honestly believe you could build an impressive upper body physique with rings alone. They leave no stone unturned when it comes to muscle strengthening and development. 

Think chin ups are hard? Try them on rings. Same goes for dips. Even my biceps have begun to grow over the last few weeks from doing L-Sit chin ups on the rings. I keep saying to Sophie "It feels so good being a novice in the gym again" because the progress week by week is insane.

You can hang these off anything. Just find a tree, underneath your house, the roof, or just off your squat rack. If you're up for the challenge, try and master these unwieldy beasts. Do not be mislead on the difficulty. But thats what makes it awesome.


If you're in it for the long haul, spend the extra money and purchase some wooden ones. But if you're just wanting to give it a try, theres nothing wrong with the plastic ones!


  • Battle Rope - Everyone on instagram is using it, I'm sure you want to try it too. It's exhausting. Go to a boat scrap yard and just buy some heavy duty rope made for mooring ships. Doesn't matter if it is beaten up, no matter how swole you are you're not going to put more tension on it than a boat being held in place. Duct tape the ends yo give you a handle. You can also use it for climbing, and dragging things (such as your tyre) towards you strong man style.
  • Skipping Rope - Some of the best conditioning available for the cheapest price. From your forearms to your calves, the humble skipping rope takes no prisoners, while also making sure your work capacity and cardiovascular health stays in check.
  • Chain - Go and purchase some chain from a place that specialises in anchors. It will be way cheaper than buying actual "exercise" chain used for accomodating resistance in all your major movements. Deadlifts, squats, and bench press with chains hanging off the bar are a game changer. Or just throw them over your shoulders in place of a weight vest. The Possibilities are endless.
  • Resistance Bands - Similar to chains, this are great for accomodating resistance. But most people miss their other use.... replacements for cable exercises. Tricep pull downs, face pulls, hamstring curls... you'll be amazed what you can achieve by tying a resistance band to a squat rack. Don't sleep on "booty bands", Mark Bell may call them a hip circle, but they are great, and cheap, for glute activation for squatting. 


The beauty of having your own space is you are not limited to what is deemed a middle of the road experience for the masses. Be creative, have fun building an environment of things that make you want to workout. Sometimes you'll miss the mark (I've got plenty of junk from ideas I thought would be cool but turned out to be a one hit wonder). But when you find something incredible it becomes all worth it.

If you're going to be exhausted, you might as well have fun doing it.

Let me know if you have any go-to training equipment that I missed off this series. I'd love to hear from you.

And don't forget to download my free Novice Strength Plan. People are getting results and I want you to join them! Free Download here