Are you looking to get started on your own home or garage gym?
If you plan on strength training, there are a few simple but essential items every weight lifting focused home gym should have.
Here I outline the best weight lifting equipment for home and garage gym to get you started off right. These 9 essential pieces are all you need to assemble an effective strength training gym at home.
I will also go over what you should look out for before you decide on what is the best strength training equipment for you. Plus, I will include how-to videos so you get the most from your investment.
9 Essential Pieces for Weight Lifting Home Gym
If you are serious about weightlifting, consider getting an Olympic barbell vs a standard barbell.
Olympic barbells are sturdier and can hold a lot more weight than standard bars, plus Olympic bars are the bars that fit most power racks and cages.
Olympic barbells weigh about 44lbs by themselves. Keep that in mind when you are getting started.
Olympic barbells are normally 7 feet long, compared to standard barbells which are only 5 feet long.
There are, however a few shorter Olympic bars, like this Body-Solid Tools Olympic Straight Bar which is only 6 feet long, if you are designing a gym in a smaller space.
At Home Full Body Barbell Workout
The Rogue Ohio Bar
The Rogue Ohio bar is a high-quality bar at a reasonable price compared to others in the same class. It is made in the USA, has brass bushings, a 190k psi tensile strength and nice knurling.
It’s a classic and a favorite for a reason – it’s a great bar.
This is the bar I recommend if you plan on lifting heavy.
XMark Deadlift Voodoo Commercial Olympic Bar
The XMark Voodoo bar is a very affordable Olympic bar, great for beginners. It has a little spin, aggressive knurling and decent whip.
This bar is great for squats and deadlifts, but I would not recommend dropping it. It has an accessible price point, and is about half the price of the top competitor and it has an impressive weight capacity of 1500 lbs.
Titan 86” Olympic Bar
Titan designed this bar for home use, and it is perfect for beginner lifters, with an excellent price point to match.
The Titan bar has mid-level knurling, smooth sleeves, unlike the Rogue and XMark bars above, and brass bushings for decent spin. I still would not drop this bar, but it can be used for rack pulls and deadlifts.
If you want to see more Olympic bars and sets, I have several of the best Olympic bars reviewed here.
Weight plates are a necessity for a weightlifting gym, for obvious reasons. You need them for your barbell.
There are two different styles of Olympic weight plates.
Standard Olympic Plates
Standard Olympic plates have a 2-inch diameter hole to fit the collars of your Olympic barbell. Standard plates have a diameter size that is based on how much they weigh.
Lower weights have smaller diameters, and higher weights have a larger diameter.
Standard plates are often made of iron and are behind the phrase “Pumping Iron”, but newer models can be made of dense rubber.
The second type of plate is a bumper plate. Bumper plates are made of dense, hard, heavy rubber with a steel sleeve. Bumper plates all have the same diameter, regardless of weight.
The equal diameter and the fact that they are rubber, make them safer to drop in the event you fail a lift.
Bumper plates are used for lifts where there is a chance you may need to drop the barbell, like when you are doing a one-rep max lift, for example.
Weight plates take up very little space, however, you should think about their storage. Having weight plates laying around on the floor is a hazard to you.
Imagine tripping over a plate while you are carrying a loaded barbell. No Bueno!
A Weight plate rack like this, or plate storage on your power rack or rig are a few good ways to store your weight plates.
Body-Solid Rubber Grip Olympic Sets
These are rubber coated standard size Olympic weight plates. Body-Solid designed these with a handle, which makes them really easy to carry and use. They have a strong rubber odor that dissipates with time.
This set comes with a Body-Solid Olympic bar, making it a great value.
Titan Elite Olympic Bumper Plates
These Titan bumper plates are solid rubber with a steel collar. They will withstand some abuse and have a durometer rating of 90.
These bumper plates are perfect for CrossFit or Functional Fitness style training, or in any situation where you think you may drop the barbell from time to time. These rubber plates will help protect your floor and your barbell.
Rep Cast Iron Olympic Plates
These old school style cast iron standard Olympic weight plates are a great value for the set. Plus, since they are cast iron, they have no rubber odor like bumper plates or rubber-coated plates.
These plates also have the distinction of being lipped on both sides, so it’s impossible to put them on backwards. I love their classic style.
If you would like to see more bumper plate reviews we have the best bumper plates reviewed here.
Power Rack with Pull Up Bar
A power rack is a must-have if you want to lift at home safely. A barbell stand or a bench by itself won’t cut it if you want to lift heavy without a spotter.
A power rack has safety arms or safety bars that can catch and hold a loaded barbell in the event you load it too heavy or fail a lift.
Power racks have other benefits too.
Most power racks have a pull-up bar and can be upgraded with accessories like a landmine or dip station to get even more out of the power rack.
Many power racks also have weight plate storage, just one more added benefit.
Out of all these benefits, safety reigns as king.
I think you will agree, safety is the biggest benefit of the power rack.
Power racks take up more space than barbell stands, but barbell stands are not as stable and have no safety features.
You can minimize the space a power rack takes up by investing in a half-rack, without losing the best feature of the power rack-safety.
For a standard power rack, you will need a space of about 12′ wide by 7′ deep and 7′ high. This is to accommodate the rack, your barbell, and have some room around the rack.
Power Rack Workout Routine
Titan Fitness T-2 Short Power Rack
The Titan T-2 Short Rack is a great choice for the home gym because it is shorter than many standard power racks and will accommodate lower ceilings.
It includes a pull up bar, plate storage, safety bars and is rated for 700 lbs.
Rogue RML-3W Fold Back Wall Mount Rack
The beauty of this Rogue Fold Back Rack is it folds flat against the wall it is mounted to. This means you can use it in a garage and fold it so there is space to park your car inside.
You can even choose between two depths if you need a really shallow rack. This rack has a pull up bar, 2 J hooks and is completely retractable. The only thing I would say is this rack has no safety arms, so be aware.
Rogue also makes a half rack, the Rogue HR-2 Half Rack which does include safety bars and does not need to be bolted to the floor. It does not fold like the above rack, but the safety bars make it worth it, IMO.
Rep Fitness Power Rack – PR-1000
This Rep power rack is a great deal and offers all the basics you need. This full-size power rack has two pull up bars, a standard 1.25-inch diameter and a fatty style 2-inch diameter pull up bar.
It also includes 2 J cups and safety bars. This rack has a 1000 lb weight capacity, which is all most folks need.
Looking for more power rack options? We have all the best power racks reviewed right here.
Adjustable Incline Decline Bench
You need a bench for bench presses, dumbbell flys and much more.
I would go with an adjustable bench that is able to lay flat vs a strict flat bench because they are so much more versatile. If you want to build your chest, you will need a bench. That’s not to say that the bench is only for chest exercises. It is also used for arms and lower body exercises too.
The only cons I can think of are getting a shoddy bench which does not hold enough weight, or does not decline to a true flat position.
As far as weight capacity goes, remember the bench needs to hold your weight, plus the weight of a loaded barbell.
Expect to use about 3 feet by 5 feet for the bench and clearance. Of course, most benches fit within the footprint of a standard-size rack.
You will need to move the bench out of the way when doing exercises like rack pulls and pull ups, so keep that in mind when you plan your weight lifting gym.
How to Bench Press Heavy Alone Safely
Powerline by Body-Solid Flat Incline Bench
This Powerline bench is easy to adjust, just lift and hook. It goes into a true flat position, as well and inclines and declines.
It has a 500 lbs capacity which should be more than sufficient for those starting out.
Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0
This Rogue incline bench is a tank.
It holds more than most folks can conceive of lifting, can be flat or incline, and my favorite thing about this bench is there is virtually no gap between the seat and back when it is in a flat position, making it much more comfortable than others.
If you plan to lift really heavy, go with this bench.
Merax Deluxe Foldable Utility Weight Bench
This budget price bench holds its own against more expensive models. It has an impressive 800 lb capacity.
Folds to a true flat position as well and incline and decline, plus the seat inclines and declines too. In addition to that, this bench comes with a leg extension attachment making it a great value.
I have reviewed all the best weight benches, both incline style and flat benches. Take a look!
Set of Dumbbells
Dumbbells are a no brainer for a weight lifting gym. You need a set, so get some. Adjustable dumbbells are a good space-saving option, and I have the best adjustable dumbbells reviewed right here.
I like the look and convenience of grabbing regular hex dumbbells, because you do not spend any time adjusting them.
A set of Dumbbells can be expensive and they take up at least 3 feet of wall space.
If budget and space are limited, consider adjustable dumbbells.
Adjustable dumbbells might be a good choice if you are really limited with space. Save about 4 feet by 2 feet of gym space to accommodate your dumbbell set.
8 Best Dumbbell Exercises Ever
Rogue dumbbells are encased in rubber to minimize noise and reduce damage to floors. The handles are chrome plated to resist corrosion and keep them looking good, and they have light knurling for good grip.
Plus you can buy them in pairs, without getting an entire set. IMO Rogue makes the best weights for home gyms, hands down.
Rep Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbell Set
Rep Fitness hex dumbbells are sold as a set. The hex shape keeps them from rolling around your gym.
These are rubber encased to cut down on noise and floor damage and have a straight, moderately knurled handle for great grip.
CAP Barbell Rubber Coated Dumbbell Set
CAP dumbbells are also sold in sets, have rubber encased heads with a hex shape to prevent them from rolling.
They have a barrel shape handle with light knurling for grip.
Kettlebells can be used for classic exercises like presses and curls, but are also preferred for more unconventional exercises like the Turkish get up, windmill, arm bar, kettlebell swings and the bent press.
Kettlebell conditioning will improve your grip, mobility, flexibility conditioning and functional strength in a way dumbbells can not.
They are an additional investment, and some people may not see the need for kettlebells when they already have dumbbells.
Honestly, kettlebells take up very little space and are perfect for compact home weightlifting gyms and make some of the best home weight training equipment.
The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout
Kettlebell King kettlebells are made from a single cast and are powder coated for superior grip. They are gravity cast for accurate, precise weights and they are color-coded on the handle to easily identify the weight.
Fringe Sport Matte Black One-Piece Kettlebell
Fringe Sports kettlebells are also single cast iron, with a flat machined bottom so they will not wobble when used for floor exercises.
They are color-coded on the handle for quick ID and the handles are powder-coated matte black for good grip.
Rep Fitness Kettlebells
Rep Fitness kettlebells have a matte black finish with a non-slip surface making them easy to pick up and swing without feeling like you will lose your grip.
These are made single cast which means they have no seams, and are color-coded for easy weight identification.
Looking for more kettlebells? I reviewed the best kettlebells right here.
EZ Curl Bar
An EZ curl bar is a specialty bar you can use for upright rows, triceps extensions, lying triceps extensions, skull crushers, French press, bicep curls all kinds of triceps exercises.
You could use dumbbells, or the barbell as alternatives to many of the exercises you do with an EZ curl bar.
The unique grip positions on an EZ curl bar activate muscles differently and cannot be duplicated with a dumbbell.
10 Best EZ Curl Bar Exercises for Bigger Arms
Body-Solid Tools Olympic Curl Bar
This Body-Solid Olympic EZ curl bar has biomechanically engineered grips that help you focus on the biceps and forearms without wrecking your wrists.
XMark XM-3675 Olympic EZ Curl Bar
This XMark Olympic EZ curl bar is coated with black manganese, making it corrosion resistant. The bar can hold 400 lbs and has brass bushings.
We have even more of the best EZ curl and specialty bars reviewed here.
When you lift heavy, a good weightlifting belt is one of the best weight lifting gear you can have. A weight lifting belt supports your abs and gives them something to push against thereby increasing your intra-abdominal pressure.
Weight belts help you keep your back flat too. Belts provide stability and may help prevent injury on heavy lifts.
Belts can be restrictive and uncomfortable, especially when you squat.
Belts can also cover up problems and weaknesses that need to be worked on. They can hide problems with form and weak abs, for example.
Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt
Rogue lifting belts are built to last. This 4-inch wide handcrafted leather belt features 10 mm thick leather and single buckle design that is easy to adjust.
Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt
The Fire Team lifting belt has a contoured design which supports the back while still maintaining mobility so you can bend and squat while wearing it.
The Velcro close means you can get the perfect fit.
Dark Iron Fitness Weight Lifting Belt
The Dark Iron lifting belt is made from soft, supple, buffalo hide leather that forms to fit your body without digging into your hips.
It has stitching reinforcement and a two-pronged buckle for a secure fit. It is significantly less expensive than the top competitor and the belt will last just as long as theirs.
I have more of the best weightlifting belts reviewed here.
Rubber mats and gym flooring protects your floor and protects your equipment. Mats also help protect your joints by absorbing some of the impact.
If you want to save money, you can just put the flooring under the power rack and where you do your lifting, instead of the entire gym.
Rubber mats tend to give off a new tire smell for a while. That’s the only real downside I can think of.
XMark Fitness XMat Ultra Thick Equipment Mat
These 4-foot by 6-foot dense rubber mats have a nice grippy texture and are thick enough to protect your plates if you drop the barbell.
Add a pro touch to your weightlifting gym with these commercial grade gym mats.
Check out more gym flooring options and gym equipment floor mats here.
I know I did not include a cardio machine in my list of best weight lifting equipment for home because cardio is not weightlifting and you do not necessarily need a cardio machine to get a cardio workout.
I mean, there is always jogging, right?
But if the weather is crap, or you hate to run, you should include a cardio machine for your weight lifting home gym.
Option for Really Small Spaces
If your workout space is so small that a power rack and barbell are just out of the question for now, why not consider an all in one home gym.
All in one home gyms are really compact and offer a full-body strength training workout all done on one machine.
Here are the best all in one home gyms I know of.
This wraps up the 9 best strength training equipment for the home gym for weight lifting.
I hope you find something here to build the weightlifting gym you deserve.
If you love gym gear don’t forget to sign up for the Garage Gym Power Newsletter.
Just enter your email address and we will let you know when new reviews and news are out.
- 15 Best Massage Guns – November 2020 Review & Buyers Guide - November 22, 2020
- 10 Best Pilates Balls 2021 - November 17, 2020
- 9 Best CrossFit Packages & Bundles to Level Up Your Home or Garage Gym 2021 - June 25, 2020