Last updated on April 24th, 2021 at 07:17 pm
*For a full list of all my gear with no descriptions, scroll to the end of this article.
If you watch my YouTube channel, you’ll see that I have a lot of gear in my home gym. It didn’t use to be that way. When I started training regularly at home, I did it in my living room with a single kettlebell. Wow, how things have changed!
The mere fact that I run a website and YouTube channel devoted to building home gyms means that I end up with more gear than most. I have way more stuff than I can use or need.
GymCrafter was built on a foundation of me training six days a week. That, to me, is a non-negotiable aspect of my life. It’s not right for everyone, but I’m determined to age well and stay fit as I turn 50 and beyond!
That means that six days a week, I go into my garage first thing in the morning, and I train for about 90 minutes. The question is, with all that gear to choose from, what do I actually use? Which things do I find myself using in my own workouts day after day?
Which, in my mind, are the best?
And that’s why I put together this list. If you were to sneak into my garage gym in the middle of a training session, these are the things you’d see me using. I love them all and enjoy training with each of them.
If you want to skip all the articles, all the recommended gear pages, all the buying guides, and see what I use in real life, you are in the right place. So without further rambling, here we go!
My Rack – The Titan Tall X-3 Flat Foot Power Rack
When I built my gym, I thought I would end up with a Rogue Rack. I was almost sure of it! Then I looked at their pricing. Whoa!!! I couldn’t justify that price tag. Not for something whose only job is to hold the bar in place and provide a safe cage to lift within.
While the Titan racks had mixed reviews due to powder coat quality, some ugly welds, and some other fit and finish type issues, no one knocked their functionality. In fact, it was just the opposite. So I took a chance and ordered my rack from Titan.
I am so happy that I did!!! Sure, it’s not the prettiest powder coat. Yep, some of the welds are a bit ugly. Yes, the fit and finish could be better. And it only comes in black, no fancy colors. But you know what?
None of that affects how well the rack works!!! And it works really, really well!!!
And that’s what is important. For anyone looking to save some money and still get a quality rack, Titan is the place to go. Here’s what I love about my X-3:
- A flat foot design means I don’t have to bolt it to the floor.
- 3”x3” steel uprights are solid, heavy, and the rack is extremely stable.
- It came with two pull-up bars, safety pins, j-hooks, and plate storage.
- At 30” deep, it’s big enough to work inside without taking up my whole garage.
- At $599 with free shipping, it was over $700 less than the same rack from Rogue!!!
My Barbell – The Rep Fitness Stainless Steel Power Bar V2
I’ve used and enjoyed a lot of different barbells. My first bar, the American Barbell Grizzly Power Bar, is still a favorite of mine. It’s also the bar I’d buy if I were on a budget.
But your barbell is one of those things I think you should spend a little extra on. Unlike your rack, where a more expensive option doesn’t function any better than a less expensive one, your bar is the thing that connects you to the weight.
Your barbell is one of the few things you actually touch while training!
After trying every barbell finish out there, from raw steel to Cerakote and everything in between, I’ve fallen in love with using a stainless steel bar. The touch and the feel are just about perfect for me.
Not to mention, the color is amazing! I love everything about training with a stainless bar. Not to mention it’s the lowest maintenance finish you can get!
Enter the Rep Fitness stainless steel power bar. I own both available versions, the power bar EX with a very aggressive knurl pattern, and the V2 power bar with more of a medium knurl.
While I love both, I now almost exclusively reach for the V2, and it’s less aggressive knurl. I love this bar! Here’s a quick rundown on why I think it’s the perfect all-around bar for most home gym owners willing to spend just a little more on their barbell.
- 1500 lb weight rating
- Lifetime guarantee
- Perfect knurl for all-around use
- End to end stainless steel (almost no other stainless barbells have this!)
- 29mm diameter, ideal for non-specialized lifters
- At $379, it’s a great deal compared to any other bar with the same specs.
My bumper plates – Fringe Sport Contrast bumper plates
Bumper plates are not the least expensive way to go when buying weight plates. If you are on a budget, I don’t recommend them. But if you don’t mind spending extra for all the benefits that bumper plates come with, Fringe Sport is the only place to go.
When I was selecting my bumpers, I wanted two things: durability and virgin rubber. Fringe Sport is the only place that delivers on both counts and won’t empty your wallet at the same time.
First, they make the most durable bumper plates on the market. Period. How durable? Check out this video of them chucking a loaded barbell off of their warehouse roof onto concrete. Go ahead; I’ll wait.
Second, unless you want your gym and your hands to reek of rubber for the first 6-12 months you have your plates, you want bumper plates made from virgin rubber.
Fringe Sport makes a few varieties that all have the above two qualities. It’s just a matter of picking what you want your plates to look like. In fact, my only regret with my bumpers is that their amazing looking “savage” color scheme plates weren’t out when I bought my set.
Check out the bumper plates that I train with every day here on the Fringe Sport website!
My bench – The Rep Fitness AB-5200 adjustable bench
While the AB-3100 was/is a great bench, the 5200 is simply in a different class. You can check out my unboxing and first impressions video here on YouTube (video coming soon) if you want to see all the great things this bench has to offer.
Here’s what I love about the AB-5200:
- It’s heavy, coming in at 125 lbs!
- Ladder style adjustments on back and seat
- Grippy pad material
- Perfect sized back pad takes the gap out of play
- 3 point design
- Easy to move and stores upright
- At $449, it’s $100 less than the similar model from Rogue, and it’s better!
My dumbbells – Power Blocks USA Elite 90 lb set
After your bar and your bench, dumbbells are the thing you’ll come into contact with the most. Having a good set of adjustables is almost a requirement for any home gym.
I’ve owned and trained with all 3 of the major options out there (BowFlex, Iron Master, and Power Blocks). To me, the Power Blocks are head and shoulders above everyone else. And that’s why I own them, recommend them, and use them on a regular basis.
Outside of my Onnit Primal Bells, this is the piece of gear I’ve owned the longest. That speaks volumes about their quality. Until there comes a day when I can afford and have space for a full set of dumbbells, these Power Blocks will be my dumbbells of choice for sure!
My kettlebells – Rep Fitness LB Kettlebells
I own a dumb amount of kettlebells. It’s what I started training at home with and it’s still one of my favorite implements to use.
I’ve owned kettlebells from Onnit, Body-Solid, Titan, KettleBells Kings, and Rep Fitness. The Titan and Body-Solid were a waste of money. I sold the Titans, and I donated the Body-Solid to the gym where I work.
Of the three that are left in my gym, all are good options. But I find myself reaching for the Rep kettlebells first on most days. I love the way they feel. I love the grip. I love the fit and finish. And even though it doesn’t have anything to do with how much I like using them, I love the price.
On my recommended kettlebells page, I list Rep as the best “budget option.” But I think I may need to change that and simply list them as the best option, period. I just can’t give anyone a meaningful reason to spend more on anything else.
My Treadmill – ProForm 1000 series (discontinued)
I walk a lot. 2-3 times a day, every day. That’s life with bulging discs in your lower back for you. Occasionally I jog. Once a week, I do hill sprints—all of it outside if weather permits.
But I live in a suburb of Chicago. And the weather is definitely not always permitting! That means I need a way to do all that inside when needed, which means I need a treadmill.
But I’m not a serious runner, so super expensive treadmills were out of the question for me. What I needed was something that is well built, reliable, and easy to walk/run on. I didn’t need fancy screens or interactive programs. I just needed a way to walk an hour or two each day when it was cold out!
So I bought a somewhat entry-level treadmill by Pro-Form. It cost a little more than I wanted to spend at $1100, but it’s been really great for a long time. And, knock wood, it looks like it’ll keep on going for a long while more!
Pro-Form has a new version of my treadmill called the Carbon T10. It’s the same price and looks pretty darn similar to mine.
My favorite accessories
If I had to sell most of my gear and get back down to just the basics, I’d be thrilled to have only the above-listed equipment. All you really need is a nice rack, a great bar, durable plates, an amazing bench, some adjustable dumbbells, and a few kettlebells to round it all out.
That right there, folks, is all anyone needs! Everything else is extra.
If I could, though, there are a few must-have accessories I’d need to keep to go along with those essential items. Nothing fancy, and it’s not a huge list, but there are a few items that I use every day that I’d be hard-pressed to do without at this point in my training.
The nice thing is that all of these are inexpensive and easy to find.
My collars – Lock-Jaw OLY 2 Olympic Collars
My two favorite collars are the Lock-Jaw and the OSO collars. I even made a video about them that you can see here. All along, I thought I’d like the OSO better. In fact, I used them exclusively for over a year.
But I’ve switched back to the Lock-Jaw and I couldn’t be happier. They open a lot more smoothly (the OSO will “bite” you if you aren’t carful and…. ouch!!!) and have a wider lever for closure.
One tip is do not buy the cheap knock-offs you see on sale for $15 and less!!!! Those do NOT work. They are NOT secure. Looks and reviews can be deceiving.
My bands – Rubber Banditz Reistance bands
Every gym needs a quality set of bands. ‘Nuff said. What you don’t need is a cheap set that snaps on you in the middle of doing face pulls and leaves a welt on your forehead that doesn’t go away for a week (no, no, that totally didn’t happen to me at all, why do you ask?).
I use these every day, and of the 3-4 different brands of bands I’ve had, they are the best by far.
My favorite barbell accessory – Fat Gripz
I like these so much I own all three sizes. I made a video about them you can see here. I have more videos planned to show just how many different things you can use them for.
There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t use these at least 1-2 times.
This is another one where you don’t want to buy the cheap knock off. If you do, you’ll end up getting a slippery, squishy, useless piece of rubber, and you won’t have saved any money at all.
The full gym – links only
As I mentioned at the start of this page, I have a lot of stuff. What I just listed above is what I actually use. If you are curious about all the stuff that’s currently in the gym, here’s the most up to date list I have:
- Titan Fitness X-3 Tall Flat Foot Power Rack
- Titan Fitness Multi Grip Pull Up Bar
- Titan Fitness Sandwich J-Hooks
- Titan Fitness Dip Bars
- Titan Fitness Safety Straps
- Rep Fitness AB-5200 Adjustable Bench
- American Barbell Grizzly Power Bar
- Rep Fitness Stainless Steel Power Bar V2
- Rep Fitness Stainless Steel Deep Knurl Power Bar EX
- Titan Fitness Multi Grip Bar V2
- Titan Fitness Safety Squat Bar V2
- Fringe Sport EZ Bar
- Titan Fitness Vertical Plate Storage
- Fringe Sport Virgin Rubber Contrast Bumper Plates
- Troy Barbell Urethane Weight Plates
- Fractional Plates
- Power Block Adjustable Dumbbells
- Power Block 50-70 lb. Expansion Set
- Power Block 70-90 lb. Expansion Set
- Power Block Dumbbell Stand
- Resistance Bands
- Advantage Rigging Chain Set
- Harbinger Dip Belt
- Fat Gripz
- Harbinger Lifting Straps
- Nordic Knee Sleeves
- Onnit Steel Mace
- Onnit Steel Bells
- Onnit Primal Kettlebells
- Olympic Rings
- Rep Fitness Plyo Box