Your Cheap Garage Gym is all the Home Workout you Need

What does a random pile of homemade indian clubs, kettle bells, some flat resistance bands and an ab wheel do for you? It is one hell of a home gym workout, that’s what. I found my own pile next to my dresser today. Actually it has been there everyday for weeks; the remnants of a workout week where these exercise tools were the main ingredients.

Let me be clear; my home gym space is technically in the garage, but it can also be wherever the mood suits me, or wherever I need to be to get things done and stay motivated. As I was walking past this pile for perhaps the 12th time in a week, it occurred to me that the exercise equipment there was all anyone needed to get strong, fit and healthy. Here is what was sitting in my gym tool mess:

-One homemade indian club made from a plastic bat and filled with sand. It was wrapped with wrist weights to make it heavier (total about 12 lbs.)

-Two 10# kettlebells; cheapies from Walmart that I’ve owned for almost 4 years.

-Two 20# kettle bells, same as above.

-1 45# GoFit Kettlebell

-A $10 pack of ‘stretch bands’ marketed for Pilates and Yoga stretching, but great for a thousand things besides.

-One ab wheel, a super cheap version from Valeo.

On the surface it all looked like a colorful hodgepodge of stuff I should have put away. Then I started counting off the exercises I could do with this small collection and thought, “this is all a person needs for a home gym, or a variation of this; and it takes up a space about 2 feet square.”

Here is a (short) list of exercises you can do with just this equipment:

-indian club mills
-indian club swipes
-indian club Jori swing
_indian club torch press
-anything you can do with a club!

-kettle bell swings, snatches, turkish get-up, floor press, overhead press, bent press, goblet squat, shall I go on?

-Resistance band rows, presses, flyes, curls, high pulls or deadlifts (these last two are effective and tough exercises; from a box with three pretty resistance bands, go figure.)

-Ab wheel rollouts from the knees or from standing. Bear crawls, plank pulls (feet on handles, arms fully extended, pull all the way in with elbows, repeat.)

The list is extensive, and if you have these tools, here is a great whole body functional workout you can try with them. Do the exercises as a circuit, and repeat as many times as you can. 3-5 rounds is a good number to shoot for.

-Jori Swing to Torch Press
-Club mills
-Kettlebells swings
-Kettlebell snatch
-Alternating “bottoms up” standing shoulder press.
-ab wheel rollouts (from knees or standing to full extension.)

This little collection is so versatile I have decided to leave it next to my dresser for a while. The workout routine combinations are endless, and if I throw in some pushups and pullups, I won’t have to step back into the garage for a few weeks.

Next time you see what looks like a collection of insignificant gym equipment or homemade gym tools, take a second look. it just might be the perfect exercise equipment for your next few workouts!


Find great home gymnastic rings equipment and workouts here:

Use these excellent workout routines with little or no equipment:

Home Gym Workout Routines with No Equipment

Leg Muscle Training that Works Without Weights

The Life Saving Effects of Exercise

We all know that an active lifestyle is good for us. In fact, most of you would have a hard time getting through the day, let alone sleeping at night, without a good workout.

The effects of exercise are much wider reaching than we could have ever imagined however. Just about everything we do is dependent on staying active and keeping junk out of our bodies. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to try to tell you to put down those peanut M&M’s or skip the occasion cocktail, but just in case you are lacking motivation to workout on any given day, I offer the following reminders.


-Releases ‘good’ brain chemicals such as endorphins, catecholamines and brain-derived neurotropic factor. No you can’t get addicted to them. But they are primarily stimulated by exercise and affect everything from your mood to your heart rate; even your long term memory.

-Reduces bodyweight, but more importantly, reduces the visceral fat that likes to build up on our internal organs. It does ugly things like pump chemicals we don’t need into our system. Plus, it’s ugly, real ugly.

-Increases blood flow, improves orgasm, increases testosterone and growth factor hormones.

-Helps you sleep better and more soundly.

This list could go on for a couple more pages, but i think you get the idea. We were born into a world more sedentary than any our genetics were designed for. Resist the urge to watch that TV show when you get home from work.

Don’t sign on to Facebook or Twitter, I promise it will be there later.

Forget about exercising ‘later.’ Yeah, right, after a beer or a Jack n’ Coke?

Instead, start moving, get your heart rate up, build some muscle. Here is a little workout I like to do when I head to the garage for a beer and see my gym staring me in the face. I think ‘oooooh, but I don’t have the energy…sniffle sniffle.’ The cure for that? Get moving!

You don’t have to change into your workout clothes (maybe you should if you’re not in your pajamas yet.)

Just start rotating your neck, gently now, it’s stiff from staring at a screen all day I bet. Now swinging an arm around in circles, small at first, then full arcing circles. Now switch to the other. If you want you can swing both around and run around in circles making airplane noises, whatever gets you going.

Now rotate those hips, loosen up, that’s it. You know how to move your hips!

Ok, start doing calf raises, don’t worry about weight for now. Just rise up and down on your toes, squeeze the calves at the top, now go faster, now pause at the top. Give yourself a number to hit. “I’m going to 20, 30,…”

Now bounce up and down in a partial squat while swinging your arms. Not a full squat, wait until you’re warm. Get that stretch reflex in those leg muscles going. When you feel ready, start launching off the ground.

That’s it, you’re doing mini jump squats, plyometrics; build up to a high jump and knock out 20 or so of those. Feeling good? Right on, now the blood is flowing! The beer is still in the ‘fridge, but it seems a little farther away now…

Ok, quick, arms out to the sides and rotate your trunk. Swing from side to side. After a few, squeeze the obliques on each side for about 2 seconds, release and repeat on the other side.

Now, if you are feeling warm, choose an exercise. Not two, not three. Not a whole bodybuilding program for a specific bodypart, not even a whole workout routine named after some random woman.

In my garage I see:

-Homemade sandbags, 40-80 lbs. I can choose the 80 and do lifts off the ground. Catch it in a full squat, then heave onto one shoulder. Start with three hard sets, then decide what else, if anything, i want to do.

-Pullup Bar/Homemade Gymnastics Rings: Hop on either one and start off by doing nothing but hanging while engaging your scapula. (Pull it back and down.) They call this active shoulder hangs.

When I’m ready I start doing pullups. I’ll mix it up though. First hangs, then without letting go, pullups; without letting go I do knee or leg raises. Now, if I am on the rings I can swing my legs over and do flips or inverted positions, you see?

-Dumbbells: There in the middle of the rug are dumbbells, ready to clean and press. Hell, 5 sets of that and I won’t feel bad about a beer at all! Great workout.

-Homemade Indian clubs: On the wall I have several homemade clubbells, a homemade mace, i can just pick any of these up and start swinging and swaying. Talk about getting the blood pumping!

You may not have any of this, but that’s ok. Get on the floor, do pushups. Change the hand position. Don’t pushup, just see how long you can hold yourself up. Do leg raises, squats, supermans, even shadowboxing.

Your workouts always deserve to be priority number one! So give them all you’ve got, even if you’d rather have a drink and watch TV. You will never regret ignoring that urge and exercising instead. Never.

Adventures with Suspension Training in My Garage Gym

Designing My Own Cheap Version

I admit it, I’m not a big fan of gyms, commercial gyms specifically. It’s a personal preference. I like solitude when I workout or at least small groups. I also like to choose my own music (if any,)perform unusual and dangerous exercises, and let the dog hang out. Oh, and leave the air conditioning off, I’ll take hot and steamy, thanks. For those reasons and others I workout 90% of the time at my house, and usually in the garage. Besides the usual barbells and dumbbells, I suspended a pull-up bar from the ceiling, made some ‘clubs’ out of galvanized steel pipe, and a slosh stick out of pvc pipe filled with water. What I had always wanted to include was suspension training. The TRX, with its fancy yellow nylon webbing, it’s quick adjustments and glowing hard body models demonstrating new and interesting exercises, captured my imagination. Now don’t be silly, I wasn’t about to shell out $150+ dollars when I could attempt to make my own version of suspension training!
The solution was simple: I had suspended a capped iron bar from the ceiling using eye hooks screwed into the joists. This was my pull-up bar, and it was suspended by rope bought at Home Depot. Then I tied knots to the eye hooks, and tied those knots into knots, then on the other end I had to tie knots to the bar, and re-tie knots to get the measurements correct, until I was really sick of tying knots. My plan for the suspension trainer was the same, suspend rope from the eye hooks screwed into the ceiling. For handles, I had some 1 1/2″ pvc pipe I ran the rope through. Presto!
Of course, we’re back to tying knots, and retying, and with these sumbitches, because each rope hung from its own hook, I had to adjust a lot to get the height even. It was at this point I began dreaming about that shiny yellow nylon webbing. I imagined how easy it would be to anchor it to the ceiling. Maybe even easier now that I had already installed eye hooks! But no! I’m a man, I love my green rope and pve pipe substitute! So I kept adjusting until I was satisfied.

Flaws in the Design

I wouldn’t say there were flaws in the design, it just wasn’t the TRX. My invention wasn’t even gymnastics rings. Now it worked alright. I mean hell I only had one ugly knot-loosening incident. Fortunately I wasn’t hanging upside down when that happened. I could do all kinds of exercises including rows from several angles, inversions, and various push-ups and dips with the aid of a step-stool or ladder. However, not being able to quickly adjust the ropes made the tool much less versatile than even basic gymnastics rings. Let alone that commercial contraption with the pretty yellow nylon webbing.
I hung on to the dream a little longer. In place of the additional strap that hangs down like a stirrup from the TRX handles, I put my own little strap. So glad I kept that extra green rope! It hung from the PVC pipe handle just like a stirrup. Not right away, though. First I had to adjust it by tying, re-tying, you know the drill.
I was so proud of my genius that I invited one of my friends and trainees to try it. He was somewhat skeptical. He stared at the roughly chopped pipe handles, and his eyes traveled to the ceiling to study the attachment process. “Don’t worry, you’re not even going to be putting your full weight on it. Just stick your feet in here, no down more, whoops, look out, maybe you should let me help you…”

I was soon the only user of my suspension trainer. Although I still find it very useful, it hangs there looking like an outdated relic. I sense that it knows its fate. It stares out across the garage at the failed PVC pipe and green rope trapeze experiment, now laying in a pile in a dark and dusty corner.

I’m going to miss my various contraptions. After all, the TRX can be taken anywhere, and well, I’m sick of tying knots. The fact is, the weather in Arizona is beautiful. This is the best time of year to be outside here, for the sane people anyway. In a few short months the temperature will be topping 100, and I will scurry indoors to continue using my new workout tools. Shoot, look at the time. I have got to go! I found a concrete-filled parking post out in the middle of the desert that someone left behind. Now I know I can do something with that!

For more information, or to shop the TRX, read the post “Buy TRX Suspension Trainer Online,” or click on the link below:

   Don’t forget the padding.