5 most important garage gym essentials

Olympic Barbell & Weight plates, Squat Rack/ Power Rack, Adjustable bench, Dumbbells & Gym Flooring


Cardio machines, Kettlebells & Storage

1. Olympic Barbell and Weight Plates

An Olympic barbell and weight plates set are the core equipment for most strength training programs. They are needed to perform several key compound lifts, such as bench press, deadlifts and squats. Importantly, they are the most effective tool to help with progressive overload which forms the foundation of successful training programs (this is the principle of gradually increasing the demand on your muscles to improve size, strength, or endurance). 

Tips to look at when buying an Olympic barbell

While a cheap barbell can do the job, we would recommend avoiding the cheapest on the market. These will have coatings that will chip and flake off, causing havoc for your hands. They can also bend over time under even light weights. At VULCAN, we recommend either our standard 15kg or 20kg bar as a great all-rounder barbell that won’t break the bank. It has a weight rating of 350kg, and a durable hard chrome coating. You can continue to use this bar even as you progress to higher weights.

If you are looking to specialize in Olympic-style lifts (clean and jerk, snatches etc) then we recommend a barbell that has more sleeve spin (makes these lifts smoother and helps prevent injuries to the wrist and elbows). Check out the VULCAN Competition Barbell. Tips to look at when buying weight plates. We recommend bumper plates for a home gym. Bumper plates are made from rubber and are designed to be dropped from a height. This allows you to perform deadlifts or Olympic lifts without fear of breaking your equipment. They also make less noise than traditional iron/steel plates, which is an important consideration if you are going to be working out at all hours of the day and night. 

While not quite as cheap as old school iron plates, they are still budget-friendly! Check out our Black bumper plates! Fractional plates (small plates such as 1.25kg or 2.5kg) are very important for progression! If you have 5kg as your lightest plate, that means the minimum weight interval is 10kg. It is important to have these smaller weights to help safely and gradually increase the weight. 

2. Squat Rack/ Power Rack

The squat rack or power cage really is the cornerstone of any home gym. It forms the base for a lot of your key exercises such as squats, pull-ups and bench press. Without one, you will not be able to safely push yourself and continue to progress with your lifts. You can check out our full rack buying guide here. 👉 CLICK HERE If you can’t be bothered reading the whole article, check out the key points condensed into a few sentences below:

If you have the space, we recommend a power rack. They generally provide the most safety (four post-construction make it more stable, and they have a range of good spotter options) and the  most versatility (more configurations and more attachments available than a squat rack). If you have the budget, the best power racks have uprights that have a length and width of 75mmx75mm (3inchx3inch) and 3mm (11 gauge) thick steel. Also look to see what attachments are available. Check out our Commercial Power Rack and Attachments here. 

These top-of-the-line racks use lots of steel, which means they will be more expensive. If you are after a budget option, but
- don’t want the rack to shake like crazy every time you do a pull-up
- don’t want the rack to feel like it will tip over any time you re-rack the weight, and;
- want a good range of attachments for a budget offering
then we thoroughly recommend our Home Gym Power Rack. We believe it is the best budget offering on the market, with a great range of Attachments. The advantage of a power rack is that you have access to a suite of attachments that extend the functionality of your rack. Add a lat row attachment, landmine or jammer arms just to name a few. These add a huge range of new movements that you can bring to your home gym. 

3. Adjustable Bench

Your weightlifting bench is something you will use in most sessions, and it plays an important role in supporting you while you lift (potentially) hundreds of kilos over your body! Check out our full bench buying guide here. Again, this is a lot of reading, so we have condensed the article into a few key points below: 

- If you have a small amount of space, we recommend an adjustable bench due to its versatility over a flat bench.
- Don’t cheap out on the bench. It is important for safety, and you will most likely end up upgrading sooner rather than later if you go for a cheap bench.

👉CLICK HERE to read our full bench buying guide! 

4. Dumbbells

Dumbbells are a great tool for strength training, from beginners all the way through to the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s of the world. They are great for isolation exercises to target specific muscles. They can also be safer for beginners as they are easier to handle than a barbell and Olympic weights. At the risk of contradicting the order of my list, you can perform a huge range of exercises with just a few sizes of dumbbells and an adjustable bench. If you have a very limited budget, this could be a great place to start!

There are a few types of dumbbells:

Hex dumbbellsyour traditional dumbbells with a steel handle and fixed hexagonal rubber endings.

Adjustable dumbbells: allows you to adjust the weight using various mechanisms (usually a lever, dial or pin). A great space saver that allows you to have multiple weights in one dumbbell. However they can be expensive and can have durability issues.

Olympic dumbbells: effectively a mini Olympic barbell – you can manually load plates on and off to change the weight. Cheap and a good space-saving option but can be time-consuming and annoying to change weight.

This will come down to personal preference, but I suggest going for hex dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells are often expensive, and durability can be an issue. You can’t drop them, and the adjusting mechanism can be prone to break.

For the same price as a good pair of adjustable dumbbells, you can buy a few sizes of hex dumbbells, and never worry about them breaking. For example, a pair of 5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg and 25kg hex dumbbells would not take up a huge amount of space and could effectively replace a 25kg adjustable dumbbell.

But wait, I don’t want to stop there? Building your home gym is a great and addictive hobby, and many people accumulate equipment over a lifetime. I have sworn that my personal home gym is finished about 5 times, only to squeeze in a bit more equipment. 

Photo credit: jasonminilee

5. Gym Flooring

Flooring is often an overlooked aspect of a home gym. Getting the right flooring can protect both the existing floor and your equipment from damage while providing a slip-free surface to sweat all over! The best and easiest option for your home gym is rubber tiles. Rubber tiles are designed for high-impact activities and provide shock and sound absorption! They are also easy to install and maintain; They can be cut into shapes to fit your space, don’t need adhesive to install, and are simple to clean. We recommend rubber flooring that is at least 15mm thick. This will provide enough shock absorption to protect your floor from dropping weights and general punishment. Our 1mx1m tiles weigh 12kg, so they won’t shift while you work out. Thicker flooring will provide more protection, but it gets expensive very quickly. Consider investing in a lifting platform if you think you will be training movements that require you to drop heavy weights from a height (such as Olympic lifts).

We have some great bulk pricing available on our gym floorings! Please email support@vulcanfitness.com.au (or) call/ text 0404 969 244 to obtain your best deal today! 

Storage is also important! Although one of the benefits of owning your home gym is being able to leave whatever weights you want lying around, we think a clean and organised home just hits differently. 

Photo credit: jasonminilee

Bonus: Kettlebells

One of the most underrated and underutilized pieces of equipment. You can do a killer full body workout with just a single kettlebell. Great budget option to add a heap of versatility to your home gym. 👉 CLICK HERE

Photo credit: jasonminilee

Bonus: Cardio Machines

Rowers, treadmills, indoor bikes and ski-ergs can all provide a great workout if you are looking to add in a bit more cardio to your routine. If you really enjoy pain, check out the VULCAN Commercial Air Bike

Photo credit: jasonminilee