Buy What You Need, Not What’s On Sale

On Sale Doesn’t Mean Go Crazy

But it’s on sale! Okay, I get it. You own a home gym and you want to outfit it with all of the cool stuff you see on Instagram and YouTube. (note: If you’re not already convinced that the garage gym life is for you, check out why it’s a good idea here.)  But if you’re ready to take the plunge, or already own your own gym at home, I’ve got a simple mantra to help you out. Ready? Here it is:

Buy What You Need, Not What’s On Sale

Jim Wendler said once, “Buy nice or buy twice”.  I agree with that sentiment but I also think that it’s important, especially in the beginning stages of setting up a garage gym, to buy only what you need. Equipment manufacturers are competing for your dollars by putting their merch on sale. It can be tempting to grab all of the toys but that’s not a good idea.

Warning: You Have Options

In the beginning there was only the newspaper and it was sparse. But now, aspiring garage gym athletes, have Craigslist, PlayItAgain Sports, Rogue Fitness, EliteFTS, Black Widow Training Gear and a plethora of other outlets for all of your equipment outfitting needs. Notice that I did not mention Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority. (side note. If you decide to shop at Dick’s Sporting Goods online, the website address is Do NOT experiment with other possible web address options for Dick’s Sporting Goods Online unless you are ready to have your life changed. Forever. You’ve been warned.)

Anyway, the fact that there are so many options now is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s easy to get Equipment Purchase ADD especially if you think that you have to replace EVERYTHING you had at the gym you’re leaving. Understand, that as Elite powerlifter, Brandon Lilly pointed out, “European lifters are able to get strong with just a barbell”.  World record holder Andrey Malanichev ONLY performs the three competition lifts, squat, bench press and deadlift so it’s highly likely that you who are probably NOT Andrey Malanichev, can get by without a squat rack AND a Smith machine AND a leg press AND a hack squat AND a sled AND standing and seated calf raises AND . . . well you get the idea.

You can get a lot done with the basics. No need to chase everything that's on saleBe a Grown up About This

In the beginning, I would get a good dependable barbell, a sturdy adjustable bench and some sort of set up for squatting; either squat stands with safety stands or a power rack. Then a few horse stall mats from the local farm supply store. That’s it. You might add some adjustable dumbbells for variety but not much more than that in the beginning. No, not Bowflex adjustable dumbbells. That’s a waste of money.

This may seem like not enough but I started my garage gym with a wooden box and a pair of 70lb dumbbells. I added to my equipment as I went along, slowly and based upon my needs.

 The gym has come a long way.

Why You Should Listen

When you first embark on this garage gym lifestyle, you won’t know exactly what you need.  Also, there are a ton of inexpensive options for equipment from PVC plate storage racks to homemade sleds made out of an old car tire and leftover junkyard chain. Finally, what if, as unlikely as it seems, you decide that this garage gym lifestyle is not for you? Now you’re stuck with a ton of equipment that you can’t get a refund on.  Maybe you’ll be able to sell it in the Functional Fitness Garage Sale group on Facebook but maybe not.

So start small and simple, and add to it as you go along building what you can and buying what you can’t.


About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on



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