I wanted to take a minute to share my garage gym with you and, if you think it’s valuable to them, the rest of the CFFB community.
A little background first – I’m 29 years old and I’ve been in the CrossFit & CrossFit Football community for about a year. I was a mediocre high school athlete at a tiny high school in Metro-Detroit. In college (Michigan Technological University) I met some varsity athletes, as well as a number of athletes who had graduated from larger, more competitive high school programs. It was that group of people who inspired me to pursue fitness.
I spent the next several years dabbling in typical bodybuilding programs with mixed results. Fast-forward to 2010, and I had fallen out of any meaningful fitness routine due to the typical lack of results and boredom associated with working out in a globo-gym environment. My wife urged me to get back into it, and I set my mind on achieving “all-around” fitness. I wanted to be able to run for a reasonable distance, but also be respectably strong, all while maintaining good health (physique, body composition, etc.).
I set out to design a program for myself that mixed the best and most effective elements of all of my previous training – namely compound heavy lifts and sprint intervals, with a sprinkling of assistance exercises and longer distance (5k) runs. In order to track and assess my progress, I started researching benchmark workouts. I found things like the military and law enforcement physical fitness tests, the NFL combine and the Men’s Health 300 workout (as inspired by Mark Twight/Gym Jones). From there I discovered CrossFit, and was specifically inspired by Greg Glassman’s “What is Fitness?” article.
I must admit, I drank the Kool-Aid.
In 2011 my wife and I attended the Arnold Sports Festival where I competed in the Pump & Run event. Our first in-person experience with CrossFit occurred at the Arnold where we witnessed Graham Holmberg, Mikko Salo, Jason Khalipa, Rob Orlando and a number of other top CrossFitters doing workouts right in front of us. We were struck by two things: first, the incredible capacity of these athletes, and second, the stark contrast between the “typical” fitness culture and the CrossFit culture. Walking from the Expo Hall (crammed full of all the Gordons seeking out the latest supplements) to the CrossFit arena (sparsely populated with healthy-looking individuals calmly rolling out or snacking on fruits, vegetables and jerky) was quite the “Eureka!” moment for us.
A few weeks after the Arnold, my wife and I stopped in at the local CrossFit box and signed up for the unlimited membership. Given my enthusiasm and studious approach, I was encouraged by the owner to go get my CFL1. I received my CFL1 in October 2011 with Joe DeGain, Rob Miller, Denise Thomas and Chuck Carswell. It was a great experience, and they were great instructors.
After studying the CrossFit materials for some time, and comparing that to a large body of other fitness knowledge (Mark Rippetoe, Louie Simmons, Prilepin, Mike Boyle, Tudor Bompa, Poliquin, Greg Everett, Robb Wolf, John Sheaffer, Justin Lascek, etc.), I approached the owner and head coach at the box to discuss a number of topics, among them safety, effective programming and athletic progression for various states of development (novice, amateur, intermediate, experienced). I went in expecting a welcoming discussion around “broad, general and inclusive fitness,” and instead received a “narrow, specific and exclusive” response. I was disappointed to say the least (especially considering that the guy has his CFFB Certification and proudly displays a photo of himself with you from that cert).
Dejected, I set out to find a way to pursue my fitness goals as best I could outside the local box. What I arrived upon was that there were two publicly available programs that could help: CrossFit Football and Rudy Nielson’s Outlaw Doctrine. Both programs fit very well with what I picked up from Rip, Louie, et. al. and neither strays far from the positive aspects of the CrossFit community. I now follow CFFB because my goals align more closely with CFFB than Outlaw, and because I suck at Olympic Weightlifting.
This was more than just a reaction to having a bad experience at a CrossFit box; CrossFit Football just made more sense.
To facilitate this, I’ve put together a fully functional CFFB garage gym. The amazing thing (IMHO) is that I’ve managed to fit it all into a 115 square foot (11’ x 10’ 6”) space in my 1-car garage. I also store a rolling toolbox, 4 bicycles, 2 motorcycles and some typical garage stuff in there. I know some people struggle with finding a place to work out, so I thought this might be useful or inspiring to those who might have a small space at home and can only afford a small stipend with which to buy equipment.
I’ve attached a picture (labeled and un-labeled), and here’s a list of the equipment that I’m working with. I’ve got a good mix of purchased and homemade equipment.
PowerLine Squat Stands (modified to include spotter/safety bars)
Unknown barbell and EZ Curl Bar bought on Craigslist
160 lbs Bumper plates (Pendlay)
375 lbs of iron plates (Craigslist)Dumbell handles with 100 lbs of standard platesKettlebells (35, 45, 55 and 70 lbs)
Refurbished Weider flat bench
Pull Up bar
3-way Plyo Box (20”, 24”, 30”)
Weight Belt (for weighted pull ups and dips; sled drags)
Medicine balls (20 lb and 15 lb)
Truck Tire with tow straps for sled drags (not pictured)
iPad (with timer apps) and PC speakers
Feel free to share all or part of this (on TTMJ or CFFB.com), including the pictures if you think it might add value to the CFFB community. I also wanted to say “THANK YOU!” for providing such a great resource and for free, no less!!
Very similar to the situation I found myself in. Well written letter and as we say in “da U.P.”, “that home gym is TITS!”
Eric, I grew up in Marquette and went to NMU. I live in St. Clair county now, right close to Macomb. Are you in the area?
Do you have a diagram for how you made your 3way box? I might be able to replicate it out of scrap 3/4 plywood and 2x4s from work…
That’s a great setup dude. The GHD is especially cool. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be showing this to all my clients.
Nice set-up! I am always impressed at the ingenuity in self-built equipment. I also left a Crossfit gym for my garage, but my issue was more about flexibility in workout times and programming. With the type of programming most gyms run there is not a lot of flexibility for members looking to go a different route. I enjoy working out alone, but at times I miss the camaraderie and competition. I am fortunate in that one or two guys come hit it with me on occasion. I saw a post in the CFFB comments once about a spot that was basically a globo outfitted for Crossfit that allowed members to do their own thing. I hope that is a sign of things to come. As always, big thanks to John and crew for the great resource!
Killer garage gym brother!
Awesome! I’ve got the same stands, do you have a closer picture, or DIY How-to on making the spotter bars?
Freakin sweet man! Doing work out of my own garage I must say this is top notch. My favorite is the 3 way plyo box. I may have to steal that idea. Very impressive.
I’m really impressed with that pseudo-GHD.
Nice setup, looks almost the same as what I came up with for my basement. I ended up at the same training template as well, after similar experiences.
That is an awesome set up man. Love the GHD!
@Mike “NMU, where the ‘N’ stands for knowledge!” 😉 jk…
I grew up in Richmond, but I currently live over in Mason (South of Lansing).
@BS, John McCord, anyone else who wants better pics, diagrams, instructions, email me. engraham at gmail dot com.
Very nice, indeed. I did the opposite: outfitted my garage for six years doing CF and then CFFB. Became a trainer at a local box and now do CFFB on my own and train my clients via the traditional CF model. Yes, it’s hypocritical, and I know it, but our programming is in flux, so who knows?
Yet I echo your ruminations re: CF and do my absolute best to reduce injury and offer advice about strength and power as paramount.
Love your tenacity and CFFB.
Pefect example of
“If you really want to do something you will find a way. If you don’t you will find an excuse.” -Jim Rohn
Great setup! I’d love something like that. Only thing that I’d miss would be not training with the great friends and coach I have down at my local box. However, since the coach went on the CFFB cert, dead bugs come up way too often in the warm-up 😉
Would you mind letting us know what you have running on the iPad?
Thanks, and keep on pumping!
I feel like an idiot for not thinking of the 3-way box. Pure genius.
Very cool. Even though Im happy at my box I would love to have a set up like that to come home to. I was at CrossFit North Atlanta this week and they had an impressive homemade reverse hyper machine that I could picture in a garage gym like this. Wish I thought to take a picture. Thanks for the post.
Intervals and 5K runs must have been tough in Houghton. The weather+those hills, what a killer.
@ Mike McCarthy
Running the beach along McCartys cove is my cardio of choice now that the snow is gone. However, Ive seen snow in May so I got my fingers crossed lol
Bad ass gym semper fidelis!
Awesome setup. Thanks for sharing. I’m moving to Florida soon and feel similarly regrading some Crossfit gyms. One of my lamentations is the zealotry that one can encounter at some gyms. I’m a proponent of moderation and when I have people who I know from Crossfit gyms looking at me funny because I’m crushing a heavy craft beer at the bar because its not a paleo friendly gin and tonic.
I can deal with that stuff, but the real reason is money. I have paid upwards of $150 per month for crossfit gym memberships. Having been a collegiate athlete, trained by Kirk Wolfolk at USNA, CF level 1 certified, and general passion to learn about, test out, and apply different training techiniques. I found the structured classes incapable of supporting the days when I just wanted to lift heavy things and put them down.
So I figure, in six months time, I should be able to save enough money from not paying a gym fee to outfit my own “box”. I was thinking of ways to make some of the more expensive equipment. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting of designing and building these homemade solutions!
That is a bad-ass setup! My wife is gonna be pissed!
Nice setup. I found your page looking for a GHD design.
Great set up man. Where did you find the feet holders for the GHD?
Nice gym. How did you make your dip bars? Are they angled? What supports all of the weight that would be put on the bars?
Great site. Those safety bars look like just what I’ve been looking for. Any links to the plans? Or even just a more close-up photo of the ones pictured? Thanks! (Hmm, there don’t seem to be recent follow up comments though…)