21 Must Have Items for Your CrossFit Garage Gym
updated January 1, 2019
Think you have to join a gym (scratch that, box) to Crossfit. That may have a been the case a few years ago, but no longer. The Crossfit industry has grown exponentially in the past five years. It now offers a full range of training gear for both the commercial gym outfitter and the home user. But, if you’re going to set up your own private Crossfit box, you’d better make sure that it’s equipped with everything you need to go balls to the wall on your WOD, every day.
Here’s the essential list:
Crossfitters love kettlebells because they’re so much more badass than dumbbells. You can perform more dynamic, functional movements with them, you can grip them in different ways to beef up your forearms and you can use them for a great cardio session. If you’re a guy, you’ll want a pair of 32, 44 and 52 pounders. Ladies should half those numbers.
Click here to find out which kettles that suit you best.
You’ll need a bar that provides just enough knurling to allow for a decent grip without ripping your palms apart. Make sure, too, that the bar doesn’t have too much whip in it. By the way, you don’t need centered knurling for the majority of Crossfit moves, so avoid bars that feature it. Men’s bars weigh in at 20kg, with the women’s version at 15kg. The tensile strength of the bar you purchase should be at least 150,000 psi.
Click here to read our review for the best Olympic barbells.
Jumping rope remains one of the best moves you can do to get in the shape of your life. Invest in a good rope that has swivel handles, ball bearings and is made of leather. To determine the correct rope length, place your foot on the middle of the rope and pull both sides up. If it’s the right length, they’ll come to your arm pits.
A thick climbing rope is a great training accessory. Scaling up and down it will do wonders for the strength and development of your lats, trapezius, shoulders and forearms. With 20 feet being the ideal length, the challenge will be to find a good place to hang it from. If you don’t have the height indoors, consider suspending it from a tree.
A quality rowing machine is essential for a complete Crossfit home gym. This may well be your most expensive investment, so choose wisely. Be on the watch for air as opposed to magnetic resistance. Air resistance more closely simulates a water rowing experience. You will also want a steel as opposed to an aluminum slide rail which is long enough to allow for a full extension when rowing. A good machine will also allow you a full forward reach.
Finally make sure that the capacity of the machine is able to accommodate your bodyweight; rowing machine capacities vary from 100 kg (220 lbs) to 180kg (396 lbs).
Click here to read more about our rowing machine reviews.
You’ll be doing a lot of explosive Olympic and Powerlifting type moves during your Crossfit sessions so you absolutely need a solid power rack in which to do them. Stay away from the cheap rubbish that you’ll find at the big box stores; they will not afford you the protection you need. Rather, you need a hardcore machine that is made from at least 2” x 2” 11 gauge steel and uses five eighth inch bolts and fasteners. It should feature safety pins band pins.
Ideally Power Rack will also have the Westside hole pattern, which allows you to pin-point your bar placement by offering a one inch hole distance for the bench press range and 2 inch for the squat range.
If you’ve purchased a quality power rack, it will come with, at least, one pull up bar. However, many times the pull up bars on racks are too high to allow for the performance of such essential Crossfit moves as muscle ups and double unders.
Click here to read our massive guide for the best doorway pull up bars.
Yes, you’ve got some kettlebells, but they’re not a replacement for dumbbells, especially when it comes to moves like the dumbbell bench press and push presses.
To avoid the expense of buying a complete set, consider investing in an adjustable pair of dumbbells that will allow you to select your resistance level.
Bumper plates have a couple of unique features. Firstly, they are encased in rubber to protect both them and the floor from the considerable bouncing and dropping that goes on in a Crossfit workout. Secondly, unlike traditional plates, they all have a standard diameter of 17.5 inches. This allows for uniformity of the lifting height when you are doing exercises like the deadlift.
The most economical way to buy your bumper plates is as a set. Start with 160 pounds and add to it as your strength level increases.
You’ll want a bench that is multi purpose enough to allow for use on weighted pressing moves with dumbbells or kettlebells, as well as steps ups, and box jumps. Make sure that the bed of the bench is not too wide to allow you to do flye type exercises. Ideally your bench should also adjust for incline work.
Even with bumper plates to lessen the impact, you still still need to have some serious floor protection for your workout location to be able to withstand the pounding that comes with daily workouts of the day. You have a number of options, and you should check out each of them carefully, including rubber horse stall matting, and virgin rubber floor tiles. Even though they are the most cost effective alternative, EVA interlocking foam tiles probably won’t be up to the task.
If you are able to, why not get hold of some white board paint and create a white board area on the back wall of your gym where you can record your WOD’s and your training results?
You don’t want to have a gym that is constantly littered with messy weight plates sprawled all over the floor. Hopefully, your Power Rack will be fitted with some weight storage pins for you to load your bumper plates onto. If it doesn’t, you may be able to purchase them as an add-on. Check this option out before you fork out for a stand alone weight tree.
This is a fantastic piece of equipment for strengthening and shaping the butt, hamstrings and lower back. It’s relatively expensive but you will never regret having this unit in your training arsenal.We have written here a complete guide to best glute ham developers that you may need for your home.
Developing your core and glute strength will make you infinitely more efficient on the power Crossfit moves that you’ll be doing in your power rack.
Collars are the safety belts of your weight bar. You need to have total confidence in their integrity so that you can focus on the task at hand and not worry about plates falling off.
There are a myriad of collar mechanisms to choose from. You need to focus on quick release muscle clamps, which can be put on and removed with a single hand and are slip resistant.
5 Vital CrossFit Safety Tips
Safety Rule #1: Form is King
CrossFit is all about getting the max number of reps in the shortest amount of time. That has led many people on a fast track to the physio. It not about how many reps you can get. It’s about how many quality reps you can get.
Before you can go for speed, you need to perfect your form. Whether it’s the squat, the deadlift or the snatch, take a month to learn how to do the move properly with a relatively light weight until you have trained the proprioceptors in your muscle cells to the proper groove and alignment for that exercise.
In other words, learn to walk, before you can run!
Safety Rule #2: Modify
CrossFit workouts are designed for extreme athletes. You may aspire to be one, but chances are you’re not there yet. That means that you may need to modify a workout to make it realistic for you.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t push yourself to the limit. That’s what CrossFit is all about – and that’s why we love it. But you also need to be sensible. We’re not all like Rich Froning. Accept it and adjust where necessary.
Safety Rule #3: Don’t Try To Prove Yourself
Sure competition is healthy. It’s also the lifeblood of physical progress. But there’s a line between healthy competition and trying to prove that you’re the biggest badass who ever stepped foot inside a Box.
Often times guys walk into the gym after a layoff and, in some kind of attempt to reclaim their territorial dominance, throw themselves into a workout that their body just isn’t prepared for. This can and has led to a life threatening condition called rhabdomyolisis, which involves muscle fiber breaking down and being released into the kidneys.
The lesson – don’t try to be a hero!
Safety Rule #4: Build Up Progressively
When you first turn up at a Box and witness the adrenaline pumping intensity that’s going on around you, your natural inclination is to jump in at the level of those around you. But, that’s the last thing you should do.
Any type of exercise needs to be progressive, and that includes CrossFit. So, start with a program that will challenge you at your level. You need to push yourself within your own ability level, not someone else’s.
Safety Rule #5: Allow Your Body to Recover
Your body doesn’t get bigger and stronger in the Box. In fact, it gets weaker and smaller. Your CrossFit workouts are declaring war on your body. At the end of it you are totally expended. You’ve depleted all the glycogen from your muscle cells, along with glutamine and ATP. You have, in fact, put your body into a catabolic state.
What your body needs is rest and recovery (along with proper nutrition). You should give it at least 48 hours before setting into the Box again. If you don’t, your muscles won’t be fully recovered and you’ll be making yourself more prone to injury.
If you are able to collect together all 21 of the items outlined above, you will have a kick-ass Crossfit Box that will be the envy of your neighborhood. If the reality of your budget means you’ve got to make choices, focus on the following six items, and then slowly build as your situation allows:
- Olympic Bar
- Bumper Plates
- Power Rack with Pull Up Bar
- Plyo Box
- Kettle Bells
- Gymnastic Rings
My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.