What Equipment to Get and How to Organize Your Facility?

In Technology – Shopping list article I have outlined some of my thoughts regarding getting the technological equipment. In this article I will provide some of my thoughts for getting the equipment and organizing it for:

  • Home gym
  • Small budget / Small group facility
  • Big budget / Big facility

Some of the views might be highly biased, but I will mostly focus on strength and power equipment for athletics-based training (as opposed to strength-based sports such as powerlifting and weightlifting) and will not talk much about conditioning stuff you can/should get.

Besides, I will try to keep to the 80/20 Pareto rule and focus on major things, rather than minor details.

Please bear in mind that I do not have any financial gain nor any type of agreement whatsoever for recommending some of the products or using the links and pictures.

Home Gym

A lot of friends ask me what equipment to get for training at home, in the room, or even better in the garage. This is usually for minimal budget and/or space involved.

When it comes to equipment, I would start with a good floor mat, for example Airex. It allows you ground work, mobility and rehab exercises, which you will, as someone exercising at home, mostly need. Then you will need sturdy foam roller, such as the GRID foam roller.

The next item is good kettlebell set. You do not need full range, but maybe 8 or 12kg for females and 12 or 16kg for men. Get one or two pairs. This is the cheapest weight equipment you can get that allows you a tremendous number of exercise options. Check those sold by Dragon Door.

Although I would prefer the kettlebells, you can start with adjustable dumbbells set that you can buy in pretty much any sports store.

The next item I highly suggest are wooden gymnastic rings with adjustable strap, for example the ones sold by Rogue. You will need a bar to attach them, but you can use a branch, or maybe some sturdy pipe in your house. The second option might be to get CrossCore.

Sooner or later you will need a good dip belt to attach that kettlebell for push-ups, rows, dips and pull-ups. Other option is a decent weight vest.

Great additional equipment to have is either a step-up box or wooden box with three unequal sides. Check the one sold at Rogue or just make one yourself.

One of the crucial equipment to have is a medicine ball. You can go with the rubber one that bounces off (great for core and powerstuff; for example see this video) , or the the Dynamax balls that doesn’t bounce as much.

Landmine is a fantastic piece of equipment, but to use it you would need a barbell

Sleds are great equipment to have as well. They are great for strength and conditioning, but you will need plates to load them.

Versa-Pulley is a great inertial machine that doesn’t take a lot of space, but allows you to perform great number of exercises. Check the Wall VersaPulley.

Great equipment to have are big and mini bands. There are so many exercises that you can perform with them, from power to corrective ones.

Ab Roller is one of the best equipment for the core muscles, but you can do roll-out with the rings or use a skateboard.

Pretty much the final equipment piece would be a full adjustable rack with around 140kg plates and a decent bar, plus the adjustable bench. When it comes to the rack, check the Rogue R-3 or the wall-mounted options.

Also consider hex bar, since you can do carries and presses with it. Besides, it is pretty great.

I have tried to sort the items from the most usable, cheapest and taking the least amount of space to the opposite end, but the positions could be discussed. Hopefully, it will give you something to think about.

When it comes to great resources for learning exercises with these equipment, look no further than Steve Maxwell, for example the Spartacus Workout. Books by Max Shank and Steve Cotter are a great introduction to this style of training. Also, make sure to check Gold Medal Bodies.

Here is the full list:

  1. Floor mat
  2. Foam Roller
  3. Kettlebell set / Adjustable Dumbbells
  4. Gymnastic Rings
  5. Dip belt
  6. Weight vest
  7. Step-Up box
  8. Medicine Ball
  9. Landmine
  10. Sleds
  11. Versa-Pulley
  12. Bands
  13. Ab Roller
  14. Power Rack, adjustable bench and 140kg barbell set
  15. Hex barbell

Small Gym

By small gym, I refer to two things: small place/area and a small budget. In my first professional gig, we had a very small room for 25+ athletes to train and a very low budget to equip it. This was 2007, but even now, almost 10 years after, I would pretty much equip it the same way.

In this example, we also want to focus on the tools that give us the most versatility, as we did in the Home Gym case. Some things from the list might change in position, but overall I would stick to the same elements.

Similar to the Big Gym issues, you need to organize the flow of athletes in the gym, and generally follow the idea to equip the gym based on the program you want/need to run there, rather than to organize the workout based on the equipment/space you have at hand (I believe I took this concept from Mike Boyle).

In recent years I am moving away from powerlifting and weightlifting as sole methods in athletic-based strength training, and I could say that my viewpoint is more aligned with Mike Boyle (at least when it comes to strength training) than ever before. By athletic-based strength training, I am NOT referring to soccer-specific strength training in the gym (read: monkeying around on the BOSU balls) NOR grinding the heavy deep back squats or deadlifts with shitty form, NOR only doing Bosch-based drills. As the name of this website already suggests, I believe in the complementarity of the methods. I believe I have covered some of my recent thoughts in this and this blog piece.

When it comes to organizing space (and we do not have plenty of it), we need to start thinking in terms of conflicts where multiple athletes are sharing the same equipment (which we want to minimize). If you ask me, I believe now that the best scenarios are some types of supersets. For example:

  1. Heavy lift (Lower)
  2. Core
  3. Heavy lift (Upper)
  4. Mobility
  5. Accessory

The above circuit can be done for time (e.g. 20min to finish 3-5 sets of each), but then with minimal equipment re-organization we can perform extra two or three similarly organized circuits (I have used the similar approach HERE).

Ideally, you want to organize your equipment/facility to allow for natural flow by creating sub-units or functional units(see Shaping the Path in The Switch book on how shaping the environment help with habits and behavior). For example, take a look at the following picture:

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