Cardio Triple Threat

So happy to have added the rower to my garage gym. I’m really enjoying 30-40 minute cardio sessions in the cold garage. Didn’t have the heat on long and I ended up ditching my hoodie, but it’s nice to warm things up a bit to get started.

Titan Fitness 21.5″ Fold Back Wall Mounted T-3 Power Rack

Yesterday I installed a folding power rack in my garage, which completes my garage gym reorganization. Since I now have a truck and a car, I didn’t want to dedicate half of my garage to the gym; I wanted to park both vehicles inside all year. I needed to significantly compress my garage gym space.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember posts where I created custom dumbbell storage, made a barbell accessory organizer, and figured out a way to store mats against the wall. I’m not sure if I talked about it in previous posts, but I removed the lifting platforms and sold my large Rogue R3 power rack, which took up a lot of floor space.

I wanted to get a wall-mounted folding rack. Rogue’s small one is $495, with another $163 for spotter arms, and doesn’t have free shipping. I found the Titan Fitness 21.5″ Fold Back Wall Mounted T-3 Power Rack, paid $284 for it, another $74 for spotter arms, and it shipped free. About half the price of Rogue’s option! It even comes with an extra set of J-hooks.

Let me explain how I did a solo install of the rack.

Unfortunately there weren’t any instructions in any of the boxes. There was a card showing a URL to download a manual, but it was a broken link. I emailed Titan Fitness in case anyone was working on the weekend. I got a general idea of the install from a couple of YouTube videos, but mostly came up with my own method, which worked out really well.

The first step was a shopping trip to Home Depot.

  • 2″ x 10″ x 8′ boards (2 @ $10.36)
  • 8″ composite shims (12 pack – $1.97)
  • 1/4″ x 5″ lag screws (16 @ $0.54)
  • 1/4″ washers (16 @ $0.12)
  • 1/2″ x 2.5# lag screws (8 @ $0.63)
  • 1/2″ washers (8 @ $0.22)

Total before tax: $40.05

With the rack parts on the ground I bolted the swing arms to the uprights and connected the cross-bar. I stood it up against the wall to get a feel for how everything would go. I figured out the middle of the top stringer could go about 6’5″of the floor and the middle of the bottom could be 11″. With eight foot boards I could span six studs on the wall and screw in to four of them. I measured out the 16″ spacing on the boards and drilled eight holes.

Perhaps the trickiest part of the install to do by myself was figuring out how to get the heavy stringer on the wall make it level. With a stud finder I found the right most stud at 6’8″ from the floor and drilled a hole. Then I put a 1/4″ x 5″ lag screw in about 2/3 of the way to temporarily attach the stringer to the wall. The other end of the board was on the ground while I did this, so I didn’t have to support its weight.

With the one screw only in part way, I was able to swing the opposite end of the board up and put a level on it. When I was happy with the position I drilled through one of the holes in the board to make a mark on the wall. Then I could swing the board back down to the floor and completely drill out the hole in the wall. Swung the board back up, and partially put in another lag screw where I had fully drilled the hole in the wall. With the board held in place I drilled through the other six holes to make marks in the wall. Then I unscrewed the two screws, took the board down, and drilled the holes in the wall. Everything lined up great and I was able to completely put in all eight lag screws.

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I repeated the same process for the bottom stringer, which was easier since it was so close to the ground.

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I had to think about the next step a bit. Other people seemed to prop the entire rack up against the wall to figure out where to attach everything. With my floor sloping from right to left (back to front of the garage), I knew I’d have to shim up the left upright when the rack was open. I decided to do the right upright on its own first.

I had measured the width of the cross-bar, telling me the middle of the mounting brackets would line up pretty close to the studs I hadn’t attached the stringers to. I propped the upright up against the stringers and used a framing square to line it up. I also used a level to make sure the uprights were straight up and down. Some 1.5″ drywall screws temporarily attached the brackets to the stringer. I wanted to be sure it would swing against the wall before drilling holes for the lag screws. Since the rubber foot was solid against the ground, I had to give it a good push, but once it was free, it swung great. I drilled through the big holes in the brackets and used 1/2″ x 2.5# lag screws to solidly attach the brackets to the stringer.

With that first upright in place I propped up the left upright and attached the cross-bar. I once again used the square to line up the arms with the stringer and a level to get it straight up and down. Now I had to make the uprights sit level with each other, so I placed a long level across the support arms of each upright. I kept adding shims until the bubble showed level. Rechecked square and upright level before I attached with drywall screws again. I removed the cross-bar and shims to make sure this one could swing up against the wall too. All was good so I drilled and put in the lag screws.

In the picture above you can see some shims under the left upright. According to Home Depot’s product page…

Can easily withstand up to 16,000 lbs. of pressure

Should be sufficient!

Everything easily folds out of the way.

With a bunch of extra space on the side of the stringer, I used screw hooks (free from Menards) to hang bands, jump ropes, belts, etc.

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After finishing with the install I used the rack for shoulder presses and everything felt solid. I’m really happy with it and glad I found Titan Fitness instead of spending twice as much at Rogue Fitness.

Designating the rack as 21.5″ in the product title is misleading because that is the length of the swing arms. With the stringers, mounting brackets/hinges, and depth of the upright, the end of the rack is about 26″ from the wall. Also of note is that the diameter of the cross-bar is 2″, which is in between a normal pull-up bar and a fat bar. This will give me another option because I have a ceiling mounted pull-up and a set of Fat Gripz.

Later in the evening Titan responded to my email and sent the manual, so I’ll include a download link here for anyone who wants it. After seeing their instructions, I like the installation method I came up better because pretty much all garage floors are sloped and I installed everything by myself. It took me about 3 hours of work time, which was a lot of measuring and remeasuring.

Here is a 2013 photo of the garage gym, which was still pretty close to what it looked like a few months ago.

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Now it looks like this.

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I still have the pull-up bar hanging in front of the back door as well as a Ski Erg, Airdyne, and treadmill on the other side of the garage.

Mat Storage on a Garage Wall

I’ve slowly been continuing with my garage gym clean-up and reorganization. Originally I was going to get rid of the extra stall mats because I’m not going to park on top of them and I have a much thinner mat that rolls up and easily stores in a corner. As I was looking at the back wall I got an idea to store these two pieces of mat against the wall, so I can quickly pull them down for workouts.

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The mats are 3/4 inch and very rigid, so they stand pretty well on their own. I wasn’t going to risk them falling back on a vehicle though, so they needed a seat belt.

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On each side I drilled in to a stud and screwed in an eye bolt. Then I could hook in a ratchet strap, tighten it, and the mats will never fall over.

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I love when an easy solution works.

DIY Organizer for Barbell Accessories

These accessories for my barbells were laying on the floor or on a shelf (now full of other things). I built this organizer out of a bunch of scrap wood so everything has a place to go, which is out of the way.

Running Upgrade

Grabbed this treadmill for my garage gym, because I love running so much (haha). It’ll be a nice option in the winter, even for active recovery walking, which I miss out on when it’s not golf season.

It doesn’t fold up, but I couldn’t pass on the price (free) and having a truck means I can grab stuff like this now. Just need a Concept 2 rower to complete the cardio quartet since I have an Airdyne and Ski Erg.

treadmill

100 Pound Sandbag

Ever since seeing the CrossFit Regional workouts, I’ve been wanting a bigger sandbag to do cleans, holds, squats, and carries. Rogue has been sold out of their strongman sandbags for months, so I bought one of the StrongFit sandbags for my garage gym. The Gorilla tape pictured is mine and I added the second zip tie, but the lacrosse ball, ring, and one zip tie all came with the bag.

It was less than $6.50 for two 50 pound bags of Play Sand at Home Depot.

Filled up the bag, followed the instruction video, and it seems solid.

New Garage Gym Equipment

In addition to making my own Farmers Carry handles, I’ve picked up some new items to expand the garage gym.

I bought this 10 foot climbing rope on Amazon. The ceiling obviously isn’t high enough for rope climbs, but I can use it for legless climbs starting from a seated position on the floor or simply do rope pull-ups. Can never have too many ways to do a pull-up or hang!

An upper body lifting program I’ve been following assigns half kneeling single arm bottoms up kettlebell presses every week. When I’m at home I’ve been using a dumbbell, but it’s nowhere near the same stimulus as stabilizing the uneven weight of an upside down kettlebell. It’s a very challenging exercise; if you’ve never done them before you’ll have to start much lighter than you’d expect.

I picked up this adjustable kettlebell from Dick’s Sporting Goods plus two 10 pound plates and a 5. As pictured I took out 3 of the spacers, which are on the right side. With this combination I can adjust it anywhere from 20-45 pounds in 5 pound increments. I already have a 50# kettlebell at home as well as a 53# and 70# I keep at the gym since I use those a lot more there.

These furniture movers, or SuperSliders, work really well on the rubber gym flooring. You can put your heels or toes on one of these and slide your legs in and out for core work.

The Family Grows

I’d been thinking about getting a safety squat bar for a year or so. When EliteFTS had $100 off and free shipping on their Yoke Bar, it was too good to pass up. They had so many orders it took almost 2 months to arrive.