From a track and softball athlete in high school to half-marathon running post-college to hiking 14ers and doing Crossfit type workouts today, my routines and methods of movement have changed dramatically over the years. 

I'm often asked what I do personally for my workouts, which you can get a taste of here and here in my weekly workout recaps. 

With my well-rounded background as an athlete and now a personal trainer of 10-years, I've created what I believe to be the most functional and effective workouts around. 

Ultimately, the simple garage-gym setup I've created has allowed me to get in the best shape of my life (as well as my clients) + have the flexibility I need to workout whenever I want and do a variety of movements for the goals I have. 

Each week, I focus on the following movements:

1. Various Squat Movements
2. Lunges
3. Pullups + Hanging Movements
4. Pushing Movements
5. Plyometics + Dynamic Core
6. Short Runs + Sprints
7. Deadlifts/Posterior Chain (back of body) Movements

I believe in quality not quantity when it comes to workouts by keeping my list of movements and equipment smaller. This allows you to be more intentional about improving at a small list of exercises and use those to your advantage outside of the gym. 

For example, deadlifts will always be one of the most effective and functional movements you can do because picking up your kids, moving furniture, sitting up straight in your chair and lifting random stuff throughout the day will always be necessary tasks. Deadlifts, a posterior chain movement, improves the strength of the backside so you can achieve optimal posture and functional strength in your back....because nobody wants to injure their back nor experience the pain and stiffness that comes with weak back muscles.  

Below, I've laid out a detailed list of equipment as well as where to purchase so you can create the perfect garage gym to perform the above movements. This type of equipment will allow you to continually increase the intensity of your movements so you can achieve your optimal level of fitness. 

1. Pull-up Bar

If you are working out in your living room with no equipment, I can promise you your back strength is going to be lacking. So much of the body weight movements done in living rooms are chest focused and neglect the back side of the body. You should be doing twice as many pulling movements as pushing. 

Not sure how to work up to a pullup? Check out my video for the exact exercises I did to work up to real pullups. They are truly one of the most effective movements you can do for the upper body and core. 

I recommend this bar if you're on a tight budget and have a good door frame to hang a bar. 

For something more durable that can be mounted to a wall in a garage, this bar is excellent. 

As the linked video above shows, I used assistance bands for about 8-9 months as I worked up to a strict pull-up. These are the bands I use. I recommend getting a lighter and heavier one as you can use both to start if needed and then wean down to the lighter one as you get stronger. 

2. Barbell

When you walk into my gym, you won't find any dumbbells. Not because they aren't useful, but because you need a lot of them for different weights and they aren't as effective at training your overall core and strength like a barbell. Additionally, you are limited on the movements you can do if dumbbells are the only form of weight in your gym. 

Every time I step into my gym, I am using a barbell for movements like front squats, thrusters, deadlifts, bench press and more. You will need to purchase rubber weights and clips as well but the bar itself is often enough for beginners just starting out. 

I have a 33 pounds women's bar but I've also used a 44 lb men's bar.

Order your barbell here.  I recommend getting the 33 lb. bar if you are a female. 

If you want the squat rack I have in my gym (not essential, but great for racking a heavy barbell for squats) this is the one I have.  It has a pullup bar on it so you wouldn't need to order a pull-up bar if you had the squat rack


3. Soft Medicine Ball

If I'm in a hurry and want to get a good cardio + strength workout in, I almost always opt for some wall balls. 

You'll need this soft medicine ball + some sort of wall or board to throw it against. You can see from this video that we nailed a board in between the beams in my garage to create a 9 ft target to throw at. I have the 14 lb ball, which is the weight I recommend for women.

4. Plyometic Box

Even if you're too intimidated to try box jumps right from the start, you can use this for step-ups, decline pushups, side shuffles, bulgarian split squats and much more. 

Having a box opens up so many options for training your legs and entire body for functional strength. 

Step-ups are one of the primary exercises I use to prepare for tough elevation on my hikes. The box acts as a "step" to build up endurance in your legs. 

Buy your box here and don't be afraid to get adventurous with some jumps as they will improve your overall agility and athleticism as well as your core strength. 

5. Kettlebell

Due to the shape of the kettlebell, it's weight is unevenly distributed which means your core gets deeply activated in an effort to stabilize the movements. 

It's handle also makes it easier to do movements that require more speed and momentum, which are often difficult or impossible to do with the dumbbell. 

The standard women's weight is 35lbs, which is what I use for many of my workouts. 

If you are new to strength training, I would start with a bell somewhere between 15-25 pounds. Likewise, if you consider yourself fairly strong, you could go up in weight. 

Order your kettlebell here. 

6. Gymnastic Rings

You can definitely get away with just having a pull-up bar, but if you have high ceilings, these gymnastic rings are perfect for doing inverted pullups, suspended tricep dips and leg tucks. 

Again, I love the versatility and variety I can add to my workouts with these rings. They are fantastic for building strength in the muscles that ultimately allow you to do a pull-up. 

Lastly, I would recommend a foam roller to help get knots out of your muscles and prevent soreness, adjustable jump rope for agility + cardio work and a stretching mat. 


I offer daily workouts via the Summit Fit Introductory Course and Academy to help you achieve your best fitness. Participants in the Academy receive daily, ever-changing workouts that utilize all of the equipment above. If you're considering joining the Academy in September when registration opens back up, I highly recommend investing in some of the above equipment or finding a gym where it is accessible. 

If you live in the Denver area and are interested in one-on-one training, please email me at rachel@rachelmeyerfitness.com to inquire. 

Amazing Photography Credit: Smithley Photography