In my recent interview with strength coach Dan John he said that “if all you had were rings, kettlebells and barbells you could do amazing things and bring your athletes up to a pretty high level faster”. Thanks to the popularity of CrossFit all of that equipment is available easily and affordably and has lead to an increase in garage gyms. This means that in a humble garage it is possible to improve performance to a high level.

In this article I will outline the benefits and best uses of rings, kettlebells and barbells in the garage gym environment and prescribe a training program based on them.



There are hundreds of great exercises you can do with rings but they really come into their own when it comes to upper body movements. I recommend different variations of pull ups, push ups and dips.

But the pinnacle is the ring muscle up. The muscle up is the clean and jerk of the upper body and should be a goal of every garage gym trainer.

Rings are also very good for core work, ring L-sits and ring rollouts are two of my favourites. The difficulty with bodyweight exercises is that your weight is constant so it is hard to progress.

With rings the best way to progress is by moving to more difficult and challenging exercises. But only do that once you have mastered the easier ones.


kettlebell 2.jpg

Kettlebells are excellent for explosive hip extension work and upper body strength but when it comes to conditioning and fat loss you’ll struggle to find a competitor.

The kettlebell swing is a simple but effective exercise that will develop a strong grip, posterior chain and core. 3 things that all strong people have in common. KB Snatches and presses follow closely behind the swing and when it comes to developing the core the Turkish Getup challenges every muscle possible.

The other huge benefit of kettlebells is that you aren’t limited to training in the gym. Chuck them in the car and take them anyway you fancy training!


When it comes to strength development the barbell has no equal. The ability to program with strict percentages and adjust load in small amounts allows for constant progress. The heart of any good training program should focus around big compound barbell lifts, the deadlift being the most appropriate for a garage gym.

If you have a squat rack that’s great but you could get incredibly strong if you just focused on the deadlift, Olympic lifts, presses and rows.

The benefits of the barbell don’t stop there however. If you lighten the load and perform complexes you will soon be gasping for air and wondering why you even thought of doing it. It is a really challenging conditioning method that will help burn fat whilst helping you get strong.

Training Program

This example program will have 3 strength sessions and 3 conditioning sessions that use only rings, barbell and kettlebells. You will alternate strength days with conditioning days.

Monday Strength 1

A: Power Clean 5×3

B: Deadlift x5/3/2

C1: KB Presses 3×5

C2: Ring Pull Ups 3xmax

D: Hanging L-Sit 4xmax 

Tuesday Conditioning 1

A1: Ring Pull Ups x5

A2: Push Ups x10

A3: KB Swings x20

Max Rounds in 20min

Wednesday Strength 2

A: KB Snatch 5x3e/s

B: Clean & Front Squat 4×4 (1 clean + 1 f.squat x4)

C: Ring Muscle Ups Max reps in 5min

D: Barbell Rollouts 3×10

Thursday Conditioning 2

 KB Snatches   15s L 15s rest

15s R 15 rest

x5 sets

2min rest

3-4 series total

Friday Strength 3

A: Power Snatch 5×3

B: Ring Assisted Pistol Squats 3×5 e/l

C1: Clean & Press 3×5 (1 clean + 5 presses)

C2: Bentover Row 3×5

D: Turkish Get Ups Max reps in 5min

Saturday Conditioning 3

Barbell Complex

A1: RDL x5

A2: Bentover Row x5

A3: Hang Clean x5

A4: Front Squat x5

A5: Push Press x5

A6: Back Squat x5

Start light and try to increase the weight each round. Perform 5 rounds total with

Wrap Up

I hope I’ve made the point that you can have a kick ass garage gym program based around rings, kettlebells and barbells. This is just one example and there are loads more exercises, sessions and programs. But if you focus on using the equipment effectively you really can get great results. Please share any successful programs you have used with these awesome training tools.

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