Setting up a home gym is equal parts pleasure and pain. It’s pleasurable because who doesn’t like the feeling when boxes of new gym equipment arrive and pain because you have to assemble those things which can be a real pain in the neck. And if you’re Mat Fraser, the process of setting up your home gym can take a looooong time.
Mat Fraser is the first (and currently the only) athlete to have won five CrossFit Games titles. And not just any games but five consecutively ones, from 2016-2020. Now that he’s retired from competing, he has a bit more time to do different things than just working out all day every day, like building his new home gym.
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As you’d expect from a guy who’s endorsed by companies such as Nike, Rouge and Theragun, Mat’s home gym is more extensive than an average Joe’s garage gym. For instance, he has a custom rig set up that fits the room perfectly. However, as Mat explains, the rig “showed up with not a lot of instructions and it took three days just to figure out where everything went.” A problem we all wish we had!
We'll get to the custom rig shortly but let's start at the beginning. The first corner we are shown is the cardio machine area. Mat likes to work out with friends so he put two of each machine in this corner.
These are typical machines that you see in a CrossFit gym, or so does Mat claims, including two Concept2 SkiErgs, two Concept2 rowers and two Concept2 BikeErgs. He also has two Rouge Echo bikes and two Assult Bikes “for calories”. He prefers the Rogue models but he says the Assult air bikes are equally as good.
CrossFit people love barbells – who doesn’t – and as you’d expect, Mat has a good bunch of them too. So many that he couldn’t fit it in the standard Rogue barbell holder (it holds nine bars). Among other bars, you’ll find two Rogue Ohio and a Pyrros bar (also from Rogue) in his gym. Mat says the quality of the Pyrros bar is “just phenomenal”, although as you can imagine, these competition bars are somewhat pricier than your average barbell.
Custom rig pt.1
The next stop is the custom rig. Mat says he wanted the rig to be perfectly functional with each station as self-contained as possible. You get pull-up bars, a number of bumper plates and a lifting platform, the latter of which came from Mat’s old home gym.
In the corner of the rig, you’ll find a shelving unit that Mat describes as a “game-changer” since he always runs out of storage space in his home gym (understandably). Here he stores his recovery tools such as his massage guns and foam rollers. Funnily enough, all his kettlebells are practically just chucked down in the corner!
Fun fact: Mat has a couple of 203 lbs (approx. 92 kg) kettlebells which he says he only used to bring out before competitions. And if you wonder just how heavy that is, the standard kettlebell weight is 16 kg.
Dumbbells and D balls
So many dumbbells! Mat has a collection that makes me very envious, not being able to store anything but a pair of adjustable dumbbells in my tiny flat. Mat, on the other hand, has pairs of dumbbells from 5 lbs up the 125 lbs, just to keep things simple. He zones out for a second as he turns around one of the smaller dumbbells and says, “Is it just me? I need all my dumbbells facing the same way.” It’s not just you, it’s all of us.
The Monster Cave
The next section of the home gym is probably the most important bit. Mat says this setup inspired the whole gym and as a matter of fact, you can buy this yourself from Rogue. It’s a power rig called The Monster Cave and costs just under $6,000. Yes, that’s just a small section of Mat’s home gym. And yes, it’s as crazy as you think it is.
Mat spends quite a bit of time explaining every part of this Monster Cave, paying particular attention to his “infamous” Speed Bag trainer – which is a contraption to increase grip strength and forearm girth – and his DIY lifting straps made of nylon.
Another weird gym equipment he mentions is the Iron Neck that apparently can help people build strong neck muscles. It might look silly but if it works I guess it’s worth a try? You can always fall back on doing Mike Tyson’s neck workout routine.
But the gym weirdness doesn’t stop there! Mat has a tool called Black Widow that is a multi-tool you can use for a bunch of things. It’s a barbell jack and a lat pull down handle you can use on multi-gyms. Weird and wonderful stuff.
One of the best things about this video is that Mat talks about generally uncool exercises he does to get fit. I don’t think anyone thinks Mat Fraser is not as fit as humanely possible, yet he does donkey kicks with an ankle strap and hip thrusts with a pad over the bar. Macho gym bros might suggest you do neither of these, but if these exercises are good enough for the five-time Fittest Man in the World, they are good enough for me.
In this next corner, Mr Fraser stores his grips, mats, pads and more lifting accessories, such as a sturdy looking ab roller and a landmine attachment that he says is great for working the core. You can find his ab sliders here too; he suggests everyone gets themselves a pair. He also has a Bluetooth speaker which he says “every gym should have”.
Ball pull up
“This thing is a lot more challenging”, explains Mat looking at his ball pull up bar, “I didn’t think there’d be a big difference from doing pull-ups on a straight bar to pull-ups on a ball but holy hell! That thing blows your grip.” I’m certainly tempted to get one.
The Reverse Hyper
“I will never have a home gym without the reverse hyper”, Mat admits, “Forever always it will be a fixture in my home gym.” The next stop is the Rhino Belt Squat Machine; Mat says he didn’t know he needed it until Rouge told him he’s getting one. This machine allows you to squat heavy without having a barbell on your neck. “You get to work your lower body with the compression of the spine”, Mat explains.
Yet another uncool gym equipment Mat loves using. “The machine that I wish I discovered sooner in my career is the StairMaster”, Mat gets honest one more time, “First time I tried it in a gym, after a short 10-minute session, I was drenched. I couldn’t believe how heavy I was breathing and I wasn’t even going that fast! When I moved into this space I knew I wanted one.”
This is one of the best sections of the video, Mat explaining how he uses the StairMaster, wearing a weighted vest. I don’t know if people give enough credit for Mat for breaking down all the macho stereotypes, one by one. Sure, he wears a heavy vest for the StairMaster but he uses the machine nevertheless. If it’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for everyone.
Finally, Mat moves on to the last corner where he stores even more accessory-style stuff, such as a huge collection of weighted vests, a bamboo bar – which he says is awesome for training the small stabilising muscles – and another essential (apparently), the Yeti Chair.