How great does the idea of being able to train whenever you want sound like? How about not having to worry about sharing equipment with other people? And what if you only had to take a few steps to get there?
As great as a gym can be, there are all the different variables that can make it feel like a chore. You have to commute through traffic to get there and back, find parking, find a locker, navigate through the crowds of people, and try not to get exposed to all of their germs.
If you have a garage, this could be a great time to turn it into a gym. It will require time, effort, and money, but imagine having a gym that you get to design that is totally customized for what you want.
More and more people are stepping away from fitness clubs and creating their own home gym. If you don’t have a garage, this can make it a bit tougher, but you can turn any size garage into the gym of your dreams.
What Will You Need?
The first thing you will need is decent flooring. You will want to purchase thick rubber flooring that you can get in most home improvement stores. They often come in an interlocking pattern that you put together like a puzzle. The flooring is critical because it’s going to protect your equipment. It will also protect your floor if you need to drop weights. You can also purchase some mats for the floors if you are planning to do ab exercises, stretching, or yoga.
If you are not storing anything in your garage, then you can use all the square footage. If you are still storing things, you may want to devote one wall to your belongings using shelves to keep it off the ground. If you are still using your garage to park your car, you will have to take that into consideration too.
Mirrors can also be a good idea if you are turning your garage into a gym. Not only can you see yourself while training to maintain good form, but mirrors make any space look larger. Mirrors also help to spread light through the space making it feel more open and airy.
Depending on what type of lighting you have in your garage, you may want to invest in some more overhead lighting to brighten the area. This isn’t necessary as some people like to have more of that dim-lit experience which many find more conducive to training. From there, the rest of the design can be up to you. You can hang any motivational posters, a TV, and design it with your favorite color on the walls.
So, what equipment should be necessary when turning your garage into a gym? To make it the perfect well-rounded gym, we’ll look at a few specifics you need, and from there, some extras that will enhance your home training experience.
Power Rack/Squat Rack
Not only should squats be the cornerstone of your training, but the squat rack should be the cornerstone of your gym. If you have more space, and more money to spend, you can opt for just a squat rack as you will be able to purchase other pieces of training equipment.
You want a heavy-duty squat rack that should be able to hold at least 500 pounds. Depending on your level of strength, you may want a rack that can handle more than that. An ideal squat rack will have multiple slots so you can adjust the hanging hooks to your particular height. It also should have a wide base for support.
The great thing with a squat rack is since it is the focal point of your gym, you can use it to deadlift in front of. This will require building a wooden platform if you want more support, but you can still deadlift on the solid rubber flooring.
If you have a smaller garage, you can go for a power rack. These cages contain a squat rack, but they can also be used for bench presses. They often have chin up attachments, and pegs to store Olympic weight plates.
If you’re limited for space in your garage, a multigym presents a great option. These units have multiple exercises combined into one space-saving piece of equipment. They can be more expensive, but you don’t have to buy as much additional equipment.
It’s worth spending money on a decent bench. The best choice is one with an incline as it will give you a wider amount of options for training the chest and shoulders. You want a bench that provides good support, and shouldn’t be too soft as this can cause problems with the spine when lifting heavy weights.
The Barbell is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will own for your garage gym–and it’s worth spending money to get the best one. This is true if you do a lot of powerlifting or Olympic lifting. If you perform exercises like snatches and cleans, you will want a high-end barbell that has perfect balance and spin to execute these moves.
To start out, you will want to get a pair of 10lb, 25lb 35lb, and 45lb weight plates. You have to determine your strength abilities from there to see how much more weight you need. If you can bench, squat, and deadlift at least 300 pounds each, you will want some more 45-pound weight plates.
If you do a lot of Olympic lifting or Crossfit type training, you can invest in bumper plates. These are larger weight plates that keep the same height off the ground when they are on the bar. They are also rubber coated so make less noise when dropped and are more durable.
If you have a squat or power rack with weight pegs, this is perfect as you will have a place to store them when not being used. If your rack doesn’t have one, you’ll want to consider a weight tree that can hold all your plates. This can be kept in a small corner to keep the gym clean, and the plates in one place.
Your strength abilities will also determine how high you need to go weight-wise with the dumbbells you select. If you can’t press more than 75lbs, there’s no point in buying heavier dumbbells. You probably also don’t need light 5lb ones either. You want to make sure you have at least 20lb dumbbells up to 65lbs to start, as this should cover you for a majority of exercises.
A dumbbell rack will also be important for your garage gym to keep them in order, off the ground, and prevent clutter in your space.
Depending on your type of training, you may or may not want any cardio equipment. If you are an avid runner, hiker, or cyclist, you have your cardio covered. If you prefer just strength training, you might not want any either. Cardio equipment will take up more room, but there are many great space-saving options out there.
The first thing most people consider is a treadmill. There are many inexpensive and smaller units that can work perfectly for a garage gym. A stationary bike is another great cardio machine option. They do not take up much room, and you can find units that have multiple settings such as upright or recumbent.
A cross trainer is a popular piece of cardio equipment, but they tend to take up more room than other pieces of cardio.
A rowing machine is another great option to have in your home gym. Rowing workouts are a great mix of cardiovascular and muscular endurance. If you want a cardio
machine for your garage gym, you need to decide which type of cardio appeals to you most, and how often you’ll want to use it. If you have the space and money, it’s great to pick two or three different machines for more variety.
What Other Equipment Should You Get For Your Garage Gym?
With the equipment listed so far, you will be able to do endless amounts of workouts and train every muscle group. If you are into serious training, your workouts should be centered around compound movements that involve the barbell and weight plates.
The dumbbells will also help you train the muscles in a more isolated way such as dumbbell presses and flys, shoulder exercises, and bicep and tricep work.
If you have the room and budget, here are a few more pieces for your garage gym that will improve it.
Pull-up/Dip/Leg Raise Unit
These single standing units will allow you to perform pull-ups, dips, hanging leg raises and supported leg lifts for abs. They don’t take up much space and can be placed against a wall. If you don’t choose a power rack, or squat rack–that has a pull-up and dip attachment–these multi-units make a good option
Lat Pull Down Machine
A lat pulldown machine is a great option for more specific back training. They tend not to take up too much space and can also be placed against a wall. Like the pull-up/dip piece, you want to make sure there is enough headroom in your garage for it to fit, but most garages have more than enough headspace
Leg Extension Machine
You can do an endless amount of leg exercises with barbells and dumbbells, but you may like the direct quad training that you get with a leg extension machine. These can be more costly, but make a great addition to a garage gym. They also don’t take up a lot of room.
Calf Raise Machine
You might consider a calf raise machine necessary equipment. You can get a lot of calf work from training legs, but the direct targeting provided by a calf raise machine may be something you don’t want to do without. You can find fairly cheap units, as they are a simple piece of equipment.
These tend to be the biggest, and most expensive, pieces of fitness equipment out there. They usually feature a cable crossover and two weight stacks that you can do a variety of exercises on. More advanced units will contain a lat pull down, pull up bars, and a seated row. Some may consider a cable machine unnecessary, but again, it depends on your space and budget.
There are single-standing cable machines that can allow you to do a variety of cable work and come with various attachments.
There are dozens and dozens of various ab training devices out there, so you may just want to stick with the basics. This type of equipment is not necessary for a great workout, but it can be nice to have. Some of the choices you may want to consider are:
- Medicine balls
- Ab roller
- Resistance bands
- Resistance tubes
- Skipping ropes
- Exercise balls
There’s a lot to consider when starting your own garage gym. Budget and space will be the big two. You need to look at the area you have and determine what will fit. It can help to go in and draw chalk outlines of where the various pieces of equipment will go so you have an idea of what the layout will be.
Your budget will then determine how much equipment you will be able to buy. You won’t be spending money on a gym membership anymore so that will save you money. If you take a gym with an average monthly membership of $45, that’s a savings of $540 a year. If you plan on two to three years for it to start paying for itself, you can have a good amount of money to start with.
You can also bring in family members or friends who might want to train in your garage gym and can invest in the equipment with you.