If you’re someone who makes working out a priority in your life, investing time and effort into a dedicated space for exercise makes a lot of sense. Not only will you be spared the expense and inconvenience of using a commercial gym, but you’ll also be able to tailor your home gym to your specific activities and interests.
Converting the garage for use as a home gym is a popular dream project for many peoples as it doesn’t require you to take up precious real estate in the house and it allows you to work out more strenuously without worrying about the damage your shoes or your equipment might do.
When doing such a conversion, however, some foundational work might need to be done to get your garage ready for its home gym transformation.
Most of us don’t have a garage that’s a clean slate to be easily transformed into our dream home gym. You likely have plenty of clutter stored in there, so figuring out how to free up some space will be the first order of business in converted your garage into a functional home gym.
- Making Space in Your Garage for a Home Gym
- Picking Basic Equipment for Your Home Gym
- Using Your Budget to Prioritize Your Purchases
- Storing Your Equipment Effectively and Safely
- Upgrading Your Garage Gym
- Frequently Asked Questions
Making Space in Your Garage for a Home Gym
In most households, certain items won’t move from your garage. Whether its another family member’s hobby, tools, landscaping equipment, or other belongings that can’t go elsewhere, it’s common for homeowners to share their garage gym space with general home storage.
You’ll need to improve your garage’s storage capabilities so that you can reserve as much space as possible for your home gym. After eliminating, moving, donating, and/or selling whatever items won’t remove, try to find solutions that maximize vertical storage or otherwise get your belongings off the ground.
Great options for bulk storage you should consider include:
If you need to reserve some workspace for tools or projects that need to be done in the garage, focus on keeping these items accessible by using pegboards, compartmentalized tool chests, floating shelves, or wall-mounted organizers. Then, you can add fold-away work surfaces that won’t permanently occupy space that could go towards increasing the square footage of your home gym.
This will keep your tools as flush to the walls as possible while still allowing you to readily access and use them. Once you’ve carved out a long-term, easy-to-maintain space in your garage for your exercise area, you can begin finding the foundational tools that will allow you to workout at home.
Picking Basic Equipment for Your Home Gym
When planning how you’ll convert your garage into a home gym, you need to carefully consider what equipment is available and compare that list with what you actually need.
Remember that commercial gyms will generally have different considerations in mind when choosing the equipment they have at the gym.
Wherever you last held your gym membership likely had to take into account the exercise habits of the population they were serving, the cost-benefit ratio of buying overly specific equipment, and their ability to bulk order certain combinations of exercise machines.
Not everything you may have previously used in a commercial gym needs to be incorporated into your new home gym, especially if you can find more cost-effective and space-saving options.
Your home gym equipment can come from three general categories: cardio, strength, and accessory equipment. The combination you choose will depend on your exercise habits, fitness goals, any space limitations, and the budget you allocate for this project. Below, you’ll find lists of common equipment found in home gyms.
Look these lists over and measure which ones better fit your home gym’s needs.
Indoor cardio equipment is a good idea if you prefer not to do outdoor cardio or can’t because of time- or weather-related constraints. These items may not be necessary if you usually do HIIT workouts or other activities like swimming, basketball or outdoor running for your cardio.
- Rowing machine – doesn’t need power and many models are easy to tilt up and store vertically when not in use.
- Stationary bike – doesn’t require power and can also come in fairly compact, easy-to-store models.
- Pre-weighted barbells – can take up significant space and cost a lot if you need a variety of weights.
- Standard barbell with changeable plates – can also require a lot of space and money, but are an invaluable investment if you frequently do barbell training. Over the years, these can end up costing a lot less than having a commercial gym membership, and you’ll likely get more use out of them.
- Bench – can be incorporated in a variety of workouts and won’t take up much space.
- Free weights
- Pre-weighted dumbbells
- Adjustable dumbbells with dials – great space-saving option, although they can stop working properly (in terms of holding the weight plates) over time.
- Adjustable dumbbells with collars – allow you to use small plates from barbell set to adjust dumbbell bar weights. These are space-saving (assuming you already have weight plates) and won’t break down over time. They’re a good investment if you’re serious about strength training long-term.
- Weighted medicine balls
- Strength systems
- Power/squat rack – allows you to lift heavy weight safely without a spotter present. This equipment is essential if you plan on progressing in strength training but want/have to work out alone frequently. These make squatting and bench pressing much safer.
- Body-weight exercise equipment
3. Common Accessory Exercise Equipment
- Resistance bands – inexpensive, low-tech options to help improve, replace, or modify workouts.
- Jump ropes
- Battle ropes
- Plyo boxes
- Yoga mat
- Exercise ball
Using Your Budget to Prioritize Your Purchases
Taking a look at the list above might be overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start when writing out your home gym shopping list, start thinking about the exercise that you currently do the most as well as what fitness goals you might have for the future.
If you focus more on low-weight, endurance/cardio-style exercises, you don’t necessarily need to outfit your home gym with the latest and greatest strength system. You can reserve more of your budget to higher-end cardio equipment, like an electric treadmill or stationary bike and choose lower-cost accessories like resistance bands, a few kettlebells or a set of adjustable dumbbells to supplement your main exercises.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s dedicated to increasing your lifting numbers, it would make more sense to dedicate the bulk of your space and your budget to the strength training essentials. Figure out how much you should reserve for things like your bench, barbell, plates, and
Then, don’t forget lifting accessories like barbell cuffs, a barbell pad, lifting straps, or a barbell jack to help you change plates easily. If you’re lifting particularly heavy loads, you should consider finding ways to protect the concrete floor of your garage as well.
Lifting platforms and or weight deadening pads (the cheaper of the two options) can help absorb the impact of dropped weights and keep them from cracking your garage floor. The platforms specifically will also provide traction for your shoes that will help keep you safe while lifting.
Storing Your Equipment Effectively and Safely
While getting your home gym set up properly for the perfect workout, you’ll also need to keep in mind that the rest of your family will also be accessing your garage as well. Especially if you have young children, you should make sure that your equipment is properly stored with everyone’s safety in mind.
When buying larger items that have the potential to tip over, make sure to secure more precarious items to the wall using furniture anchors or use heavy items like 45 lb plates around the base to hold them down. Additionally, when setting up storage for items like dumbbells, consider getting cabinets with lockable doors that you can secure when you’re not using your gym.
You can also add corner guards to minimize the risk of serious injury from falls, not only for your children but for yourself as well. In addition to that, there are a number of affordable flooring options, such as rubber tile flooring and extra-large workout mats, you can place in your garage to make your home gym a safer place to exercise.
If you live in an area where the weather outside might make working out in a un-insulated garage gym unsafe or uncomfortable, consider ways to control your gym’s temperature, such as a portable air conditioner for the hottest days or a space heater for the winter. A de-humidifier is another option to cool down your gym on humid days, and it won’t use as much electricity as an air conditioner if that’s a concern.
Upgrading Your Garage Gym
As you settle into your garage gym, you may want to add more equipment or upgrade the furnishing to make working out there more fun, functional, or effortless. Although the up-front costs are higher, in the long run, it will generally be more cost-effective to invest your money into your home gym.
The average monthly gym membership fee is $58, which costs around $700 annually. In comparison, home gyms will generally cost around $1500 to set up. Though the initial expenses might seem high in the moment, you’ll have spent just as much money paying for a commercial gym you likely can’t use every day. Within 10 years, a home gym could save you over $5000.
So if you’re considering some non-essential upgrades, as long as they’re within your means don’t be too cautious about enhancing your home gym experience. Things like mirrors to check your form, speaker systems to play the music that fuels your workouts, specialty barbell attachments, or even an exercise barre can help keep you satisfied with your home gym and your overall garage conversion project.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t leave small, heavy items accessible. For example, you can get a locking cabinet for dumbbell sets and/or weighted plates. Another option is to store these items on shelves that are too high for young children to reach. Install safety measures like furniture anchors and corner guards.
If you’re the average person and want a well-rounded exercise experience, pick one main piece of cardio equipment (treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine), free weights (like dumbbells or kettlebells), resistance bands, a workout bench, and an exercise mat. You can incorporate more advanced equipment than this, but these will give allow you to perform a variety of foundational exercises.
For those who are focused on barbell training, you should get a bench, power rack, barbell, plates and barbell cuffs to cover the basics of your exercise needs.
Make sure that your power rack will fit the exercises that you need and the amount of weight that you’re lifting. Look for models that include both wide and parallel grips for pullups, a dip station, and have adjustable heights for bench and squat safeties. Always check the weight capacity of the rack so that you know the one you get can handle for working weight for all exercise sets.
If you’re on a strict budget, standard, iron plates and barbells will be cheaper, but they’re not always the best bet for the long term, especially if you plan to lift heavy weight now or in the future. Olympic barbells are sturdier and can handle heavier loads. Also, Olympic bumper plates will make it easier to deadlift off the ground.
A: The simplest option are a set of standard dumbbells, which range in cost based on the number of pairs. If you want to save the most space and money, get dial-adjustable dumbbells. These can break down over time, so you might want to consider plate adjustable dumbbells, but these only save space if you already have plates for barbell training, in which case they’re farily inexpensive.
If you get resistance bands with various weights, you can replicable cable machine training by securing them to wall-mount anchors and mimicking the machine movements you want to use to exercise. To make the hooks more secure, screw them in through studs in the wall, which you can find using a stud finder.
If you want to save the most space and money, try options that don’t require power, like manual treadmills, basic rowing machines, or stationary bikes. Otherwise, choose the option that best fits your workout style or preferences and space and budget you’re working with.
Have skin-safe wipes handy in your garage, which you can use on benches, plyo boxes, handles, and your gym flooring like rubber tiling or exercise mats.
Consider options like a portable air conditioner, dehumidifier, or space heater, depending on what you need. If these options don’t work for your budget of the size of your garage, you can also cool down a too-hot garage by cracking open the garage door and placing a large fan near the opening to circulate the air.