Building a garage gym can seem impossible to do at times. However, garages are great spaces to turn into gyms.
When building your garage gym though there are some easy mistakes that you should avoid. We’ve been through most of them personally and from feedback from the community so have a good idea of where beginners should get started.
In this article, I’ve explained some tips so that you can get the most out of your home gym.
Throughout you’ll find sections labeled “guide” or “related”, these provide links to more detailed articles we’ve done covering the topic or tip. As mentioned, we’ve been doing this for years!
Garage Gym Tips
10 tips to get the most of your home gym:
- Buy things once
- Wait for sales for buying big items
- Get second-hand items
- Get versatile equipment
- Remember to account for floor space
- Use rubber floor mats
- Get ventilation
- Get heating
- Install lighting
- Remember extras like mirrors and speakers
1. Buy Things Once
There’s a reason this is my first tip. One of the main issues people run into when building their home gym is going over budget on equipment and not getting everything they want or need.
Buying things once means investing in good quality products. If you get poor quality products then you’ll end up replacing them further down the line, so even though they might be cheaper, in the long-term you’re going to end up spending much more.
This is actually one of the main benefits of building a home gym as you’ll save money in the long run over having a commercial gym membership.
To ensure you’re getting good quality products I’d recommend looking into the product reviews. There are plenty of reviews for all kinds of home gym equipment.
These reviews are often available on the product’s website, but they can also be on blogs and forums discussing equipment. We cover our fair share of reviews on this site and it’s worth noting that you can still get good quality equipment at an affordable price but it does need some research.
I spend hours in Facebook groups where people recommend equipment and joining a few of these and asking questions will quickly inform you if X or Y is a better product to look into.
I’d recommend looking into these before you purchase any product to ensure that what you’re buying is good quality and built to last. That way you won’t end up paying out for it more than once which I’ve had to do with substandard benches and cardio machines.
To get started, some of the best brands for garage gym equipment include:
2. Wait for Sales for Big Items
In a garage gym, you’d expect to see some bigger pieces of equipment, such as a treadmill, an exercise bike, or a squat rack.
These items are going to be some of the most expensive things you buy for a home gym. For example, treadmills can be as much as $2000.
Considering how much these items can cost, it’s a good idea to wait until they’re on sale to buy them.
Different stores and brands will have sales on equipment at different times but your best bet to find a good bargain are Black Friday and Boxing Day Sales.
During sales, the price of this equipment is a lot cheaper with some stores and brands offering as much as 50% off their usual retail price. Although you might have to wait for a sale, getting a great deal on this equipment makes it worth it.
If you’re looking to buy different pieces at the same time I’d also recommend getting them from the same store. This way you can save on shipping costs, which can be a lot higher than you think due to the weight of this equipment.
3. Get Second-Hand Items
Another option to get equipment significantly cheaper than the retail price is to look for second-hand equipment.
Second-hand equipment is often available on websites like eBay or Facebook marketplace. This can be a great way of getting the equipment you want without paying the full retail price.
You can also get equipment cheaper through retailers if you’re willing to buy ex-display or returned equipment. This equipment is just as good as new, but it doesn’t come with the same high price tag. This is a great option if you’re looking to save money.
However, when getting second-hand equipment you do need to ensure that all parts of the equipment are working and that it’s safe to use.
This is one of the best tips for new garage gym owners. Sure, everyone wants new shiny equipment but this comes with a cost. When getting started, getting some bargain, used items that need some restoration can help you kit the gym out quickly and under budget.
4. Get Versatile Items
Another tip for your garage gym is to get versatile items. By buying versatile items you save on your floor space, as instead of having three items all taking up space you’d just have one that can do multiple things.
Buying one versatile item instead of lots of different items also helps to save on cost, which is ideal if you’re doing your home gym on a budget!
A good example of this is purchasing a power rack that also has the capability to install a cable pulley station. In the UK, I purchased a Mirafit power rack with this exact functionality and this meant that I could have more equipment in a reduced footprint.
I’ve used this set-up in both a garage and an apartment so you can see how versatile pieces will allow you to make use of smaller spaces whilst still getting a complete workout.
5. Remember Floor Space
A common issue people have when they build their garage gym is that they forget to account for floor space. It’s very easy to buy a lot of equipment and pack your garage full, however, this isn’t going to help you make the most of your home gym and it isn’t safe.
You need floor space in a home gym for two reasons. Firstly, you need space to actually workout in. A barbell alone is 7ft in length so requires a space of 8ft-9th in length just to use a barbell.
Secondly, you need to fit your equipment into the space! Equipment needs to have clearance around it in order to be used safely and efficiently. One purchase for a piece of equipment will impact what also you can safely and comfortably fit into your available space.
We’ve mentioned the versatility of the kit above and as a minimum, a very basic home gym needs a floor space of around 10ft x 10ft.
So accounting for this floor space when planning and designing your garage gym will allow you to use the space most effectively and safely.
Full guide – How much space do you need for a home gym
6. Get Correct Garage Gym Flooring
When setting up your garage gym a lot of people forget to think about flooring. The flooring in garages varies but it’s common to have concrete floors which aren’t ideal for a home gym.
Flooring like concrete can cause damage to equipment. For example, if you drop weights onto concrete floors then this can cause them to crack. Equally, dropping heavy weights might crack your concrete floor.
The flooring in garages also isn’t designed to be anti-slip. Having anti-slip flooring in your garage gym is important, especially for things like weight lifting, stretching, and floor exercises when good posture is important.
So the bottom line is that you’ll need to get a type of flooring appropriate for a gym. One of the best products you can use is rubber. This is because rubber is designed to be shock absorbent, meaning that it will protect both your floor and equipment from damage. You can also get ones that are anti-slip making them ideal for exercise.
A cheap and effective option is to use rubber floor mats. These are also incredibly versatile as they can be moved around the space depending on where you need to position them.
We’d also recommend using a dedicated power rack floor which will protect the floor as a whole from heavy Olympic weightlifting and deadlifting.
There are cheap DIY solutions for this and while you might think it’s an unnecessary step, there’s a reason commercial gyms have a separate lifting platform despite already having good quality and fit-for-purpose flooring in place!
7. Get Ventilation
Most garages aren’t temperature and ventilation controlled like indoor spaces. Ventilation is important because poor ventilation has been linked with health problems. Bad ventilation is also going to make your home gym hot and humid while you’re working out, which isn’t ideal.
A good option is to get a portable air conditioning unit. These can be purchased online for $100 – $200 (check out our recommendation here). These are a great way to regulate the temperature and humidity, ensuring that the space is properly ventilated while you’re working out.
Although you’ll have to allocate space for a portable air conditioning unit, this is a much cheaper option than getting an air conditioning unit installed.
8. Get Heating
Unfortunately, many garages aren’t insulated.
This means that they’ll get much colder than houses. Although cool temperatures might be good in a gym if you’re doing an intense workout, these temperatures can get really low especially during cold months making it hard to stay motivated to workout.
Freezing temperatures can also damage your equipment, especially electrical items, and can make the floor slippy.
So the best thing you can do is make sure your garage is warm and stays that way. It’s ideal to invest in insulating a garage, as this can help to keep it warm through cold months and cool during hotter months.
However, insulating your garage can be expensive. A cheaper option is to use a portable heater. These can be plugged into the garage while you’re working out to keep the space warm.
The downside to using a portable heater though is that they aren’t as effective as having a fully insulated space. You’ll also have to account for the size of the portable heater as it will eat into your free floor space.
Guide – How to heat a garage gym
9. Install Lighting
Garages generally come with some form of lighting. However, the lighting in garages isn’t usually as good as it is within houses.
When it comes to building a home gym in your garage upgrading your lighting is an important thing to remember. Lighting can play a big role in people’s motivation levels. It’s also important to be able to see clearly what you’re doing in your home gym to avoid potential injury.
One option to upgrade your lighting is to have overhead lighting installed in your garage. This can be an investment depending on what the lighting situation is already like in your garage. If installing overhead lighting is something you’re looking to do then I’d recommend spotlights, not hanging light fixtures.
This is because you need to leave clearance around lights to avoid them being broken while you’re working out. Having spotlights that are built into the ceiling means that you don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting one and breaking them.
If you’re not looking to spend that much and invest in overhead lighting then another option is to get lamps. These are a cheaper option when compared with installing lighting. They’re also a good choice as they can be moved around the space as you need to.
However, if you are going to use lamps then you’ll need electrical outlets and need to be careful of the wires as this can pose a trip hazard.
Related – Garage gym lighting
10. Remember Extras Like Mirrors and Speakers
Extra items can make a big difference in a garage gym but people often forget to include them. Some key extras to include are mirrors and speakers.
Mirrors can make a big difference in a home gym because they allow you to see your posture as you’re working out. This can help to ensure proper form and help to prevent potential injuries.
When it comes to mirrors I’d recommend getting a full-length wall-mounted mirror. Having one that’s wall-mounted is good because you don’t have to worry about accounting for extra space. Although remember to leave clearance around it to avoid accidentally breaking it.
Another item to include is speakers. Being able to listen to music in your home gym can boost motivation levels. Speakers don’t have to cost a lot, as there are many different styles and types available.
Building a garage or home gym is a big commitment. It takes planning, patience, and enthusiasm (the thing most people doing this will have already).
Hopefully, the above tips will give you an idea of how to go about creating your garage gym but if you’re still struggling, check out this video below and also our guide on garage gym mistakes to avoid some potential issues faced by most garage gym builders.