Most people looking to utilize a garage for gym equipment will be incredibly focused on filling the space with as much equipment as possible. Owning a garage gym is a hobby and also an addiction – once you start to add equipment, you’re almost never satisfied and quickly run out of usable space for everything.
This leads us to one of the biggest issues with garage gyms…. Space.
In particular, how to store weights in a garage. Especially when your priority is getting as much equipment as possible whilst also parking your car and using the area for home storage. It can become a bit of a game of Tetris for most people and weights are big, bulky, and heavy items which makes them very difficult to store.
Read on to find out some of the best storage solutions for weights in a garage gym. These tips are taken from industry experts who know how to get the most out of usable space!
How to Store Weights in a Garage Gym
There is a range of factors to consider when it comes to storing weights in a garage gym. This will depend on the equipment that you have and space available but for most people, there will be three main priorities for storage:
- Weight Plates
Each of these items are of different sizes, weights, and have different storage requirements so each one will need to be considered separately.
Before you begin devising a plan for storing your weights in the garage, take note of how much space there is compared to the number and size of weights you have. Then, consider if you’re using the garage for long-term storage or converting your garage into a gym space.
Next, there’s the matter of orientation. Do you want to store them horizontally or vertically? Of course, your garage size and equipment in combination with how it will all fit may determine this. But, it’s an important component.
How Not to Store Weights
As with anything, there’s a right and a wrong way to store your weights in the garage. Consider these six essential tips:
- Don’t store weights on the floor: Ensure they rest off of any surface that can get wet or come into contact with foreign substances, like motor oil.
- Don’t store weights near chemicals: Keep chemicals and weights separate. Certain cleaners and auto fluids can cause a nasty reaction on the surface of weights. Some things can eat away at the metal, plastics, rubber, etc.
- Dismantle weights before storing: If your weights are removable, take them off before storing. Leaving them on will cause the bar to bend over time. In fact, most manufacturers recommend removing the weights when not in use.
- Don’t prop weights against a wall or corner: In the event you want to store your weights vertically, use something like a stand or a hook. These will ensure weights remain at a secure and near-perfect 90° angle.
- Don’t store weights at an angle: Always store weights at 45° or 90°. Anything else may put pressure on the bearings or bushings.
- Avoid metal-to-metal contact: Ensure there’s a protective barrier between the weights and metal surfaces. This will prevent scratching of your bars while protecting the surface from dings, dents, and scratches.
How to Store Barbells in a Garage Gym
When it comes to storing a barbell, these items are the longest items – typically 7ft in length if you are using an Olympic size barbell – and as a result, space is definitely a premium for where it can go when not in use.
Horizontal Is Best
The best general orientation is horizontal. This is because various types of barbells have bearings, bushings, or both. The nature of a bar’s design and engineering is horizontal, so it only makes sense to store it the same way.
Putting it at any other orientation, such as vertically, may damage these finely engineered parts. Another major downfall with this method is if the weights have some type of coated sleeve. Storing them vertical may cause them to fall off at some point (if they are damaged).
However, there is a way to store barbells in a vertical position with great safety and peace of mind. The key is to ensure the vertical storage will be as close to a straight 90° as possible. Angular storage may cause pressure damage. So, this is best for solid metal weights without additional parts; storing it vertically shouldn’t incur any damage to the device.
#1 Barbell Storage Rack
A barbell storage rack is the best option for anyone that is using fixed-weight barbells. These racks will typically hold up to 5 barbells and have an even weight distribution so that they can hold fixed weight barbells up to a certain weight limit – usually upwards of 500lbs but this will depend on the model and manufacturer.
#2 Barbell Holder
A barbell holder can come in a number of different designs but the most typical are vertical storage options. You can either get a floor barbell holder which will hold the barbell sleeve and stand the barbell upright for space-saving storage.
These floor holders will typically fit 3-4 barbells and even specialty barbells provided they are designed to be stored upright (in terms of weight distribution).
Another option is to get a power rack attachment barbell holder. These cylinder holders attach to the side of a power rack and allow you to store the barbell vertically alongside the power rack to keep all of your equipment compact, and stored in one area.
#3 Barbell Hooks
Barbell hooks can come in a few varieties. These hooks are often wall-mounted and come with a specific weight capacity to ensure they can not only hold the weight of a barbell (45lbs) but also that they can hold the weight over the distributed load due to the length of the bar.
It’s important to mount these bars on a wall that can support the weight so ensure these hooks are placed on a solid wall.
The other option is to use some general-purpose hooks. You need to be careful with this option as general-purpose, DIY hooks need to be able to support the weight of the barbell but there are certainly options that will do this for those on a budget.
Check out this option on Amazon for a general purpose heavy-duty hook.
#4 Power Rack J-Cups or Spotter Bars
The final option for barbell storage is to simply keep it on the power rack resting on the J-cups or spotter pins. Many people don’t like this option, especially when leaving weight plates on the barbell as this can overtime lead to damaged or bent equipment.
As a simple solution though, provided you always remove the weight plates after use, storing the barbell on your power rack can be an easy option for most people and won’t take up any additional space that isn’t already factored in when in use.
How to Store Weight Plates in a Garage Gym
Weight plates are arguably the most difficult item to store in a garage gym. They are big, bulky, awkward, and round – all factors which don’t make for easy storage. This is often a key struggle for most home or garage gym owners as you want the weights to be stored out of the way – yet you also want them to be easily accessible to load a bar.
Therefore, there are some dedicated and DIY options you can use to store weight plates.
#1 Power Rack Weight Storage Poles
A great option for storing weight plates is to use a power rack attachment in the form of a weight storage pole. Many of the top brand power racks will come with these already in place, they are essential storage poles that can be connected to the side of a power rack to store weight plates.
As a general guide – you can usually fit 3 x 45lb bumper plates on one of these poles or 5 x 45lb plates. Therefore, you’d need to do some personal math to work out how many storage poles you need but a good guideline for most people will be 4 x storage poles.
#2 Weight Plate Tree
A dedicated storage option is a weight plate tree. These are good options for anyone that doesn’t have a power rack (to make use of a weight plate pole) or that wants specific storage space for weight plates.
Weight plate trees are vertical standing pieces of equipment with 4-6 spokes set at an angle to store weight plates and hold them in place. Usually, the design of the weight tree means you’d store larger plates on the bottom rungs and smaller plates closer to the top.
Depending on the configuration, most weight trees can hold around 400lbs worth of weight plates though this will depend on the model and size of your players.
** it’s worth noting that you’ll struggle to store many bumper plates on weight plate trees due to the larger dimensions of these plates.
#3 Weight Plate Rack
A weight plate rack is a more restrictive option but definitely one worth considering, especially if you have a large collection of bumper plates – in fact, weight plate racks are ideal for bumper plates and Olympic weight plates.
A weight plate rack is placed at ground level and you line weight plates up horizontal in a row. This is easy to access, provided neat and organized storage, but is less efficient when it comes to space as there’s no stacking or layering of plates.
Therefore, the more weight plates you have the more storage space you’d need available with a weight plate rack, and some people may need multiple racks.
#4 Bicycle Stand
A bicycle stand is a weight plate storage hack. It’s a budget option that works incredibly well and something that the garage gym community has been utilizing for years. The width for these racks are designed to fit a bicycle wheel and many have the width needed to also store weight plates upright.
You’d need to do some measuring beforehand, especially if you have some thick bumper plates but for most weight plates, a bicycle stand will provide a cheap and convenient option without needing to spend big money on a dedicated weight plate rack.
How to Store Dumbbells in a Garage Gym
For most people, leaving the dumbbells on the floor is the default option. Over time though, as you build your strength and the overall collection of dumbbells, there will come a point when you can’t leave 20+ sets of dumbbells out in the open, not only is it messy but it becomes a trip hazard and a nightmare when trying to use different weights during a workout.
#1 Dumbbell Rack
The standard option is to get a dedicated dumbbell rack. These racks can vary in size and shape but the key benefit is that they are designed to hold/store dumbbells (which is obviously the point) but also that most will be heavy-duty enough to handle the load.
Many people building garage gyms are doing so with the intention of training hard and training heavy and the expectation is that your dumbbell range is going to grow over time. Therefore, getting a heavy-duty rack that can hold 10 – 15 sets of dumbbells with a weight limit in excess of 500lbs is key.
The gauge steel racks on the market will be more than enough to hold the weights and also help keep your floor space clear!
#2 Vertical Dumbbell Mount
These are very similar to a dumbbell rack but they come in a variety of designs. The first is a vertical dumbbell mount, these are typically a limited option holding 10 dumbbells (5 pairs) and are usually quite restricted on weight.
You’ll often see these used for the 2kg – 10kg (5lb – 20lb) dumbbell sets.
Another (newer) option is a vertical wall mount.
These are designed to be space-saving options and are mounted on the walls. These can be restrictive in terms of the weight you are loading onto them, especially considering the fact that they are being mounted onto a wall, but for a space-saving solution, they are definitely a great option to consider for garage gyms.
#3 DIY Dumbbell Storage Rack
A final option is to make some DIY storage racks. By using wood and imitating the design of a heavy-duty dumbbell rack, it’s possible to make your own dumbbell storage rack at a fraction of the cost. Just keep in mind that if you have a lot of heavyweights, you’ll need to have the skill, knowledge, and materials to also make a heavy-duty rack.
For some ideas and inspiration – check out this page.
4 Additional Storage Ideas for Weights in Your Garage
The following suggestions are the most common and advisable ways people store their weights in a garage. If you don’t see anything that suits your situation or preferences, perhaps they will inspire you to invent your own.
1. Wall Hooks or Setups
Many at-home gyms and storage areas use hooks or other installment setups to great advantage. Hooks are a very popular and trusty way to hang up weights when not in use. They’re usually easy and quick to set up.
There are a variety of hooks and installing kits where you can build a weight rack right into the wall. These are very sturdy and they keep weights up and off of the floor. They can come as $5 individual hooks, $35 small packs in sets or they can be elaborate installation kits of upwards of $500 or more.
Hooks and setups come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and modes of hanging. If you have concrete walls in your garage, you will probably have to drill into the wall with something like a hammer drill. Plus, it may be wise to incorporate plastic anchors. These act as a solid protection barrier between the screws and the surface of the wall.
2. Stands or Racks
Freestanding racks or stands are a quick option when you have a limited number of weights. These are often compact and portable, so you can move them around wherever you need to. Such a thing is a great option for those who want to transport their weights to another area for use.
Some models have wheels, while others provide locking mechanisms for securing weights in place. There are many different types, features, and materials they can comprise as well.
3. Utility Shelves
Usually, for all kinds of home storage and best for anything in the garage, utility shelves are ideal and can be plastic or metal. However, you should have some kind of holder or another container to keep the weights secure and separate.
This means you’ll need a protective and snug barrier. This will stop them from rolling around or off the shelves, especially when not in use. Plus, it will prevent damage to the surface material.
Some people use rubber or silicone stoppers between weights and on the ends of the utility shelves. But there is a myriad of things you could use. For instance, you could cut up an old yoga mat and place it as a barrier between the weights and the metal shelving. Plus, it will protect dents, dings, and bangs on the surface.
4. Utility Cabinets and Drawers
Another great and quick option for storing weights in a garage is utility cabinets and/or drawers. These offer a discreet way to store several kinds of weights and not worry about them rolling off or out. These will come with sturdy drawers or doors with locking mechanisms.
Depending on the features, you may want to devise a silicone or rubber type of stopper so they don’t knock together. However, there are some models that offer inner rubber mats that fit perfectly to their size. These are excellent for keeping weights secure and in place.
To store weights in a garage gym you need to consider 3 important factors:
- What weights you need to store (barbells, weight plates, and dumbbells)
- How many weights you need to store along with how much the total weight is
- How much available space you have for storage.
Each of these will impact on the type of storage you need. Some of the best methods to store weights in a garage gym include dumbbell racks, barbell hooks, weight plate racks, weight plate trees, power rack weight storage poles, and even DIY storage racks.