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How To Have A Warm Garage Gym In Winter. 10 Tips To Beat The Cold

Updated January 10th, 2024

Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean you need to abandon your garage gym and head back to a commercial gym. There is no need to panic and restart the gym membership yet. As a garage gym athlete, your proud of your creation and don’t want to abandon it just because of cold weather. Keep reading for some ways to stay warm and work out in your garage gym in winter.

Tips for staying warm in your garage gym in winter

There are a lot of benefits and hazards to exercising in the cold. It gives you an extra level of stress to work through that can toughen you up. It can cause your heart to work harder giving more cardio benefit. At the same time, it constricts blood vessels increasing the risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Working out in a cold gym can be good but there is a limit and sometimes you need some heat. Click here to learn about the benefits and hazards of training in the cold.

garage gym in winter

1 – Layer up with warm clothes

The first thing to do when you want to workout in a cold garage is dressing appropriate. This means layering up. As anyone who participates in outdoor winter sports knows, the key to comfort in cold air is laying.

Start with a quality baselayer. Wicking and breathable synthetic material is key. You need to remove the weat from your skin to avoid getting cold. Next is the midlayer. A thicker synthetic insulating layer. Lastly were a thick hoodie or sweater.

For your bottom half, start with a baselayer, then wear thick comfy sweatpants. As you get warm remove layers to stay comfortable. After your workout add more layers as you start cooling off.

A beanie hat can help a lot for keeping your head warm. You can remove it once you are warmed up if your head is sweating hot.

Wear a good set of insulated socks on your feet. Seamless skiing socks work really well. They aren’t too thick but do a good job insulating your feet from the cold floor.

See this article from the Cleveland Clinic for more information for how to dress and prepare for working out in the cold.

One of the bigger problems with working out in a cold space is touching cold barbell and dumbells. Steel transfers heat really well from your skin. You can get frostbite from grabbing onto a freezing cold barbell. Wear a set of mechanics gloves. They provide enough insulation to keep your hands from getting frostbite. They provide enough grip that you won’t slip off the bar. Mechanix Brand gloves are good and not expensive.

2 – Use a space heater in your garage to heat the gym area

Use an electric space heater to warm up your garage gym before your workout. Turn it on 20-30 minutes before you want to workout to make it nice and warm and to take the edge off the cold steel weights.

You can use just about any space heater for this as long as it’s strong enough. If you use a propane heater or kerosene heater, make sure you have adequate ventilation in your garage for the fumes. If your not sure then stick to something electric. There are enough great electric heater options out there that you don’t need the hassle of keeping and refilling fuel canisters for your garage gym heater. You can use a radiant heating or convection heater. The key is enough power and turning it on long enough before your workout.

For a more permanent solution consider installing a tube heaters above your gym equipment and squat rack. If you are really serious about heating your garage you can install a forced air heater using a furnace with air conditioner. This will take care of your garage heater in cold weather and keep you cool in the summer.

If you have an uninsulated garage you will only get so much bang for your heater buck. You may need more heating power than you would in an insulated garage.

3 – Hang tarps around your garage gym

You can use some tarps hung from the ceiling to create a semi-enclosed area around your gym. This will make your space heater more effective since you don’t have to heat as much garage space. It keeps the heated air in your gym area. This is a cheap trick you can use before taking the step of insulating your garage.

4 – Insulate the garage

If your space heater just isn’t cutting it, then it’s time to insulate the garage. You want to get the most from all the warm air your garage air heater is generating. Creating a finished garage with heating and insulation can help your home’s value. There are more pluses to it than just making your winter garage gym work out more tolerable.

Install fiberglass batt insulation in your garage wall and finish them with drywall or other covering. Don’t forget to insulate the ceiling and install garage door insulation as well.

For more information about heating and insulating your garage see our article on how to make your garage warmer.

5 – Use rubber flooring

You should have installed some kind of rubber flooring in your garage when you setup your garage gym. If you didn’t now would be a good time to cover up your floor space. Rubber horse stall mats work great and are cheap from Tractor Supply Co. They will provide insulation from the cold concrete garage floor underneath. This will help a lot if you tend to have cold feet.

See our article on garage gym essentials for other things you need besides rubber flooring.

6 – Warm up your barbell and dumbbells with the space heater

No one wants to get frostbite from grabbing cold steel bars. Place them in front of your space heater when you turn it on so they are warmed up by the time you start your workout. If you want a little more, you can also heat them with a hair dryer or heat gun.

7 – Store your barbell inside

Store your barbell inside for a few hours before your workout. Take any other equipment such as dumbells are kettlebells inside with it. You should have a plan and schedule for your workout. Check it the night before and put everything inside you know you will be using the following day. This way they won’t start out cold and will stay warm long enough for you to finish your workout. There is no need to work with a frozen kettlebell when you don’t need to.

8 – Use chalk

Chalk can provide a little insulation. Don’t chalk everything up if your wearing gloves as that will just make a mess. If you are warm enough to go with bare hands but still feeling a little chill, chalk can help.

9 – Start with a warm up

Always start your workout with a warmup. This is especially true when working out somewhere cold. Cold temperatures can lead to cramping and more easily torn muscles. Never forget the warmup. If you have a cardio machine, such as a treadmill, do some cardio for 20-30 minutes first. Your body heat will help warm up the rest of your gym doing this as well. If you don’t have a cardio machine try doing some jumping jacks, jump rope, burpees or jogging in place. Do something to get your heart rate elevated and body warmed up.

See the below video for some good winter warm up exercises and tips.

10 – Move the workout inside

You can suck it up most of the time but sometimes mother nature is not on your side. If you live somewhere polar and it’s negative 14 fahrenheit outside it might be too cold. If you turned your heater on and it’s not putting a dent in your garage temperature it might be time to admit its too cold. In this case you might have to move your workout back inside your house.

Try doing body weight exercises to replace your weights. Use kettlebells or dumbells that you can use without damaging your floor. You should probably avoid your barbell and bumper plates if you drop them during your workout. If you live in one of these places you might want to consider turning your home gym into a basement gym instead of a garage gym.

See the below video for some body weight exercises you can try at home.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am a homeowner and love having get togethers and finding the best things to make spending time at home easier and more fun. We spend a lot of time at home so why shouldn’t we have a great time there?  I decided to start Great Home Gear as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things home living with everyone.