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12 Helpful Garage Gym Tips To Help You Train Like A Pro

Updated January 10th, 2024

Are you sick of paying for a gym membership every month? Are you tired of all the crap that goes on at the gym. Who enjoys grunting meatheads or using the dirty sweaty equipment they don’t wipe off? We don’t always need the extra motivation from the instructor at a crossfit gym. If you have a garage you can make the perfect gym at home and quit your gym membership forever.

12 Garage Gym Tips to help you get the most of your workout and garage space

Here are some helpful garage gym tips to help you make your garage gym idea a reality. Always remember, you are the garage gym owner of your garage so you can make it what you want with the workout equipment that you want.

1 – Only buy good equipment that will last

Buying the cheapest discount home gym equipment you can find is not the greatest idea. It’s cheap for a reason. A cheap squat rack won’t be stable and it won’t be durable. This means it won’t be safe either. If you are lifting a few hundred pounds and something bends, slips, or breaks, you can easily get injured. Getting injured means you can’t work out which defeats the purpose of having a garage gym. It’s better to save up and buy quality items than to buy cheap.

This is an area where the saying “Buy Cheap, Buy Twice” really holds true. Buying equipment, the level you find in a commercial gym really isn’t all that expensive when you factor in the amount your saving on your gym membership.

2 – Clear out your junk – sell it to pay for gym equipment

Are you looking for a way to afford the equipment for your garage gym? A good place to start is going through your garage and getting rid of all the junk you don’t use. Do you have power tools you bought for one project and never used again? Do you have sports equipment you never use? That kayak hanging from the ceiling you used once can score you a few bucks.

Go through your garage and chances are you can find some things you don’t use that someone else would like to have. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Nexdoor, and eBay are all good places to sell.

3 – Look for deals on used items such as weight plates

Chances are pretty good that other people near you have a home gym they never use and are trying to get rid of. Used equipment can be a great way to save money on your garage gym. Weight plates are a great item to buy used that you can almost always find. If your patient you can find a good squat rack or weight bench too.

Do your research for what you are buying. Don’t buy someone else’s cheap crap mistake. Look out for deals. If you find a good deal on quality used equipment there is a good chance you can flip it. Use the money you made to upgrade to something even better.

4 – Use horse stall mats instead of gym mats

Horse stall mats are one of the great bargain hacks out there for cheap, durable rubber flooring. You can buy 4ft x 6ft horse stall mats from Tractor Supply Co for a fraction of the cost of anything marketed as a gym flooring or a gym rubber mat. They are 3/4inch rubber that can stand up to horse feet so they will hold up to dropping weights. They are affordable enough that covering your gym floor won’t break the bank.

3/4inch is thick enough to protect your concrete garage floor from cracking. Get a bunch of horse stall mats to cover the workout space in your garage. Here is another helpful hint. Put down flooring before you start buying equipment like racks and benches. You won’t have to move your racks and benches to install flooring later on.

5 – Get racks and wall hooks to store equipment on the walls

You don’t have infinite floor space in your garage for your gym, especially if you still need to park your car or truck in it. Space will be at a premium. Store everything you can on the walls. Put storage racks for weights and dumbells against the wall on the ground. Use wall hooks to hold bars and anything else above your racks. Use storage hooks meant for gym items. If no specialty hook or rack is available get hooks rated for more weight than what you will be hanging.

The DIY gym options are endless for the storage racks you can build out of 2x4s and other lumber. If you need a rack or stand that will fit perfectly in one certain spot, don’t be afraid to break out the power tools.

6 – Some equipment can dual purpose. – A squat rack can turn into a workbench

Squat racks are stable and can hold a lot of weight. It’s easy to make a workbench top you can put on your squat rack. You can use racks and stands for other purposes such as drying racks or other storage.

7 – You need some tunes – get a stereo or TV for entertainment while working out

Listening to music can help you get into your workout. A good song can really get you going. Lets face it. Cardio machines are boring. Get a stereo you can play in your garage for extra motivation. Hang a TV on the wall where you can watch it while doing cardio. One of the great advantages of a garage gym is you can play the music as loud as you want. Chances are you can get really loud before the neighbors call the police with a noise complaint.

8 – Put some lights on your garage door – The garage door can block overhead lights

Opening your garage door may cover up the lights you have in your garage. If you need more light with your garage door open, install some lights on the garage door. That way you’ll have overhead lighting when the door is open. Another tip is to install more ceiling lights to the sides of the garage door so they aren’t blocked when it’s open.

9 – Install fans for ventilation

No one likes being in a hot stinky sweaty room. Install some fans to help circulate the air around. You can wall mount some fans. If that is too much get a few floor mounted fans. You can position them so they keep the air fresh around your gym equipment. You can reorient them if the garage door is open or closed to be more effective.

10 – Heat and cool your garage if you live somewhere that gets very hot or cold

If you live somewhere it gets hot or cold out, heating or cooling your garage is a good idea. No one likes to workout in a 100 degree hot, humid garage. No one really wants to workout in a garage that is 10F in the winter. You are working out in your garage to avoid the gym. That doesn’t mean you want to cook or freeze while working out. Sure, hot yoga can be great exercise but you don’t need the heat for all your workouts. See our article on using your garage gym in winter for more information.

See our articles on how to make your garage warmer and how to make your garage cooler for help with garage temperature control.

11 – Don’t overload your garage with so much gym equipment you have no space to workout

You only have so much space in your garage to use for a gym. You need to make the most of it. Sure, you’d like to have every piece of equipment they had at the gym. If you get a few racks, benches, TRX stand, a treadmill, elliptical, etc… you will have nowhere to work out or put your car. Plan on the basics first and then add more if you still have space. You can always build a backyard shed to store items from your garage if you really need more space. Who said you actually need to park your car in the garage anyway?

12 – Leaf Blowers and Simple Green work great for cleaning gym equipment

Chances are good you already have a leaf blower for doing yard work and simple green for cleaning. A leaf blower works great for blowing dust and dirt off your exercise equipment. Use it to blow the floor clean instead of a broom. You will save a ton of time and effort.

Simple green works great for cleaning exercise equipment. You don’t need to buy any specialized cleaning product. A quick wipe with simple green after working out will keep your garage gym clean and fresh.

Basic garage gym equipment needs

Squat rack – Expect to spend a few hundred to get a decent rack. Look for a power rack if you can afford it. If not a squat stand will do. At some point you will want a power rack so the investment is worth it. This is the foundation of any weight training routine

Bench – After getting a rack you will need a bench press bench. Don’t skimp and get something that isn’t stable when being used. If you have the funds get a bunch with an adjustable angle so you can do an incline press as well as bench press.

Weight lifting bar – The next thing you need is a barbell bar. Don’t skimp here either. A cheap bar can be too soft and bend with use. If you are into heavy lifting you absolutely need a quality bar that will last. Spend a few hundred or look around for a used barbell.

Bumper plates or steel plates – Weight plates are one of the easiest things to find on Craigslist. This is one area you can save money buying used. For most people bumper plates are a better idea. You’ll want them if you want to try Olympic lifts at any point. They are rubber coated and reduce the chance of damage to your garage floor. There is a good chance you’ll crack your floor if you drop a heavy steel plate. You did remember to put down horse stall mats under your lifting area right?

Dumbbell or kettlebell set – In addition to your barbell weights, you’ll want to find a set of dumbbells or kettlebells for curls. If space is at a premium you can get adjustable weights instead of buying a lot of individual sets. We’d all love to have a full set of dumbells and a full set of kettlebells but we all don’t have the space to store them.

Cardio – Everyone hates cardio, but you need cardio as part of your workout. I’d rather go mountain biking than using cardio equipment. The weather doesn’t always cooperate. Cheap cardio machines do not last whether it’s a treadmill or exercise bike. The bearings and other parts will wear out and you’ll have a wobbly squeaky mess.

If your budget is low, it’s okay to go out and buy something used and cheap and until you can afford something better. If you buy something quality it will have good resale value. If you are not sure what you would like for cardio, don’t be afraid to try something like a rowing machine. If you don’t like it, sell it and try something else.

I personally prefer to use a trainer attached to my mountain bike instead of a true exercise bike. My mountain bike needs to be stored in the garage anyways. Bike trainers are small and compact when they aren’t attached to a bike.

Miscelaneous items -There are some cheap items that can add some variety to your workout. A jump rope can give you a great cardio workout. Get a yoga mat and try some yoga classes online. A foam roller is great for stretching. TRX bands, a resistance band set and a medicine ball can all be used for a variety of exercises. See this article for some ideas on other home items you can incorporate into your workout.

See our article on garage gym essentials for more information on gym equipment for a garage gym.

Be creative and have fun

You are the owner and manager of your garage gym so you can run wild with your home gym ideas. You can have whatever fitness equipment you like using as long as you can afford it and make it fit in your garage space. You can get that piece of crossfit equipment they had at your buddy’s gym if you want it. Variety makes exercise more effective and more fun. Don’t be afraid to trade up for better equipment. If you have something you don’t like or don’t use much, sell it and try something new.

See our article on small gym garage ideas for more tips on setting up a garage gym in small spaces.

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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.