Going from the commercial gym to a home gym was one of the best decisions I ever made.
For those who are considering setting a home gym but are torn between garage or basement, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts and notes while going through the decision making process. I hope it helps if you’re deciding to quit your gym membership and train at home.
Now, my situation might be a little different than yours. I recently moved, so the basement and the garage were empty. That means that I did not have to deal with having to move or re-arrange stuff that’s stored in the garage or basement. Also, the basement is unfinished and the floor is bare concrete, just like the garage.
I ultimately choose the basement as the location for my home gym, however the garage was my first choice.
I mean, take a look at this picture and tell me it’s not awesome (note: not my home gym!)
Anyways, here are some of my notes of the positives and negatives of having a garage home gym:
Benefits of A Garage Home Gym
It’s easy to move exercise equipment in and out. This is beneficial because if I order heavy equipment and/or anything that requires assembly, I can tell the delivery guy to unload everything into the garage. From there, I can unpack, and assemble everything right in the garage.
With a basement home gym, all the equipment would need to be brought into the house and then moved down stairs. During this move, extra care would have to be taken to make sure that the walls, floors, and whatever else are not damaged. I can tell you that I have a few black marks on the wall from moving 10 4’x6’ rubber stall mats from the garage to the basement.
Moving all the equipment out from the garage would be easier compared to the basement. If I decide to move and don’t want to take apart my power rack, I move the entire thing (without having to disassemble it) through the garage door, and then into a moving truck and be done with it. But because my power rack is in the basement, I would have to disassemble everything, make sure I don’t lose any bolts and washers, and then reassemble the rack. Hauling hundreds of pounds of weights, equipment, and those stall mats up the stairs not be fun.
The height of the ceiling in my basement is about 92”, whereas my garage is 112”. It’s fine since I’m somewhat vertically challenged at 5’4”, standing overhead presses with 45lbs plates is no problem in the basement.
But for someone taller, pressing a bar with 45lbs plates on both sides may not be possible without hitting the ceiling. A taller person could substitute the seated barbell should press, but this exercise is far more inferior than the standing overhead press.
If I decide to program plyometric exercises into my training (such as box jumps, etc.), I wouldn’t be able to do it in the basement. Whereas the garage, with an over 9’ ceiling, wouldn’t be an issue.
Also the Rogue power racks are 90”, or 7'6” tall, which will barely fit into my basement. Doing pull-ups and chin-ups would be an issue if I only have 2” of head room to work with. However, according to this video, you can request a customized 7 foot version of the Rogue power rack for an extra $50. You’d probably want to contact Rogue’s customer support for details about a 7’ rack.
Opening The Garage Door
Opening the garage door allows you to let in the fresh air from the outdoors while letting out any sort of odours from your training session. A garage door screen can be used to keep the insects, dust & debris out.
Any sort of strongman training that involves carrying a weight and walking around would be easier with a garage because you could make use of the driveway. Training outside would be as simple as opening the garage door.
And lastly, for better or worst, training with heavy weights with the garage door open will probably attract the attention of your neighbors.
Negatives About A Garage Gym
Temperature & Humidity Control
I live in a part of the world where it’s too damn hot in the summer, and too damn cold in the winter, and not enough in between. Because of this, the garage, if not properly insulated, will be subject to the temperature and humidity levels outside.
You can combat this by first insulating the garage door. I’ve read the “Owens Corning Garage Door insulation kit” makes it easy, but there are other DIY solutions as well.
Next would be heating & cooling the garage. Cooling the garage would be easier because you could just use a fan and/or open the garage door.
As for heating, portable electric heaters and utility heaters designed for garages works well, provided that the garage door and walls are insulated (I’ve tried heating the garage with an un-insulated garage door made of wood using a Garrison oil heater and it has no effect. However, the same heater can heat up the basement just fine).
Humidity would need to be controlled, or else it can make all the weights, racks and bars corrode. Which is the last thing I want, since I removed the rust and refinished my Olympic plates, and do not want the bare steel B&R bar to rust.
From what I understand, garage floors are normally sloped down towards the outside.
Dan Thomson writes:
“Heavy things and liquids go downhill.
To maintain safety in the garage, it is necessary to slope the garage floor 1/4" per foot so things like gas fumes (which are heavier than air), fuel, water, etc. can exit the garage safety without building up and possibly causing a hazard.”
This is not good because the last thing I want is having a 400lbs+ barbell rolling into the garage door (or worst, rolling outside onto the driveway into the road!)
There are ways around this, such a building a lifting platform to accommodate the slope, or level the garage floor with self levelling cement (I don’t think I can do this because apparently a sloped garage floor is part of the Ontario building code).
Either way, it will be a pain in the ass and add addition work and cost into the home gym.
Overall, I decided against setting up my home gym in the garage because I didn’t want to deal with the issue of a sloped floor. Even though a garage home gym has many benefits, the negatives pushed me towards a choosing the basement as the location for my home gym.
And now, I have to figure out what to do with my garage! Right now it’s just a storage area for boxes that I’m too lazy to break apart and recycle.
For my next blog post, I’m going to talk about the benefits of a basement home gym, so stay tuned.