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Garage Home Gym

January 31, 2012 — Leave a comment

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!)

Garage 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

Moving Equipment

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.

Ceiling Height

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.

Sloped Floor

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.

Over the course of my life, I have been a member of numerous commercial gyms in Canada and Thailand.

But ever since December 2011, I have put together a home gym in my basement and have been training at home ever since.

Here are a few things that I don’t miss about commercial gyms:

1. Personal Trainers Who Don’t Know What They’re Doing

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a personal trainer do upright rows at the same time their client is performing bench presses with the same bar.

Or the number of times I’ve seen trainers without a training log for their clients.

Or the number of times I’ve heard giving out the wrong advice or exercise instruction.

Don’t take this the wrong way, not all personal trainers don’t know what they’re doing, but it seems like (at least in my experience) there are more crappy trainers than good ones.

2. Commuting

I’ve always thought of commuting as a waste of time. The time spent getting to the gym and back can take as long (or longer) that the workout itself!

Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if possible, I’ll try to set up a situation for myself where getting from point A to B is minimal.

For the last 2 clubs I was a member of, I was fortunate to live close enough to be able to walk to the gym. It only took around 15 minutes each way, but that’s an extra 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. Multiply that by the number of times I go to the gym (3-5) per week, the number of weeks in a month, the number of months in a year, etc. and it adds up.

3. Waiting

Normally, the squat rack is never in use. However there are times when I need to use a bench. And more often than not, the people doing bench press aren’t even doing half-range of motion!

There are also people socialize in between sets, and/or use their phones while sitting on the exercise equipment. Often times they would spend more time on their phones texting and chatting than actually working out.

4. Crappy Exercise Equipment

adductor machine

This machine trains the "NO" muscles

Yes-No machines, Smith machines, elliptical trainers, & Nautilus circuit machines and countless others seem to get the most use in a gym serving the general public. They’re also the equipment that have the least impact on “getting toned”, “getting cut” and “losing weight”.

(I have to admit, I did use the Smith machine as an adjustable height pull up bar when the chin up area was in use).

5. Crappy Workout Music

I would not have known about Justin Beiber, Kate Perry or Lady Gaga if it wasn’t for those Les Mills group fitness classes. I bet there’s someone out there who loves to lift heavy weights to “Somebody to Love”, but it’s not my cup of tea.

At home, I tune into Digitally Imported and listen to either Trance or Goa-Psy Trance, which is probably considered crappy music to some people.

The choice of music to listen to while training is subjective, but since I’m training in my home gym, I can listen to whatever “crappy” music I want.

One man’s crappy music is another man’s ear candy.

6. People Asking A Million Questions In Between Sets

Don’t get me wrong, I like to help people with their training and answer their questions to the best of my ability. But sometimes people ask too many questions at the wrong time (in between sets), and take up a lot of time with their interrogation.

7. Unhygienic People

I’ve seen people picking their noses in between their sets, people who don’t wash their hands after they use the rest rooms, and others cough or sneezing into their hands before they grasp the barbell.


8. Dealing With People Who Don’t Put Away Weights


Why can’t some people put away the weights?

It’s just common courtesy to put away those 35lbs dumbbells and put away the plates after doing quarter squats on the smith machine.

9. People Who Drop Puny Weights On The Floor

I’m not sure what the deal is with people who drop dumbbells on the floor after they’re finished the set. I’m talking about people who are dumbbell bench pressing 50lbs (total) for 12+ reps with little effort, and then dropping it.

No matter how loud the sound of dumbbells dropping make, it won’t make you look any manlier!

In my opinion, the weight shouldn’t be dropped on the floor unless it is unsafe or impossible to put it down in a controlled manner. Or if they’re lifting with bumper plates.

10. Initiation Fees, Recurring Membership Fees, Hold Fees and Cancellation Fees

‘nuff said.