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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.

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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.

So I just purchased a home with an attached garage, and I'm going to turn it into a home gym! I haven't moved in yet, but I've been spending a lot of time planning out the garage gym. One thing I need to consider is what is best power rack for my needs.

After a lot of thinking, I've narrowed it down to the Rogue R4 or the AmStaff TR023 power rack (which is nearly identical to the Force USA PR rack) for my garage home gym.

I have considered the Rogue R3 Westside power rack, but I do not want to bolt the cage into the ground. Also, the depth of the R3 is only 30", and I'd like some wiggle room while doing my lifts. I also plan on doing power cleans inside the rack, and would like more space than 30".

I've also considered the Powertec WB-PR11 rack, but the hole spacing for the safety pins and J-hooks are too far apart (2.5" apart), which will make it a pain in the ass to get the safety bars in right position while doing bench press. It would probably end up being too high or too low for me.

Rogue R4 vs. AMStaff TR023 Power Rack

They both have some similar features, like band hole pins, enough depth to do power cleans inside the rack, and they both do not need to be bolted into the ground.

Here's a comparison table of the differences between the Rogue R4 & AMStaff rack:

 Rogue R4AMStaff TR023
ImageRogue R4 Power RackAmStaff TR023 Power Rack
Dimensions90"H x 43"W x 48"D84"H x 51"W x 57"D
Dip bar included?No - Extra $99.43 + $28.24 shippingYes
Chin up barSingle Pullup Bar on Front & Fat/Skinny Pullup bar on the backMonkey (multi-grip)
Barbell hooks24
Band pegs48 (according to the picture)
Price$1,095.85$449.99
Shipping$196.95$85.23
Taxes$0$58.50
Total Price$1,292.80 or $1420.47 with dip bar$593.71
Pro's-Discounted B&R bar & Bench if order Rogue R4 rack
-It's Rogue! Reputable brand
-Accepts Paypal
-Doesn't require much assembly (I think)

-Less than half the price of the R4 ($699.09 less)
-Includes dip bars
Con's-Dip bar has additional shipping costs
-May need to get additional stabilizer
-More assembly required (I think)
-Takes up more floor space
Notes-More people use Rogue fitness equipment
-Chain safeties does less damage on the bar
-I could use the $699.09-$800+ for other things, such as:
--horse stall mats for gym flooring
--bumper plates
--weight plate tree

-Can't find many reviews

One thing I noticed about the Rogue R4 rack is that it is very tall at 7'6" (or 90").

I wasn't sure if my garage's ceiling was high enough to accommodate the Rogue rack, that is until I remembered I took a photo of the garage while initially checking out the property.

(NOTE: I haven't actually moved in yet since I recently purchased the property and the closing date isn't until the end of the month)

With some educated assumptions, I've outlined the dimensions of my garage and concluded that YES, the Rogue R4 rack will fit!

Garage Home Gym - Rogue R4 Power Rack

It will be a few weeks until I move in, so I still have time to make a decision.

What it seems to come to down to is whether I want to spend more money to have peace of mind owning a power rack that is known to be a high quality, brand name product (Rogue R4), or save $700 and go with something that is not well known, cheaper, and probably good enough for my needs (AmStaff  TR023).

Decisions decisions...

Recently I managed to score 540lbs of Olympic plates for only $50! 12 plates, 45lbs each. Check out the pictures below:

They were on the classified ads website Kijiji, which is eBay's version of Craigslist.

My brother sent me the listing, and right away I contacted the seller. A few hours later, they were mine!

Normally Olympic plates cost anywhere from $0.70-1.00 per pound.

But according to my calculations, I spent a little over $0.09 (9 cents!) per pound.

I'm in the process of building a garage home gym, so this will definitely cut down on the cost.

Details:

6 of the plates are silver in color, with the text "STANDARD BARBELL 45LBS 20.4KGS". I'm pretty sure these are crap made by CAP. I've read some reviews about CAP plates, and apparently each plate vary in how much they weigh. I'm going to have to weigh them myself to get an accurate measurement.

The other 6 plates was a pleasant surprise. They are York 45lbs Olympic plates, and judging from the looks of it, they appear to be York's "Deep Dish" version.

The weights were stored in a shed and are not in the best condition. The York plates are very rusty, but I plan on using some "Evapo-Rust" from Canadian Tire to remove it, and refinishing them with some sort of rust-proof paint.

Now to complete my garage home gym, all I need is a high quality Olympic bar, a few more plates (2x25lbs, 4x10lbs, 2x5lbs & 2x2.5lbs), a power rack, a bench and some gym flooring or horse stall mats and then I'm set.

So after watching this video, I started adding whey protein (isolate) to my coffee:

I normally drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning, so I only add half a scoop of whey protein to each cup.

I've tried adding 1 full scoop, but I find that the coffee becomes too thick for my liking.

Some tips:

Wait until your coffee has cooled down so the protein doesn't curdle or denature (apparently whey protein will denature at 72 C).

If you're using instant coffee, you can fill your mug with 50% hot water, and 25% cold water before adding the whey protein. This way, you don't have to wait for the water to cool down.

Stuff You Should Read

  1. Stevo at SAPT Stregth explains that what you do will influence how you think. Awesome article especially if you're procrastinating going to the gym
  2. Johnnie shows you what you need in a garage home gym. A timely article for me since I'll be moving out soon and setting up my own garage home gym!
  3. Nick Horton reviews the book "FIT" by Lon Kilgore, Michael Hartman, and Justin Lascek (I wish this was on Kindle!)
  4. Greatist.com has a few awesome fitness-related infographics:
  5. The leg press is one of the biggest ego builders but least effective strength training exercises (for normal, healthy individuals) I've seen in the gym. Tony Gentilcore explains his views on the leg press http://www.tonygentilcore.com/blog/my-case-against-the-leg-press.
    • NOTE: There are instances where the leg press is useful, as Mark Rippetoe explains below: