A garage gym has the potential to be the best thing you’ve ever done to your home. They give your training a whole new lease of life, and that can be just the thing that you need to give you a head start.
Gyms are awesome creations, but in reality, they just aren’t the right fit for everyone. People often find that working out from home is just the thing they need to keep up that all-important motivation, and even with a lack of space, the garage provides you with that haven of exercise that you are looking for. All you need to do is create the best one for what you need it to do. That’s where we come in.
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Advantages of a Garage Gym
In case you’re not sold, or you’re still on the fence, we’ve put together some of the main advantages a garage gym has to offer you so that you can feel just as strongly about them as we do.
One of the largest advantages that a garage gym has to offer you is the sheer convenience that it poses. There’s no more membership costs or travel time, sharing equipment, anything. Your gym is right outside your front door, and it’s just yours. That can be just the ticket to convincing you to stick to your routine, or even get it started in the first place!
The freedom has to be the second point that comes to mind. It’s an incredible thing to realise. The idea of a garage gym screams freedom from start to finish. It’s yours. Just yours. There’s no one queuing or rushing to use your equipment, no awkward weights to choose from, it’s entirely your own and nothing more. That can be a huge winner in getting the perfect workout that you’re looking for.
Before You Start
So now that you’ve looked at the reasons a garage gym can be such a good idea, it’s time to look at what goes into making the perfect one for you. There’s more to it than just buying your favourite equipment after all.
The very, very first thing you need to do before you set the wheel of your awesome garage gym in motion is measure the space that you have available. If you’re going to spend a big chunk of money on some awesome equipment, measure up. Once you’ve done it, do it again. The last thing you need is something that isn’t going to fit in the space you have. Trust us.
Set your goals and buy for them. There’s not much point in buying literally every piece of kit that’s available, just in case you ever decide to use it. It’s always a good idea to stop and take a step back from your training. Set yourself some achievable goals and buy the equipment that is going to get you there. It’s easy to get overexcited and buy more than you need. Think about what you really want.
First up is a surprising addition to the list that you might not have considered, and that’s floor matting. No matter where your equipment is at home, floor matting needs to be a consideration. It’s pretty cheap for what it is, coming in at around £30 per 4 large tiles. It makes your whole experience easier and quieter too, protecting your floor and the equipment that you’re going to be using on it. Buy some.
Keep Your Cool
This one is an extremely unusual consideration, but you do need to think about it. Gyms have aircon and heating so that whatever the weather you can work out comfortably. Your garage almost definitely doesn’t have this. You need to find a way that you can keep things comfortable. Maybe buy a heater and a fan to maximise your ventilation. Figure out your set up and plan around it.
If you have some ideas in mind already, that’s awesome. One incredibly useful tip to think about before you plan where to put it all, however, is where it’ll be when you’re not using it. It’s often a great idea to look into good storage systems for all of your stuff. If you’re buying free weights and plates especially, finding a good place to store it all can be a lifesaver. Just some food for thought.
Another staple of any good gym, at home or commercial, is the selection of mirrors. These aren’t for you to check yourself out in, but they are an excellent way for you to keep an eye on your technique. Your form is everything when it comes to weight training, especially, so these keep you safe and maximise your potential.
It’s always wise to keep some space free when you’re building the best possible gym. It may sound weird since you want as much stuff as possible, right? Well, hear us out. Free space means you can change things up when you need to. Don’t underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises, stretches, or even aerobic exercise to keep you in your physical peak. It’s better to think about it before you buy rather than after. Trust us.
This one is a 100% optional extra, but before you shrug it off, give it some thought. If you’re going to be training like you mean it in this place, it can be a really smart thing to do to place some inspiration in there. Check out some motivational posters, write your fitness mantras. Even just write down your goals, targets and progress on a whiteboard. It all helps you to keep your eyes on the prize and pushing harder than ever.
Make sure your garage gym is what you want it to be. You can really love your set up here, and with a little work and customisation, you can make it an awesome place for you to get in the exercise you need. Adding anything from some headphones or your phone through to a stereo and TV system can change the game too. Make sure your garage gym is comfortable and going to be somewhere that you’ll be happy to go to. You need to be using it regularly, after all.
Lighting is another thing that just doesn’t come to mind when you’re thinking about exercise, but if you’re planning for the long term here, you’ll want to have everything covered that you can. Take winter nights, for example. It’s going to be dark for the majority of the day. The last thing you need is no light in your garage gym. It makes things tricky and dangerous if you’re using big weights. It’s just impractical in every sense. Think ahead!
Plan The Setup
So, last by not least, we have a simple idea that is just planning. Put all of the points above together, so you know where you stand, and then the fun part comes into play. Start thinking about which equipment is going to be the best for what you need and the space you have. Plan exactly where it’ll go when you are and aren’t using it, and then work out your perfect set up. After that, it’s time to look at the equipment…
Garage Gym Equipment
Moving onto the more technical aspects, what gym equipment should you be putting in your new-found garage gym? Well, that depends entirely on what it is that you’re training towards, for starters. If you’re trying to lose weight, a power rack might not be the best thing for you. If you’re looking to be the next big powerlifter, resistance bands may not be the thing for you either. Let’s break it down by category.
Weight training is the first one we’ll look at here. Weight training in a home gym can mean anything from a small pair of dumbbells to a new multi gym / smith machine, so it’s worth putting some serious thought into what you want to get.
The first thing to think about when you’re building a gym is what you need to be doing in there, both in the long and the short term. If you’re looking for a strong workout with a lot of features for a lower cost, then a multi gym might be just what you need. Even with something like a 6-week workout plan, you can split your training up into solid workouts, and you have literally everything you need all from just one piece of gym equipment.
They’re robust, versatile, and pretty heavy duty. It’s very unlikely you’ll max out the weight on one of these beasts, and they cover every muscle group that you could want to train. From a convenience and cost perspective, they may just be perfect for a garage gym.
Best Overall – Marcy GS99 Dual Stack Home Gym
Best Value – Marcy Eclipse HG3000 Compact Home Gym
Power Racks & Smith Machines
Staying with the heavy-duty stuff, power racks and cages are definitely the next ones to take a look at here. Power racks and smith machines are both awesome examples of the pinnacles of weight training. They offer you a way to train that mixes safety by using supported pegs, pins and rails, as well as using the advantages of free weights that fixed gym machines can’t always give you. That’s invaluable in itself.
They may be a little more complicated to use and not quite as safe as multi gyms, but with other equipment, your options are pretty much limitless. They are an awesome addition to your training, and if you’re looking to do some big lifting with barbells, they are perfect.
Best Overall – Marcy SM 4903 Pro Smith Machine Home Gym & Weight Bench
Best Space Saver – Marcy Pro SM-4231 Folding Power Cage Home Gym with Weight Bench
Most Popular – Marcy MD-9010G Diamond Elite Smith Machine with Weight Bench
No matter what gym equipment you go for, there’s one other staple of exercise that is vital to a good workout, and that’s a weight bench. No matter if you’re going to be seated or flat, a weight bench can ensure your safety as well as make sure you have everything you need in your workouts.
They offer you the support you need to perform exercises safely, as well as often being enough to use with just some simple dumbbells to still get a great workout. They’re small, often foldable and useable with most of the other gym equipment. Don’t forget about them when you’re finding your perfect set-up.
Best Value – Marcy Eclipse UB3000 Foldable Deluxe Weight Bench
Outside of the big equipment in your garage gym, the weights that you go for will have a huge impact too. Before you even get to how heavy you’re going to need them to be, you have all of the options looking at what styles you’re looking at too.
Kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, the world is your oyster. They all have their pros and cons, and they all have their uses in a good workout plan. Dumbbells and barbells are up there with the most versatile because of the weight distribution, but where kettlebells do work, they are by far and away some of the most efficient weights you can buy. It really depends on what plan you’re going for.
After that, you need to look at weight weights. It may feel obvious since you know where to start, but you need to think long- and short-term for this category. Your gym equipment won’t always grow with you in your garage gym, so picking a weight that will last you isn’t an easy thing to do. Often the best choice is to go for a barbell or dumbbell that is adjustable, allowing you to add and remove weights as you need to so that you can use the same equipment across multiple exercises. That serves the best for saving space and money. Find what feels right.
Outside of weight training, you can’t forget about cardio equipment in your gym either. We know this tends to be more important for people who are trying to lose weight by burning calories, but no matter what your goals are, cardio is a good thing to get into. It has more benefits than most people would realise, and it’s great to maximise the health benefits that exercise has to offer you in the long and the short term. Don’t rule it out, even if you’re trying to get bigger.
Machines are usually the best way to go when you’re looking at doing cardio in a home gym. There are alternatives out there like toning weights and resistance bands that you can use for aerobic exercise, but cardio machines open up a whole new world of cardio, and they aren’t something to be sniffed at. There’s a lot of choices out there, and each piece of equipment has its own advantages:
Treadmills are awesome. Running is a great all-around full-body exercise, great for leg muscle and cardio too. Treadmills in a garage gym even mean that you can use the incline feature to help burn fat rather than calories in general, and that’s awesome for getting leaner instead of just losing weight. They have something for everyone.
Best Overall – Spirit Fitness XT685ENT Treadmill
Best Value – Roger Black Easy Fold Treadmill
Rowing machines are the best pieces of cardio equipment you can buy for weight loss if you use them well, and they give you the fullest workout cardio machines can do. You really use your legs, arms, back, chest and shoulders all together for a good row, and that means you’re going to build muscle and burn calories at the same time, which is awesome. They can’t be praised enough.
Best Value and Overall – Marcy Azure RE1016 Magnetic Rowing Machine
Exercise bikes are another cardio category that just doesn’t get enough praise. They’re more versatile than people know. There’s the standard classic icon of cardio that is the upright bike, but even more than that, there are other variants too. Bad knees? Recumbent bikes make it easier exercise. Not hard enough? Indoor club bikes offer you an even more intense exercise that you can’t find elsewhere. Not enough upper body? Dual-action / Assault bikes are a thing too. There’s something for everyone and no excuses for cycling.
Best Overall – Marcy Onyx B80 Upright Exercise Bike
Best Value – Circuit Fitness AMZ-948BK Club Revolution Cycle
Last but by no means least is the cross-trainer. This is another that speaks for itself, but cross trainers are awesome for calorie burn, especially. Because they use so many muscles and with so little impact, they’re almost silent, effective, and with variable resistance, they can still be an awesome way to help build some muscle and burn some calories. That’s the staple of cardio exercise and toning up.
Best Overall – Spirit Fitness XE295 Elliptical Cross Trainer
Best Value – Marcy Azure El1016 Elliptical Cross Trainer
Other than machines, you have other options to keep in mind as well. For the best cardio workouts, even if they aren’t the focus, there are still small bits of kit you can buy. Mats, for example, are great for bodyweight exercises, stretches and general aerobics. Skipping ropes offer some awesome cardio exercise, and so do things like resistance bands for the best of both worlds.
If you want a middle ground between strength training and cardio exercise, there’s a whole other side of things that we haven’t even touched yet, and that’s boxing. Boxing is up there with the best calorie-burning exercises in existence if you really work hard, and it can be an awesome way to build muscle, and coordination, burn calories, and get a generally incredible workout.
All you need is the right boxing gloves and a good punch bag, and you’re ready to rumble. You can use anything from a light bag for some speed work to a heavy bag and jab pads to train like a pro and use your upper and lower body together in unison to get a full-body workout. Boxing really is whatever you need it to be, and that’s so valuable in a garage gym.
That’s about everything. Home Gym Equipment is always variable depending on what you’re working with, but remember to make sure that you have enough space, above all else, to get the best of your workouts. Most of the items in the list above offer compact or foldable options if you know where to look, so explore your options and see what’ll work.
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.