DIY Garage Gym: The Ultimate Guide

garage gym idea

According to a recent study, the distance from your home to the gym is the biggest determinant of how often you will work out.

The best way to minimize that distance?

Bring the gym to your home!

If used effectively, even a small garage can make for a remarkable workout space, Here’s how.

How to Prepare Your Garage Gym Space

When creating a DIY garage gym you need to consider the flooring, walls, and temperature control.

Let’s start with flooring.

DIY Garage Gym Flooring

floor adaptation for garage gym

There are multiple garage gym flooring options including rubber mats, tires, or rolls. You can use a wall-to-wall carpet as well to cover the hard ground in your garage.

We, like many others, like rubber mats for their safety, ease of installation, and relatively cheap cost.

Read our guide to How to Install Rubber Floor Mats in Your Home Gym.

The thickness of a DIY garage gym‘s floor is a personal choice; however, here is a quick guide to give you an idea.

  • 6mm & 1/4″ – For lightweight exercises and floor exercises.
  • 8mm – For light to mid-weight exercises and floor exercises.
  • 3/8″ – For light to mid-weight exercises and floor exercises.
  • 1/2″ – For mid to heavyweight exercises.
  • 1” – For heavy Olympic-style exercises.

Now let’s talk a little about the walls and how you need to prepare them for your home gym. 

DIY Garage Gym Walls

walls for garage gym

For the walls, most people prefer to have a surface that can support handstand pushups without making noise or shaking.

If you are also looking for that, plexiglass panels/acrylic sheets would be an excellent choice.

However, it’s going to be expensive. With that said, it will be worth the money in the long run as it will last a while without asking for frequent repairs or touch-ups.

Another option for doing the walls of your garage gym is applying wooden panels. Plywood is an inexpensive solution, but it gets damaged easily due to splitting. However, you can avoid that issue for a while by painting over your plywood sheets.

If the acrylic/plexiglass option seems a bit too extravagant for your home gym, you should go for wood panels and install a pair or two of parallettes to do those handstand push-ups. 

Installing mirrors can be a good option for monitoring your form and your progress. To learn more, check out our article on Why & How to Install Mirrors in Your Home Gym.

DIY Garage Gym Insulation

If you going to cancel your gym membership you want to make sure your garage gym is going to be useable regardless of the climate.

That’s where insulation comes in.

This is a pretty detailed topic so we created a separate article to cover it – How To Insulate, Cool, and Heat Your Garage Gym.

Basically, here isa breakdown of your options:

Insulation

  • Fibreglass
  • Cellulose
  • Rigid Foam
  • Spray Form

Cooling

  • Doors & Windows
  • Fans
  • Portable AC
  • Split System AC
  • Cooling Jacksts

Heating

  • AC systems
  • Electric heaters
  • Propane heaters
  • Biomass heaters

How to Equip Your Garage Gym

equipment for garage gym

When people set out to turn their garage-or any other room in the home for that matter- to a gym, the thing they are most excited and confused about is the equipment.

Since the space in a home gym is generally limited, homeowners have to pick certain gym machines over the others, depending on their preference.

Keeping that in mind, we decided to put together a list of gym tools and machines that will have to work up a sweat, strengthen your body, and sculpt the muscles.

Power Rack

The power rack also referred to as the power cage, is one of the most cherished gym equipment of those looking for effective strength training.

It can be used to perform various muscle-building moves such as back squats, front squats, shoulder press, deadlifts, bench press, and heavy rows.

The most remarkable quality of a power rack is that it allows lifters to adjust the barbell according to their workout needs and modify the difficulty level.

The rack is such a fundamental piece of equipment, we have put together the following articles to help you find the right one for you.

Barbells

Barbells are an excellent workout tool as they work multiple muscles in the body and help build muscle mass.

A full-body workout entails moves that engage major muscle groups in the body, such as squats or deadlifts.

When you do a deadlift; you use your back, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, shoulder, and arms muscles. So instead of using gym equipment to focus on just one part of your body, you get to work your entire body with only one move.

Hence, having barbells will benefit you a lot and help you gain strength faster.

Again, this is a core topic, so we have put together some guides to help you get started –


Bench

Having a bench in your home gym is a must.

You cannot have a fitness studio without a bar because that’s missing out on exceptional exercises that yield excellent results.

If you decide to go through all the hassle of converting your garage into a gym, you should definitely get a bench to reap the maximum benefits of the entire ordeal.

There is so much one can do using a weight bench. Some of the most common bench workouts include Flat bench presses, skull crushers, concentration curls, single-arm dumbbell row (using a weight bench), inclined bench press, reverse flyes, dumbbell chest press, seated inclined dumbbell bicep curl, etc.

And the best part is that weight benches are not super expensive. You can easily get a good-quality product within your budget.

Like most people’s garage gyms, ours is short on space, that’s why we like foldable benches, such as the Bowflex 5.1s Bench or super compact Flybird Weight Bench.

Dumbbells

It goes without saying that having dumbbells in a gym is a given. Just ask a trainer.

Dumbbells allow exercisers to perform multiple moves without any other supplementary tools. You don’t need a rack or bench to use dumbbells.

All you need is a little space, and you can crank up the intensity level of just about any exercise.

Roll-ups, squats, lunges, bent-over rows, floor presses, reverse flyes, pushups (dumbbells press-ups), you name any workout, and a pair of dumbbells will help you make the most out of it.

Get a few pairs of dumbbells for your DIY garage gym and enjoy a whole bunch of exercises in the littlest of space.

To help you get started, we wrote a guide on the best dumbbells for your home gym.

Personally, we like adjustable dumbbells as they give you more options per inch of space. To see what we mean, check out the Nuobell adjustable dumbbells or the Rogue Loadable dumbbells.

Kettlebells

Kettlebells are often found in dusty corners in commercial gyms as most gym-goers prefer to use other weighty implements like dumbbells or barbells.

Not sure whether to get Kettlebells or dumbbells? Then read this guide first – Dumbbells Vs. Kettlebells – What is Best for Your Home Gym?

Kettlebells are tremendously beneficial in strengthening muscles. Add a kettlebell to your squats and put on that muscle mass that you have been yearning for much faster.

Cast-iron bells bring a similar weighty punch as dumbbells during workouts. They make ideal exercise utensils to pack in an effective and time-efficient workout during a busy day.

If you are too familiar with kettlebells, don’t buy every piece on the market. Start with one or maybe two kettlebells to see how you like them. Once you get used to swinging the heavy round bells, you can buy more of them with higher weight count.

Another great option is to get an adjustable kettlebell.

To learn more, check out our guide on How to Choose the Right Kettlebell for Your Home Gym.

Cardio Machines

bike for garage gym

Ahhh…. the infamous cardio workouts that mostly have a love-hate relationship with exercisers.

Although a person can do cardio workouts without using equipment, cardio machines are a little less hassle than regular high-intensity exercises as they allow you to melt fat by doing one type of move instead of including multiple movements.

If you have space in your garage, then you should consider buying either all or any of the following cardio equipment.

Treadmill

A treadmill lies high up on every gym owner’s list of cardio machines and with good reason. Because it offers so many modifications and setting options, runners love to sprint to their heart’s content on a treadmill.

Users get to adjust the intensity level of their workout as they see fit by increasing the incline, quickening the speed, or walking backward. The multifunctional nature of the treadmill makes it a staple for every public or private gym.

Elliptical

Easy on the knees, yet highly effective at torching calories, the elliptical is an excellent workout machine that works the whole body.

Since working out on an elliptical machine doesn’t entail any jumping or high-pressure movements, people with knee problems, ankle, or calf pain can use it to get their heart rate up without aggravating their injuries. If you or anyone in your family suffers from leg pain, you should invest in an elliptical.

Rower

The rower, also known as the rowing machine, doesn’t appear as a hardcore cardio machine, but it annihilates the extra calories. It uses the entire body to mimic the action of rowing a boat, which engages all the major muscle groups in the body, hence burns calories.

Indoor cycle

Stationary bikes are excellent at working up a sweat. Individuals can amp up the intensity in intervals and reap maximum benefits in terms of torching calories.

An indoor bike is the perfect home gym machine if you do not have a lot of space in your garage. 

Of late, air (or assault) bikes have become all the rage. To see if an air bike is right for you, read our guide to Air Bikes vs. Spin Bikes – What is Best for Your Home Workout?

Stairclimber

A stairclimber uses the legs to mimic the action of going up a staircase. It’s enormously useful for melting fat and losing weight. And thanks to the advanced settings in stair climbers, a person can modify the intensity of the action and burn more calories in a short amount of time.

If you have ever run up a flight of stairs, you will know how fast that drenches the body in sweat. And with a stairclimber, you get to achieve that inside your garage gym.

Since this is a guide on DIY garage gym, it’s only natural that we discuss all the aspects of a gym that can be produced/created by oneself. So let’s discuss if you can make any gym equipment yourself.

We understand that the initial cost outlay for a home or garage gym can be daunting. That is why we put together a list of the best quality but most affordable equipment.

Garage Gym DIY Equipment

diy equipment

There is some gym equipment that you can make yourself and save money.

However, before we get into the implements you can make at home, let’s first discuss their safety.

Safety of DIY Gym Equipment

Most DIY projects come fraught with risks. Likewise, homemade gym equipment carries its fair share of dangers. Professional training equipment used in gyms is designed and constructed after extensive research.

But if you are short on money and you are forced to make fitness equipment at home, try to construct low risk implements such a bench instead of a heavy dumbbell that you will swing over your head.

Now that we have given you the disclaimer about the possible dangers of DIY gym equipment let’s take a look at some workout complements that you can make at home.

Bench

Benches aren’t cheap but they also aren’t easy to build youself. But if you are reading this guide then you must fancy yourself as a DIY-er so read our full guide to making your own weight bench.

Pull-up bar

Take some old pipes, fit them together, and hang the apparatus over a high load-bearing beam. Be sure that the tubes and shaft both are sturdy enough to support your weight.

There’s a bit more too it which you can read here – How to Build a DIY Pull-Up Bar for Your Home Gym.

Sandbag

A sandbag is a great way to enhance strength and make muscle. To make one yourself, you’ll need the following items.

  • 3-4 sturdy plastic bags, such as heavy-duty trash bags or reseal-able food storage bags, depending on the sizes you want to make
  • duct tape
  • filler, such as sand
  • rope or zip ties
  • bubble wrap
  • a canvas duffle bag — surplus military laundry bags also work well

Take the plastic bags and fill each of them with a copious amount of sand but leave some space as you’ll be putting them one into another.

Once you have placed the bags like Russian dolls (one bag into the other), Wrap the contraption using the bubble wrap and duct tape tightly and place it in the duffel or laundry bag.

Pull the drawstring to secure the plastic bag inside. To further secure the homemade boxing bag, use rope or zip ties to seal the top. And voila! Hang it using a rope and enjoy building some strength.

Battle Ropes

For battle ropes, use old garden hoses as though you are fighting aliens, and trust us, you’ll be making a lot of sweat.

Dumbbells

Instead of making dumbbells at home, you can use filled water bottles to start your fitness journey.

Using bottles will keep you safe in case they fall mid-workout, and you will not be in danger of getting injured because a homemade weight snapped over your head.

Pros and Cons of DIY Gym Equipment

Pros

  • It is much cheaper than a brand new store-bought equipment
  • It doesn’t require any transportation cost

Cons

  • It can snap under excessive pressure
  • There is no guarantee of the quality as the equipment doesn’t go through pressure tests
  • An unskilled person can injure themselves making a DIY gym implement

Pros and Cons of Store-Bought Gym Equipment

Pros

  • It is top-quality
  • The chances of accidents mid-use are slim even with a mid-tier brand

Cons

  • It is exorbitantly pricey
  • Not all machines come with a warranty; users can lose money in case of malfunction.

Garage Gym Equipment Costs

garage gym with wall mounted fan

The costs of putting together a home gym in your garage can lie anywhere between the range of $1,000 to $10,000. How much it will cost you to convert your garage into a gym depends upon your needs and the equipment you buy.

On average making, a decent gym can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000.

But if you have a bigger budget, you can transform your garage into a top-of-the-line grand gym with state-of-the-art equipment.

Gym equipment comes with large price tags. Even mid-tier workout instruments cost hundreds of dollars. Here is a quick breakdown of gym equipment costs.

Resistance-Training Equipment

Workout implements such as weights, bands, medicine balls, or pull-up bars cost $300-$500 on average.

Cardio Machines

The average price of a cardio machine can be anywhere between $500 and $1500. It can go further up, depending on the brand you choose.

Strength & Weight Training Equipment

Instruments such as dumbbells or bench press cost around $300 to $800.

Should You Buy Used Equipment?

garage gym with used equipment

Anyone can buy used gym equipment and save a ton of money, but only if they know how to assess the quality.

You can acquire used workout implements in a fraction of the amount that you’ll have to pay for a brand new piece of equipment.

Second-hand treadmills, rowing machines, stationary bikes, weighted equipment cost buyers peanuts compared to fresh models. However, you need to have an observant eye to spot a worthwhile product.

If you buy an excessively used, worn-out equipment that’s not even a high-end brand, you are throwing your money down the drain.

Always go for branded used equipment that is relatively underused. You can assess the degree of usage by looking at a machine and using it.

In appearance, a worn-out machine will have scratches, chipped rubber, or scraped corners. Another indication of a tattered gym instrument is a strange squeaky or hissing sound when plugged in an electrical socket.

As long as you can evaluate the extent of damage to a piece of equipment and figure out if it’ll be a worthwhile investment, only then try your hand at second-hand shopping.

Conclusion

If you don’t want to or cannot take up a large-scale garage transformation right away, start small.

Perhaps, first, clean up only a corner in your garage and place a pair of dumbbells with a yoga mat.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by biting more than you can chew.

However, if you are pumped by the idea of revamping your garage as a gym in one go, then, by all means, use our guide to make a fitness dreamland at home.

There is nothing more satisfying or envy inducing than a well kitted out DIY garage gym.

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