It’s 6 AM and it’s squat day. As you’re walking down the stairs and out to your garage gym you take a peek out the window. You’re immediately filled with dread because there is snow outside and you know your garage is about to be absolutely freezing.
Being able to lift in your garage is one of life’s greatest joys (okay, I’m biased), but there are times when it’s not all peaches and cream. When your garage is 10 degrees is one of those times.
So, how can you safely and effectively heat your cold garage gym in the winter? While we’re at it, being able to do it as cheaply as possible would be great too, right?
I’m going to give you a few ideas of how you can heat your garage gym for a lift along with the pros and cons of each. After that, you should be able to figure out what makes the most sense for you and your garage gym. Let’s get started.
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Table of Contents
Heating a Garage Gym
I’m going to start with the easiest (and cheapest) solution and that’s to add a couple of layers of clothes for those cold days.
Yes, you can buy a bunch of heating equipment to make your space more ‘comfortable’ to workout in, but sometimes embracing the elements can give every workout an extra sense of accomplishment.
This may be cheesy, but I always tend to get a Rocky vibe when I’m lifting out in the garage on a cold day and I’m squatting with a hoodie and a beanie on.
Wearing extra layers may not be enough for the really cold garage gym mornings, but it will definitely get you through more workouts than you may think.
Electric Space Heater
I’m listing space heaters as the first heating option because they are easily the most popular way to heat up a garage gym in the winter. You plug one of the heaters into the wall and let it do its thing. No need to worry about ventilation.
Also, there are plenty of energy-efficient models available now that won’t cause your electric bill to skyrocket. I recommend the Aikoper 1500-W Electric Space Heater. It’s small, cost-efficient and one or two strategically placed space heaters are all most garages will need.
The downside to an electric space heater is that it can take a while to heat up your garage. This is going to be dependent on two main factors. How big is your garage and how big is your space heater? If you have a two-car garage and a small space heater you may be done with your workout by the time it actually warms up.
One way to combat that issue is to is with a WiFi outlet timer. These can be picked up at most big box retailers or online for pretty cheap. They can connect to your other home devices like a Google Assistant or Alexa. Then just set your timer to 15-30 minutes before your lift time and you’re good to go!
Just make sure that if you’re not going to be using your gym that day you turn off your timer so your space heater isn’t running unattended. I’m not a fire expert, but that feels like a fire hazard.
The other issue that some will run into, myself included, is that some garages aren’t outfitted with a lot of outlets. You may end up having to run an extension cord or utilize a surge protector to make things work.
An electric space heater is going to be the go-to solution for most garage gyms. They’re really affordable, require no setup and will do pretty well at heating up your garage.
However, they aren’t the only solution to making your garage gym warm and toasty.
Install Better Insulation
The most cost-effective method is to improve the insulation in your garage, particularly your garage door. Better insulation for your garage gym can be enough to keep enough heat in your garage and keep the cold air out.
Insulation does have its limitations and may not be enough on its own once it gets really cold out. However, when it does get really cold, it will also improve the effectiveness of any other heating methods you employ.
The best part and the reason it’s the most cost-effective method is that once you have it bought and installed, there are no ongoing costs. That insulation is going to go to work for you forever. Also, not only is it going to help you with staying warm in the winter, it will also help keep out the heat when it’s 90 in July.
If this sounds appealing to you, I’d suggest Garage Door Insulation Panels.
The reason I really like these is that they are affordable, effective and they are crazy easy to install. If you’re like me, the thought of installing insulation sounds like a complicated nightmare. Not with these panels. They basically bend and fit into place directly onto your garage door. No need for extra tools and adhesives.
Proper Garage Gym Flooring
Proper Garage Gym Flooring will not only protect your garage floor, but thick rubber flooring will also help insulate your floor – keeping warm air in and cold air out.
Rubber has a high R-value which means it stops heat from escaping an area. Compared to concrete surfaces or tiled floors, a rubber floor will hold heat in your gym much better.
According to River Rock Resurfacing who has been installing flooring for almost 40 years, “Installing rubber surfacing creates a thermal barrier to the cold subfloor, retaining the heat. The surface holds up to extreme temperature variations; hence, considerably less energy is required to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors.”
So, just one more reason to make getting proper garage gym floor one of your top priorities.
If you haven’t bought your flooring yet, here is the garage gym flooring that I recommend.
An electric infrared heater works much the same as an electric space heater with a few minor differences.
Electric space heaters are forced air heaters, meaning that they push air through heated coils which heats up the air that passes over them and then that air is pushed into your garage gym.
Infrared Heaters heat up objects instead of air similar to the way sunlight does.
Infrared Heaters are more energy-efficient than other space heaters because they use 100% of the heat that they produce.
Most people are familiar with Infrared Heaters which are built to look like fireplaces that can be sat in a room. However, there are models that are made that will work perfectly in a garage gym.
If using an electric space heater isn’t an option due to outlet issues (or maybe even electricity issues if you’re in a detached garage) then a propane heater could be an effective solution.
A propane heater uses propane tanks and cranks out radiant heat. On the plus side, these types of heaters are typically the best at heating up a space fast. You probably would not need any type of timer to give the heater a head start like with an electric heater.
The biggest drawbacks to a propane heater, in my opinion, are cost and convenience. In the winter months, you’re probably going to go through a one-pound propane canister in about a week. At around $4 a piece, it may not be a huge expense, but it definitely will add up.
If you do decide to go with a propane heater make sure to get one that is odor-free. The absolute last thing you want is a heater that is putting out fumes as you’re trying to work out, especially in a closed garage with no ventilation.
Two Heating Options I Would NOT Recommend
I’d recommend any of the above heating options for a garage gym without hesitation.
Personally, I’m not a fan of a couple of common garage heating solutions when it specifically comes to heating a garage gym.
Combustion Space Heater
A combustion heater is a heater that takes in a gas like kerosene and puts out radiant heat. The reason I don’t recommend a combustion space heater is that everywhere I’ve read about combustion space heaters they are going to put out a gas fume.
A gas odor is not something you ever want in a non-ventilated room (which a garage that you’re trying to close off from the cold would be).
Not only is that something you want to avoid if possible, but the last thing you probably want to be doing is also working out and trying to breathe with a heater putting out fumes.
The other drawback, not that you really need one, is they are typically rather large. Space is at a premium in most garage gyms and sticking a giant heater somewhere is not going to be convenient.
Radiant heating involves putting heating coils either under your garage floor or within your walls or ceilings. First off, this is not something you want to attempt to do by yourself. Radiant heating coils need to be put in by a professional.
If you are merely heating a garage this is a great option. However, if you have a gym in your garage I would strongly advise against it. Underneath the floor sounds like the worst option for all the obvious reasons. I’m dropping 200+ pounds onto my floor dozens of times throughout the course of most workouts. Having a “breakable” heating solution under the floor doesn’t seem like a good fit.
The walls seem like a better option until you think about the fact that there are two types of walls in garage gyms. Walls that have a hole in them and walls that are going to have a hole in them. Sooner or later a bar, plate, dumbbell… something is going to end up going through your wall. Again, probably not a great place for a sensitive heating device.
No one likes lifting with an ice-cold barbell. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right tools and a little bit of planning, you can be lifting throughout the winter months without dreading that walk out to your garage gym.
I would recommend making your gym is properly insulated first including garage doors, windows and rubber flooring first. Then give electric space heaters a try. For most of us, a properly insulated garage combined with one or two electric space heaters is all we’ll need to keep our gym warm enough in the winter months.