If you’ve ever created a sweat angel like the one I made in the pic above, I don’t have to tell you that it can be hard to keep your garage gym cool in the summer. Being a college strength coach has led me to live all over the country.
Currently, I’m living in Atlanta, Georgia. Saying it gets hot here in the summer is an understatement of enormous proportions. There are days when I’m sweating before I even start my warm-up.
Heat isn’t just a comfort issue. If it was, I’m the type of person that would shrug it off and deal with it. I think most of us who turn our garages into palaces of iron are of that mindset. But, the sweat that all that heat creates can become a performance hindrance. Sweat that accumulates on the floor creates a slippery surface that can end up anywhere from annoying to flat-out unsafe.
Sweat can also be a nightmare for your grip. Trying to keep your hands dry, even with chalk, when doing pulls with the bar or pull-ups on a bar can become a futile effort. This can lead to your hands getting destroyed pretty quickly.
So what can we, the garage gym’ers of the world (especially in the south) do about it? How can we keep our garage gyms cool in the summer? I’m going to give you a few tips that you can implement to lower the temperature in your garage while you’re working out and make your workout a little more enjoyable.
Open Your Garage Doors (and other Captain Obvious tips)
I know. I know. This is obvious to the point where you probably want to punch me in the face for even mentioning it. But, it needed to be mentioned. Working out earlier or later in the day will also help avoid the heat. Rounding out the super obvious category is moving to, I don’t know, Minnesota. We all set here? Good. Moving on.
Bring in the Fans
A fan can make a huge difference in the amount of air flow you can bring through your garage. A simple box fan like this one from Walmart? can help, but if you want to make a big change you’ll need a bigger fan. A commercial-sized fan like this one from Home Depot will make a noticeable difference and still only cost you about a hundred bucks.
When I was working at a private training facility two of these commercial fans was as close as we got to air conditioning. We would position them on opposite ends of the weight room and I still remember the temperature difference of the weight room area and the turf area when those fans were running. Very, very noticeable difference.
The one drawback to these fans is they are pretty loud. If you have one of these cranked up, you’ll probably need to crank the music up to drown it out.
This leads me to my next pro tip that I actually learned one year in college when our AC didn’t work and we couldn’t afford to get it fixed. Everyone knows you can point a fan into a room to get better airflow.
What is less known, though, is that if you have a second fan you can set that fan up at the other end of the room pointing out. This will help pull air through the room and really improve circulation.
This two fan system is the setup I use in my garage gym. I have a two car garage. I have one fan pointing straight into the ‘gym area’. The second fan is closer to the other garage door where my wife’s car resides pointing out. I don’t have a thermometer out there so I can’t tell you exactly how much it drops the temperature, but it’s enough to make it work for me.
Have you tried fans and it’s just not enough? You may want to consider an evaporative air cooler, also known as a swamp cooler. These work as a kind of a hybrid between a fan and a portable ac unit. Most portable air conditioning units won’t work for most garages because you need to be able to connect the unit to a window to blow out the exhaust.
An evaporative cooler is advantageous in that it doesn’t require being connected to a window. These units work by using water soaked pads. A fan pulls air into the unit and through the pads and then blows out air that is cooler.
It differs from an ac unit in the fact that ac units pull moisture out of the area. Evaporative coolers actually add humidity into the air which is why you don’t want to use them in a closed room in a humid area.
Evaporative coolers effectiveness is dependent on what region of the country you live in and how humid it is. The less humid of an area you live in (out west if you live in the US) the more effective one of these units can be.
But, even in humid climates, evaporative coolers can lower the temperature 10 to 15 degrees. Also, be aware that depending on your climate you’ll actually want to keep your garage doors open while using an evaporative cooler.
If you decide to go this route, this Hessaire Portable Cooler is the best you’ll find based on price and effective square footage. This unit is effective for up to 500 square feet which should cover most garages and comes in at less than $150.
Garage Insulation Kit + Portable AC Unit
If you want to go in a completely different direction, you can try to keep your doors closed and make your garage as cool as possible. Part of this process would include getting and installing a garage insulation kit.
If you’re not familiar with garage insulation kits, it basically involves putting insulation panels on your garage door itself. You can install these yourself, but be careful, as making modifications to your garage door can be dangerous.
Now you have a couple of options. With the extra insulation on your garage doors, you can open the door leading from your house into your garage and let the air conditioning from your house go to work. A fan can help pump cool air into the garage as well.
I mentioned earlier that most portable ac units don’t work well in garages because of the lack of windows. However, you can crack open the garage door just enough for the hose. I have a friend of mine that does this and it works really well for him.
Whatever you decide to do in terms of combating the heat in your garage gym, always remember to be smart. Lifting in heat, especially if you’re by yourself, has its dangers. Make sure to drink plenty of water, both before and during. Slow your tempo down or lighten weight if and when you need to.
Finally, don’t be afraid to shut down a workout if you’re really starting to struggle. No single workout is worth putting yourself at risk.