When I tell people I have a garage gym, a question I get asked quite a bit is, “Are you still able to park your car in the garage?” The answer is yes. You can have a garage gym and still park your car inside of it (if you choose to).
The truth is even if I couldn’t park my car in my garage, I’d still have my gym. I do understand though, that I’m pretty fortunate that I also have a driveway where I can park my car in as well. I don’t have to choose between parking in my garage and having to find street parking.
If that sounds familiar, I don’t have to explain to you how frustrating finding street parking can be sometimes.
So even if I don’t park my car in my garage every day, the way my gym is set up I always have the option of pulling my car in. This comes in handy if the forecast is calling for snow or extreme temperatures and I don’t want to deal with it when I leave for work in the morning.
In this article, I’m going to teach you how you can have your cake and eat it too. Or in this case, get diesel and park your diesel too. (I know. Bad joke, but I couldn’t resist.)
Layout – Equipment
I have a two-car garage with “my” side of the garage designated as the gym side. My wife still parks her car on the other side. This gives me a total of 210 square feet – 10 feet wide and 21 feet deep. My car is 16 feet long.
This gives me about 5 feet of space at the front end (furthest from the garage door) that I can utilize for things that won’t need to move when I pull my car in.
Everything else needs to be able to be mobile.
It’s on the front end of the garage attached to the wall. You can go this route or you can buy a rack with the same principle in mind.
If you’re going to buy a rack in this situation I strongly recommend a Wall Mounted Rack. Wall Mounted Racks are excellent space savers because they utilize your wall’s structure to stabilize the rack.
This means the front two beams of the rack are all that extend from the wall. And many wall-mounted racks can even be folded in when not being used, essentially taking up no space at all.
If you’re not comfortable mounting a rack into your wall, I don’t blame you. In that case, I’d recommend looking into squat stands, or maybe a narrow half rack. Basically, any squat rack is going to have a small footprint and be space-efficient.
(In other words, a giant power rack is not an option)
Other Gym Equipment
Other big pieces of exercise equipment, like Glute Hams, Lat Pulldowns, etc are going to be decisions you’ll have to make based on the space of your own gym. I can’t tell you exactly what is going to work for your space.
Everyone has different garage setups, different sized vehicles and so the amount of floor space available will be different for all garage gyms.
Figure out the available space you have and then prioritize what piece of equipment is higher on the priority list than the others.
This is also a good time to get resourceful. For instance, can you replace a Glute Ham with RDLs and Good Mornings? Can you stick with pullups and inverted rows in place of a Lat Pulldown machine?
There is always a substitute for every piece of gym equipment depending on what you’re willing to give up.
A cardio machine, like a treadmill or elliptical, can take up a large amount of space.
The best means of cardio, if you have a home gym with a very limited amount of space, is either jumping rope or running outside.
A jump rope is not only cheap, but it also takes up virtually no space and it can get your heart rate up in a hurry for either a warm-up or a quick finisher at the end of a workout.
Running outside is always an option too. Especially if it’s a nice day. Open those garage doors, take a quick trip around the neighborhood and then start your workout up.
If you absolutely want a piece of cardio equipment, look into getting a rower. It can be set up easily in an empty garage and then stood up on its side and stored away when it’s time to bring the car back into the garage.
Utilize Your Walls For Storage
Anything that can free up floor space is a huge help when it comes to fitting your car inside your garage gym. So racks like this Rogue Swiss Rack for Med Balls or this Belt & Band Hanger are excellent ways to use vertical space and free up your floor. I ended up building my own set of shelves.
Almost anything can be stored on walls, from barbells to accessories. Just be mindful of using your studs when hanging things so you don’t end up ripping out your drywall.
In addition to your walls, look for other ways to be creative with your storage. Patio storage boxes can be a great storage space. Sit one next to your garage on the side of your house. It will still look nice and can be a great place to store any number of accessories.
Sometimes one of the best parts about having your own home gym is not having to clean up after yourself. Don’t feel like putting those bumper plates back on the rack. No worries. Leaving your boxes out cause you’re going to use them again tomorrow anyway? No one is going to yell at you.
However, if you’re going to be bringing your car in, staying organized is critical. The floor space is going to be tight. Everything is going to have to have its own place and you’ll have to be diligent in keeping it that way.
While we’re on the subject, I highly recommend hanging a tennis ball off the ceiling. Set up the ball to hang in a spot that gives you just enough room to close your garage door behind you.
Now mark the floor where the front of your car ends up when it touches the ball. Now you know exactly how much space you have to leave your gym equipment without worrying about hitting something with your car.
Be Mindful of Your Flooring
You should have rubber flooring down on your garage floor. I personally recommend Horse Stall Mats and I believe it’s the best flooring option for your garage gym. You need a thick enough floor to be able to lift on and keep your concrete floor protected. (Yes, they smell but that’s temporary)
This is because having a platform will make it much more difficult, but not impossible, to get your car in.
Keep in mind that horse stall mats are designed for, well, horses that weigh over 1,000 pounds so parking your car on them will not be an issue.
A couple of things to keep in mind regarding your gym flooring. Make sure if you are parking your car on top of your gym flooring that you have something in place to catch any fluids that may leak out of your car while it’s parked.
Leaked fluids can ruin a gym floor and make it dangerous to perform some lifts on. A catch pan or even a piece of plywood (or both) can work pretty well for this.
Make sure to properly sweep and clean any dirt and debris that tires may leave behind before you lift. This is especially true if you’re doing technical lifts like snatches and cleans where a small slip can lead to an injury.
You can have a garage gym and still utilize it as a place to park your car. You may have a few obstacles to overcome and you may have to put a little more thought into your planning, but it can be done.
Don’t let the thought of having to choose between one or the other stop you from your dream of hitting heavy squats inside your garage gym on a Saturday morning. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.