In this post we're going to open the discussion to the five things that we think are time, money, and space wasters in a garage gym. The space in your Iron Kingdom is valuable and must not be wasted.
1 - Stand-alone Machines Single Purpose machines such as a Leg-press, single use cable equipment (lat tower etc) and many other tools are seriously wasteful when it comes to space. In place of one machine like this a rack, bench, bar and plates can all be located and used effectively. Stick to a Powercage or Half Rack as the foundational centre of the gym to serve, obviously as a squat rack, bench press, and pulling rack, but also for attaching many different attachments to which will greatly enhance your training. There is even a leg press attachment in the development pipeline here at Powerhouse Fitness and many other great ones to come. In sticking to this simple philosophy you will not only save space but end up with a greater range of possible exercises as you gather a plethora of attachments.
2 - Expensive Bumper Plates A lot of first time garage gym founders will dive into the investment of bumper plates with the belief that its the only option for a concrete floor. This isn't true whether you perform CrossFit/Olympic weightlifting exercises or just heavy Power moves such as Deadlifts and Rows. If you are performing the former - yes you will need bumpers so as not to destroy the plates, bar, and the floor when dropping from overhead - but you will need a lifting platform or matting unless you put the bar down like a gentleman anyway.
Our recommendation if you are not performing dynamic movements and olympic lifts (where you will be dropping the plates from overhead) is to go with Steel Plates or iron. This will save you anywhere from $3/kg and upwards as opposed to bumper plates and you can possibly get even better savings if you keep a look-out on the second hand market. Steel has tons of other pros as well (pun intended) such as:
3 - Carpeting The Garage Or Dedicated Space
Carpeted surfaces are inherently unstable if there is underlay used as well. Certainly not the type of surface you want to be exerting effort against to max out on deadlifts or squat your PR.
Ensuring you have a hard surface to lift on is critical. If you already have carpet or tiles or just want the next level in lifting surfaces and mimick competition standards, you can easily build your own lifting platform using locally sourced materials, limited tools and about 1 hour of your sweat! Or we could make one for you if you reach out.
Carpet also has some other pitfalls such as; dust collection, moisture retention and staining which are all very likely things in a garage/garage gym space.
4 - Going Cheap
Ever heard the saying "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"? This statement was made by Benjamin Franklin and couldn't be more true! When buying gym equipment it is especially true and even more so for Garage Gym owners as you will be tasked with maintaining your gear. When buying top quality product, however, there is no maintaining - so you can just focus on the training.
Cheap equipment, as tempting and nice as the sales-sharks may make it sound, is rotten to the core. A poor weld, bad paint job, low cost materials and even removal of vital materials in the name of cost reduction, are just a few of the issues you will have. On the upside - these issues won't be long lasting - because neither is the equipment.
On a genuinely positive note - great products are available for relatively inexpensive amounts. Simply looking at a complete set-up of equipment to get your Iron Kingdom founded and kill your PR's at home with your mates and without rules, $3500 (less than the cost of a good bicycle) will get you a wicked set-up. Half Rack, Bench, Bar and Plates.
5 - Keeping It To Yourself!
This is one of the most common mistakes both in setting up and using a Garage Gym (that we have made and seen countless others make!) Common comments we get are "I wouldn't have a Garage Gym because I like the social side of going to the gym". We get that. Obviously this is contra to one of the main reasons people set up a Garage Gym, which is to train alone without distraction and truly make progress, but it is also very valid. It is valid because some personalities and training styles train much better with people surrounding them. But one thing is guaranteed - there are only a few close friends and training partners around you at the gym that truly contribute to your success. So you all need to break free of the rules and train together in each others Garage Gyms. This can also come down to the funding of the equipment for your Iron Kingdom - why not pool the cost and make it more affordable for all, get better gear and have the investment hold you accountable for your goals.
That's it for five simple mistakes to avoid in your Garage Gym. If you already have made some of these errors - never fear - we are here to help and you are welcome to call us on 0800176688 to pick our brains for free on how to overcome these. And - No - we won't take the opportunity to sell you our product - unless it is the absolute best thing to do for you.
Thanks for reading!