12 Half Garage Gym Ideas by a Personal Trainer

By Inge
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Here are 12 half garage gym ideas for your workout space at home. My personal training clients use these steps. And I hope they are useful for you too.

We have a video for you that explains the first 3 ideas. For the other 9 ideas read the article below the video.


Video: the first 3 ideas for your half garage gym

I spent over 15 years as a Personal Trainer in a big gym. It has all the equipment you can think of. When the pandemic hit, my clients started training at home.

That made me think of ways to help them set up a good gym in a half garage or other small space. Because there is so much equipment offered these days.

I often get the question: What would be a good floor plan for my half garage gym? What is the best use of my budget? That’s why I created this article. It helps you plan for your own half garage gym.

Here are the 12 steps to set up your half garage gym:

Always check with your trainer or physical therapist before changing your workout plan. Keep reading to find out how to setup your half garage gym

Half garage gym ideas

12 Half Garage Gym Ideas

1: What is your main goal for your home gym

The first thing you want to do is take time to decide on your goal for your home gym. Take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions:

Question 1. What will be the main use of my garage gym?

  • Weight training
  • Cardio training 
  • A mix of weight training and cardio training

Question 2: What specific kind of result do I want to achieve from my workouts?

  • Think a little longer about your training. What will be your result in 1 year? In 5 years? For example: are you aiming at weight loss, muscle toning, running a marathon, becoming a boxing champion? Write down your own specific desired result.

Question 3: Who else will use your gym?

  • Maybe your partner or children want to use your gym. Or your neighbors. If others join, consider the implications. You might need double sets of equipment, lighter/heavier weights, etc.

2: Decide on your budget up front

You can have your half garage gym for a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars. It depends on your goal, budget, and how committed you are. Write down an amount you would feel comfortable with.

You can have a home gym for less than 500 dollars. Or for over 5000 dollars if you need heavier or more advanced equipment.

Why decide on your budget now? Because you will find the sky’s the limit when it comes to gym equipment. Before you know it, your space fills up with machines you don’t actually use. 

If you have a limit on your budget, you get more creative in finding what you want. You could look on the second-hand market, or find equipment that serves multiple purposes.

3: Clear out the space in your garage

Before you take any further steps, clear out the space in your garage you plan to use for your gym. 

Also, make sure there are no dangerous chemicals in your garage.

4: Measure the size of your gym

Measure the size of your gym space and write it down: length, width and height. Especially when you have a low ceiling, it is important to be aware of that. 

People often ask me, “What is the smallest amount of space I need?” That is of course hard to answer. The minimum space you need is a place to put a mat with an arm length of extra space around it on all sites. This would be around 36 square feet.

In that minimal setting, you can train with hand weights, do body weight exercises, jump rope, etc. If you prefer to add cardio equipment, you would need another 30 square feet for a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or rowing machine.

You can find the dimensions of many workout machines at Dimensions.com.

Outline your gym on a piece of paper. In the next step, we show you some of the best possible layouts.

5: Layout Options half garage gym

Now comes the fun part. That is deciding what equipment and accesories you will add to your home gym. Please check out our home gym equipment guide.

Layout 1: Mix of weight training (light to medium) and cardio

Layout 1: Mix of weight training (light to medium) and cardio

This layout is for you if you want to stay fit and flexible and grow your strength in a moderate way, using your body weight and some equipment.

  1. Weight bench with Olympic bar and plates. Consult a trainer first to decide on the plates. They come in 2.5 lbs, 5 lbs, 10 lbs and much more. Choose an adjustable bench if possible.
  2. TRX on ceiling for training almost any kind of muscle group. The TRX is a piece of equipment I love. Because you can train a lot of muscle groups with it. Your ceiling should be at least 9 feet high.
  3. Stair stepper for cardio (or a stationary bike, peloton or elliptical)
  4. Mat for body weight exercises
  5. Resistance bands
  6. Dumbbells
  7. Kettle bells, 13 and 26 pounds

With this gym setup, you can train any muscle group and also do cardio or HIIT workouts. It has enough variation to keep you going to your home gym again and again.

In the next steps, I will discuss flooring and extras like a whiteboard and a mirror.

Layout 2: Mix of weight training (medium to heavy) and cardio

Layout 2: Mix of weight training (medium to heavy) and cardio

This layout is for you if you like to work on machines and want heavier weights. The All-in-one Power Rack gives you more opportunities for heavier strength training of all muscle groups.

  1. Treadmill (or you could pick any other cardio machine you like). 
  2. All-in-One functional machine, also called a Power Rack or Smith Machine. These racks come in different shapes and sizes. They have many options to train all your muscles. I advise you to purchase an all-in-one machine with pulleys and an adjustable bench.
  3. Weight rack with dumbbells and kettle bells

Here is an example of this layout:

Layout 3: Boxing training – Cardio

Layout 3: Boxing training – Cardio

If you are more the type for cardio training and boxing, consider this layout with the punching bag on the ceiling in the middle of your space. 

  1. Punching bag on ceiling
  2. Weight bench for bench press, squats and lunges with the Olympic barbell. Use the bench for many other exercises with the hand weights or body weight. 
  3. Jump rope
  4. Weight rack with dumbbells and kettle bells

Layout 4: Minimal setup with a Smart Mirror

If you want a minimal setup with maximum training possibilities, consider a Smart Mirror. These mirrors are interactive machines connected to the internet.

They come with all kinds of accessories, like pulleys, a bench and smart weights. You need a subsciption to follow classes. These days you can choose from hundreds of classes and even personal training through the mirror.

Check out our article: Tonal vs. Mirror: Which Fitness Mirror is Best for Your Home Gym?

6: Flooring

Your garage probably has a concrete floor. Cover it with rubber mats. Some people use horse stable mats. Check out our article on the best flooring for your gym.

They are strong and inexpensive, but the rubber smell might be bad. So, you need to ventilate the room. If your budget allows it, invest in quality gym mats.

7: Isolation, heating and cooling

If you live in an area that can be cold, isolate the windows and doors of your garage gym. Also install a heater. In that way, you make it convenient to use your home gym.

On the other hand, your gym should have enough ventilation when you work out and not be too warm. Install a fan at the ceiling or an air conditioner.

8: Lighting

Lighting is an aspect many people forget when planning their home gym. But it is important to have enough light to train safely, especially when it gets dark. It would be best to install the lights evenly on the ceiling. For example, using LED strips with spots on them. In that way, you have even light everywhere, and you can move equipment and still have light. 

I am not a lighting expert, and I know experts can do calculations for you and create a lighting plan. I advise you to ask a lighting expert.

9: Clock or Gym Timer

 Wouldn’t it be fun to have a big Gym Timer on your wall? I think it provides extra motivation. Otherwise, a big clock would also do, for exercise you want to time yourself.

Check out our article on the best gym timers.

10: TV

Personally, I am not a big fan of a TV in my gym. It distracts me from exercising the best I can. On the other hand, I know many people who follow online training videos or love to watch TV between their reps or while doing cardio.

11: Whiteboard for progress and inspiration

“You can’t approve what you don’t measure” – Peter Drucker

Write down your goals and daily results on a whiteboard. It helps you stay motivated and measure your progress.

Also put inspiring images and quotes on your whiteboard.

12: Hire a trainer for safe training

Now that your garage gym is ready, hire a personal trainer to:

  1. Help you get familiar with the equipment
  2. Make sure you do your exercises properly
  3. Create a training schedule for you

This last step of hiring a personal trainer is VERY IMPORTANT. In my gym, I see people start training on their own, without consulting a professional. You risk injuring your back, shoulders or other parts of your body. This is serious. So hire a trainer, and ask him or her to come to your home gym. In that way, you can safely familiarize yourself with your equipment. 

Also, a trainer can create a schedule that hits all your muscles, not just your chest or legs. It will be worth the investment.

12 steps to set up your half garage gym

FAQ About Half Garage Gym Ideas

  • How do I convert my half garage into a gym?

    12 steps to set up your half garage gym:
    1. Ask yourself: What is your main goal for setting up a half garage gym?
    2. Decide on your budget upfront.
    3. Clear out the space in your garage and clean it.
    4. Measure the size of your gym.
    5. Plan the layout of your home gym.
    6. Install gym flooring.
    7. Install isolation, heating and cooling.
    8. Add some lighting.
    9. Add a clock or gym timer.
    10. Install a TV.
    11. Add a whiteboard for progress and inspiration
    12. Hire a trainer for safe training.

  • Is a garage gym worth it?

    Having a home gym is a worthwhile investment if you plan to focus on your fitness journey in the long run. And if you don’t have enough space, you can use your garage as a home gym.

  • Is it OK to workout in a garage?

    Yes, you can work out in any space in your home, including your garage. As long as you ensure that the space is safe, clean, and well-ventilated, you can use it as a gym space.

What to do next?

Be sure to invest in some good equipment. Check out our Home Gym Equipment Guide.

A question for you

What would be your ideal layout for a half garage? Or what equipment do you miss in my examples? Please leave a comment below and I will add extra layout options as we go. Thanks!

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Inge van Haselen is a certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach. For over 17 years, she has been coaching hundreds of clients in her gym. Inge published several programs on health and fitness. It is her passion to help you have the best Home Gym for your needs. So you can be in the best shape of your life.

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