The Home Garage Gym Experience in Single Digits

We’ve spent a little time and a fair amount of money over the last few years building a home gym.  When we moved to our new house a couple of years ago, the basement ceilings weren’t high enough, so we moved the gym into the garage. Until recently, it was mostly me using it, but when my wife got sick of some of the ‘tude and poor coaching at the local Crossfit gym, we decided to let our memberships expire and refocus efforts at home.

Home Gym Nov

Working out in the garage is really fun, but certainly takes more discipline and has a sort of bare-bones feel to it that some may not like.   You aren’t waiting to use equipment, or have to worry about crappy equipment (if you buy well), and can play whatever music you want.  You don’t have some knucklehead trying to give you advice, or hit on you.  Instead, where I live, you have sweltering summers and ice cold winters.  It is colder here this week than it has been for nearly 20 years, to give you some perspective.  Working out in the cold isn’t really that bad, and we don’t even have a heater in ours.  Here are some tips:

  1. Bring in the barbells and kettlebells at night – lifting with gloves is not for me (as Ripptoe says, if you wear gloves, make sure they match your purse), but ice cold bars or kettlebell swings suck too.  Not much you can do with your pullup rig.
  2. Layer properly and dress right – Honestly, despite temperatures below zero, basic compression shorts, sweatpants on the bottom half, and a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt layer sequence works awesome.  Throw on a hat and you’re good to go.  After the warmup, you’re actually usually shedding some clothes; and during an actual high-intensity weight/cardio session, you’re down to your bottom layer usually.
  3. Proper warm up – cold muscles and a cold gym don’t really mix well.  A nice warm-up is a necessity to both warm up your muscles and your lungs.  Since I do “olympic style” lifting frequently (snatches, clean and jerks), regardless of whether I have any programmed that day, I still like to warm up with the Spencer Arnold snatch warmup before anything else.

That’s really it.  Be careful of heaters.  If you want to use one make sure you have appropriate ventilation, especially for fueled heaters since carbon monoxide can be a hazard.

Holly and I probably work out together 3/4 of the time now, which has been interesting and a fun change of pace.  We have enough room to do our power/oly lifting programs (similar but a little different), but are occasionally tripping over each other.  Also being used to a quiet time in the morning with my thoughts, having a more Chatty Cathy has taken a little getting used to for me, but it’s been nice spending some quality time sans kids and more times than not usually makes me laugh in the morning.

Bottom line is you feel sort of like Rocky in Rocky IV training in the winter when you’re manning up and going up against the elements along with your weights.


Get a good start to the year, and don’t let the cold be an excuse.

3 responses to “The Home Garage Gym Experience in Single Digits

  1. We have an old Soloflex from the 80s in our dining room (no dining table – more of an office) and some dumbells and kettlebells. It makes it so much easier to do a quick set before or after work. I tried to go to a gym a long time ago but it was kind of intimidating. Having a home gym is so much better!

    • Good use of space. We too modified our intended-to-be formal dining room to be a kids game/lego room, so is a room that actually gets use. Rolling out of bed and hitting the home gym seems so much easier than driving, dealing with people and so forth as long as you have some self motivation and consistency.

  2. I would love to do this, but low ceilings and no garage have me bound to free weights and body weight programs with no high jumping.

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