how to heat a garage gym

How to Heat a Garage Gym: The 21 Best Ways

It’s freezing cold again and you want to workout. What’s the best way to heat your garage gym?
Working out in an ice-cold garage is not the healthiest thing to do, aside from the lack of motivation you have. That’s why you need to set your garage gym workout up properly to be able to heat it in the cold seasons.

In this article, you are going to learn 21 different ways to stay warm and heat your garage gym. From keeping yourself warm to proper insulation and buying the right heaters: You will learn everything you need to know.

After reading it, you will have the knowledge you need to never have a cold garage gym workout again.

Here are 21 ways how to heat your garage gym.

1. Layer up clothes

To stay warm in your garage gym, there’s one thing you can change immediately: Your clothing.

The best way to reduce the need for heating is to layer up clothes. The more layers you wear, the better.

“Indeed, clothing plays the ultimate role in effectively protecting the human body by controlling the heat transfer from the body to the thermal environment or vice versa.”

UNIST Multidisciplinary Institute, Ulsan, South Korea

Layered clothes work much better in terms of insulation than a single layer of thick clothing.

The reason is that the main insulation is accomplished by trapping air. It’s not the cotton or wool that keeps you warm. It’s the air that is trapped between the wool strands.

By layering up clothing, you create more air pockets that act as efficient insulation.

If you wear the right clothes, you might not even need to heat your garage gym.

You can layer up clothes in several ways. I found 3 layers the best:

  1. Base Layer: The first layer is the so-called base layer. Its main job is to wick away moisture from your body – like a sponge.
  2. Insulation Layer: The second layer is the insulation layer. It limits the air exchange and creates air pockets between your body and the outer environment. The first layer can consist of synthetic sports fabrics, as in thermal long sleeve clothes or simple wool or cotton.
  3. Outer Layer: The third, outer layer protects you from the weather. It can withstand wind and rain. But because we’re talking about how to heat a garage gym, the outer layer can consist of a simple hoodie.

If you don’t have special thermal wear, don’t worry. You can make up all the clothing layers of simple t-shirts and pullovers you already have at home. They will keep you warm enough in a garage gym.

layer up clothes to stay warm while working out

2. Wear shoes

If you do your workout barefoot, just with socks, or with simple slippers, stop it! I know that in a garage gym, you feel like you’re at home. Well, you are. But still, you’re in a cold place.

So, don’t skip wearing proper sports shoes.

Shoes are the ultimate protection for your feet and you should not miss them.

With cold feet, you put additional stress on your immune system, which you do not want in a garage gym workout. You might even perform worse.

Shoes provide proper insulation that keeps the cold away. Mostly garage gyms have cold concrete floors, which makes shoes a must-wear in the wintertime.

When it’s really cold, you don’t even need to wear sports shoes. You can do your workout with thick winter boots as well.

For workouts, where you need good mobility, you can also wear weightlifting shoes.

3. Wear gloves

When it’s cold in your garage gym, you need protection.

Your body sees your gym as a collection of ice-cold barbells your hands don’t want to touch. But they have to.

When you’re working out with ice-cold steel, you need something to protect your hands. Gloves add a layer of insulation to your hands and ensure that your skin doesn’t freeze (Yes that could happen).

Fingers are very sensitive to the cold, and during a workout, your hands are sweaty and moist. Which is why touching cold metal with them is dangerous. It’s similar to licking frozen metal in wintertime.

Important:

Wear gloves that cover your fingers completely instead of the popular half-gloves used in weightlifting.

Scientists from Loyola University wrote the following when they researched fingerless gloves:

“Fingers are one of the first body parts to suffer from the cold and popular fingerless texting gloves can lead to frostbite”

Loyola University Health System
wear gloves - otherwise it's too cold to workout in your garage

4. Insulate your garage door

If your garage door is not insulated yet, this is something you HAVE to do. Absolutely every garage gym needs insulated doors.

“If you tend to have mild winters, you can probably keep your garage at a comfortable temperature by simply insulating your garage door and windows, and weather stripping exterior doors.”

budgetdumpster.com

Now don’t worry. You can do the insulation as a DIY project! It’s absolutely doable and doesn’t require many skills.

The level of insulation is measured using the so-called R-value. The higher the value is, the better the insulation. Depending on the climate in the area you live you should choose higher or lower R values.

R-25, for example, insulates better than R-5.

For the insulation part, I recommend to do it as a weekend project (maybe you even get it done in an afternoon). To do so, you can get a simple garage insulation kit such as the US Energy Products NASA Tech Kit, which you can find online.

The best part about insulation is that it does not only retain the heat in the cold wintertime, but it also keeps your garage cool in summer! Insulation limits any kind of temperature exchange, so you have full control over your garage gym.

If you want to learn more, I wrote a guide on how to heat an uninsulated garage here.

5. Warm up your barbell

If you don’t have the option to preheat your garage gym with a heater, you likely start your workout in a freezing cold room. And working out with ice-cold barbells is not fun at all.

To compensate the cold a little, you can bring a blow dryer with you and preheat the barbell. Because it consists of steel, which is a very good heat conductor, the barbell will warm up evenly.

This way you protect your hands when working out. Touching warm metal makes the gym feel warmer overall.

You can see this tip as an alternative to wearing gloves. Both methods protect your hands. If you don’t have good gloves, warm your barbell.

You can also bring your barbell inside and store it somewhere. And whenever you work out, you bring the barbell with you. This guarantees that your barbell is at room temperature and you can comfortably start working out.

Instead of using a blow dryer, you could also warm up your barbell using a space heater. Just place it in facing the workout area and your weights and barbells will warm up.

Keep reading to find out which space heaters are suitable.

6. Use an infrared heater

For garage gym, the best electric space heaters are infrared heaters. The best thing about them is that you don’t need to preheat your garage gym at all.

Infrared heaters emit radiation as soon as you turn them on. Within just a few seconds, they reach full heat. That’s why infrared heaters are efficient as well.

Other types of heaters (like oil-filled radiators) need a few minutes to heat up.

For a garage gym, the best infrared heater you can buy is the Dr Infrared Heater (click to see it on amazon).

Compared to other infrared heaters it is much more powerful and suited for heating rooms that require more heating power (like a garage).

It’s exactly what you need in a garage gym.

7. Buy a torpedo heater

Alternatively, instead of getting an infrared heater, you could also get a torpedo heater. Sounds manly? It is.

A torpedo heater is the ultimate choice to produce lots of heat without the need for electricity. In fact, they produce so much heat, that they overcome any insulation issues. You can even heat rooms that are poorly insulated.

Torpedo heaters work by producing a hot air stream (which is called “forced air”), similar to a jet engine. The downside to using them is that they are noisy.

I recommend the Mr. Heater MH60QFAV (click here to see it on amazon) – which will keep any garage hot!

All you need is a propane tank. After hooking it up to the heater, it can run up to 14 hours on 20lb of propane.

That’s really durable considering that you don’t run the heater throughout the entire workout. It would probably get too hot otherwise.

If you run it for half an hour per workout, a simple 20lb tank will last for 28 hours of workout, which is 2-3 months.

In case you don’t want to pay so much money for space heaters, here’s a full post about the Best Space Heaters under $50.

a torpedo heater is the fastest way to heat

8. Put a towel on the bench

You probably know the feeling of lying down on a cold bench. It’s horrifying and everyone hates it.

That’s why you should always put a layer of insulation between you and the weight bench. A towel is really useful for that.

A towel prevents direct contact with your weight bench and thus keeps you warm. Also, it will reduce sweat stains on your workout gear. I know, it’s your own garage gym and you don’t care about your own sweat – but having everything hygienic as a side effect is still nice.

I recommend to always have a towel prepared for use in your garage gym. Just put it on a shelve or clothes rack so you are always able to get it.

This way you don’t have to look for your towel before working out. You always have one in your gym.

10. Warm up

Literally warming up is important to stay warm in your garage gym. Never start a workout with full weights without warming up.

When you enter your garage gym for a workout, the very first thing you should do before anything else is to do ave a small warm-up routine.

Especially because you’re coming from a cozy living room where your body could lower its efforts to keep your body temperature up.

In a cold garage gym, the environment is completely different and warming up becomes essential to stay healthy and to minimize the risk of injury.

A quick warm-up routine would be the following.

  1. Jumping jacks: Start your workout with jumping jacks to increase your heart rate. You will notice that your body gets warmer overall.
  2. Empty barbell warm-up: Before each new exercise, do one or two high-rep sets with empty barbells. These sets prepare your joints for heavier weights.

Once you feel your body temperature warming up, feel free to start your working sets. The warm-up makes sure that you reach sufficient body activity before you strain yourself too much in the cold environment.

11. Add a carpet

Adding a carpet to your garage gym floor helps you in two ways:

It adds another helpful layer of insulation to your garage. And it makes your garage gym look better.

Carpet creates tiny air pockets and decreases the amount of air that cools down on the floor. This way your garage can retain the heat for longer times once it heats up, which will, in turn, decrease your electric bill in the long run.

Therefore, you actually save money!

Alternatively, you could also use protective flooring mats such as rubber exercise mats. They have a similar insulation effect and protect your floor from damage as well.

If you don’t have any rubber mats in your gym yet, consider getting some. They definitely improve heat retention as well as the sound dampening in your garage.

You’re getting many advantages from adding a carpet or workout mats.

12. Stop blaming the weather

Even if your garage gym is freezing cold – so cold that you think you’re in Siberia – this article here is going to help you. You have already learned so much about heating your garage gym and there are more heating tips to go.

I suggest ordering a space heater (infrared or torpedo I suggested above). It will arrive within a few days.

But until they arrive: Don’t blame the weather! Don’t take the cold as an excuse to skip your workout. Instead, have one last workout in the cold. It will increase your anticipation for the heaters.

Working out in a warm garage gym is much better than in a cold one, I admit it. But rock this one last workout in the cold.

After that, you can plan which ways you will use to upgrade your gym.

13. Shower

A warm shower protects your body and aids your immune system. You should generally always shower after a workout. It has many positive health effects, aside from feeling just so much better.

But showering before your workout is possible as well. You can either have a cold shower to increase your heart rate and prepare for the cold, or you can have a hot shower to aid your body temperature. Both are fine!

A shower before a garage gym workout raises your body activity and alertness. It will make your upcoming workout more enjoyable and may even improve your results. And you know that after a workout you can jump in the shower again!

14. Bring tea

As long as you don’t have any heat source in your garage gym, you absolutely should bring tea to your workout. You can drink it between sets.

You can simply prepare a bottle of tea half an hour before the workout starts. By then it will have reached just the right temperature for you to drink it. The warmth of the tea will then reduce the need for heating your garage gym.

Additionally, drinking green tea before or during a workout increases your fat burn rate significantly!

“One study in 12 men found that consuming green tea extract before exercising increased fat burning by 17%, compared with a placebo (source).”

Benefits of green tea – healthline

Therefore, there’s no excuse not to drink tea in your garage gym. It keeps you warm and it improves your results and makes you look better at the same time!

How awesome is that?

15. Use a yoga mat

Each time you do any kind of workout where you touch the ground, for example, push-ups, crunches, stretching, or similar, use a yoga mat!

A yoga mat insulates you from the cold ground. You should always avoid direct contact with the cold during a workout. It would reduce your muscles’ mobility and flexibility.

Yoga mats feel pretty warm. That’s because of the thousands of small air bubbles that are trapped inside the foamy material.

It is, therefore, another effective way to stay warm in your garage gym. Generally, any kind of yoga mat would work. But when it’s really cold, the best insulating yoga mats are those which are made of cork:

“Cork is […] an ideal material for a yoga mat. The texture is particularly lovely when lying down or practicing in a cold room – it feels snugglier and warmer than a rubber mat.”

independent.co.uk about yoga mats

Also, yoga mats are easy to store. Just put it in any corner of your garage gym. The cold won’t harm it. That way you always have a yoga mat prepared.

16. Install a wood stove

A wood stove in a garage gym? How would that work? Isn’t it expensive? It’s not!
You can use a wood stove kit to turn a regular metal barrel into a wood stove yourself. That’s a really effective and affordable way to heat your garage gym.

Using a wood stove would, however, require you to come half an hour before your workout, and preheat the gym with a stove fire. That’s the disadvantage compared to a space heater which you could simply turn on.

However, having a wood stove requires you to chop wood. Which is like another workout you have to do once or twice a year.

Using wood makes you independent of the electric grid. In an energy outage, you could always go and workout (if you don’t have anything else to worry about)! 

Especially, when you can get wood for cheap (or better for free), wood stoves are definitely worth it.

But I think for most people, space heaters do the job.

17. Insulate the roof

Whatever you heat your garage gym with, it’s a rule of physics that hot air rises while cold air stays on the ground. But what if your garage gym roof has air gaps. And what if your garage gym doesn’t have proper insulation?
Oftentimes garage roofs are bare metal roofs. Metals, as you might already know, are the best heat conductors and therefore don’t keep any heat inside your gym.

Having a metal roof protects you from wind, but it doesn’t protect you from the cold. Having a metal roof is, in terms of heat exchange, about the same as having no roof at all.

So, add a layer of insulation to your garage roof. You can do it with an insulation kit or by attaching styrofoam to the roof.

If you have an attic above your garage gym, the best way to insulate it is with styrofoam balls or glass fiber insulation (glass wool).

Here’s a video that shows you how to insulate your attic to keep heat in your garage gym.

18. Close all air gaps

Hot air oftentimes leaks through air gaps. That’s why you should make sure that there are no significant openings where cold air can enter your gym.

The most common spots for air gaps are right below your garage door and right below your roof. You can usually close them using a simple door insulation tape or soundproofing material.

It will stop the hot air from leaking and the cold air from coming in. Closing air gaps, if you have some, will improve the overall insulation of your garage gym a LOT.

19. Wear warm ski underwear

Warm ski underwear protects you when it’s really cold. But you are not restricted to using them for winter sports. You can always wear thermal underwear during your garage gym workout.

It will keep you warm by wicking away moisture from your body. The layer above your underwear will insulate you from the cold. Because of that, you will feel dry during your workout and your sweat won’t cool you down.

The best thing is that ski underwear doesn’t limit your movements. Even when you have a workout where you need mobility, ski underwear does not stop you. It is very stretchy and low weight.

There’s no excuse for not wearing thermal underwear while doing a workout in a cold gym.

20. Workout with your spouse or a partner

This is not directly a heating tip. But because you’re not alone in your garage gym when you bring your spouse or a partner, the room heats up faster from the body temperature.

Also, because you are with someone, the amount of air in your garage gym decreases. Your bodies displace the air in the gym. Therefore there’s less cold air that you need to heat.

When you fire up a space heater, for example, you will notice that it gets warm faster.

Also, when you have a workout partner you are more motivated and able to accomplish better performance. You move heavier weights.

The improved workout will increase your heart rate and you will feel warmer. Also, having a buddy with you distracts you from the cold.

body temperature heats room faster, you are more motivated – achieve higher power (thus higher heart rate and you feel warmer

21. Bring an electric blanket

You can also bring an electric blanket to your workout. This is the absolute last resort! If you still feel cold in your garage gym, having an electric blanket is invaluable.

Between every set, you can snuggle up in your electric blanket and warm up.

Don’t worry about energy costs. Electric blankets cost just a tenth of a space heater to run.

So, have an electric blanket plugged in, do a set, and after the set, warm yourself up. Repeat.

You can also put the electric blanket on the weight bench while doing your sets there. It will warm up the bench and it will keep your back warm actively.

Heating systems for garage gyms

For most of you, the 21 ways for heating a garage I just mentioned are enough to go through the winter.

In case you have some spare money and you want this to be a long-term project, you can also install a central heating system in your garage.

Even though this might be a bit much for a garage, there are some advantages over other heating methods such as reliability, more heating power and possibly lower long term cost.

Central heating options for a garage are:

  1. Warm-air furnace
  2. Hot water boiler
  3. Steam boiler

They all work in similar ways: One central heating unit heats either water, steam or air which is then distributed using a pipe system and a pump. In some cases, you don’t even need to build a new central heating.

When your garage is close to your home, you are maybe able to build pipes that connect your home central heating with your garage.

different types of central heating systems to heat a garage gym
Image by smarterhouse.org
About the Author

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel is an electrical engineer, blogger, and author. He studied electrical engineering and information technology and decided to blog about heaters after working in the temperature sensing industry.