Small Home Gym Setup Guide

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Small Home Gym Setup Guide
28 April 2021 13 min read
Small Home Gym Setup Guide

Thinking about setting up a home gym in a small space? Then this is the guide for you.

Of course, one person's idea of a small home gym might be a whole garage, whereas you may be reading this looking over at an awkward corner of your bedroom and wondering what you can do with it. We'll do our best to offer some guidance on what you need to think about when setting up a small home gym, regardless of how much space you have!

How Much Space do you Need for a Home Gym?

"How much space do I need for a home gym" is a question we have been asked lots of times, and there's no straightforward answer. For lifting weights, as a general rule, you'll need a space of approximately 8ft wide x 7ft long (244cm x 215cm) for the classic, compact weightlifting set up consisting of a power rack or squat stand, weight plates, a barbell, and a bench.

We should stress that this really is the minimum space needed, in terms of width, if you'll be using a full-length barbell.

You'll likely need more clearance around your weightlifting area, especially to accommodate the width of a barbell and to allow room for loading plates, to ensure you can train safely. So, you may find that you need the width of your home gym area to be 9ft (280cm) or more.

But ultimately, it comes down to what your goals are and what equipment you will need to achieve or support them - not everyone will be wanting to lift weights on a full-length barbell in their home gym, after all.

If you're thinking about setting up a home gym in a small space, it's important to be realistic; but you'd be surprised by what can be achieved with limited space.

First and foremost, therefore, you should consider what your goals are: why do you want a home gym in the first place?

What are your Training Goals?

If you're seriously dedicated to powerlifting with an impressive PR you're looking to smash, but you only have a 6ft x 6ft tool shed available for setting up a home gym, it's true that you may not be able to set up a full power rack or be able to practice with a 7ft barbell.

Garden Outbuilding Gym Featuring Folding Power Rack

However, that same small space could be ideal for an adjustable weight bench, rubber floor tiles, and a set of dumbbells, giving you a great space for supporting your training goals.

Sure, there may have to be a certain element of compromise if you're setting up a home gym in a smaller space - it's unlikely you'll be able to have every single bit of kit you could access at a commercial gym.

If the compromises are too much and you simply won't be able to set up a space-saving home gym that will be suitable for your training needs, it may be best to hold off on cancelling your gym membership until you have more space available.

However, the space being FUNCTIONAL for your needs or beneficial to your training goals doesn't necessarily mean it has to have EVERYTHING you need. If you can fit everything you need into your small space, that's great!

But many use small home gyms as a valuable tool as part of their overall training regime, rather than completely switching to training at home. If having a selection of equipment in a small home gym will support your training goals alongside membership at a better-equipped facility, then that's a great option to have.

Assessing the Space

It's the elephant in the room, even if it has to be a very small elephant to actually fit: how much space do you really have? Planning is key when it comes to setting up a home gym in a limited space, so you'll need to measure out and know the exact space you will have available for equipment. Remember: you may have more space than you realise if you think a bit outside the box - but more on that later in the guide.

Plan your Small Home Gym in Advance

Getting your small home gym layout right is very important. Nobody wants to invest in a load of gym gear only to find it doesn't fit in the space they have available, do they? As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Our top tip for assessing how much space you'll have? Make a simple scale drawing of the room you want your small home gym in, and test what you can fit in the room. Say the room you want to set up your small gym in is 3m x 3m, then draw yourself a 30cm x 30cm room on some paper (or if you have the skill, on an appropriate piece of computer software).

Draw and make "cut outs" of everything else that is currently in the room (if applicable). Is there a shelving unit measuring 1.8m x 0.7m? Then map out an area on your drawing measuring 18cm x 7cm.

Plan of a Garage Gym Example using Online Design Software

Do the same for all the existing furniture in the room. Then, find out the dimensions of any gym equipment you want, and do the same, placing them on your room drawing to see where they might fit.

If you make cut out shapes, instead of drawing directly onto your plan, you can place them on your room diagram and move them around until you find out which layout works best! This also means you can "move" things around your room without actually having to do it, which is a great timesaver if you have to experiment with several different layouts.

Remember to think vertically too! Some racks, for example, are quite tall, with many designs standing at 8ft (240cm) or taller. You'll want to make sure your ceiling is high enough in advance.

If you don't get on with the above method, at the very least you should try marking out the space you'll have available in the room, perhaps with string or tape.

You should still do your best to map out the size of each piece of equipment you are thinking of purchasing, to see if they will fit in the space though! This method is probably better if you have a more open space to work with, like a garage or an empty shed, so moving things around a room and testing layouts won't be a factor.

Above, we have shown how you might do this to set up a garage gym using an online design website, but you really can get the same result the old-fashioned way, with just a pen or pencil, a ruler, and some paper!

If you do all the above and discover you don't have enough space for what you want, it may be time to get creative. Let's take a look at some other things you should consider when figuring out your space.

Why not Try our Room Planner?

Great news! Since we first put together this guide, we've worked on a room planner for our customers to use to help plan out their gym spaces, whatever the size! Have a play around and see what you can fit in your space. Give the room planner a try today.

What Can you move?

If you're willing to spend a bit of time setting things up, it could be worth thinking about what you can and can't move; you may have more space than you realise! This doesn't just apply to moving things around while you're planning the layout of your space: you can also ask yourself what could be moved for the duration of your workout, then moved back again.

Example of a Home Gym in Limited Space Room

Are there chairs or other items of furniture that can be tucked away in the corner? Is there a table or workbench that you can shift half a metre to the left? Could you rotate that chest of drawers 90 degrees to free up some space? Can the bikes be stored elsewhere for an hour?

Anything that could give you a little bit of extra space could be the difference between compromising and getting the exact workout you want.

But try to be realistic! If it's going to take you an hour to get set up every time you want to exercise, it will strip away the convenience which is the best part of having a gym at home.

Practice your Workout Movements in the Space you'll Have

We really can't stress this enough, but you need to check in advance that you'll actually have enough space to do your workout movements. As best you can, you need to practice anything you're planning on doing in the space you'll have available.

With limited space, every centimetre counts, so you'll want to make sure that what looks like enough room doesn't lead to you taking a chunk out of your wall the first time you swing a kettlebell!

Small Home Gym in a Shed

Planning on buying a 7ft barbell? Then make sure to get something 7ft long and practice your lifting movements with it, and also imagine having to load weight plates onto the bar from either side.

This will help you see that although you may have a 7ft wide area of a room to lift in, you will need almost certainly need plenty of clearance around the bar so you can train safely.

If you're unsure, we would recommend consulting a coach for proper guidance on lifting technique and advice on the space that you will personally need to train safely.

After all, a seasoned professional might have the lifting form and flawless technique that means they can lift safely in a more restricted space, but for those of us who are still perfecting our technique, we may need more space to lift safely.

Finally, think about headroom here as well. You don't want to start a set of box jumps only to find you headbutt the light fixings, or even the ceiling! And if you're going to be doing overhead lifts, remember that you'll be taking up a vertical space that's taller than you – so taller lifters, beware!

In summary, you want to make sure that every movement you plan on doing in your small home gym can be performed safely, and without causing damage to your surroundings, before you make a purchase.

Space-Saving Gym Equipment

Shop around for any space saving gym equipment. Anything that folds away, rolls up, or can be stored easily is going to be a lifesaver. Alternatively, (and we're sure you don't need us to tell you this) you might consider simply looking for the smaller sizes of things.

If, for example, there's a difference of 10cm between the width of one weight bench or power rack and another, it could make all the difference to save that space by going for the smaller one. There's ideal small home gym equipment out there, you just have to look for it!

At Again Faster, we're especially proud of our space-saving Wall-Mounted Folding Squat Rack and our Wall-Mounted Folding Power Rack.

Home Gym Featuring our Folding Power Rack

The folding squat rack has a depth of 32 inches (80cm approx.) when in use, but it folds away to a depth of just 9 inches from the wall (23cm). It's a real favourite amongst lifters of all levels for their compact home gym setups.

As for the folding power rack, not only is it a sturdy and super-versatile piece of kit, it has a depth of 24 inches when in use (61cm approx.) and folds away to just 5 inches in depth from the wall (13cm). So, in addition to being one of the most useful pieces of gym equipment out there, it also folds away to less than the length of most smartphones from the wall.

That's seriously impressive and could, for example, allow you to still fit the car in the garage or your bikes in the shed once the rack is folded away.

In fact, anything which can be wall-mounted, stored, or sit directly against a wall, is going to be a real help when planning your compact home gym. Just make sure to consult a professional tradesperson before you go ahead and install wall-mounted gym equipment or add weight to your walls!

Also worth remembering is that although full power racks do take up a lot of space, they are so versatile that one may actually be the most "space-saving" solution to getting the workout you need. Check out all the available accessories for each power rack, and it may turn out that the most sensible investment in terms of space is a power rack instead of buying multiple, separate pieces of gym equipment.

Garage Home Gym in with Washing Machine in the Room

Pick your Equipment Carefully and Look for Helpful Features

Really dig into the specifications and design of the equipment you are looking at. If your small home gym is going to take some setting up before you can begin your workout, it may be worth considering a weight bench that comes with wheels for easier movement, or bumper plate storage on wheels.

And of course, if something is going to need to be moved before, after, or during your workout, make sure you can actually lift or move it safely and comfortably in the first place!

But size isn't the only thing to consider. The shape and design of the equipment you're choosing could be key. You may find that when turned on its side, one style of weight bench tucks away better when not in use versus another.

Wheels, easy to grab handles, parts that can be detached or folded away, parts that can easily be hung on wall fixings: these are the sort of features that may be helpful and worth looking out for.

Storage is Key

Make sure you have dedicated storage spaces planned out to store your equipment when it's not in use, especially if you don't plan on having your small gym permanently set up. You will usually find that purpose-made storage solutions are best for storing most gym equipment, but it's well worth browsing what is out there.

Once again, the walls may be your friend, and so could vertical space. Look for anything that will enable you to store your equipment cleverly so it takes up minimal space when not in use.

Otherwise, you will simply want to check that where you're planning on keeping your equipment when it's not in use is also big enough, not just the training space itself!

If your home gym plans mean the weight bench and dumbbells have to go back in the cupboard under the stairs after use, or perhaps your barbell is supposed to be slotting in a specific corner of the room, make sure they will actually fit!

Get Creative

You may have to think VERY outside the box if you want the rest of your home and your compact home gym to live in harmony.

Creative Home Gym Doubling Up as a Desk

We certainly wouldn't recommend that you misuse any of your equipment, as this can void your product warranties. But we've seen loads of examples of people getting really creative with their available space and with how they have used their equipment.

If you're looking for some inspiration, check out for yourself how others have made the most of their space. Just don't forget to send us your photos or tag us on social media if you manage to put together a small home gym you're proud of!

And Finally… Don't Forget the Fundamentals of Gym Set Up and Safety!

Sometimes, just because a small gym doesn't look or feel like a "professional" gym, people can forget that they still need to treat it like one.

Just because your home gym is in the corner of your garage, or set up in your spare room, doesn't mean you should neglect properly storing your equipment, putting down suitable flooring, (even if it's just for the duration of your workout) and training safely.

You can check out our ultimate home gym guide for some more general guidance on setting up a gym at home.

Setting up your own gym in a limited space? Looking for more small home gym ideas? Drop us a message via social media or email and our team will assist with anything you need. We'll also be posting an article with more small home gym ideas soon, so keep an eye on our website.

And remember, if you manage to put together a home gym you're proud of, we'd love to see it! Tag us on social or email in your pictures and videos.

Other than that, good luck setting up your gym, and happy lifting! #StrongAF

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