Winter is not yet here in Austin, Texas, but winter is coming! With the fall bringing a bit of cold air, you might be looking into the best way to heat your garage gym.
Whether you live in harsher environments with more extreme weather, or farther south, the cold can present a challenge for your garage gym workouts. This isn’t you being a wuss, either; cold weather changes the game, and it’s good for you to have options on how to heat your space to a more comfortable temperature.
To make my winter garage sessions more survivable, I have added insulation to my garage walls behind new sheetrock, I insulated the door, and bought an electric heater. Worth every bit of the investment! I’ll give you all the details below.
Ways to Heat a Garage Gym in Winter
Learning how to heat a garage gym for cold winter weather is one of the best things you can do to continue making progress on your health and strength goals. Don’t skip your garage gym workout because of the cold weather!
There are several heating methods for warming your cold garage gym to a comfortable temperature in the winter months, the best way to warm your home gym this winter. Check them out below.
Propane heaters are one of the most effective options for heating a garage in the cold weather, but they do come with down sides.
A propane heater will put out a lot of heat and can create warm air in a large space like the whole garage, not just a corner. Most propane heaters are forced air heaters, meaning they propel air out instead of simply heating in a radiant fashion.
Examples of propane heaters are the torpedo heaters you have probably seen in warehouse style gyms, and at the front of The Home Depot and Lowe’s in cooler months.
You’ll need a fuel source such as a propane tank if you don’t have a gas line in your garage.
However, the byproduct of a burning propane is carbon monoxide, so you must have proper ventilation. This part is crucial!
You must leave the garage doors somewhat open and/or a window partially open to safely operate a propane heater.
You should also have a carbon monoxide detector. You should have this anyway! But you should especially have it if you are using a propane heater.
If you go this route, please research it further. It would also be a good idea to consult your local HVAC specialist first.
If this concerns you, a better option might be a radiant heater.
Radiant Heaters and Infrared Heaters
Radiant heaters are a great heat source during the cold season. They can warm a small space or pocket of a room. Since they only radiate and do not force air out, they heat smaller areas. Infrared heaters are examples of radiant heaters. Infrared heaters can be free standing portable heaters or mounted to the ceiling to save floor space. They heat objects and people instead of heating the air around them. Depending on the size of your garage, radiant heaters might be a great option.
Electric heaters are one of the easiest ways to heat a garage on cold days. I use an electric heater in my garage gym. It is an oil filled space heater which I put it near my squat rack, where I’ll be doing most of the work. It doesn’t dramatically heat the whole garage, but it makes the cold bearable.
I use a DeLonghi oil filled radiator heater, which is about $100 – $150. Worth it to me.
I have two of these, and I use one inside too. It makes a room nice and cozy warm without having to raise the heat in the whole house.
You can google “best electric space heaters” to see which fits your space and budget. There will be many options and you should find many that will comfortably heat small garages.
Mini Split Ductless Heaters
One of the most effective and convenient solutions for heating your garage gym in winter is installing a mini split. A mini split is an electric ductless heating system. They run about $1,000 and will need to be installed by a professional. These might be the best heaters, as they provide both heating and cooling, and are effective enough to combat the most extreme temperatures in cold climates, and fight off the heat in the summer.
Mini splits will probably come with a fancy little remote control and put out all the hot air you’d like.
Consider a mini split a complete and full heat and cold solution. It will affect your electric bill more than the smaller heaters and heating solutions, but it will be a permanent solution that will last a long time.
Other Ways to Heat a Garage Gym
There are of course other ways to heat a garage gym, including a wood stove, pellet stove or natural gas heaters. These are less convenient in a garage and more suitable for finished rooms. You would of course have to take care with these, as they have open flame. Generally I would suggest the above solutions before you use a wood or pellet stove, but if you have experience with these and can tell me otherwise, please let me know! I have admittedly lived pretty far south my whole life, and the portable electric heaters have been plenty for me.
Insulation for Walls, Doors and Floors of Garage Gyms
One of the most effective, easy and cost saving ways to keep the cold air out is to ensure your garage is well insulated. Proper insulation on the walls, doors and floors can go a long way in holding heat in and reducing the cost of heating the garage.
Speaking of essentials, here are some home gym equipment essentials.
Concrete floors become brutally cold in the winter, bringing all that cold in via the floor. Laying down a solid flooring foundation is smart for any gym, for safety, preservation of your floor and sport performance. One often overlooked benefit is that a thick floor covering will help with insulation. I recommend horse stall mats like the ones that can be found at Tractor Supply. These are 3/4 – 1” thick and do a great job of buffering the temperature of the cold floor.
In the harsher winter of colder climates, some people elect to heat their garage floor. This is a more expensive and comprehensive solution, as it involves installing the heating elements into the floor. If you are considering this, do further research in finding reputable companies who specialize in heating floors.
If you are renovating the garage walls and have the opportunity to install sheet insulation, take it. That will help tremendously to keep heat from escaping in the winter. The Home Depot gives a great idea of what kind of insulation level you need, including R-values by region of the US. Check this out if you are adding insulation.
If you aren’t redoing the walls anytime soon, the next best thing is to insulate the garage door.
Garage Door Insulation
There are several ways to insulate an existing garage door. The two most common are fiberglass insulation, which comes in blankets, and foam panel insulation. I bought a garage door insulation kit with sheets of fiberglass insulation and installed it myself. It was around $200 from Home Depot for my two garage doors, and was fairly easy to do. It required fitting the insulation between the garage door panels, sealing the edges with tape clips.
I have since learned that this can get heavy because of accumulation of moisture in the fiberglass insulation, so foam panels might be a better option. Again, contact a trusted HVAC professional to help you make the right decision. Foam panel insulation also looks a bit sharper.
I don’t regret my insulation at all, and it’s effective. But, I might do it differently in the future to heat my next garage gym.
Finally, you can add weatherstripping or seal to the bottom of your garage door if you have large gaps that allow heat loss.
Related: Top 10 Benefits of a Home Gym
Dress for Cold Weather
The last thing you can do, which doesn’t involve modifying your garage, is dressing yourself for the cold weather. Invest in cold gear in layers: a base layer, an insulating layer, and an outer layer. I swear by REI merino wool socks, and thermal middle layers.
To be fully honest with you, you need to ask your cold weather friends or google how to dress for winter weather. I do not know how, and my strategy is to avoid harsh winters. I’ve been skiing once and boy, was it a bad time.
I was cold cold! I try every year to find better gear, but I still get cold, which is the reason I have added insulation behind my sheet rock, the garage door insulation, and a heater to my garage.
Make a Plan for Cold Weather Lifting
Make a cold weather plan so you continue getting your lifting in this winter. By adding a bit of weather stripping, insulation, and investing in the right type of heater, you can create a comfortable environment.
You can also be strategic by warming up inside to begin the warming up/sweating process, and moving to the garage while it has had to for you, and it, to warm up.
In summary, to keep warm in your garage gym in the cold winter:
- Identify leaks in your garage
- Add weather stripping and insulation
- Purchase a good heater for your space
- Dress in layers in cold weather gear
- Start your heater in the garage gym
- Warm up inside
- Go dominate your training session!
Cold Weather Not For You?
Join me in a heated gym with infrared saunas! You can’t always out run the cold. If this is the case for you, do the next best thing and meet me at Big Tex Gym in Austin, Texas for some climate controlled personal training!
Check out these training options here and let me know how I can help you!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.