A home gym is awesome but what happens when it gets so cold that it’s just not comfortable to use anymore? Here are 18 ways you can stay warm and make your home gym feel comfortable while working out.
There are three general categories these tips to stay warm in a home gym fall into;
- Preserving body heat
- Creating more body heat
- Insulating your home gym
- Actively heating your home gym
To find all the 18 specific ways you can stay warm in a home gym, keep reading.
1. Do a longer warm-up
Doing a warm up can help you a lot to feel warmer in your home gym without doing anything else. Often you’ll notice that a gym feels cold when you walk in but after a couple of exercises you feel fine.
With movements you burn energy. Burning energy creates heat as a side effect. So getting that process started will warm you up and keep you warm.
Doing a longer warm-up will get you warmer but it’s just to get your body ready for the ‘real’ workout. If it’s colder, it’ll take a bit longer before your body is ready for a higher intensity so that’s why a longer warm-up is a good idea.
2. Warm up inside the house
Is starting your workout in the gym too cold? Start warming up in a warmer part of the house. Even if your home gym is freezing, I’m sure most of your house is a bit warmer than that.
So start with some light exercises and stretches that get the blood flowing and you start getting some warmth going. Once you’ve warmed up a little, the cold won’t feel as bad in the garage or basement and you can start your workout.
You can also turn on the space heater while you warm up somewhere else so your gym will be warmer once you’re ready.
3. Wear a sweater
Of course when you’re cold, take your mother’s advice and just wear a sweater. Layering up is of course the first thing you can do when things get cold.
A sweater keeps the heat in where it matters the most. Your body want to keep your vital organs at the perfect temperature. Most of those organs are in your torso which a sweater keeps warm.
Of course a sweater works best if you combine it with other layers. Three layers is usually considered the best way to stay warm.
- Base: A good base layer keeps warmth in while wicking away moisture. It should fit your body closely so no air gets in between this layer and your skin because that will greatly reduce its efficacy. Wool is generally considered the best material since it keeps a lot of warmth but also takes care of sweat very well. Cotton retains too much moisture which will cool you down. Some polyesters work well while others are terrible, it really depends on the specific fiber that’s used. Merino wool t-shirts (amazon link) are generally considered to be the best for this purpose.
- Insulation: On top of the base layer, you have another layer that traps more heat. This layer can be a bit bulkier and looser so it traps more air. This is where the sweater comes in.
- Weather protection: The outer layer should mostly be to protect you against the elements and not as much for insulation although it will still do that as well.
Inside, the outer weather protection layer isn’t the most practical since it’s usually quite bulky and gets in the way. If you’re wearing
4. Wear long pants
While most of your body heat is in your torso, the legs have a lot of surface area which means a lot of heat loss. Covering up your legs is an easy way to keep that body heat inside.
As workout gear, you want it to be quite flexible. So something like ski pants or jeans is not what you want to use. Cotton joggers will work but leggings or pants made from something like fleece or wool is even better because it retains more heat but is also very flexible.
The floor is cold and almost sucks the heat out of your legs if you stand on it barefoot. If you’re used to working out barefoot or very open footwear, change that now.
Put on some thicker socks and closed shoes and you will have much warmer feet. Of course combining this with gym flooring (see below) is much more effective.
That said, most of you are probably already wearing shoes while working out in your home gym. You can still look into some warmer socks though.
Here are some warm wool socks that will keep your feet warm. Pretty? No. But they’re warm! Click here to find them on Amazon.
6. Wear gloves
The worst thing is a really cold barbell or dumbbells. It’s uncomfortable, hurts your hands and can even cause frostbite if it’s really cold. You’ll also not perform your best with cold (painful) hands.
Gloves serve two purposes that make your workout more comfortable;
- Keep your hands warm
- Have a layer between the cold metal and your skin
Gloves are a very easy way to keep your hands more comfortable in the cold. I wouldn’t use full on ski gloves that are meant to be used outside. A pair of workout gloves is a better idea. Workout gloves provide more feel and grip which is very useful for working out. With other gloves holding onto a heavy barbell might be difficult.
Workout gloves are available in full or fingerless variety. The full gloves keep your hands warmer but the fingerless ones give you most of the benefits while also having the better feel of your bare fingers.
These full gloves (amazon link) are great for lifting but also keep your hands warm.
7. Wear a beanie/hat
You actually lose quite a bit of body heat through your scalp. Wearing a hat or beanie is something that you can easily do in a gym without it getting in the way.
Since your body produces heat, keeping warm is just a matter of keeping enough of it in for your core temperature to stay high enough.
Your head is a part of the body that’s often not covered up. So adding a hat or beanie is a very easy way to keep some more of that body heat inside. Also, the head and especially the brain is one of the organs your body will try to keep at the perfect temperature at all costs. It will pull warmth away from your arms and legs to be able to keep the brain and other important organs warm. So keeping your head warm will also help keep your arms and legs warmer.
8. Thermal underwear
Since it’s all about preserving body heat, thermal underwear is a great option. Wearing full on ski pants and a jacket will get in the way of your workout but, thermal underwear can be worn without it getting in the way.
And thermal underwear is very effective in preserving body heat, especially if you use the long variety. Of course it’s best to combine this with other clothes but hey, it’s your home gym so you can do what you want.
One drawback of thermal underwear for use during a workout is that it’s not easy to take it off. A sweater or beanie is easily removed if you get hot. With underwear that’s a bit more difficult.
This thermal underwear will keep you warm and very comfortable. Check it out (amazon link)
9. Eat/drink something that raises your body temperature
Of course wearing all the clothes you own isn’t going to help if there is no heat to keep in. Luckily everyone that’s alive produces their own body heat. If not, you have bigger problems than a cold home gym.
So while clothes are focused on preserving the body heat you’ve got, you can give yourself a small temperature boost. Some foods and drinks can help you to raise your body temperature a little. It’s going to be a small change but every little bit helps.
Here are some of the foods that can naturally increase your body heat slightly;
- Fresh Ginger
- Green tea
- Cayenne pepper
- Coconut oil
- Spicy chili
- High protein foods
And those are just a few examples. Most foods that raise your metabolism will also slightly increase body temperature, just because your body is burning more energy. However, you don’t always want to eat a big meal before a workout.
But there are some things you could easily combine with a workout though. For example;
- Take a protein shake before your workout
- Drink Coffee and coconut oil
- Drink green tea with ginger
10. Have warm water/other drink in a thermos
Eating or drinking things that affect your bodies is one way to go. Of course you can also take a more direct approach. Take a thermos into your gym and fill it with a warm drink. The warmth of the drink can help you stay warm.
Of course you can combine this with the previous point about warming foods for a double effect. The green tea with ginger would be a great example. Not only does it taste better warm, but green tea and ginger both boost fat burning which is a great added benefit.
It might be tempting to put some booze in there but while that might feel warm, it’s not a great idea. Mixing alcohol and workouts is a terrible idea in the first place but alcohol actually has the opposite result of what you want. It opens up your pores which makes you lose extra body heat.
11. Keep your barbell in the house
Touching cold things is the worst. And touching cold metal can even be dangerous if it’s really cold. Just preventing the thing you touch most of the time from getting too cold is an easy fix.
Just keep the barbell in the house in a place where it’s warmer. When you start your workout, take it into the gym and it’ll be good to handle.
Of course if it’s really cold the bar will just cool down again. However, if you handle it enough you will keep it warm enough.
Also, if you use a space heater, the air in your gym will warm up pretty quickly but, the metal equipment will take much longer to get up to temperature. So if you keep the barbell inside the house and then use a space heater you don’t have to wait for the metal parts to get up to temperature before you can use it. That means you can use your gym much quicker.
12. Block all holes
We’ve taken care of our body heat as much as possible. Now it’s time to take a look at what we can do to keep the temperature in your home gym up.
If temperature is a problem in your home gym, it’s likely that it’s in your garage or basement. Those rooms are often not the best insulated and isolated. So even without adding any heating we can keep these spaces a bit warmer. Most of the time these spaces are connected to the house so they will still get some heat that radiates from the rest of the house.
Preserving that heat does two things;
- Keep your home gym warmer
- Lower your heating expenses for the whole house
And the easiest and most effective way to preserve heat is by blocking all air gaps. If air can flow freely, it takes all the heat with it and all the insulation in the world isn’t going to help you.
You can plug air gaps in a few ways;
- Use weather stripping around doors and windows
- If you’ve got trickle vents, make sure you can open and close them
- Block any visible holes
- Put shutters on ventilation fans
Doing those things will massively improve the heat loss through gaps and should keep up the temperature. It also lowers your total heating bill because while you might not heat your home gym though central heating, the heat loss to the garage or basement will be less.
Just like clothes are used to preserve body heat, you can use insulation on your house to preserve the heat inside. After plugging all the air gaps, this is the next thing to do.
Insulate all the surfaces your gym loses heat through.
For a garage gym the biggest gains will be made by;
- Insulating the garage door
- Insulating the outside walls
- Insulate any windows
- Insulating the roof
Not all garages are made equal but for most garages these are your best options.
For a basement gym the biggest gains will be made by;
- Insulating the floor
- Insulating the walls
DON’T insulate the walls and doors that are shared with the house. Because that’s where you get most of the heat you’re trying to preserve from. If you would insulate the walls and openings that are shared with the heated parts of the house you risk actually making your home gym colder. Just insulate the walls, doors and windows that are facing outside.
14. Use gym flooring
Insulating a floor can be quite difficult. However, this being a gym, we have a great opportunity to get two birds with one stone.
Gym flooring is that stone. It’s always a great idea to have gym flooring in your home gym. Gym flooring protects your equipment and your floor. It also makes your gym a bit more comfortable and provides grip for when you’re lifting heavy weights.
At the same time, most gym flooring is actually a pretty good insulator. You can use both foam or rubber flooring. Both are much better than not using anything. Foam will insulate a little better but isn’t as long lived as rubber.
To get the best of both worlds, you can use a foam underlay (Amazon link) under rubber gym flooring. You can get underlays that are specifically made to insulate. This way you get the heat insulation of foam plus the insulation and durability of rubber.
15. Use a space heater
Finally, it’s time to combat the problem straight on. Everything before this has been focused on preserving heat. But at some point, that’s just not enough. Or you want a simple, single solution to the problem.
That’s where a space heater comes in. A space heater is a very easy way to create heat in a space, hence the name. Yes, they do use quite a bit of energy and without insulation you will lose that heat quite quickly but it doesn’t get any easier than this. Just buy one, plug it in and turn it on.
There are many different types of space heaters and it’s worth doing some research into which one is best.
If you get a heater that’s directional, it’s a good idea to aim it at the equipment you’re going to touch. This way that equipment warms up first and you can use it faster.
16. Set your space heater on a timer
You want your home gym to be comfortable when you come in, not 15 minutes after you’ve started. The cold problem is the biggest when you’re starting out anyways. So that’s why ideally you’d want your heater to turn on 10 or 15 minutes before you have to go there.
If your workout schedule is very constant, you can set the timer to come on 15 minutes before you start and everything will be nice and toasty once you get in there.
Of course if your workouts happen at different times, setting a timer isn’t very useful. You can just go into your gym, turn on the heater, do your warm-up in a warmer spot and your gym will be comfortable once you’re ready.
Alternatively, you can get a power outlet with some kind of remote control. They are available with simple remote controls or with smartphone app.
When setting a space heater on a timer, it’s a good idea to use a type of heater that is safe. Some heaters can be a fire hazard so it’s not a good idea to let them turn on unsupervised.
17. Hook up your home gym to the central heating
Of course if you want to do things the best way you can hook up your central heating to the space your gym is in.
This will cost a lot of time and money but it’s the most convenient and will work great. If you do this, you have to combine it with proper insulation for your gym space otherwise it’s a big waste of energy.
For most people this is not worthwhile and a space heater is a better option.
18. Train at the right time of day
In most places, the temperature is higher during the day than at night. You can take advantage of this by training at the warmest time of day.
Maybe it’s a small difference in temperature inside but it could just the edge you need to make working out possible. Of course this isn’t possible for everyone because of work and other schedules.
You get a smart thermometer and track the temperature for a few days so you can see which time of day is the best. You can combine this with using a space heater. If there is a 5 or even 10 degree difference between the highest and lowest temperature, those are 5 to 10 degrees your space heater doesn’t have to heat anymore. This save quite a bit of energy.
How cold is too cold?
The exact temperature that’s ‘too cold to work out’ is different for everyone. The tips above will allow you to train in a home gym while the temperature is much lower than without these tips.
There are two types of ‘too cold’;
- Uncomfortably cold
- Dangerously cold
Cold can be uncomfortable but not dangerous. Usually this type of cold is just a bit uncomfortable in the beginning but once you warm up, it’s OK. This type of cold you can easily manage with the tips named above. Just a longer warm-up, some gloves and a sweater should make this bearable.
The second type is a bit more problematic. If it’s dangerously cold, there are two big problems;
Hypothermia is pretty easy to avoid while working out. Just wear the right clothes and warm up properly. However, at some point ‘the right clothes’ just become a bit too bulky to work out in so that’s only possible up until a certain temperature. If your garage or basement gets so cold that the clothes hinder your workout, you’ll have to take some other measures. After that point you’ll just have to raise the temperature in your gym. Just throwing a space heater in there is the easiest but it does take quite a bit of energy and will work better in combination with insulation. Sometimes, just insulation alone can be enough to preserve the heat in your home gym. However, insulating your whole garage or basement takes more effort, time and money than just buying a space heater. In the long term it can save money though.
Weights and barbells are made from metal. Everyone knows that grabbing a piece of exposed metal in freezing conditions is a bad idea. Your skin can get stuck to the metal which would be a very bad day. This can lead to frostbite. Wearing gloves can help a lot with this problem but then getting your gloves stuck to the barbell is still not great.
Your hands are the most likely part this is going to happen to although other parts of your body might be exposed to the metal as well. Either way, it’s freezing in your home gym, you have to raise the temperature to safely use it. So again, using a space heater and/or insulating your home gym will be necessary.
What to do when?
When should which measures be taken so you can stay warm in your home gym without going through more effort and money than is necessary.
If you’re cold, the first thing you should do is do a proper warm-up. In moderate cold, just getting your body up to temperature makes a world of difference. Many times you’ll be cold in the beginning, but after a proper warm-up you’ll actually be quite comfortable.
Those first things can of course be compounded with wearing different clothes. For most people this is likely going to be enough. A sweater, some warmer socks and a pair of (lifting) gloves and a head covering will massively help you preserve your body heat and stay warm enough. And those things can easily be removed in case you get too hot during a workout.
Warming foods and drinks can also give you an extra edge here.
If it turns out the first steps are not enough, here are the next steps;
If you want to do things sustainably and can afford the time and money to do it, go for the insulation measures. First fill all the air gaps you can, add some insulation to the door, floor, walls and/or roof.
If you don’t want to do all of that or just don’t want to spend the money, going straight for the space heater is the easiest option. Without insulation your energy use will be higher though.
Of course combining the space heater/central heating and insulation is going to yield the best results.