Sometimes the weather is just too nice to work out inside. Your driveway can actually be turned into a gym pretty easily but what do you need to do this? Here’s what you need.
A basic setup of barbell, bumper plates, barbell stands and bench can easily be used in the driveway if you pay some attention to the weight and how easy they are to move around. It’s a good idea to get a big rubber mat to protect your driveway and equipment from damage and reduce noise.
Which equipment is easy to move around and which add-ons can you get to make this setup even better? Keep reading to find out.
Moving and storage
One important thing to touch on before we get into the equipment is how people tend to use a driveway gym. You don’t really leave your equipment out there forever. You probably want to use your driveway for other things, the neighbors won’t be very happy with it and often the equipment will just ‘disappear’ when you leave it out there.
Also, in most places you can’t work out outdoors year round so you wouldn’t want some equipment clogging up your driveway with equipment you don’t use for several months out of the year.
That means you want equipment that you can easily move around. On top of that, you need a place to store that equipment.
For most people, the garage is at the end of the driveway. That’s the most logical place to store all your equipment. A garage door is easy to open and get big things through. Also, most people will have some space for gym equipment in their garage so it just makes sense.
If you don’t have a garage, things do get a bit more complicated. You’ll have to get the equipment through the front door which is more of a hassle. It’s also unlikely you have enough space/want to store the equipment next to the front door. So you’ll have to find another space in the house and drag everything through the house to get it outdoors.
If you don’t have a garage, a small shed just for storage could be an option but if that’s possible really depends on your situation.
So before you start buying equipment, think about where you’re going to store everything because the effort to get everything outside might not be worth it which means you’ll actually use it less often.
If you have a driveway, you’ll likely have a garage so storage isn’t a big issue. Something to think about is what you want to do with the equipment when you can’t use it in the driveway.
Do you want to NOT work out when the weather is bad? Maybe you’ll go to a commercial gym nearby when you can’t work out outside. However, it seems like a waste to buy equipment you can only use when the weather is good enough.
Just for efficiency, it’s a good idea to get equipment you could also use inside the garage. Of course you still need enough space in the garage to actually work out there but usually just parking the car outside will free up enough space to work out inside.
If you don’t want to have a permanent garage gym setup that’s fine. If you get equipment you can easily move outside, it’s easy to set up inside as well.
So that brings us to the equipment we need;
- Equipment that’s easy to move around
- Equipment that can be used inside as well as outside
- Equipment that’s easy to set up
Let’s take a look at what the best equipment for different goals is.
Driveway workout equipment
There is some equipment that you’ll need to work out outside regardless of what training style you have. Because we don’t want too much equipment to move around but it still has to be very flexible to do a full body workout.
That means a barbell and weight plates setup with some supporting equipment. Don’t expect a full gym with many machines because that’s just not feasible to easily carry outside and back in when you’re done.
Free weights are where it’s at. Free weights can still mean different things. Free weights are just weights that aren’t set in a path. They are free to go where they want so you’ll have to control them. Usually when people say ‘free weights’ they mean;
- Barbell + Weight plates
Dumbbells aren’t very easy to move around so they won’t work very well for our situation. The other two are actually great. They are easy to move around and can be used for a lot of different exercises.
So below you’ll see some variant on a setup with the equipment above. The setups will be quite similar with a few differences for specific workout styles.
Most people just want to get in shape. That means losing fat and gaining muscle. Which one of those two is more important is different for everyone. The good thing is that you can focus on either with the setup below.
For general fitness you want a wide exercise selection for both muscle building and cardio exercise. Here’s a good way to accomplish that.
- Barbell: Any barbell will do. As long as it can handle the plates you have, fits on the stands and is comfortable to hold. Nothing different from inside.
- Weight plates (rubberized is OK for outside but bumper plates are better):
- Weight plate rack with wheels: You don’t want to carry all the weight plates outside separately. Get a rack that fits all the weight plates with wheels so it’s very easy to move around.
- Barbell stands: You’ll want something to keep the bar at a certain height. A power cage is great but not practical to drag outside every day. Barbell stands are much lighter and you can move them one by one.
- Bench: If you want to bench press, you need a bench in combination with barbell stands. Get a lighter bench with wheels so it’s easy to move around.
- Rubber mat /Deadlift pads: It’s necessary to protect your driveway and equipment. Lifting can also produce a lot of noise that is reduced by putting a rubber mat or weightlifting platform in between the two. A rubber mat is movable but quite heavy. A rubber mat in the place you work out helps dampen noise and protects the driveway and equipment. Deadlift pads can help with those things even more.
- Kettlebells: You could perform a whole workout with just two kettlebells. If you don’t want the whole setup above, this is the thing to get. In addition to the setup above, it’s even better. Great for warmups, some isolation exercises and more.
- Sled: Pushing a sled around is great for conditioning. In a home gym there usually isn’t enough space. Outside that isn’t a problem.
- Yoke: Similar to a sled, there usually isn’t enough room to properly use a yoke inside.
- Battle ropes: Another option for conditioning that’s easily moved outside. You just need something to wrap it around.
- Farmers walk handles: This setup doesn’t include dumbbells. Most people use dumbbells for farmers walks. This type of handles allows you to load plates on them and hold them like dumbbells. That makes it much cheaper to do heavy farmers walks as well.
This is a good setup for general fitness and is pretty easy to adapt to other styles of lifting. The basics are enough for a basic workout. That doesn’t mean there are limited exercise options. You can actually do a lot with just those things.
Pretty much all the big compound exercises like;
- Bench press
- Overhead press
So you can do the main compound lifts but also many isolation exercises.
The add-ons are mostly for cardio exercise. Kettlebells can both build muscle and improve cardiovascular health. The sled and yoke have similar effects although are less flexible. Farmers walk handles are a good way to build up your traps and grip strength without needing heavy dumbbells.
Olympic style weightlifting doesn’t require too much equipment which is a good thing in this case. For general fitness you want some type of barbell stands. Olympic lifts are the snatch and clean & jerk. Both those exercises start from the floor so you don’t need any barbell stands and/or a bench. However, you likely still want to incorporate other exercises into your training routine as well and for many of those, stands are a good addition.
One thing that is not optional is bumper plates. I’ve already touched on bumper plates above for general fitness. For Olympic style lifting but also any of the styles above, you should really get this type of weight plates.
Bumper plates are made from rubber and not steel. This is obviously better for dropping from overhead like you do with the Olympic lifts. Normal steel plates can’t handle this. And outside, you’ll likely not have as much gym flooring as in a permanent indoor gym. That means dropping metal weight on your driveway might damage it (as well as your hearing).
Strongman training has gained some popularity in the last few years. Most training for strongman can be done with the equipment listed for general fitness. But you probably want to add a few things to that setup to improve your training;
- Log bar
- Farmers walk handles
- Big tire
- Atlas stone and platform
Those are typical strongman tools that are also used in official strongman competitions.
Recommended equipment driveway gym
Above you can see the types of equipment you can use to build an outdoor gym that’s easily moved around.
- Barbell: The same barbell as used indoors is recommended here.
- Weight plates: A set of bumper plates with enough different weights to progressively load the weight. Fringe sports make a good bumper plate starter set with different weight plates.
- Weight plate rack: A weight plate rack that can handle enough weight for your workout and has wheels under it to move it around. XMark makes a sturdy rack with wheels that fits bumper plates, 2 barbells and has wheels that can lock so it doesn’t move when you don’t want it to.
- Bench: A light bench or one with wheels makes moving much easier. The CAP deluxe utility bench is sturdy and has wheels while not being too heavy.
- Barbell stands: Get some stands that are separate per side. That makes them less stable but easier to move and store. YaheeTech makes some simple barbell stands that are adjustable in height and comes with spotter arms. They only weigh about 2 lbs. a piece so are easily to move.
- Rubber mat: You want to cover a space of roughly 6’x8’ with rubber. Usually rubber mats are 4’ wide and can be bought in different lengths. So 2 mats of 6’x4’ are going to give you enough surface area while not being too heavy to move regularly. American Floor Mats make rubber mats in different lengths so you can get exactly what you need.
|Barbell||XMark||CrowBar||Buy on Amazon|
|Bumper plates||Fringe Sports||Milspec Bumper Plate||Buy on Amazon|
|Plate tree||XMark||XM-9057 Bumper Plate Tree||Buy on Amazon|
|Barbell stands||YaheeTech||Adjustable Squat Rack Standard 44-70 Inch||Buy on Amazon|
|Bench||CAP Barbell||Deluxe Adjustable Utility Bench||Buy on Amazon|
|Rubber mat||American Floor Mats||1/2in (12mm) Thick Solid Black 4' x 6' Heavy Duty Rubber Rolls||Buy on Amazon|
- Battle ropes
- Farmers walk handles
- Log bar
- Atlas stone and platform
|Sled||Titan Fitness||Low Bar Push Pull Drag Sled||Buy on Amazon|
|Yoke||Valor Fitness||BD-21 Strongman Yoke||Buy on Amazon|
|Battle Ropes||Yes4All||Battle Exercise Training Rope with Protective Cover||Buy on Amazon|
|Kettlebells||Yes4All||Vinyl Coated Kettlebells||Buy on Amazon|
|Log Bar||Titan Fitness||8 inch Rackable Strongman Log Bar||Buy on Amazon|
|Farmers walk handles||Synergee||Compact Farmer Walk Handles||Buy on Amazon|
|Atlas stone||Garage Fit||Heavy Duty Workout Sandbags for Training, Fitness, Cross-Training & Strongman Exercises||Buy on Amazon|
Potential driveway gym problems
What are some potential problems you can run into when working out in your driveway? There are a few things you should keep in mind especially compared to working out inside. Here are the biggest issues.
Weightlifting creates noise. Noises you make inside your house will be dampened by the walls and roof. Outside the noises are free to go into your neighbors ears without impediment.
You can do a few things to minimize the noise;
- Use bumper plates
- Have a rubber mat under the place where plates hit the floor
- Don’t grunt like a madman
- Lower the weights in a controlled manner
If you do all the things above, the noise will be minimal although there will always be some.
Iron on concrete or asphalt is going to damage both. Repairing a driveway can get expensive quite quickly and that doesn’t take into account the damage to the equipment.
Bumper plates will help a lot with this. They are made of rubber which is a lot easier on your driveway. However, the concrete can still damage the plates. Chunks of rubber might start getting ripped out of the plates.
For that reason it’s a good idea to have a thick rubber mat you can put on the driveway to protect both it and your equipment.
Driveways are rarely completely level. There usually is some incline or decline on a driveway. That means heavy weights on barbell stands could become unstable. Barbells could also roll away.
Finally, being on a slope can throw off your exercise form. This can actually be pretty dangerous. Especially if the height is different from left to right. This means your spine and all the joints won’t be aligned straight so there is a lot more danger for injuries.
Try to find the most level spot in your driveway. It will be the easiest and safest. If it’s really bad in your driveway and there is no good spot, some plywood shims and rubber tiles with a rubber mat on top can help even things out.
Weather changes. It depends on where you live how often and quickly that happens but it does. Even if the weather looks great it can change by the end of your workout.
That not only ruins your workout but can also be a problem for the equipment. Not all equipment will be bothered too much by some water but there are some that can definitely corrode. Especially if there are any cavities or crevices where water can gather and not easily get out.
The sleeves of a barbell and the inside of a barbell stand are prime candidates The water gets in, starts corroding things with bad long term results.
The weather can also just be not great to work out. Too cold, too hot, too wet, etc. That limits the use of outdoor gym equipment.
Sometimes you do everything you can to limit noise and other things that could tick off your neighbors but it’s not enough. Some neighbors are never going to be happy with whatever you do.
While it’s not illegal in any way (although it could be a problem according to HOA rules) weightlifting in the driveway is one of those things that is sure to tick off those types of neighbors. It’s always best to find some compromise both parties are happy with. Sometimes that’s not going to be easy so if you know you have difficult neighbors. It’s up to you how you want to proceed with that in mind.