Do you have low ceilings and are wondering what kind of home gym you can create? Here is everything you need to know.
How can you build a fully functional home gym under a 7’ ceiling? Most equipment fits perfectly fine and can be used without problems. However Power racks, cardio machines and cable stations can be too tall to fit. It’s still possible to get equipment that fits but requires some shopping around.
Find out how to do it exactly and which equipment will work below.
What kind of home gym fits under 7 feet?
What type of gym can you create under a 7 foot ceiling? Can it be fully functional and comfortable to use? Maybe you’re wondering if you should even try. Let’s get into that a little bit.
The question you might be wondering about is: why am I writing a post about building a gym under 7’ tall ceilings? Well, many home gyms are built in garages and basements. Basements especially have quite low ceilings and 7’ isn’t an exception. Many people have to deal with low ceilings in their home gym so this post hopes to give them an idea of what is possible.
The gym we’re going for is a free weights weightlifting gym with a cardio machine and a cable station. That should fit in a 300 sq. ft. basement if only just.
So what do we need?
- Cardio machine (more on that later)
- Power rack
- Weight plates
- Cable station
- Dumbbell rack
Space requirements aside, there are a few things that will cause problems under a low ceiling.
Which equipment is going to be a problem under a 7’ ceiling? There are a few things that could be problematic if you get the wrong stuff;
- Power rack
- Cardio equipment
- Cable station
- Weight plates
Yes, exercises can cause issues as well. That’s not what this post is about. If you’re interested in what to do about certain exercises, read this post.
Why are only those three pieces of equipment a problem? Well, the other ones aren’t very tall. Sure a full length Olympic barbell is more than 7’ long but when do you use it vertically? Never.
A bench is more than low enough to use it for every possible exercise, Dumbbells, a dumbbell rack and other gym accessories aren’t NOT going to fit unless you can’t even stand up.
1. Power rack
Let’s start with the power rack. This is the most important piece of equipment in many home gyms. With a power rack there are tons of exercises you can do that would require different pieces of equipment otherwise.
Most power racks are a bit on the tall side especially for 7’ tall ceilings. The average height of a home gym power rack is about 84”/7’. The majority of power racks ranges from 81” to 86” although some are as tall as 91” or as short as 71.5”.
So while the average power rack is about 7’ tall, just buying a random one doesn’t guarantee it will fit. It might just be a little too tall but it still won’t fit. You need a little bit of space to move the rack around as well.
On top of that you’ll probably put down some type of gym flooring. Flooring can take up as much as an inch by itself. While you could cut out holes in the gym flooring where the power rack touched the floor, this doesn’t look very good and means you can never move the rack around.
So, that means we’re looking for a power rack that is 83” tall or shorter.
This will probably mean you won’t be able to do pull ups. The pull up bar is on top of the power rack. To do a full pull up, you need about 18” of room above the bar. To just get your head above the bar 12” is enough.
84-18=66. There are no power racks that are that short
84-12=72. There are two power racks available that are about that height. If you’re not too tall, get one of these if pull ups are important. The best option is the Titan Fitness T-2 Short. Click here to find out why that’s my favorite.
Alternatively, you could get a separate pull up bar you mount in a door frame.
2. Cardio equipment
Cardio equipment is another one that can be problematic. The equipment itself will fit no problems. But, unlike the power rack, you’re on top of the equipment.
The deck height on a treadmill is usually around 8”. Add to that a layer of gym flooring and you’re at 9” from the floor. Now if you’re a taller person that’s 6’ tall, you only have 3” of headroom when standing on your treadmill. And that’s only standing, when jogging or running, you’ll push off the belt slightly so you need more headroom because 3” won’t be enough.
If you’re 5’3, you likely won’t have a problem. If you’re 6’1, you’ll run into a headache pretty quickly.
Elliptical machines have the same problem and some of them are even higher than a treadmill. So what are your options?
- Low deck height treadmill.
- Recumbent bike
The rower is the lowest option out of this list. The recumbent bikes themselves aren’t very low but you sit on them so the total height won’t be more than 6’ at most. If you just need a few inches extra to make things work, the low deck treadmill is a good option as well.
3. Cable station
Cable stations are awesome but also take up a lot of space. And if you’ve got the money and space to get one in your home gym, you still have to worry about the height.
Cable stations are designed to be used while standing under them. That means they have to be reasonably high. Most cable stations for home gyms aren’t as big as commercial versions but many are still around the 7’ tall. There are quite a few that are 84” tall. However, that probably means it JUST won’t fit. Discovering you’re 1mm short of fitting your new expensive machine would be a bit of a pain.
There are a few decent cable stations for home gyms that are under 7’ tall.
- The Body-Solid PCCO90X for example is 82” tall. Even if you’ve got 1” thick gym flooring, it should still fit. Most people will fit under it and it’s plate loaded so you aren’t limited by the weight stack. The lack of weight stacks also means that it’s a pretty affordable option. The drawback is the lack of adjustability.
- Check out the Body Solid PCCO90X on Amazon.
- For a fully adjustable cable station, you’ll sadly have to shell out a whole lot more money. Most of the fully adjustable versions are too tall to fit under a 7’ ceiling. One exception is the Bodycraft HFT Functional trainer. It’s 82” tall like the previous one. That’s where the similarities end. This machine is on a whole other level. It’s something that wouldn’t be out of place in a high end commercial gym and works very well.
- Get the BodyCraft HFT here on Amazon
4. Weight plates
Weight plates might play a small role in getting a fully functional gym. If you’re overhead pressing, 7’ ceiling can interfere if you’re a taller person. An overhead press requires the total height of you + stretched out arms + half the diameter of the weight plates.
There isn’t much you can do about your height and length of your arms. So if it’s close and you just need an inch or so to be able to overhead press without hitting the ceiling, smaller weight plates can give you the space you need.
Bumper plates are 45 cm in diameter. Let’s say you get 35 cm diameter plates instead. This gives you 5 cm of extra space since half of the diameter is under the bar and half of it is on the bar. That means the 10 cm difference gives you 5 cm extra headroom.
Aside from bumper plates, weight plates get smaller the lighter they are. So besides choosing a set that has small heavy plates, you can also get more lighter plates since they’ll also be smaller.
How big are bumper plates? Official Olympic bumper plates have a 450 mm diameter within a 1 mm tolerance. Different weight bumper plates are the same diameter but the thickness is different. The heavier plates are wider and vice versa. The inner hole of bumper plates is 2”