You’ve decided that a storage unit is the way to go to create a personal gym. But which size do you need?
Which size storage unit is right for a personal gym? For a basic gym with free weights a 10’ by 10’ storage unit is big enough. If you want to add a cable station, 10’ by 15’ will give you enough space to put all the equipment in and use it. For the average multi-gym, 10’ by 7.5’ is plenty big.
To discover why those sizes are best and how to decide for yourself, keep reading below.
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Best storage unit sizes for personal gym
I’ll assume you understand all the legal implications and other considerations about having a gym in a storage unit. If you don’t, read this post first.
This post is purely about the size of the storage unit and which size is right.
You don’t want to get a storage unit that’s too small or too big. If the unit is too big, you’re paying for space you’re not using. And if the unit is too small, you aren’t able to create the gym you want. So it’s worth it to spend some time picking the right one.
To know which size is right we have to know two things, which sizes are available and how much space you need for a gym.
Necessary space for a personal gym
Personal gym can mean lots of different things. Everyone has different expectations and goals for a personal gym. Let’s look at three different examples. You can decide for yourself what fits your situation best.
All these gyms are for personal (1 person) use. Maybe you could fit two people in there but they’re not intended for that purpose.
- Basic free weights gym
The type of gym most people want to create in a storage unit is a basic free weights gym setup. For this you’ll need;
- Power rack/squat stand
- Weight plates
That’s a very basic setup but will allow you to do all the popular lifts. If you want, you can add a set of dumbbells. A dumbbell rack doesn’t take up too much space and a set of adjustable dumbbells is even smaller.
Also, if you wish to use kettlebells or resistance bands, that will be possible in this space. If you have enough space to deadlift, you’ll very likely have enough space to work with kettlebells and resistance bands.
You might also want to add some gym flooring and mirrors but that’s not really relevant for space requirements.
I’ve already written about the space requirements for a basic free weights setup here (CLICK). Here is the summary, if you want to know the details, they are in the linked post.
“To be able to lift weights at home you need at least 64ft2 (8’ x 8’) of floor space. That amount of space is enough to perform all the basic lifts and includes a power rack, barbell, weights and dumbbells. If you want more equipment in your home gym you will need more space.”https://homegymresource.com/home-weightlifting-gym/
2. Free weights gym with cable station
A cable station is an awesome addition to the basic free weights gym. If you want to know why, click here to find some great reasons.
We can keep roughly the same setup as example one but add the cable station. While a cable station can replace some of the free weight exercises, it doesn’t replace all of them. And most people want to do their main lifts with a barbell.
A cable station is a great addition to a free weights setup, filling many of the gaps free weights leave, providing more exercise options and offering a different type of resistance.
As for the amount of space you need, it’s not directly straightforward. There are different types of cable stations.
- Single stack cable station: The simplest, cheapest and smallest. One weight stack, one cable.
- Double sided cable station: Double the single stack and place them opposite each other, often connected by a steel beam on the top. These machines are significantly bigger, heavier, more expensive and usually also better. They have more adjustment options.
- Multifunctional trainer: A multifunctional trainer is similar to a double sided cable station although more compact. The weight stacks are closer together and usually the machine is ‘closed’ on the backside. These cable machines do pretty much everything a double sided cable station does but is more compact.
Most people will go for the multifunctional trainer since it offers the most options for the space it takes up. For a medium to large machine in this category, manufacturers advice to have 10’ by 8’ available. The 8’ depth is mostly used for exercises and not the machine itself. That means you don’t have to add all of that space to example number one since that gym already has some space to exercise. That means that adding about 5’ is enough.
Since you’ll likely get a 10’ by 10’ unit for gym number one, the cable station has enough width already. Just add 5’ to one side. That means that a unit that measures 10’ by 15 would be good for this setup.
3. All in one gym
A final option is the all in one multi-gym. These machines combine all the movements into a single piece of equipment. People that find free weights too intimidating or unsafe are often drawn to this type of machine.
You could create your personal gym with all separate machines but the vast majority of the people will choose one of the options above. All separate machines gets really expensive and takes up a lot of space.
While multi-gyms are bulky machines, you only need one of them instead of 6+. Of course it really depends on the specific model you choose.
The average multi-gym is about 72” by 43”. To actually use the machine you need a bit more space however. About two feet extra in both width and length should give you enough space to use the machine to its full potential. That means 8’ by 6’.
Since it varies so much per machine, it’s a good idea to check exactly how big yours is.
Storage unit sizes
Storage units come in many sizes. Some as small as lockers. Those aren’t really suitable for anything to do with working out so let’s just look at the units that are a full room.
These are sized anywhere from 5’x5’ to 20’ x 20’. Available sizes are;
- 5’ x 5’
- 5’ x 7.5’
- 10’ x 5’
- 10’ x 7.5’
- 10’ x 10’
- 10’ x 12.5’
- 10’ x 15’
- 10’ x 20’
- 10’ x 25’
- 10’ x 30’
- 15’ x 20’
- 20’ x 20’
Clearly there are a lot of different sizes available. Of course you can’t always find one that’s exactly the same size you need. In that case it’s better to get a unit that’s a bit bigger rather than a smaller than what you need.
If we look at gym example 1, 2 and 3 we can see which storage gym size is the best;
- For the basic free weights gym a unit that measures 10’ by 10’ will be big enough. Not roomy but big enough to fit the equipment and do your lifts.
- To add a cable station to that gym, you’re best off with a storage unit that measures 10’ x 15’
- For the multi gym it really depends on which model you are going to get. An average machine fits and can be used in an 8’ by 6’ space. The closest available space is 10’ by 7.5’. This will leave you some room for a rack of dumbbells or bodyweight exercises.
Also, not only the total floor space is important but also the dimensions. Some things, like gym equipment, has certain dimensions. A barbell is 7’ long. Even a short barbell is going to be about 6’ long. There is no way to change that.
Vehicle storage units
Vehicle storage units deserve a bit of attention on their own. These are units that are designed to store a car, RV, boat, etc. That means they have easy access with a big door, wide driveway, etc. This means it’s easier to bring in heavy equipment. These units don’t usually have climate control but the big door should help with ventilation.
They are on the ground floor most of the time which means the floor might be a bit stronger as well. Just like in an apartment, storage units that are not on the ground floor will have their limitations in how much weight they can handle. So if you’re lifting super heavy, a unit on the ground floor can give you some extra peace of mind.
They are quite large with 20’ long being the shortest one available from most providers.
Also, not all vehicle storage units are actually separate units. Some are just covered parking spaces without walls in between. Make sure to see what the unit looks like for yourself before you rent.
Something that might be worth shopping around over is the ceiling height. Low ceilings can be a pain to work around while lifting weights, especially for exercises like the overhead press and pull ups.
You could get away with 7’ tall ceilings but why bother if in most places there’s something better available?
Uhaul storage offers 10’ tall ceilings in most places. That’s a big difference compared to some competitors and takes away all the problems with fitting in exercises and taller machines.