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Old 12-15-2009, 07:29 AM   #1
Nick Wilson
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 4
Question Best use of space in a small garage?

Hi,

I train at home in my small and cramped garage, and I'm hoping to pick your brains on best use of space.

I currently have a power rack in there, which is great for the slow lifts. However, it basically fills most of the available space. I'm getting more and more interested in O lifting, but can't lift while the power rack's there (I can just manage to do standing presses in the space between the rack and the wall, but it's a squeeze and no way could I snatch in there). I have no plans to compete, I just want to O lift for the pleasure of it (and for the improved fitness of course).

If I sell the rack I'll have space to put in a platform measuring 8' x 5' 6".

First off, is that a big enough space to safely lift maximal weights? There'll be a little space off to each side, but there'll be a wall directly in front and a freezer and boxed-in pipe work directly behind the platform - so no real margin for error front or back if I dump the weight.

My other concern with this is that I lift alone, and the safety pins in the power rack have always given great peace of mind for squatting and benching. If I go with a platform I'll have to have stand-alone squat stands as there's no room for even a connected pair of stands to be stored, and these obviously won't have safety bars on them. I've seen separate safety rails (e.g. "Pillars of Power" from Ironmind) but they're mega expensive in the UK. The other options are to either build something myself or simply not bother with them.

I'd considered building a pair of small jerk blocks, as they're versatile enough to work as safety blocks for slow lifts, jerk blocks, pulling blocks and plyo boxes; but the max size I could get away with from a storage point of view would be 18" x 3'. Would that be too small to be usable for all these functions? (I'd planned to build them per Greg's article, just on a smaller scale) Is there a better option than blocks altogether?

Anyone have any opinions on this? Basically at the moment I feel like the power rack limits my options too much (i.e. prevents me O lifting) but I don't want to sell it, build a platform, and find myself limited the other way (i.e. struggling with some of the slower lifts).

Thanks in advance for any advice. Oh yeah, and I'll try to post a bit more often than once every 20 months in future...!
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:04 AM   #2
Arien Malec
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8x5'6" should work. I've lifted at the Sports Palace, which has one long platform that up to four lifters share, giving an unobstructed space considerably shorter, and my home gym has about that much space. You can't do much running around to save lifts.

As for squats, either dump them, or purchase a set of adjustable sawhorses.
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:52 AM   #3
Duke McCall
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The usable space in my home gym is slightly larger, around 9'x7', but I agree 8'x5'6" should work (although it will be a tight). I work out alone and do not have safety racks either, but it did not take me long to learn how to dump the bar. I may eventually invest in some adjustable saw horses because I find that I am a little tentative squatting ATG as I approach my max with no safety racks, but it can be done.
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Old 12-15-2009, 12:40 PM   #4
Michael McKenna
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Location: South Central, PA
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It's enough space. Make sure you lift with the bar along the 8 foot plane, not perpendicular to it. I worry more about the space on the edges, but you should be fine. As Duke says, learn to miss. Don't have heroic efforts to save the bar by stepping into the lift, etc.

Also, forget the power rack. Get a nice set of squat stands like Ironmind sells (great for a small space- light, easily moved, and hold everything). If you have the budget, get a set of their spotting stands, too. Expensive, but again, easy to move and take apart.

The other squat racks you can get will take up more space on the platform. You can also get some squat stands that are independent of each other, but the Ironmind racks are more versatile.

In comeptitions, I've taken lifts to the edge of the platform to save them, and I've backpedalled to save lifts, too; I've almost run out of room on the 4 meter sq platform. In training, I never stepped off a platform. I almost have, but I should have dumped those weights for my own safety.

I used to train at a gym where there was a wall mirror behind us, and the mirror never broke through 15 years of lifters training in front of it.
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Old 12-15-2009, 12:45 PM   #5
Michael McKenna
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I just re-read your post, and here's my thoughts on blocks. You can get some pretty nice and simple designs off the web. I have a pair of pullign blocs with three different heights; I cut 2x4s, stacked them, and encased the box in plywood. They're solid, easy to move, and portable. One side is knee height, one side is mid-thigh, and one side is just below the knee. I just lay them on a diefferent end to get the height I want.

Dropping squats is easy and the way to go' learn to bail. If you high bar squat, that is; dumping is easy in front squats. But learn how to do it first. The ironmind pillars of power will spot you nicely if you really have fear in the squat.

For the other slow lifts, the only one you need a spotter on is benching. So stop benching and do more push-ups.

I would try to find soemwhere to set up the power rack, though. There's lots you can do in a power rack.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:52 AM   #6
Nick Wilson
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Thanks for all the feedback. Glad to have it confirmed I've got enough space (and therefore no reason to pussy out!)

Sawhorses sounds ideal for spotting, can't believe I didn't think of that - and they're certainly cheaper than buying spotter rails or building some blocks. I'm a rank beginner so I won't be needing blocks for a good while yet (if ever) so I'm happy to leave them for now!

Michael, I wish I had space for both a platform and the power rack, but sadly it's one or the other. The garage is the only space I have to train; I'm not likely to move house anytime soon; and there's nowhere for it outside (plus it rains here more days than not). All things considered I think the platform gives me a lot more options than the power rack, mainly because it lets me go overhead. Plus all that space will mean I can actually do pushups and other metcon stuff without contorting round the rack's uprights. I'll be sad to see the rack go, it's done me proud in the past and it feels almost wrong to sell such a good piece of gear, but life's all about these little compromises I guess.

Thanks again,
Nick.
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