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A Shed Gym In Your Backyard – Size, Cost, and How To Build it

Working out in your own shed gym is a great way to get in shape. A home gym is more convenient and cheaper than having a gym membership. So, you may be wondering what size shed you need, if you can use a shed for a gym at all, how much it will cost to build a detached gym, and how to turn a shed into a gym.

This article will explain what you need to know to get started on your own shed gym.

Can I Use A Shed As A Gym?

There are some things you will have to take into consideration before you build a shed gym.

A shed can be used as a gym if it is large enough to house exercise equipment, is insulated to hold a steady temperature throughout the year, is powered with electricity to accommodate electrical exercise equipment, has the required building permits, if any, and is secure.

Building Permit

Many counties do not require a permit to build or renovate a shed, but be sure to check with your specific county. You should check with your county to make sure you will comply with any regulations about building a home gym. If you’ll be installing electrical or plumbing, it’s likely you will need a permit.

If you’re going to be digging, you will have to call the applicable buried utility hotline in your area and have all those companies come out and mark where their lines run. It sounds like a pain, but it’s free and required in most locations. 


Insulating a shed yourself is cheap and saves you a ton of money over time. During the summer, your shed gym will need an air conditioner and in winter, a heater. Having it insulated will help maintain these temperatures so you can workout in a comfortable climate-controlled space.


To plug in any fancy exercise equipment or even a sound system for your sweet new home gym, you’re going to need electricity. This usually requires a permit and a licensed electrician to come and hook it up. Not to mention, you’ll need to plug in your air conditioner and fans to keep you cool during your workouts.


You will invest a lot of money in your shed gym, and knowing that your equipment is locked up will make you sleep better at night.

You should put up blinds on your windows so no one can see what you have in your shed. Make sure you put tough windows and an anti-theft door on your shed. You can also install a security system for added protection. 

What Size Shed Do I Need For a Gym?

The American Council on Exercise recommends determining the size of your home gym based on the equipment you want to use:

Treadmill—30 square feet
Elliptical trainer—30 square feet
Single-station gym—35 square feet
Free weights—20–50 square feet
Stationary bike—10 square feet
Rowing machine—20 square feet
Stair climber—10–20 square feet
Ski machines—25 square feet
Multistation gym—50–200 square feet

A shed gym should be at least 180 square feet to accommodate multiple types of equipment, weights, workouts, and a yoga mat for stretching. The size can be determined once the types of workouts and required equipment has been decided.

It’s better to do a higher ceiling because you won’t feel restricted while you work out. You should also consider the design and your budget. You will want your home gym to be as solid as possible and last a really long time. 

As for the design, even though you might be tempted to install wall-to-wall glass in order to let in as much natural light as possible.

However, the design of the windows and doors is the key to making your garden gym functional. If you have too many windows, you won’t be able to properly store your equipment so it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Another reason why shouldn’t install wall-to-wall windows is privacy. Even if you don’t have a problem with neighbors watching you when you work out, you don’t want to let everybody know what kind of equipment you have in your gym, for security reasons.


Picking out where you will put your home gym is very important.

It might seem easy, but if you pick the wrong spot, you could end up with a short-lived, unusable outbuilding. You shouldn’t build a home gym at the bottom of a hill or in a low-lying area where water collects because the water will make the wood rot.

You also shouldn’t violate code-required setback distances. How far your home gym has to be from the side, front, and rear property lines; streets, driveways, and sidewalks, houses, garages, and decks, septic tanks, and leach fields, wetland areas and easements will be determined by the building inspector. These setbacks will vary from town to town. If you violate these setbacks, the town can make you take down your home gym. 

How Do You Turn A Shed Into A Gym?

It is really important to consider the final layout because that will determine the placement of sockets and the type of lighting and heating.

It might be a good idea to put sockets on the floor to avoid untidy cable runs. Spotlights are also a popular choice for garden gyms because they prevent the gym from getting too hot and help you save a lot of money on your energy bills. It’s always a good idea to have dimmers or multiple circuits so that some parts of the gym can be lit while others aren’t.

You should also consider the utility of your entertainment system. Having recessed speakers in the ceiling is a good idea because it will let you have more room on the floor and wall while offering you much better sound quality. 

It’s also a good idea to consider incorporating plumbing for installing a bathroom or a shower room, especially if you have a workout buddy. This way they don’t have to use the shower in your home, they can just shower in the gym. If you one day become a personal trainer, having a bathroom in your garden gym can be a huge selling point for your potential clients. 

1. Design

Most people focus on what the garden gym will look like on the inside, but it’s also important to think about what it will look like on the outside. You want your garden gym to fit in with the rest of the garden and your house.

Landscaping is also a good idea because it helps soften any straight lines in the design and blend the building into an established garden.

2. Get The Tools

You will need to get some tools to build a home gym, regardless of its size.

For hand tools, you will need a hammer, tape measure, framing square, combination square, 2-ft. and 4-ft. handsaw, flat pry bar, level, and a chalk reel. For power tools, you will need a cordless drill, and impact driver for drilling holes and driving screws, a job site table saw or a portable circular saw, and a compound miter saw.

You should also get a tool belt with a lot of pouches so you can keep all the tools close. You’ll need safety gear, which includes eye goggles, hearing protection, dust mask, hard hat, and work gloves. 

3. Lay Foundation Bricks

This step is very important even if you already have a shed because prefabricated sheds don’t come with a foundation.

Most sheds can be supported by an on-grade foundation, such as solid concrete blocks or pressure-treated wood timbers set directly on the ground. You should create a level, firm contact points for your garden gym made from concrete pavers or landscaping blocks. Depending on the size of your gym, you will want to put at least one block at the corners and midpoints of each wall.

You will want to make sure that all the bricks are precisely located, perfectly level with each other, and firmly set on compacted material. This step is very important and it will make or break your gym. Your home gym won’t last long if it’s set on a weak base. If you plan on making your home gym bigger than 200 sq. ft., the building inspector will require you to install a permanent foundation that extends down to the frost line. 

4. Floor Frame

The floor frame of a shed is made out of the mudsill, floor joists, and perimeter band joists.

The frame is relatively close to the ground so it is very susceptible to rot and wood-boring bugs. Because of that, you have to build the floor frame out of pressure-treated lumber. You should use ¾-in. exterior-grade plywood.

If you use anything thinner than that, the plywood will flex between the joints. You can use a double layer of ½-in. exterior plywood instead of  ¾-in. If you will have a lot of weights in your home gym, you should consider using ¾-in. tongue-and-groove plywood, which costs more and is trickier to install, but its edges lock tightly together, and creates a rock-solid floor.

5. Roof 

For most people who DIY their shed, the hardest part to do is roofing.

That is because roofing requires accurately executing lots of repetitive, angled cuts. To make this job simpler, you can assemble the rafters and ceiling joists into roof trusses, which can then be raised and set on top of the walls. This is a much faster and safer process than building the roof frame one board at a time.

6. Framing The End walls

The end walls of a shed can usually be framed with studs set 24 inches apart. Consider attaching the exterior panels to the wall frames before you put up each wall section. This will require some more planning and careful laying out of things along the way but it will be much easier for you to put up the walls. 

7. Framing The Side Walls

You should frame the side walls with 3 1/2″ subtracted from the width on either end to ensure that they will fit nicely against the insides of the peaked end walls. 

8. Framing Windows And Doors

It is very important that your home gym has enough proper ventilation, so you should put up at least one window, depending on the size of your gym.

You don’t want to work out in a stuffy gym. There are two types of doors you can use on a shed, hinged and sliding. Hinged doors will take up less space and close more tightly and securely. However, sliding doors are easier to install and they glide completely out of the way, which is a great way to save some space. 

9. Vents

You will also want to add some vents to your home gym to ensure airflow at all times. 

10. Put up the walls

In this step, you will place all the walls that you’ve previously measured and framed onto the floor. Screw the corners where the frames meet together from inside the sidewall frames to the end wall frame. 

11. Roofing

You can install shingles for your home gym, as they work well for such a simple structure.

Shingles are a type of roofing that is made from thin, wedge-shaped pieces of natural wood. They are machine sawed and mostly made out of cedar because it’s known to be durable, flexible, long-lasting, moisture-resistant, and insect-repellent.

You should use yellow cedar because it is water- and insect-repellent since it has a tighter grain, but it’s not as good for staining or painting. Or, if you care about being environmentally friendly, you can use white cedar because it grows faster.

Shingles usually last for about 30 to 40 years. You can choose different roofing if you want something more durable, or you want the roof of your home gym to match the roof of your house. 

12. Flooring

You will want to protect your garden gym with some heavy-duty rubber floor tiles.

This isn’t necessary if you won’t be using free weights. However, they are very easy to clean and will give your garden gym a professional feel, which might be a good enough reason to install them even if you’re not using free weights right now. You never know when you can change your workouts. 

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Detached Gym?

The cost depends on the cost of supplies and labor, whether you need to hire a licensed electrician to wire it, if you are renovating or building from the ground up, and a few other things. Consider a shipping container gym, if you are don’t have a shed to renovate.

The cost of building a detached gym is roughly $9,000. The average cost of building a shed is $50 per square foot and a 180 square foot gym is the minimum recommended size. However, renovating an existing structure will cost less than building one new.

Shipping Container Home Gym

Do have more space for less money, think about building a home gym in a shipping container. The average used 8′ x 20′ shipping container costs $1,200 – $2,600, which is substantially less than buying a shed of the same size.

Weider Home Gym

weider home gym

The Weider home gym is very popular line of complete workout equipment. You can strength train, do squats, and it comes with an iFit membership which has an on-demand trainer.

Folding Treadmill

folding treadmill

Having a folding treadmill in your shed gym gives you the flexibility to move it when you’re done. If you’re building out a shed gym, this can save you money on how many square feet it needs to be.

Just finish you your walk or run and pop this folding treadmill in against the wall. Now you can stretch on your yoga mat or lift some weights on your weight bench.

Stair Stepper

This compact stair stepper has hydraulic resistance bands so you can work your arms at the same time as your legs and butt. Burn calories plus get sexy arms – such a time saver! It’s small enough to fit comfortably in a shed gym and built to last.

Home Gym Equipment

The freedom of putting whatever equipment you want in your own shed gym is the best part about having a home gym.

Exercise bench

Exercise bench is a must in any home gym because it is used for so many exercises.

You use it for push-ups, step-ups, abdominal exercises, and basic cardio exercises. It provides the strength required to lift weights that are heavy and gives you more confidence to focus on your muscles without losing balance. If you have a workout buddy, you should consider getting 2 exercise benches.

Pull-up bar

The Pull-up bar is a perfect piece of equipment for upper-body workouts. You workout using your own weight. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and it doesn’t require any additional equipment. The pull-up bar is also quite cheap, so it’s a good piece of equipment if you’re just starting to workout. 


Kettlebells are used for so many exercises, from goblet squats to swings. You can get a ton of work and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Even though it’s tough and powerful, a kettlebell won’t ruin your floor if you drop it. It would be a good idea to get a few kettlebells so you can start with the lightest and work your way up to heavy kettlebells. 

Yoga mat

Yoga mats are great and they don’t have to be used just for yoga. You can use them for abs and basic stretching. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and it will make laying on the floor much more comfortable. 

Power Cage

Depending on how big your garden gym is, you could get a power cage. If you have a power cage you will be able to do the 3 pillars of strength, deadlift, squat, and bench press


There are a lot of different exercises that you can do using dumbbells. You should buy hex shaped dumbbells with black rubber coating because they last the longest and are most comfortable for working out.


Barbells are very useful. They might seem more expensive than dumbbells, but they are actually cheaper in the long run. Barbell also allows you to lift more weight than dumbbells. It’s better for stability and allows you to progressively overload.

Olympic barbells tend to be a bit long, but you can get some smaller ones if you can’t fit the Olympic barbell in your garden gym. 

Battle Rope

Make your cardio even tougher with battle ropes. The battle rope is great because it doesn’t take up a lot of space when you don’t use it. However, you will need a lot of free space while you use it, and it has to have a strong anchor. 

Weight plates

You will need some plates to increase the weight of the barbell. Get a variety of weights, 2.5#, 5#, 10#, 25#. If you’re going to train in Olympic weightlifting, you should get rubber plates. 

Heavy bag

A heavy bag is a great alternative to cardio. You can incinerate fat while building explosive power and speed


Rings are great because you can use them in your home gym, or even when you’re traveling. They are very lightweight and add another level to your bodyweight exercises. They will allow you to increase the variety in your workouts.

Jump rope

Jump rope is a fantastic piece of equipment because it takes up almost no space and it’s a great cardio exercise. 


Boxes are great because they allow you to build explosive power and quickness. They can also be used for squatting, bench dips, and for other non-jumping exercises. You should get a few boxes of different heights. 

Medicine ball

You will need a medicine ball for core exercises and most plyometric exercises. You can throw it, carry it, and do abdominal exercises with it. It would be a good idea to get a soft medicine ball so it doesn’t hurt when you do exercises that involve throwing it or catching it. 

Squat Rack

The squat rack is probably the biggest investment compared to the other equipment. You should get a quality one because they last almost forever. You need a squat rack to get your barbell in position for most lifts. If you don’t have a squat rack, you won’t be able to squat or press meaningful weight. Your rack is also your spotter. It will enable you to lift heavy without the risk of serious injury, which is very important when you’re working out alone. 

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are great for warming up. They won’t take up a lot of space, but they will allow you to workout safely, without injuring yourself. Resistance bands can be used to make your workouts harder by attaching them to your Olympic barbell. They are great when you need assistance with pull-ups and dips. Resistance bands come in sets of 4 and 6, they are relatively cheap, and will last you a long time. 

Balance Trainer

You can make almost any exercise harder by incorporating the balance trainer, a balance-challenging machine, into your routine. You can use it on a stability ball or take it to the floor. It will help you activate your core better. 

Weighted Vest

If you prefer bodyweight workouts, you could get this 20-lb. vest. It has a slim profile, so it’s not bulky, and you can adjust the load easily by 2.5-lb. increments.

Ab Wheel

The ab wheel is a very simple piece of equipment, it has two handles that are connected to a wheel. It is an advanced tool that builds strong triceps, lats, and core.

Step Platforms

Step platforms are a great way to add extra movement to many exercises. They can be used for both aerobic and strength training. You can adjust its height to fit your experience level. This is great because you can simply adjust it when you get stronger, you don’t have to get a new one. 

Final Thoughts

Check out this article to find great ideas for your shed gym.