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  • Training in Gym Vs Garage

    Are there any evidence based studies regarding training performance within a gym surrounded by others versus training alone in a garage. Or if not studies, anyone’s mere opinion on the matter.

    I have been training solo in my garage for the better part of two years, I recently took a free pass at one of the commercial gyms in the area. It was possibly my best training session in a long time. Significant energy and I felt more inclined to push myself and add weight to the bar. Although I was lifting alone it felt much more alive and intriguing.

    As all of you do, I take training seriously and I can’t help but think I may be holding myself back from some gains by not injecting myself into a gym environment surrounded by others.

  • #2
    I like talking to people and making friends, I can't do that by myself. Luckily I have the time for 3.5hr gym sessions so I can fraternize and still get all my work done. I think it depends who you are around, I found a golds gym with a bunch of dudes that are pretty strong 400-500lb deadlifts, I worked out at an am fam one time and never plan on doing that again. I like the sense of community and it helps keep training more entertaining. I have gotten stronger while losing 20lbs in the last 2.5months, but I can't tell you if that would have been any different in a home gym.

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    • #3
      I've just had the same experience. I've been training at home alone for just over 2 years now, and just last week started training at a commercial gym. It's been a refreshing experience - I feel more motivated to train while I'm there, push hard, and have a lot more energy. I think it's more just the novelty aspect, change of scenery and environment, than any social one, since I ignore everyone there

      I don't have any studies or articles off hand, but I think having a social community is absolutely a benefit. Keep going if you're enjoying it - you can always go home if you get bored!

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      • #4
        I think it all has to do with your personality. Personally, I prefer working out at home by myself. Rather than being energized by having others around, people, especially strangers, tend to stress me out. Besides, I enjoy my gym, my equipment, my rules, and most importantly, my music.

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        • #5
          I was a long-time commercial gym goer and reluctantly started a home gym, because of distance/time. I would not go back. I train whenever I want on the same good equipment with no waiting or distractions. Motivation is not an issue. I use RPE and pull back if necessary and push extra if there seems to be an opportunity, putting in the work at the appropriate level of effort. It probably wouldn’t be good if I tried to go to RPE 11 all the time. Having other people around would be good for a mock meet though, like the end of a strength cycle or peak. A short stint of a couple of months to do some bodybuilding stuff and use the machines could be fun, too.

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          • #6
            I think it’s a personal preference. I haven’t had a home gym in about 10 years, but what I found back then is I was more susceptible to bail on a workout. My current gym, when I walk in it gives me the energy to get the workout done on those days when your zapped from work or family.

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            • #7
              I think it all comes down to personality type. Physiologically it should make zero difference (all things being equal) and from what I see, most people in are so absorbed in staring at their phones between sets and blasting music into their ears intra set, they may as well training alone.
              Personally, I would struggle to go back to a commercial gym. I find the freedom of a well set up home gym far more attractive. I don't miss having to wait for equipment, the distraction of 'bros' talking shit, gym dues, and the general PITA of commuting to and fro three times per week.

              If you believe you're holding yourself back by not being surrounded by 'others', you probably are. But training should be fun, so whatever floats your boat.
              One trait that seems to run throughout great lifters, at least to my eye, is they talk about discipline, not motivation. They could train anywhere and still have a productive workout.

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              • #8
                Mike Truchscherer and Dr. Mike Zourdos discuss at about 46min in this RTS podcast how garage training can be less specific to a meet environment in that it doesn't prep you for the head game of the distractions in a meet like exercising in a gym may provide. The podcast also discusses certain changes to training increasing the trainee's engagement in the workout session and thus improving it's efficacy, but I don't remember if they were specific about location being one of these potential changes.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOJphjayTLQ
                Forum topics and other links I've found useful

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                • #9
                  Definitely think it is a personal thing. For me, I have been dramatically more consistent since having a home gym because I no longer have any excuses to not lift and I always would get so frustrated with all the waiting time at a commercial gym waiting on equipment (especially when some idiot is going curls is the squat rack).

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                  • #10
                    I feel like the only reason I would want to visit a commercial gym is for experienced coaching. Apart from that, I can't see a redeeming feature that would entice me.

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                    • #11
                      I'm hoping to set up a home gym in the new year, providing the house purchase goes through - where do people purchase their equipment? I'm cash strapped at the minute so was thinking ebay?

                      I'm hoping to get:
                      - squat rack
                      - barbell
                      - bench
                      - plates

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                      • #12
                        Pat Hughes -- I don't have a home gym (hopefully someday...) but I would check Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. I've heard anecdotally that you're more likely to find good deals on equipment in the first part of the year (January - March) but I don't really know why that would be or if that's even true.

                        Two pieces of equipment I would not buy cheap/used are the barbell and squat rack, as they have the biggest potential for catastrophe if they fail on you. I would maybe get a used rack if it was made by a reputable company and was in good shape, but I would NEVER consider taking a chance on a barbell unless you're just looking for a crappy one to do rack pulls with. Buy your plates and whatnot cheap and save your money for a quality barbell and power rack.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nate B View Post
                          Pat Hughes -- I don't have a home gym (hopefully someday...) but I would check Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. I've heard anecdotally that you're more likely to find good deals on equipment in the first part of the year (January - March) but I don't really know why that would be or if that's even true.

                          Two pieces of equipment I would not buy cheap/used are the barbell and squat rack, as they have the biggest potential for catastrophe if they fail on you. I would maybe get a used rack if it was made by a reputable company and was in good shape, but I would NEVER consider taking a chance on a barbell unless you're just looking for a crappy one to do rack pulls with. Buy your plates and whatnot cheap and save your money for a quality barbell and power rack.
                          Great stuff, thanks Nate.

                          Any recommendations on barbells? Stuff like Eleiko is way out of my budget unfortunately

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                          • sjalbrec
                            sjalbrec commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I second the Rogue Ohio Power Bar as most often recommended as the best bang for the buck. The new REP Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is getting good reviews now too.

                            The only caveat I'd add to buying used plates is to make sure at least 2 to 4 of your 45lb or 20kg plates are standard diameter (450mm). You don't want to be stuck permanently doing deficit deadlifts with off-brand, oddly sized, plates.

                          • Pat Hughes
                            Pat Hughes commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Nice one thanks both!

                          • phill
                            phill commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I have cheap non standard height plates. I just made small platforms from scrap timber to bring the bar back to regulation height.

                        • #14
                          I work in food service, and I can tell you, the exact same dish will taste differently based on were you eat it, who your dining with, what time you are dining, etc. I think IBM did a study a couple of decades ago, where they turned down the lights by like 15% in their cubicle spaces and saw productivity increase immediately, and then slowly regress to the baseline. They then turned the lights back up, and saw the same jump in productivity, and then again slowly regress to the mean. I would think this would be the same. You go in, new smells, new people, new music, has heat and A/C (unlike my garage gym), natural to have competitive juices flow a bit (we are animals after all, and there can be only 1 alpha. I think the effect would wear off, and the frustration about waiting for a squat rack, or complaining about how no one wipes down benches, or puts weights back, or how bad the olympic bars are would be IBM's regression to the mean.

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