Can you put a squat rack outside? Yes, but…

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So you’ve heard of a GARAGE gym – now what about a GARDEN gym?! If you’ve got more space outside than you do inside then setting up a squat rack outside might be a great way to start working out at home.

Here is all you need to know about putting a squat rack outside!

Can you put a squat rack outside? Yes… But…

At a glance…

  • The Bulldog BSSR3 is a great squat rack for your garden gym
  • Use a tarpaulin or shed if possible to protect your squat rack from the rain as much as possible
  • RUST can kill gym equipment kept outside
  • Galvanised equipment is the most robust as it coats the outside and INSIDE of the metal

The best squat rack for outdoors is…

I like the BSSR3 Bulldog Series squat rack for garden gyms in the UK for a few reasons:

  • Galvanised option – the BEST protection for a squat rack kept outside
  • Affordable – for a fully galvanised half rack with a pull-up bar this rack is a STEAL
  • Movable – as a half rack this can be moved around your garden when you’re not using it
  • Pullup bar – half racks are available with and without the pull-up bar. Personally I love pull-ups so I would go for one with the bar!

Of course if you want a permanent fixture then check out the full rack options, but for me a simple and affordable squat rack is perfect way to start your garden gym off.

Click to check out the Bulldog BSSR3 now!
Click to check out the Bulldog BSSR3 now!

Galvanised equipment is best for garden gyms

If keeping your squat rack outside the best protection is galvanising. This is when the steel frame is dipped in molten zinc which then coats the entire external surface of the rack.

This includes the INSIDE, which is NOT covered with a powder coat finish.

Galvanising is therefore the best way to protect your squat rack from the weather if keeping your equipment outdoors.

Will my gym equipment rust if left outside?

If unprotected metal will corrode if left outside in the rain. The water will react with the metal and then – over time – the condition will unfortunately deteriorate.

There are way to manage this risk and prolong the life of our equipment – so if we are looking for a squat rack to use outside we need to be sure to take a few precautions!

How to protect your outdoors gym equipment

There are a few steps we can take to protect our equipment:

  1. Coatings – metal can be powder coated, painted or galvanised to reduce the risk of corrosion. Coatings cover the metal surface to keep moisture AWAY from the metal by acting as a barrier between the rain and the bare surface. The quality of coating is critical as if the metal is coated THEN drilled then the holes have exposed metal. Try to get as much of the surface protected as possible when installing in the garden even if it means smaller holes, no laser cut hole numbering etc.
  2. Bolts & hardware – use stainless or rust resistant hardware when building your power rack. Standard bolts may rust. If the supplier does not provide stainless steel hardware it would be worth looking in to sourcing some yourself.
  3. Grease the bolts before building – use a robust lubricant or jelly to preserve the function and threads of your bolts. If left unchecked the threads will jam and the bolt will need drilled out. Using protection (like we do on car suspension components) on the threads will keep them lasting for years.
  4. Cover it up – if possible get a tarpaulin or similar sheet to cover all your equipment to minimise direct exposure to rainfall
  5. Keep touch up any coating chips – a chip in the coating will expose the metal and allow rust to creep in. If you chip the rack then simply touch it up with some paint to keep the surface away from the elements.
Nice and simple garden gym: Galvanised rack offering the most protection
Nice and simple garden gym: Galvanised rack offering the most protection

What about weights, barbells and the rest?

I am MORE apprehensive about storing my barbell and weights outside than a power rack, Yoke or squat rack. Why is that?

Firstly I am apprehensive about theft. I stay in a nice enough area BUT keeping expensive and movable objects outside doesn’t feel like the most sensible thing to do.

Secondly I am worried that the bushings in the barbell will cease up in the rain.

It’s quite easy to work around this by getting yourself a storage box or small shed to keep the movable gym equipment in. This is a REALLY cheap way to solve this issue and I would HIGHLY recommend it!

Of course the other option is chucking a tarpaulin over it all which also works!

What kind of weight plates are best for a garden gym?

If lifting on bare concrete or concrete slabs I would always go with bumper plates. Dropping a power clean, pulling a deadlift or simply moving the weights around is easier with rubber plates.

Even just putting the plate DOWN between exercises is easier – you can put them face down on your slabs without them scratching or marking your garden. Perfect!

Other things to consider when keeping gym equipment outside

Here are a few more tips for those looking to build a garden gym:

  1. Cost – personally I prefer to keep cheaper equipment outside. The more expensive the equipment then the more precious I am over it. In a garden gym I want older (or cheaper) equipment I can use and abuse without feeling like I’m wasting a ton of money!
  2. KISS – keep it simple, stupid! All the nice to have bits like monolifts or any other complex attachment are simply not worth the aggravation in a garden gym. Simple rack, simple J hooks, simple weightlifting. Job done! 
  3. Frequency is key – tied to the above, the more we use something the less it will corrode. Move your J hooks every day? Great – less opportunity for rust!

Maintenance requirements

All gym equipment needs a bit of TLC… This will be amplified if kept outside! It doesn’t need to be onerous – simply keep the squat rack free from visible rust as often as you can and move all the attachments around regularly to stop them from ceasing up.

Conclusion

Keeping a squat rack outside is perfectly fine – provided you take basic precautions. Heck, just think about Venice Beach with all that equipment sitting out in the salty seaside air all year round!

If you want the best solution then buy a galvanised squat rack. This offers the most protection with a coating on the outside AND inside of the steel.

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