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Basement swimming pool and gym [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 11, 2020 9:00:00 AM


Portrait of swimmer woman about to dive into swimming pool

Basement swimming pool and gym

A basement swimming pool is a great idea to be able to swim all year around. Due to limited space, you might want to combine an endless pool with a gym.
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Swimming pool 

A swimming pool in the basement is definitely a better idea than having one outside. At least that is my personal opinion as you can use it all year round. Before you decide for a specific pool ask yourself: 
  • Why do you want a swimming pool 
  • What will you do with the swimming pool 
  • How many people will use it in parallel 
  • What safety measures do you need to keep in mind 
  • How deep do you want the pool to be
  • How long do you want the pool to be 
  • Will you break open the basement and go even deeper 
  • Will you just place a pool on the existing floor 
  • Who will do the works 
  • What kind of lighting do you want around and in the pool 
  • What kind of design would you like for the pool 
  • Will you want to lay beside the pool 
  • Will there be showers and changing rooms in the basement 
I personally have a negative bias against pools in private homes for several reasons unless you live somewhere where it is sunny all year round. The reasons are:
  • They need quite a bit of maintenance 
  • You can not really use them for sports as they are mostly too short 
  • They can be a death trap for children 
  • They take up a lot of space 
  • They do not get a lot of use 
How often will you really be in there and play with your children? For my personal basement and anyone I help to design their basements I recommend a: 
  • Jacuzzi 
  • Endless pool 
The costs for these can range from 1000 to 25000 depending on what you choose. 
If you are not into swimming and just want to relax a Jacuzzi might be the better option than a pool. It will take less time to build, take up less space and have more functionality. 
If you want to be able to exercise try an endless pool. Make sure to try out the swimming mechanics to swim against a current. With these motorized pools to create a current, you can build a proper swimming pool for exercising on a very small footprint.  

Basement gym

For a proper basement gym it also needs planning and knowing what you want. Here is some guidance around the topic.


The first thing to build a basement gym efficiently and effectively is to be clear about your goal setting. Most goals in fitness fall into these categories:
  • Strength 
  • Cardio 
  • Health 
  • Relaxation 
Sit down and pick the goals you have around these four areas. Also, think about which areas will need the most improvement and which you enjoy the most. Based on this you will know better which exercises and equipment to pick for your gym. 
Strength is based on putting on mass and lifting heavy objects. For this, you would use
and other equipment. You will need more space for the machines than for doing circuit training or running drills.
Cardio will be for the ones who are mainly into weight loss and keeping their cardiovascular system intact. For a basement gym focused on these, you will need 
A gym focused on these factors will need more space for equipment like a treadmill or circuit training and less for lifting machines. 
A home gym focused on health will need different equipment and focus. You might want to have space to:
  • Test your blood
  • Do rehab work 
  • Stretch 
Here you might need extra space and no obstructions so that you can move freely. You also will want to minimize the risk of tripping over. Depending on which rehab you need to do you will need the equipment which comes with that. 
Relaxation is different from a cardio or strength gym. In this scenario, you will look for an area to stretch and relax. The color palette you will lick might be different than in other cases. The same goes for the flooring you will put in. 

Gym membership

Once you have your goal set written down it is a good idea to start with a gym membership. Suck the maximum out of this membership before making decisions on layouts and equipment for your basement gym. Speak to other gym members and trainers to learn. Test al if the equipment. Establish a routine. Aim to go at least three times a week, hopefully, more to the gym. 
All of this is the first test whether working out is actually for you and which machines and equipment you use. This will come in handy for planning your basement gym. 

Survey the area

Check your basement for what is possible. Measure the walls, windows, floors, and anything else you can find. Make not of protruding walls and infrastructure. Check the following questions:
  • Is there lighting?
  • Where are the sockets?
  • Which way do the doors open?
  • Which way do the windows open?
  • Where are the light switches?
  • What storage options are already there?
  • Is there water?
  • Is there a gas connection?
  • What condition is the floor in? 
  • What condition are the walls in?
  • How will I access the basement with heavy equipment?
  • What obstructs the way into the basement?
  • How much space will make available for the gym?
Once you have checked all of these points you can also run through the items which are already stored in the basement.
  • How important are the items in the basement?
  • Which ones do you want to keep?
  • Which ones do you want to throw away?
  • Which ones will get a new home somewhere in the house? (Especially sentimental items)
  • When will I throw them out?
  • Who needs to check? (Give them time and date by when everything not earmarked will be thrown out)
This way you will know what is possible with your basement gym and how to free up space. You will also prevent buying this which won't fit in the basement.


After you have made your measurements and assigned a specific space to the basement gym it is time to zone it. This means that you will assign certain areas to the floor plan to certain functions in your basement gym. The most common zones are:
  • Strength
  • Cardio
  • Stretch
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Office
This way you can clearly state which are goes where. Even though it is a small task now, it will help you in the design and layout at a later stage. The finished product will look nicer and have a better flow compared to when you skip this step.

List of exercises

Based on the experiences you made with your gym membership it is time to make a list of the exercises which you have been doing in the gym. This list will be your guide for buying equipment. Don't buy equipment for exercises which you dislike now already. It is very unlikely you will be suddenly turned around d to doing them more, just because the equipment sits in your basement. Most likely this will only burn money. An examüple list for me would be:
Your list will be different based on your goals and experience. Still, make the list, so that you know what you are letting yourself in for and also clearly not get equipment, which is not needed for the routines you are already happy with.

List of equipment

Based on the exercises you are doing it is time to come up with a list of equipment that you need to do them. In my case, this list would include:
Which I would include in my initial shopping list. Try to get a list which is as minimal as possible, but has all the necessary equipment. Then get everything in one delivery to save money on shipping cost. Avoid shopping around with different vendors as this usually drives up the shipping cost unnecessarily. If you shop around I would recommend going for higher quality on the rackbarbell, and bench. Save money on platesdumbbells, and kettlebells


If you need one it will be one of the centerpieces of your gym. Racks come in different styles. The most common are:
full rack would be my recommendation. This will provide enough space in the rack for any size of the athlete to perform their exercises safely. Full rack range somewhere between $500 to $3000 depending on the make, finish, and how much metal goes into the uprights. I am personally 185cm tall and weigh between 80kg to 100kg depending on my goals and the season. I can work with half racks too, but find them too small personally. You can store plates on a full rack comfortably while still being able to exercise. 
half rack is a solution that takes up less space than a full rack while still giving you the benefit of safety pins. This is a good option for smaller athletes or experienced athletes who do not mind the limited amount of space in the rack. If you can not fit a full rack into your basement I would go with this. Fit the plates on the half rack when you are not exercising. If you are squatting within the half-rack while storing plates you might struggle with space. 
folding rack is a great solution when you want to be able to use the space provided in multiple ways. A folding rack extends to the size of a full rack when extended. When you are finished with your workout you can fold it to the wall. This is especially useful in garage gym setups when you still want to park your car. In a basement setup, this might not be necessary. Because the rack swings in and out and only has two uprights you will not be able to store plates on this rack
Squat stands are the cheapest and simplest form of rack you can get. They provide no safety or guiding during the lift or when you unrack the bar. Squat stands are popular for weightlifting gyms, as platforms are commonplace. The athletes are also versed in dropping weights from any possible position safely. Squat stands tend to fall over when you start storing plates on them. Even though you can convert them with spotter arms to something that resembles a half-rack I would not recommend it. If you know what you are doing, get a squat stand. If you are a casual trainee who just wants to get the cheapest thing for their home gym, don't go anywhere near a squat stand. You will likely hurt yourself. 
Overall, when space and budget allow it, go for a full or half rack in a basement gym. If you are planning on Olympic weightlifting check whether you can fit a platform with a squat stand. If you can not fit a platform into your basement, you probably should not be doing Olympic lifts in there. 


There are many choices for you when it comes to a barbell. If you want to use a barbell check whether you want to do
  • Powerlifting
  • Weightlifting
  • Crossfit
If you want to do Crossfit or all of the above some good bars to choose from are:
If you are into powerlifting and will not do CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting
If you are into Olympic weightlifting you can choose from
It depends on your goals and how much you want to invest. The main differences between these bars are their PSI Strength, whip, knurling, and how the sleeves are attached to the bar. You can learn more in the article "Which rogue barbell to buy".


For your dumbbells, you will need to be clear about how many you want and how heavy you want to go. You can choose from:
If you get multiple dumbbells a mental note of where to store them will come in handy. 
Hex dumbbells are usually the cheapest option. I am personally not a huge fan as I find the hex design annoying when lifting and much prefer are round design similar to plates
Round dumbbells are usually a little more expensive than hex dumbbells. It all depends on your available budget and preferences.
Loadable dumbbells are my personal favorite for a home gym. They are round and adaptable. With them, you save some space and money while still having decent dumbbells.
In total dumbbells are probably the easiest way to save money. They are easy to find online and more often than not people on facebook or craigslist just want to get rid of them without any shipping costs. If you only need dumbbells it is definitely worth it to wait and grab a deal in your neighborhood. Unless you have any reservations with used equipment. Check out the article "which dumbbell to get from Rogue" for details.


Kettlebells are also known as the most compact and cheap gym you can get. I would tend to agree. Kettlebells come in many different ways. The most common are:
Steel kettlebells are usually molded from one piece of metal which is put into a form. Some people don't like them as they can be rough on your skin. If you get the chance, check their finish. They should be smooth all around. If they are not, especially the steel can cut you quite badly. This can be fixed by filing them in the appropriate areas.
Plastic coated kettlebells are a bit more user-friendly as the plastic coating literally takes off the edge. if you buy them new, plastic-coated kettlebells usually come at a higher price tag. It is also less common to find very heavy kettlebells which are plastic coated. 
Competition kettlebells are made to the norm. Independent from their weight, they all look the same and have a straight handle. Competition kettlebells are used in kettlebell competitions. Here it is usually the goal to juggle a kettlebell as long as possible or as stylish as possible. This is why they are normed.


When you go for plates for your basement gym you also have a lot of choices. The most common options are:
Bumper plates are one of the cheapest options per kg. They can be used indoors or outdoors and are nearly indestructible. They are usually made of old tires which have been recycled. If you are into Crossfit or Olympic weightlifting for your home gym, these are the right choice. Where they fall short is in design, accuracy, and sleeve space. Bumper plates are mostly available in plain black. This can make it hard to tell their weights apart before getting very close to them. There are some color-infused bumper plates tot take care of this. Bumper plates are usually also the plates with the most amount of variance from the weight stated on the plate. If you are getting cheap bumper plates from a no-name vendor, make sure to check the weights. The last drawback is the sleeve space. Bumper plates take up more space on your barbell than steel plates. With regular bumper plates, a bar is usually maxed out with 4 plates each side (180kg).
Steel plates are even cheaper than bumper plates in many cases. For these, you also have more options to obtain them on the cheap when you rummage the depths of the internet. STeel plates have the advantage that they take up less space on the barbell. What you get in price and real estate savings steel plates lack in flexibility. You can not drop them from overhead without beating up your barbell and the floor. You will also have a hard time to use them outside. 
Competition plates are the deluxe version of bumper plates. They are made of metal in the metal, surrounded by rubber. This gives them a better center and spin for the clean and jerk and snatch. Competition plates are also color-coded to indicate how much the plates weigh. Competition plates are also precision adjusted to keep them in a variance of a few milligrams from the weight stated on the plate. These are the right plates if you want to break world records or like the good things in life. They come at a considerably higher price than the regular bumper and steel plates. 
Calibrated steel plates are the competition equivalent of competition plates. They are also color-coded and intended for the use in powerlifting. They can not be dropped from overhead and are as precise as competition plates. Calibrated steel plates are thinner for the same amount of weight on the barbell compared to competition plates. While you will have trouble getting a lot more than 200kg on a barbell with competition plates, with calibrated steel plates you can go up to 400kg to 500kg. 
Whatever plates you choose, keep in mind that they do little more than weighing down your barbell. If you don't want to break official world records, plates are a great area to save a lot of money on your basement gym. Read "which plates to buy from Rogue" for more details.


Flooring is another area where you can save a lot of money. Use horse mats instead of fancy gym flooring which comes in at double or even triple the price. 

Topics: Rogue, Powerlifting, Crossfit, TITAN, Barbell, Plates, Bench, Dumbbell, Rack, Diet