I have yet to see a commercial gym without mirrors on the wall. They are helpful in many ways and a staple of gym culture.
So when people build their home and garage gyms, they naturally have questions about installing mirrors.
I’m guessing you do too, or you wouldn’t be here! So let’s look at everything you’ll need to know to pick out the perfect mirrors for your home gym and get them installed so you can train!
Table of Contents
Wall Mirrors For Your Home Gym – A Quick Guide
If you know the value of adding mirrors to your gym and just need the logistics, here’s a quick and dirty guide to get mirrors into your garage and installed in no time flat!
|How many mirrors to install?||1-3|
|Mirror placement?||one in front of squat rack, one beside squat rack, one in front of open training space|
|Mounting height?||the top edge of the mirror should match your height at a minimum|
|Best size?||36″ x 60″|
|Second best size?||24″ x 48″|
|Best material?||Tempered glass|
|Where to buy?||Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s|
|Recommended mirrors||Fab Glass & Mirror Home Gym Mirror Kits|
|Recommended mirror||Fab Glass & Mirror 36″ x 72″|
How Many Mirrors Do You Need in a Garage Gym, And Where Should You Mount Them?
For most home and garage gyms, one to three mirrors are the best number to install. The first should be installed directly in front of your power rack. The second should be installed directly to the side of the same rack. The third should be installed in front of an open exercise area.
Those three positions are in order of importance. If you don’t have the room or the money to install three mirrors, start with the one in front of your rack and go from there.
The mirror in front of the rack will serve a dual purpose. First, it lets you watch yourself while squatting inside the rack. Second, it allows you to see what you are doing in front of the rack. This will cover most of your movements in the gym.
The mirror to the side allows you to see your form from a second angle. What often looks correct from the front has issues when viewed from the side. Being able to look to one side and see your form as you lift is advantageous.
The third mirror is a catch-all for everything else. Install it in front of an open area where you do most of your training.
Keep mirrors away from your weight and bar storage. Those things will eventually hit the wall and break your mirror. That’s seven years of bad luck coming your way!
One commercial gym owner I talked to said they experience broken mirrors at least once a month. The biggest culprit? Dumbbells that bounce into the mirror when dropped.
What’s The Best Height To Hang A Gym Mirror?
If you don’t have full-length mirrors, mount the top edge of the mirror to match your height. If you are 6′ tall, the top of the mirror should be at least 6′ off the ground. The bottom of the mirror should be at your waist level or below. You should be able to see yourself head to toe when training.
To test your mounting height, stand where you will be training and ensure you can see from the top of your head to at least mid-shin. Preferably, you want to be able to see your shoes too.
To mount your mirrors at this height, they must be of a specific size or larger.
What’s The Best Size Mirror To Install in a Home Gym?
At a minimum, you want to use mirrors that are at least 24″ x 48″ in a home or garage gym. This size, combined with the appropriate mounting height, will allow you to see your entire body while training. The ideal size for a home gym wall mirror is 36″ x 60″ or larger if wall space allows.
A 48″ tall mirror, installed at the right height, will allow most people to see themselves from their head to at least their shins.
In this case, however, more is better. Ideally, mirrors that are 3′ x 5′ are preferred. This allows you to see your entire body regardless of its size and type. It also gives you flexibility in training and still effectively using the mirror.
If you have room on your walls and within your budget to go with full-length mirrors, go for it!
Glass or Acrylic, What’s The Best Choice For A Home Gym Mirror?
While acrylic mirrors will resist breaking better than glass, they are not the best choice for your garage gym. Acrylic tends to be much less clear than tempered glass and is considerably easier to scratch and become cloudy over time. Tempered glass gives a better reflection and is more durable overall.
A lot of people worry about their mirrors breaking. And if you buy the cheapest option that isn’t tempered, that’s a genuine concern.
But if you stick with tempered glass mirrors, you won’t have that issue. Even if they break, much like your car window, they won’t leave you with thousands of tiny knives ready to cut you as you clean them up.
Another massive benefit of glass is that it is flat and doesn’t warp. Acrylic tends not to be perfectly flat out of the box, worsening over time. Eventually, you end up with a version of a carnival fun house mirror instead of something useful for your gym.
What Kind Of Mirrors NOT To Buy For Your Garage Gym
In addition to acrylic mirrors, there are three more types of mirrors I don’t recommend.
If you can, avoid a framed mirror. If you find a great deal on something you like and it’s got a frame, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. But you will be paying for that frame too.
Large mirrors with minimal to no framing tend to work the best.
Buying a mirror with no frame will usually be less expensive than buying one with one. It’s also nicer looking in your gym.
Small Mirrors Tiled Together
Avoid tiling smaller mirrors together. This includes the small flexible stick-on mirrors you see advertised everywhere these days. You want one solid piece of reasonably thick glass.
When you use a flexible mirror, or smaller mirrors tiled together, you get this weird effect similar to walking into a funhouse at a carnival. It’s distracting at best. It also looks pretty bad and is generally not worth the cost savings.
Non Safety Treated Mirrors
Always look for mirrors that have a safety coating on the back. This adhesive backing prevents the mirror from shattering apart into loose pieces if broken.
You also want to buy mirrors made from tempered glass. Tempered glass, if broken, shatters into a million tiny pieces that are not sharp and are much less dangerous.
You’ll be glad you have this type of mirror if you accidentally break it with a weight or barbell!
Where to buy mirrors for your gym
If you are on a tight budget, garage sales, and the FaceBook marketplace are the best places to look. You can often find old mirrored closet doors or unwanted home decor in these places. I’ve even seen mirrors that are free to anyone who can take them safely away.
Your local custom glass and mirror store is on the opposite end of the price spectrum. You will pay a premium, but you’ll also get something custom designed to fit your space.
Professional delivery and installation are a nice additional benefit of going this route.
My preferred place to buy mirrors is Wayfair or Amazon. WayFair is where to look if you want something framed or more in the home decor line.
Amazon is the place to go if you want the perfect, large, frameless gym mirror. Specifically, I recommend the gym mirror kits by Fab Glas and Mirror. You can see their full assortment of sizes here on Amazon.
One last note is that Fab Glass and Mirror have outstanding customer service. You can’t say that about some of the cheaper options out there.
For those on a budget, another great place to check is eBay. You can click here to see what they have available in home gym mirrors.
How to mount a gym mirror
You’ve found a place to hang a mirror or two and decided to pull the trigger. Now what? Well, now you have to hang that puppy.
Sound intimidating? It’s not!
With a few basic tools and two people, your new mirrors will be hung in no time! And seriously, folks, two people, please!
Instead of typing out full instructions for you, this video by Fab Glass and Mirror is all you’ll need.
Should You Install Mirrors in Your Garage Gym?
Installing mirrors in your home or garage gym allows you to monitor your lifting form. It can also make your gym look more spacious. Large gym mirrors are easy to source and easy to mount yourself. So if they can, most people will want to install mirrors in their home gym.
When you talk to professional trainers, many will tell you that having mirrors in your gym is necessary. To many of them, mirrors are as important as the equipment you’ll be using in front of them.
To be fully transparent, I don’t have mirrors in my garage gym. Instead, I use one of the alternatives listed below.
I don’t have the wall space for mirrors. There is nowhere for me to hang them. Instead, a good deal of my gear is stored on the walls.
But if you have the space and budget, I think they are something most home gym owners should at least consider.
Why Do Gyms Have Mirrors?
Installing mirrors in a gym allows people to monitor their form so they can lift more safely and improve over time as well as see what their body is actually doing instead of guessing. Mirrors can also add a more professional feel to a gym while making it feel more open and spacious.
Let’s look at a few of those points in more detail and how they relate to your home gym.
Check Your Lifting Form
Resistance training can be dangerous if done wrong. One of the best ways to prevent injury is to use proper form. There is no better way to do this when training alone than with mirrors.
This is true for all types of training, from using barbells and plates to running on your treadmill. No matter what you are doing, proper form will benefit you greatly and prevent injury.
When training alone in your home or garage gym, large mirrors are the easiest way to get feedback. They allow you to monitor and correct your form as you are training.
Being able to correct form issues during a lift or movement is the ideal time to do it.
Not checking or looking at a video after the fact can be too late.
This is the most important reason to install mirrors in your home gym.
Make Your Gym Appear To Be More Open And Spacious
One of my favorite things about having mirrors installed in your home gym is that they will instantly make your space look bigger, more open, and less confined.
Since we often cram our gyms into tight or cramped quarters, they can sometimes feel claustrophobic. If this describes your gym, consider adding mirrors (and good lighting!!!).
Mirrors will give the appearance that your space has doubled or more.
Home gym mirrors are a great way to make a small home gym seem open and inviting.
Regardless of the actual purpose of putting mirrors in commercial gyms, the two things I just listed are not what mirrors get used for the most.
Yes, people are checking their form. Yes, it makes their gym look bigger.
But by far, the most common thing people in commercial gyms use mirrors for is people-watching.
And not just other people but themselves too!
It’s human nature to check other people out, especially in a gym! And it’s human nature to want to look at yourself mid and post-workout too.
I train specifically to be capable and to live a longer, healthier life. But as my coach told me once, “Who doesn’t like to look like they lift?”
We all do!
We all secretly check ourselves out in the mirror more often than we’d like to admit.
It’s your gym! If you enjoy regularly checking your progress and pump, go for it! Add some mirrors to your gym today!
Do You Need Mirrors in Your Garage Gym?
So, do you need mirrors? No.
No one needs mirrors in their gym. But they are an excellent idea for most people. Whether it’s for form feedback, progress monitoring, checking yourself out, or helping to make your gym look more open and inviting, mirrors can be a huge benefit to most home gyms if you have the wall space to install them.
Alternatives to mirrors
What if you don’t have room for mirrors? What if they aren’t in the budget? What if you feel weird about putting big mirrors up in the first place?
Well, you’re in luck! Some excellent alternatives are out there, and at least one could work for you.
I don’t have the wall space for mirrors, but I believe strongly in constantly monitoring your form. How do you do that without mirrors? Like so much else these days, you do it on your phone.
For me, I record almost every set of every exercise I do. Part of that is that I work with a personal trainer and send many of those to him for feedback.
But the more significant reason is that I can see precisely what I need to focus on during the next set.
This, combined with good notes so I can progress week to week, has been a great alternative to having mirrors in my gym.
If you already have your phone out and recording, another option can be as effective as having a mirror.
Those of you who have installed a TV in your home gym may be able to broadcast the image from your phone up to your TV. Most smartphones will do this to most smart TVs with no additional gear needed.
If you don’t have a smart TV, adding an inexpensive item like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick is a quick way to gain this functionality. (Please check compatibility with your phone and TV before buying!)
If you hang your TV on a swivel arm like this one you can pick up inexpensively on Amazon, you can see yourself even more easily and in more areas of your gym.
Get a trainer
This is not a less expensive option than mirrors. But it is a lot better. Even if you hire someone to get you started by simply coaching the major compound barbell movements, you’ll be way ahead of most people.
I’ve been training on and off most of my adult life (more off than on if I’m being honest), and there is simply no comparison to the progress, accountability, and consistency I’ve gained by working with a trainer over the last two years.
I know that might sound like a silly thing to include in an article about putting mirrors in your gym, but if the goal is proper form, I can think of no better way to approach that!
So should you put mirrors in your gym? Only you can answer that. There are lots of shoulds and musts thrown around when researching how to build a home gym.
Ultimately, you have to build a gym you’ll use and enjoy. It needs to become a valued part of your everyday life.
If mirrors will help with this, then put them in. If not, then don’t! It’s your gym, after all!