Home Gym Lighting Guide (A Pro's Tips & Tricks)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 6, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Great lighting ensures you see the details of your toned body, which can motivate you to push harder when results are visible. It's especially important to be able to train at night in your home gym.

My fitness clients sometimes ask me for advice on good lighting options for their home workout spaces.

So, I teamed up with instructors here at Total Shape and compiled our research and experience to create this article about the best lighting for home workout spaces.

Quick Summary

  • To effectively light up a home gym, incorporating natural light through windows is ideal, as it boosts energy and alertness during workouts.
  • Various lighting options like LED, fluorescent, and smart lights offer different benefits, with LED lights being particularly effective in mimicking natural sunlight.
  • A University of Toronto study indicates that adequate lighting can significantly improve mood and energy levels, essential for effective workouts.
  • In my experience, investing in quality lighting for a home gym is crucial, as it not only enhances safety and performance but also creates a motivating workout environment.

What Is the Best Way to Light up a Home Gym?

A home gym with natural lights from a big window

The best way to light up a home gym is to let in natural light through the windows. If that's impossible, mimicking it to artificially replicate the sun's glow is the next best thing.

That often involves using light bulbs that emit 5000K, the same color temperature as the sun.

In case you're wondering, color temperature is the color of light emitted by an opaque and non-reflective body at a certain temperature.

According to Science Direct, it's measured in a unit called kelvin [1].

Now, the color temperature of sunlight (about 5000K) is ideal because it is energizing and boosts alertness.

Less than 4000K is relaxing and soothing, which is not what we want when lifting weights.

We'll soon get into the types of light bulbs or light fixtures that best mimic natural light. But before that, we'll examine why proper gym lighting is so crucial in building a home gym.

Related: 7 Home Gym Essentials You Must Have

Why Home Gym Lighting Matters

Wide shot of a home gym with natural lighting

You should care about great lighting in your garage gym for several reasons.

To See Properly

You'd want to see where you're stepping and which weight you're grabbing.

You don’t need too much light for that, but you might as well get the right light fixture from the get-go.

To Monitor Your Exercises

In addition to having high-quality equipment in your home gym, it is equally important to have the right lighting so you can see your exercise movements, especially when weight lifting, to ensure safety.

A lot can go wrong when you don't exercise in the right form. It could lead to injury and muscle imbalance.

This explains the need for a mirror and adequate lighting. It allows you to get the most out of your workout and ensures you're making the right movements to avoid injury.

I've learned the hard way that proper lighting is crucial for monitoring exercises. Once, while weightlifting in poor light, I didn't notice my improper form, leading to a minor strain.

Now, I make sure my home gym is well-lit so I can clearly see my movements and maintain the correct form, ensuring a safe workout every time.

To See Your Progress

A person in front of a mirror under natural light

Seeing your progress as your physique improves can motivate you to continue working out.

On the other hand, seeing your belly in all its glory can also encourage you to eat well and work harder.

It's all about getting direct feedback about the direction your physique is going.

And you can't do that without enough light where you're working out.

Take Good Photos and Videos

Building a stylish and functional home gym setup can be essential if you're active on social media or in the fitness industry.

With the advent of technology, people are getting used to high-quality content.

The creation of high-quality video content usually requires big lights and some additional equipment.

So, why not plan to have great lighting in your home gym setup from the get-go?

Psychological Impact of Lighting in Home Gyms

Understanding the psychological impact of lighting can transform a mundane workout routine into an invigorating and motivational session.

Here's how:

  • Adjustable intensity: Brighter lights can stimulate vigor and focus during a workout, while dimmer lights can help in winding down or during stretching sessions.
  • Color variations: Different colors have varying effects on the mind. For instance, blue lighting is known to have a calming effect and can be beneficial for stress-relief workouts. Red light, often associated with energy and passion, can be stimulating for more dynamic exercise routines.
  • Targeted lighting: Properly positioned lights can help in focusing on specific workout areas or equipment, reducing distractions, and enhancing concentration. This targeted approach ensures that your energy is fully directed towards your workout.
  • Motivational setting: A well-lit gym can significantly boost motivation. When your workout space is inviting and mentally stimulating, it encourages regular use, thereby aiding in maintaining consistency in your fitness regime.

I've felt the psychological impact of lighting in my home gym firsthand. On days I need a calming workout, dimmer, blue-toned lights set the perfect mood, while brighter, white lights energize me for high-intensity sessions.

Common Types

A woman working out at a home gym under natural lighting

Let me take you through some home gym lighting ideas to light up your workout space.

Natural Lighting

As mentioned earlier, natural light is the best for exercising. Having experienced the benefits of natural lighting in my own home gym, I can't stress enough its importance.

And that's mostly because of the vitamin D that your skin generates from sunlight, along with the benefit of keeping you alert as you work out.

If your home gym is in an open space, getting natural light from sunlight should be a priority.

It reduces the need for more lighting during the day and helps keep electricity bills down.

The problem with sunlight is that you can only work out during the day, as it fades at dusk and dawn. This brings us to our next type of light.

LED Lighting

Close up shot of LED lights for a home gym

My client with a basement gym found LED lights a lifesaver. The bright, clear light from the LEDs mimics daylight, keeping his workouts vibrant and energetic, even late in the evening.

The cool part about LED lights is that you can find one that suits your needs among the various color and shade control options.

That means you can pick one that can replicate the sun's glow.

Furthermore, these lights last longer, have no warm-up time, do not drain your energy, and are not as hazardous as fluorescent lights.

Fluorescent Light

When it comes to upfront costs, fluorescent bulbs are pocket-friendly. Also, they have been around for a while and come in multiple sizes.

That said, they have multiple disadvantages. While they are cheaper to buy, they tend to drain more energy and have a short lifespan.

Thus, it can prove to be more expensive in the long run.

In addition, the buzzing sound that comes with fluorescents can be distracting, not to mention the hazardous contents and the harsh effect on the eye.

Smart Light

A person holding a smart light

Smart lights are not necessarily a different kind of lighting from LEDs. In fact, the majority are LED lights. They are only special based on the mode of operation.

I recently upgraded to smart lights in my home gym, and it's been a revolutionary change. Being able to control the lights with my smartphone is not just convenient; it allows me to create the perfect ambiance for different types of workouts.

They also make room for other possibilities. For instance, you can improve your home gym security features and program them to switch on and off based on motion.

They also come in various forms and sizes and can be designed to light up in different colors.

Traditional Lighting

Traditional lights can be easily installed and are inexpensive. That's why they are popular in today's home gyms.

The issue with the traditional filament light bulb is that it produces too much heat and energy.

It also produces a single light color that is not the most flattering you will see and is not as durable as other types of light.

Wall-Mounted Lights

A shot of wall mounted lights on a blue wall

Wall-mounted lights are a great option if you do not have ceiling light bulb outlets to fix your recessed and overhead lights.

Given their uniqueness, it is not easy to install them without pre-existing wall-mount socket accessories, which are rare.

My client, who has a home gym, opted for wall-mounted lights. He found they cast a broad, even glow across the room, eliminating shadows and dark corners. This setup ensures that every part of his gym is well-lit.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lights are the most common type of overhead lighting (ceiling lights) and are more suitable for a garage gym setting.

There is an obvious danger with installing hanging lights in a space where you're jumping, running, and throwing.

Because they do not protrude, recessed lights are more suitable where the ceiling is low.

These overhead lights, especially with a recessed LED lighting touch, have a nicer finish and are a good option if you're looking for high-end lighting for your home fitness room.

The only downside is that they are not easy to install, so you might incur some costs by hiring an electrician to drill holes in the ceiling.

Track Lighting

Close up shot of track lighting on the ceiling

Track lighting fixtures are hanging lights that are a special type of overhead light.

They hang from the ceiling by about 12 inches.

Thus, they need a bit of ceiling height so as not to knock them when moving and working out.

Another unique feature of track lighting is its ability to be adjusted in two ways:

  • By pivoting each track light to direct light to a poorly lit workout space
  • Track lights are also dimmable, making them great for achieving a calming effect after working out

Tips When Choosing Lights

A woman shopping for a home gym light

Below are a few home gym lighting ideas to keep in mind when selecting any of the above home gym lighting fixtures:

Use the Right Amount of Light

A study from the University of Toronto shows adequate light can improve mood and energy levels [2].

On the other hand, the opposite is also true; working out in a poorly lit home gym can make you feel less energized.

The right brightness for your home gym should be around 800–1000 lumens.

The sun is the benchmark here. However, we also don't want too much brightness, as it can cause eye strain.

Use the Right Light Color

As mentioned earlier, replicating the sun's 5000K color temperature should be the goal for your home gym. With smart and laser lights, you can add color and color temperatures to help you remain calm after a workout.

"For a home gym, ideally, the Kelvin should be around 4000-6000k, which is neutral, cool. Opting for this color will introduce an element of the blue light spectrum which is mentally stimulating and ideal for creating a motivating setting."

- Jamie Moxey, Design Consultant, Dusk Lighting

Try Dimmable Lights

A person trying dimmable lights with an app

Fixing lights that you can dim after a workout can facilitate a cool-down after a workout.

Dimmable lights can also help you relax after a high-intensity workout if you like to stay in your home gym to cool down.

Bright light may not serve this purpose effectively.

Smart LED lights come in handy for this when it comes to adjusting brightness efficiently.

The Right Height

Most home gyms don't have a high ceiling. And as we've seen, some overhead lighting fixtures can take away the remaining height from the room.

So, here's what I'd recommend:

  • Do not mount your home gym lighting fixtures above where you do pull-ups or overhead press.
  • If possible, use recessed lighting that doesn't protrude from the ceiling. This can be suitable for a basement gym.
  • Although it may not be optimal, with minimal height, consider mounting the light fixtures high on the walls for you to perform exercises with ease.

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/color-temperature
  2. https://media.utoronto.ca/media-releases/education/new-research-shows-the-way-a-room-is-lit
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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