Getting to the gym is getting harder and harder. Having a home gym is much more convenient, but it also takes a little bit to get set up. One of the biggest roadblocks to getting a home gym setup is a lack of space. However, if you have an oversized garage, finished basement, or an outdoor shed, you are good to go.
But what if you are pressed on space, and the best spot you have is on your second floor? What if you live on an upper floor in an apartment building? Is it possible to create a home gym on the second floor?
In the guide below, we will look at how to safely set up a home gym on an upper-level floor.
Table of Contents
Considerations When Putting A Home Gym Upstairs
Structural Integrity of The Floor
Houses are built to a preset standard, and the load capacity of a second floor in a home is regulated at 40lbs per square foot. For bedrooms, it is 30lbs per square foot. This means that if you take the room's total square footage and multiply it by the weight capacity per square foot, you'll get a load limit for the room.
So a 10' x 10' common room would be 100 square feet, multiply that by 40, and you get 4,000 lbs. For the same size bedroom, the capacity drops to 3,000 lbs.
But that doesn't mean that if you have 3,001 lbs, your floor is going to collapse. These numbers are always conservative, but you really should follow the guideline.
You also can't take 3,000 lbs of weight and drop it on one square foot of flooring. That will most assuredly break the floor. So instead, the 3,000 lbs should be distributed across the floor as evenly as possible.
Safety, Damage & Noise
The biggest concern with a second-floor gym is safety. There likely won't be any catastrophic accidents, but the structural integrity of your home could be compromised. For example, windows could end up crooked and won't open or close—the same with doors.
Your floors could sag and warp, and you might find damage to the floor itself as dropped weights puncture and crack the floorboards. This damage isn't very dangerous, but it can be very costly to fix.
Noise is also a big concern, especially if you have downstairs neighbors or small children. You can mitigate some of that noise with rubber mats and proper flooring. You should also speak with any downstairs neighbors and let them know what's happening so they don't panic if they hear any weights banging around.
Types Of Home Gym Equipment
Just about any type of gym equipment that you can put on your first floor you can put on your second. A squat rack or power rack is always a cause for concern, but the unit's weight is not usually very much.
The average weight of a treadmill is between 175lbs and 250 lbs, and elliptical machines are even less. Home gym weights will vary, so they need to be calculated on an individual basis.
Size & Weight of Gym Equipment
If you're filling your second-floor home gym with cardio machines or all-in-one home gyms, you don't need to worry too much about the size & weight of the equipment. You can feel safe placing those anywhere in the room.
For added protection, most people put an extra mat or layer of rubber flooring under them to help absorb vibration.
Just be sure you know the weight of your equipment and how that relates to the floor capacity of your room.
Placement Of Equipment
Once you're ready to start setting up your home gym, there are some general rules to follow to make your equipment placement as safe as possible.
First, heavier items should go up against the walls. The closer the equipment is to the walls, the stronger the floor is in that area. If you have a load-bearing wall under the room, put your heaviest machines or weights over that.
Figure out what direction your floor joists run and have heavier equipment like dumbbells or squat racks span multiple joists. And the closer you can get those items to the ends of the joists, the better off you will be. When you're in the center of the joists, the more likely they will sag and bend over time.
Keep most things out of the center of the room as that is usually the weakest part of the floor.
How Much Weight Can You Put On The Second Floor?
Since the upstairs rooms in an average American home are around 70 sq ft, using the math from above, you have a grand total of 2800lb spread across the entire room.
But before you stack your weights in the same corner of your room, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The weight limit of your room is known as a uniform load, but you should also familiarise yourself with what a concentrated and a live load are.
What Home Gym Equipment Can Be Put On The Second Floor?
A squat rack or power rack would be a good addition to a second story gym. The weight of the unit itself is not usually very much. Most power racks are around 100lbs, so even if you added 200 or 300 lbs of weights to the unit, you would still be under the Live Load capacity.
Dumbbells are perhaps the easiest piece of equipment to add to your second-floor home gym. We recommend adjustable dumbbells, but if you prefer individual dumbbells, be sure to spread them across the entire room and don't stack them all in the same spot.
Most cardio equipment will be perfectly fine to be put on your second floor. For example, an elliptical, indoor exercise bike, or rowing machine is not going to cause damage, which is what we suggest you go for. They aren't heavy, very noisy, and they don't create shock loads. A treadmill will shake the floor, but the modern curved-deck style of treadmill reduces foot pounding significantly.
Small Home Gyms
Smaller all-in-one home gyms aren't much of an issue, even if they are the free weight loaded with several weight plates sitting around. Home gyms don't add much shock load even when you lower the weight arm or cable heavily.
Barbells & Weight Plates
The biggest concern most people have with a home gym on the second floor is using barbells and weight plates to do exercises like deadlifts. You can do it if you take certain precautions.
If you can always set the weight down gently, you'll be fine.
To set down a deadlift hard or drop it a couple of feet, you need crash pads. They will absorb the impact well enough that you might be able to even drop light cleans or snatches with them.
Potential Equipment Problems When Added Upstairs
There's not a lot you can't do on your second-floor home gym. Think about how much weight your king bed adds to your master bedroom, especially when you and your partner sleep in it. There's not much you can buy for your home gym that will outweigh that.
However, if you plan on lifting heavy and dropping their bar to the floor repeatedly, you will damage it over time no matter how you protect your floor. You also won't have very happy neighbors.
Dropping weight from any height puts a dynamic load on your floor many times that of the load itself. So building your gym on a concrete subfloor is the best and probably the only real choice if this is how you lift.
You should also avoid crowding. Don't put your squat rack, treadmill, assault bike, rower, and all of your free weights in the same corner. Be sure to distribute the weight as much as you can, and you should be fine.
How To Prevent Noise When Exercising Upstairs?
If you have neighbors you could disturb while working out, you should make an effort to be as quiet as possible, which may require some additional soundproofing. An exercise mat is one of the most effective ways to reduce noise when exercising at home. Exercise mats add a cushion between you and the ground, allowing for softer movements while absorbing some of the echoing noise.
You can also go shoeless. Workout shoes tend to squeak on solid surfaces and simply create more noise when moving around. Going shoeless will eliminate these noises.
Communication with your neighbors is also vital. Open and honest communication is an effective strategy if you plan on working out on an upper-level floor. Speak with your neighbor about your new fitness regimen and ask if a bit of noise is too bothersome. They will appreciate the courtesy you are providing them, and they may even let you know which times are best for them for you to work out.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Is it safe to have a treadmill on the second floor of your house?
It's safe and acceptable to have a treadmill on the second floor of any modern home or apartment built to current building codes. Your average treadmill weighs between 250-300 lbs. This is well within the weight capacity of a second-level floor.
What is the typical residential floor live load?
Current building codes require a uniform live load of 40 pounds per square foot for residential floor designs. This load accounts for the large number of loads that can occur in your home.
How do you move gym equipment upstairs by yourself?
The best way to move your gym equipment upstairs is to call in a few friends. Then you should wrap your equipment in bubble wrap or foam. You may want to consider wrapping a few tight entryways and exposed corners elsewhere in your home. This will help move your equipment upstairs without damaging anything.
Can I add a home gym to a second floor when renting?
The only way to know if you can add a home gym to a second-floor when you rent is to speak with your landlord. Some landlords will be okay with it as long as no damage is done, but some may prefer that you don't set up your gym on the upper levels.
The best spot for your home gym will always be on a lower level of your home. But if you are pressed on space, you can set up a home gym on the second level of your house or apartment. As long as your set up your gym the right way and follow a few safety guidelines, your second-floor home gym should be just fine.
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