You can and I am doing it now:
Now, you will notice this home gym is still under construction and we actually do not have a significant amount of weight or equipment in it, yet.
So yes, you can put a home gym on the second floor, provided you adhere to certain obvious limitations.
To be honest, there is nothing like having a gym in your garage, or basement, or a spare room on the ground floor. But, that's not possible for everyone. Our garages and basements remain occupied and a spare room is a luxury that most of us can’t afford to have in homes. Further, many of us are stuck in apartment buildings.
Don’t worry; as we said above, you can put a home gym on the second floor or for that matter any floor of your house.
In this blog, we will discuss these limitations. We will also help you understand which equipment you can use upstairs and how you can use them so you don’t disturb people who live below.
Let's first understand how safe it is to build a home gym on the second floor.
Load limits of apartments and upstair floors
According to the American Wood Council the upstairs floor of a modern home is rated to hold 30 to 40 lbs per square foot. So, if you have a room on the second floor that measures 132 square feet, it can hold 132 X 30=3960lbs.
Please hold on to your excitement because this is the gross weight it can handle which includes the weight of your freestanding appliances, furniture, and even your own weight.
Further, AWC also states that the weight should be distributed all over the floor and must not be concentrated at a specific spot. The max weight of concentrated loads shouldn’t exceed 300 lbs. This means you cannot have all your dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc. on your weight rack if their total weight exceeds 300lbs. You have to spread them across the room, maybe leave the barbell on the rack and kettlebells in one corner of the room and dumbbells in another corner.
Don't panic, the floor is not going to crash like some Sci-Fi movie. These are just average numbers. The modern construction standards have made our houses strong enough to bear ample weight and distribute the load to some extent. But, to be on the safe side, we suggest you stick to the 300lbs limit.
Things to keep in mind while building a home gym on second floor
Image source: Pinterest
Make sure your apartment or building is built as per modern residential construction standards
Well, unless you live in a suburban area or an old building, chances are rare that you will have to really check this. But, it is still good to find out if your upstairs rooms have been rated to hold a specific weight. As we said above, most modern homes and apartments are built to hold more weight than what the buildings were supposed to hold a few decades ago.
Also, even if you live in a modern home, make sure it is in a good condition and is not coming off here and there. These signs indicate that it requires maintenance and can’t be trusted to hold an excessive amount of weight.
If you are not sure, you can hire a structural engineer to evaluate your home but that won’t be necessary unless you are in doubt.
You can lift only a reasonable amount of weight in your home gym upstairs
When we say reasonable, we mean less than 300lbs of weight.
Wondering why just 300lbs when the room is rated for around 4000lbs?
That’s because you have to add in the weight of your power rack, extra plates, treadmill, elliptical, weight bench, your music system, refrigerator, and anything and everything that you have there, including yourself.
So, 300lbs is the max we recommend and that’s a decent amount of weight for most of us. If you are an athlete or a fitness freak, you should rather choose a garage or basement to set up your gym.
You must not drop weight on the floor
That sounds pretty obvious but many of us are used to throwing the barbell when done. If you too have that habit, be careful. Always put back your weights on the floor gently. Even if you are training with an insignificant amount of weight, do not throw it off when done.
If you do not practice carefully, the tiles could break and the structural integrity of your house could get compromised. Such damages are highly dangerous plus they are very expensive to fix. If you prefer deadlifts and other moves where chances of dropping the weights are high, we suggest that you should use the ground floor or get crash pads
Use drop pads for deadlifts
If you have to do deadlifts on the second floor of your home, make sure you buy drop pads or crash cushions sold by Rogue Fitness. These crash cushions act as noise dampeners as well as provide adequate protection to your floor. They also reduce vibrations, which is why they are highly recommended for commercial establishments. They are somewhat expensive but if you want to setup a home gym in the second floor of your house do not hesitate spending that amount.
You must install proper gym flooring
Image source: Reddit
That sounds obvious too but most people fail to choose the right type of gym flooring. The conventional rubber puzzle tiles such as BalanceFrom puzzle tiles are decent enough for using under a treadmill or rowing machine. You can also use them if you lift very little weight, maybe some basic dumbbells or kettlebells. But, if you lift a decent amount of weight, you need thicker, denser products.
Horse stall mats are excellent for covering your home gym floor on second floor
Horse stall mats from Tractor Supply Co. are inexpensive, thick, and do an excellent job in absorbing the noise and vibration generated from the use of home gym equipment. Unless you are lifting really heavy, which you can’t if you have a gym upstairs, they are enough for protecting your floor and your equipment against damages.
They are not toxic
Most people avoid using them for home gym setup assuming that they are unsafe and probably cancerous. Their typical rubbery smell may make you feel so but there is no such study that clearly states that rubber products such as horse stall mats are toxic. This article on ‘Are Horse stall mats toxic’ will provide you with more details.
You can get rid of their overwhelming smell
Not just horse stall mats, all rubber products stink. Your yoga mat stinks too.
It will take some time but, eventually, the smell will go away. Here is how you can get rid of the smell from horse stall mats faster.
You must insulate your home gym against noises and vibrations
Image source: Acoustics Freq
All home gym equipment make a decent amount of noise and vibration. Those bangs and clangs can amplify if your home gym is upstairs. If you do not soundproof your gym, you will either disturb others or you will have to choose a time when others won’t mind the noise.
Here are a few tips that will help you create a quieter home gym on the second floor:
- Use coated dumbbells and kettlebells because they are much quieter than the standard bare iron ones. You can use adjustable dumbbells and adjustable kettlebells to maximize floor space.
- Use bumper plates instead of iron plates. Here are some best bumper plates we recommend for people who want to build a home gym upstairs.
- Place all your equipment over a mat. Mats absorb the vibration generated from a treadmill or elliptical, thereby minimizing the disturbance.
- Get your walls covered by carpets or acoustic panels to further minimize the amount of noise that leaves your home gym. If your second floor is hardly in use, this may not be required though.
How to set up your home gym on the second floor
If you have a tile floor, it is better to remove them. They will anyway crack under the weight of the equipment. After removing the tiles, lay down ¾” of plywood on the floor and secure it to the subfloor using wood screws. Lay down the rubber tiles or horse stall mats over the plywood.
Make sure the heavier items such as power racks, weight racks, etc. are against the wall. That's the strongest area of the rooms upstairs. The weakest area is the center of the room. Leave it for bodyweight exercises or for light equipment such as gymnastic rings and Stamina 1690 Power Tower.
Do not put too many things in your home gym. Even if space is not an issue, the weight can be. Buy only the equipment that you genuinely love to use. Also, if there is any equipment that you don’t want to use, get rid of it and clear some weight off your home gym on the second floor.
Equipments that you can use in your home gym on second floor
Image Source: Pinterest
To be honest, you can use almost all types of equipment for your home gym upstairs. The only thing that we do not recommend is a deadlift platform and that too if you lift heavy i.e. more than 300lbs. Squatting is fine but deadlift requires the weight to be lifted from and placed back on the ground. So, there are high chances that the weight will hit hard on the floor and damage it.
So, you can use power racks, treadmills, spin bikes, LAT machines, and almost anything.
Power racks for home gyms on second floor
As we mentioned above, you can safely use a power rack or squat cage on the second floor of your home. But, please know that you won’t be able to bolt it down, as obvious. Therefore, you must buy a product that has amazing stability. Plus, it should also have weight pegs so you can weigh it down.
Some of the top-rated power racks that we recommend are:
- TDS power rack– for beginners to intermediate level trainers
- HulkFit power cage– for beginners
- Fitness Reality 810 XLT power rack– for intermediate level trainers
Here are some best budget squat racks that we recommend for people who want to put a home gym on the second floor of their home.
Squat stands for space-crunch home gyms
If you don’t have ample space to accommodate a power cage, don’t worry, you can use squat stands instead. They are independent posts, so when not needed, you can simply keep them in a corner of the room or inside a cabinet. They have a very small footprint and they do not weigh as much as power cages do. Here are some of the best squat stands for your home gym upstairs.
Treadmills for your home gym upstairs
Any treadmill is fine but go with the ones that produce the least possible vibration and noise. If possible, buy a foldable one. When you don’t want to use it for some time, you can fold it up and push it against the wall. We have selected some of the best treadmills for home, so you don’t have to brainstorm a lot.
Spin bikes for home gyms in balconies, decks, and other upstairs areas
How about placing a spin bike on your patio or deck and exercising outdoors? That’s a great idea for small homes although it means taking your bike in and out frequently. Spin bikes do not weigh a lot and yet, they are highly effective for giving you an excellent cardio workout. Our article on best spin bikes for your home gym has some excellent recommendations for you.
Rowing machines for home gyms on second floor
Rowing machines are probably one of the few exercise equipment that provide a full body workout. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and compact too. If you are not someone who loves lifting, check out our list of best rowing machines and buy something that best suits your needs.
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine is our favorite because it provides best value for money.
Buy ellipticals for getting low-impact workouts in home gyms
Unlike treadmills, ellipticals do not generate a lot of vibration. Plus, they provide a full body cardio workout, suitable for all members of the family. Elliptical machines are available in a wide price range and have a wide stride length as well. The overwhelming number of options could leave you confused. But, don’t worry; we have selected the Best 5 Elliptical Machines for your home gym on the second floor.
Image Source: Amazon
Most power racks come with an inbuilt pullup bar. But, if you don’t have ample space for a squat rack or if you do not want to overload your gym upstairs with a piece of equipment that you don’t intend to use, you can buy a doorway pull up bar. A majority of them do not require screws or drilling. They are perfect for clearing your floor space. Plus, who doesn’t know the endless benefits of just simple pullups!
Need recommendations? Check out our article on 13 Best Doorway Pull-Up Bars That Don’t Require Screws.
Cable pulley system
If you don’t have ample floor space in your home gym on the second floor, you can buy a cable pulley system. These inexpensive machines let you use your existing weight plates for performing a wide range of core and upper body exercises. You can hang them from your power rack or a doorway pullup bar.
SYL Fitness Cable Pulley System is our favorite, as it provides a smooth, quiet operation, something that you desperately need for your home gym.
But, if you want to check out some more products, we have already selected these 13 Best Home Pulley Systems for you.
So, yes you can set up a fully functional, enviable home gym on the second floor or any floor of your house. The only thing you need to ensure is that you do not overcrowd it with too much equipment and too many weights. But, that won’t happen unless you are a Hulk.
We hope this article helps you create a fantastic home gym upstairs. Once you have arranged everything there, please send us some pics. We will be happy to upload them here to motivate others.