Creating a good home gym setup is not easy. One of the leading reasons why is a lack of room. Sure you can utilize a garage, shed, conservatory, or even outdoor space but for those that are really limited on space, you are going to be looking at the upstairs of a home/apartment as a potential home gym location.
While the idea might work if you have space, the biggest concern people have with this approach is; is it safe to put gym equipment upstairs?
It is safe to put gym equipment upstairs provided you do not exceed the uniform, concentrated, or live load limits for your flooring. A general rule of thumb is that most flooring can support 40lbs per square foot so a 70sq ft room could support up to 2800lbs (spread across the room).
Doing the math is not an appealing part of the process when it comes to keeping gym equipment upstairs so read on and I’ll break this down a bit more and give a good indication of what you can or might not be able to use on a second floor.
**Disclaimer** Before attempting to put any gym equipment upstairs make sure you check the building regulations to ensure the flooring can support the weight. This article is providing general guidelines based on minimum requirements for modern building regulations but every home is different so do not take this as advice.
Is It Safe To Put Gym Equipment Upstairs
When you’re looking to build a home gym, money isn’t the only currency you have to keep in mind; sometimes it’s simply a question of how much space you have.
If you’ve exhausted all your options on the first floor of your home it’s natural to worry about setting up equipment upstairs, but unless you’re living in an older house you can definitely set up a gym on the second floor of your house.
How Much Weight Can You Put on the Second Floor of a House
Modern homes have to comply with building codes, which specify that an upstairs room must have a weight limit of 40lbs (18kg) per square foot – it’s worth noting that the limit is lower in bedrooms but it’s probably not the best idea trying to set up a home gym in the room you sleep in anyway!
This might sound like a small number but the upstairs rooms in your average American home are around 70 sq ft, giving you a grand total of 2800lb spread across the entire room. Before you go stacking all your weights in the same corner of your room, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The weight limit of your room applies to what is known as a uniform load, but if you’re going to be setting up heavy equipment on the second floor of your home it’s best to familiarise yourself with what a concentrated and a live load are – the difference can be vital in protecting your home from some serious damage.
- Uniform load – simply put this means that the weight is spread out across the entire floor. For example, a 70 sq foot room might be able to take a weight of 2800lbs, but if you stack all that weight in one spot, chances are it’s going to fall through the floor eventually.
- Concentrated load – this means that the force of the weight is being focussed down into one spot. Imagine a 225lb barbell loaded onto a squat rack – the weight is spread out across a big surface area of the floor, but once you lift the bar, the weight of the barbell plus your bodyweight will now be pushing into the floor through just your feet.
- Live load – this is essentially a fancy way of saying an unexpected, temporary load. The best example of this is when you drop your weights on the floor, which is definitely going to do some serious damage to your floors.
Can You Put Gym Equipment Upstairs in a Home
You can absolutely set up gym equipment in an upstairs room, however, what goes where, and how much weight you stack up in one place is not something you want to cut corners with.
While the first thing you’re going to want to work out is the total square footage, and therefore the total weight limit of the room, it’s very important to understand the concentrated load limit is going to be a very different number.
When considering whether or not it is safe to put gym equipment on the second floor, you will want to take into consideration these bullet point notes:
- Total weight – this is a bit of an obvious one but if you want to keep a squat rack upstairs, this will have a different weight compared to portable squat stands. When you then add the weights, barbell, and your own body weight, the figures soon start to climb.
- Vibration and impact – running on a treadmill will cause more vibration and live load than cycling on a stationary bike. Explosive Olympic-style lifts will also cause more impact to the flooring than controlled bodybuilding type exercise.
- Build quality – the most influential factor will be build quality. If you live in an apartment with concrete floors then it’s much safer to have gym equipment on the second floor than if you live in an old-fashioned house with OSB flooring that will snap under impact. Therefore, the build quality will be the most important thing to take into consideration.
Is It Safe To Have Gym Equipment Upstairs
As long as you follow a few guidelines and make sure to work out what equipment is safe for your own home, it is perfectly safe to set your gym equipment upstairs.
In most upstairs rooms, this limit is a weight of 300lbs in one spot. Now if you think about how many times you’ve had people over to your home, chances are you’ve had more than 300lbs of friends in close proximity, and hopefully, you’ve not seen anyone fall through the floor. With heavy equipment that’s going to be in one place permanently, however, it’s best to err on the cautious side.
The golden rule is to always add your body weight to the maximum weight of whatever piece of equipment you’re considering for an upstairs gym. While you will rarely find a treadmill that weighs more than 250lbs, if you weigh 150lbs you’re going to be putting a whole lot of stress on the beams in your floor, especially with the high impact live loads that come from running on a treadmill.
When it comes to lifting weights upstairs, there are a few basic rules to stick to:
Don’t stack all your weight plates in the same place. If the maximum weight to put in one spot is 300lbs and you have, say, 200lbs of weights in one spot, walking over and adding your own body weight is going to overload the limit of your floors.
If you’re going to be lifting heavy (think deadlifts and squats) then you might need to add some protective equipment to your floors. With your body weight as well as the weight of the barbell you’re lifting, this can be risky business upstairs, but adding some rubber matting, or a deadlift platform made from wood or metal, can make all the difference. This will spread the weight out over a much wider area, increasing the amount of weight you can lift upstairs.
Try not to make too much noise. If you live alone this might not be an issue for you, but if you have neighbors underneath or even next door you might want to invest in some crash mats and rubber padding for your weights. Not only will this dampen the noise when you’re lifting, but crash mats are also the perfect backup plan to protect your floors if you drop the bar, which leads us to our last point:
Don’t drop the weights! You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. This rule might be a more common courtesy in commercial gyms, but if you’re working out on the second floor of your home it becomes more of a necessity. Dropping weights is pretty much the worst live load your floor could suffer from and could cause extremely expensive damage to your property. If you’re constantly pushings for new PBs you might want to install some safety bars or crash mats.
When it comes to wanting to keep gym equipment upstairs on the second floor, the issue of safety will be completely different for every individual. For most people, you can put light-duty equipment upstairs (multi-gym, portable squat stands, maybe even a treadmill) with little cause for concern.
If, however, you are looking for a serious setup with heavy-duty strength training equipment, you’ll need to be more cautious. As a general guideline, a 70sq ft room can hold a minimum load of 2800lbs spread across the floor, this allows for some security when training above support beams and when ensuring you don’t have too much weight in one single location.
As the circumstances will vary though, some could have a full powerlifting setup whereas others will struggle to have a bench and free weights. It all depends on your house/apartment and to demonstrate, I had a power rack, 500lbs total free weights, and my own body weight in an apartment. In my house though, I wouldn’t even think of keeping that setup upstairs!