A power cage is the centerpiece of a home gym if you want to work out with barbells. Is it possible or even a good idea to put one in your apartment without getting into trouble? Here’s what you have to know.
To use a power rack in an apartment without problems it’s advisable to; Limit the total weight you lift and set the weights down carefully. Place thick rubber gym flooring under the power cage instead of bolting it to the floor. Let the neighbors know what you are going to do.
For some more tips on minimizing troubles, keep reading below.
Problems of having a power cage in an apartment
If you’ve clicked on this post, you probably already have the feeling that there might be some potential issues with having a power cage in your apartment or upstairs.
There are a couple of problems that can be limited but you should know before you install a full home gym in your apartment;
- Noise and vibrations
- Weight limits
Of course a power rack by itself doesn’t make any noise and doesn’t weigh all that much so just putting a power rack in your apartment is not the problem. It’s when you start adding weight and lifting them that the problems really start.
A huge problem of weightlifting (especially heavy) is that it creates a lot of noise and vibrations. Especially putting the weight back down on the floor/rack does this. Can you hear your upstair neighbors walking around or moving furniture? If so, you can get an idea of the level of noise that your (much heavier) barbell is going to make.
Something you should also definitely think about is the amount of weight you’re going to put on your apartment floor. A ground floor is going to be able to handle much more weight without problems than a floor that’s not the ground floor.
In general, you can put about 300 lbs. of weight on one spot of the floor. A power cage has four legs so that would mean 1200 lbs. most power cages can’t even handle that much weight so that’s not a problem. However, when you lift the weight, it rests on just your two feet. Suddenly you want to limit the weight to only 600 lbs. And that’s bodyweight + the weight on the barbell.
In most cases a power cage that is bolted to the floor is the best and safest option. However, in an apartment or even upstairs in a house, bolting down your power cage is something you want to avoid.
Many apartments are rentals and you might not want to drill in the floor in the first place but there’s also another reason;
Making a solid connection between the power cage and the structure of the building is going to transmit much more noise and vibrations. Any vibrations are going straight into the floor and onto the neighbors ears. If the impact is hard enough, you might even loosen some dust from the downstairs neighbors ceiling. Doing that several times a week is enough to get you into trouble pretty quickly with your neighbors but also your landlord.
If you own your apartment and enjoy fighting the neighbors, well you know what to do. If not, don’t bolt down your power rack.
The problem is, most power racks are designed to be bolted down and aren’t stable enough without it. However, there are some options for standalone racks. These have larger feet that stick out a bit further for more stability. However, standalone racks do still have a lower load limit than most racks that have to be bolted down. But 500 lbs. should be enough of a load limit for most people and you probably want to limit the weight anyways.
Limit the weight
In an apartment or upstairs, not only the noise is important but also the limits of the floor. A garage floor is built to withstand a lot more weight than an apartment floor. Even if you take noise completely out of the equation, you can’t put as much weight on an apartment floor as you can on a ground floor.
The problem with weightlifting is that you have a moving weight. If you paid even the slightest bit of attention in physics class you’ll know that the impact of a moving weight has much more force than the same weight stationary. So while you could go up to around 600 lbs. of weight (bodyweight + barbell), keep in mind that dropping that weight might push you over the safe limit of the floor.
Use weights you can control and where the chance of you having to drop the weight is very small.
Also, don’t stack all your weight plates in the same pile. Try to spread them out a little so the floor doesn’t have to absorb all the stress in one spot. Find some great weight plate organization solutions here.
Use gym flooring
The next big thing you can do to save yourself your neighbors scorn is to use a good gym flooring. Gym flooring comes in different shapes and sizes. The most common materials are foam and rubber. Foam is cheap and absorbs more noise but it doesn’t last long and can cause some instability.
Since we’re not bolting down our power rack and are trying to limit noise, vibrations and spread out the weight, thick rubber mats are a much better choice for gym flooring in this case. Rubber gym flooring is more expensive but works better, looks nicer, lasts longer and absorbs vibrations better in the end. It’s also easier to clean than foam which keeps your home gym more hygienic.
Use bumper plates
Reducing the impact of the weight on the floor is how you reduce noise and vibrations. Bumper plates are a good way to reduce that impact a little bit more. Bumper plates are made from rubber instead of steel. That means there is a bit more flex in them and that flex absorbs some of the vibrations that would otherwise be transferred to the floor.
In combination with a good gym flooring and crash pads the difference between rubber coated and bumper plates is going to be small but every little bit helps.
Of course bumper plates are only going to help for lifts where you put the weight back on the floor. If you put the weight on the power rack, bumper plates aren’t going to do anything because the plates don’t touch anything in that case.
The last piece of the puzzle is in your own hands. Try to set down the barbell as softly as you can whether it’s on the floor or on the rack. Can you hear it if someone a floor above you drops something like a
This probably means you have to leave maxing out for a different time and place. Maxing out is when you’re at the limit of your capabilities. If you’re only just able to get something up, do you think you’re setting it down nicely? You might think you are but it’s very unlikely it’s as soft as your neighbors would like you to.
Sure gym flooring and crash pads help a lot but dropping 300+ lbs. on crash pads is still going to be heard and felt by other people in the building. Since you want to limit the weight anyways, use a little lighter weight and higher repetitions. Don’t go to failure and try to stay in control of the barbell at all times.
Is this optimal if you’re trying to lift as heavy as possible? No but you live in an apartment. That has its benefits but one of the drawbacks is that you have to think much more carefully about your neighbors.
Talk to the landlord and/or neighbors
This is the last tip but it’s probably best to do this first. Although on the other hand it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission so…….
Letting your neighbors know what you’re going to do is a good idea. Most people won’t be thrilled by the though you’re regularly going to lift heavy weight above their heads. So do your research and think about which measures you’re going to take to minimize annoyances for the people you have to live next to. If the neighbors hear you’ve done your homework, you’ll probably get less pushback. Agreeing on a time of day you can be noisy is also a strategy that’s more likely to get a thumbs up.
Asking the landlord if you’re renting is probably also a good idea to keep a good relationship. If you explain exactly what you want to do and what precautions you’re taking its more likely they’ll agree to your plans.
For apartment owners, make sure you HOA doesn’t have anything to say about it. Maybe your neighbors will agree at first but after a while they still get irritated and complain. If the HOA regulations say anything about noise or even specifically about gym equipment, your neighbors agreement isn’t going to matter much.