Can you safely put up a power rack in an apartment? We always receive this question, and the answer isn’t easy. Power racks are heavy, and it requires ample floor support. This might be challenging for apartment buildings. Below, I discuss this topic and your options if you’re keen to set up a home gym in your apartment.
Can you safely put up a power rack in an apartment?
The answer is both yes and no, depending on the structural integrity of your apartment. If your place has modern code compliant floors, it should be strong enough to handle a heavy load.
However, it’s not just about the heaviness of the equipment per pound. For example, placing a 300 lbs. equipment on your apartment will not cause the floor to cave in. The problem here is once you’re using it.
The working force of lifting weights on a power rack adds to the weight exerted on the floor. You should also note that aside from the weights and power rack, your body weight will also be concentrated on one spot. And when you drop the barbell to the rack, the forceful motion increases the risk of the floor caving in.
Overall, you can still put up a power rack in your apartment, but with a few important caveats. First, you have to ensure that your apartment is compliant with the latest building codes. Next, make sure that the apartment flooring isn’t too old or already falling apart.
Aside from that, you should distribute the weight in different spots instead of stacking it on a single corner. You should also use gym flooring to minimize the equipment’s impact, much so while using it.
Lastly, forget about 400 to 500-pound deadlifts. That’s simply impossible if you’re living on an elevated apartment floor. Pushing it this far will become the last straw to your unit’s floor.
All about apartment floor limits
Can you safely put a power rack in an apartment? For a better understanding of floor loads, let’s get a bit technical. Most modern apartments have a uniform load limit of 30 pounds per square feet (psf) on bedrooms. The maximum limit for concentrated weight is 300 lbs. for the same area.
Let’s say you have a 100 sq. ft. bedroom in your apartment where you plan to put up the power rack. Multiply that with the 30 psf rating, and you’ll have 3,000 pounds of uniform weight load for the entire room. Again, uniform, so it has to be spread evenly on the floor.
Overall, 3,000 lbs. is already a lot of weight allowance for any lifter. HOWEVER, the issue here is how much you’ll spread it. Power racks are large equipment, but they also tend to be heavy.
Let’s assume that you have a power rack that weighs 250 lbs. with a 16 sq. ft. size.
What it means for you:
Power rack footprint: 16 sq. ft.
16 sq. ft. x 30 lbs. (maximum uniform load limit) = 480 lbs.
480 lbs. (weight limit for the occupied rack space) – 250 lbs. (rack weight)
230 lbs. = remaining allowance for your weights
Still, power racks can have a maximum concentrated load of 300 lbs. per side. For a total of 600 lbs. minus the rack weight, this is still a substantial allowance for weight lifting. However, each building is different, and you surely wouldn’t want to test its safety margins.
Aside from that, we haven’t factored in the slamming force of dropping the weights into the rack as well as your body weight.
Another important thing I want to warn you about is deadlifts. When you perform deadlifts, the feet are placed close to each other. And since most apartment floors have a maximum concentrated load limit of 300 lbs., deadlifts can be an issue.
If you wish to make deadlifts, you can use a deadlift platform to at least distribute the weight on the floor. However, this doesn’t guarantee safety.
Dropping the weights
Like I mentioned earlier, we haven’t factored in the dropping force of weights in computing the weight your apartment floor can endure. Remember that you only have minimal weight allowance if you’re setting up a power rack in your apartment. Dropping the weights the way they do on deadlifts is a no-no.
Basic physics explains that a falling object has a much greater impact than when it’s stationary. In short, your 300 lbs. barbell will weigh much more if you’re going to drop it to the rack after a lift.e
Dropping a barbell this heavy to the rack will surely take its toll on your floor. It will have a substantial effect on the floor’s structural integrity, not to mention the compounding effect of repetitive drops.
But I have deadlift crash pads! Sure, but that doesn’t guarantee that your floor can sustain the fall. Most crash pads are made for lessening the noise the weights make. It doesn’t make them float, let alone save your apartment floor from the damage.
Aside from that, you should nerve stack weights in one spot. Spread it all over your apartment to prevent problems with the floor.
What are my options if I can’t have a power rack?
If setting up a power rack in your apartment is impossible, you still have other options. A squat stand is a much lighter alternative, but you need a spotter to watch after you. You still need to calculate the weight to ensure that you’re not going past what your floor can support. You can consider cable machines, but you’re still stuck on lighter options.
Many lifters who live in apartments will just go to the gym for deadlifts. It’s a more practical option instead of pushing their floor structure to the limits.
Tips to safely lift weights in your apartment
Keep it light. If you live in an apartment, deadlifts are almost impossible. You have to keep the weights lighter so your floor won’t cave in. Anyway, most casual lifters will thrive on a lighter range that apartment floors can support.
- Don’t do the drop. I know how satisfying it is to slam the bar on the rack after a successful lift. But if you’re in an apartment, you just can’t do this. Otherwise, your floor will crack and sustain expensive damages.
- Talk to your neighbors. Lifting weights can be noisy, so it’s important to talk to your neighbors about the best time for your routines. This will save you from trouble and your neighbor’s spite.
- Ask your landlord. Before you put up a rack or any heavy equipment inside your apartment, you should first contact your landlord. This way, you will be advised whether the floor is compliant with the latest building codes.
- Use some type of cushion. I don’t recommend assembling a power rack in direct contact with the floor. You should get a platform to dampen the noise and impact. This will reinforce the floor while limiting the noise your downstairs neighbor would hear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can a floor collapse because of too much weight?
A: Yes, an elevated floor isn’t invincible to excessive weight. If you put too much concentrated weight on a single spot, the floor can cave in. This is why it’s important to calculate the load in comparison to the maximum weight limit rated for the floor. Also, it’s best to place heavy items right over the joist than between them.
Q: Is it safe to put gym equipment upstairs?
A: If the gym equipment is relatively light, it would be safe to place on elevated floors like those on apartment buildings. However, if we’re talking about cable machines, power racks, and the likes, it’s essential to perform a few calculations. Most of the time, you’ll be left with a limited allowance for weights, so the equipment may not realize its full potential if placed upstairs.
Q: Can I put a home gym on the second floor?
A: Yes, but you can only use light equipment like dumbbells, treadmills, stationary bikes, and the likes. If you’re planning to add more weights, you should calculate the floor area and the allowable weight limit to prevent it from collapsing.
Q: Can I perform squats on a carpet?
A: It’s not a good idea to perform weighted squats on a carpet. The fabric materials make the surface less stable and potentially slippery. I suggest putting up exercise pads to keep your good footing while dampening the noise your feet will produce.
Q: Can I put a power rack over a carpet?
A: If it’s a high-pile carpet, the material will squish and make your power rack less stable. Aside from that, it’s hard to clean sweat out of the carpet. If you want, you can place a layer of plywood over the carpet before assembling your power rack.
Can you safely put a power rack in an apartment? Yes, if you’re going to keep the maximum weight limit in mind. You should also install reinforcements to prevent damaging the floor. Lastly, keep your weights light and never slam the bar into the rack.