Space is at a premium for many of us so one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is whether a power rack can be safely used in the second floor of a house or in an apartment.
In this post we’ll look at:
- Why it’s safe to work out in the second (or higher) story of your building.
- Rough dimensions and space requirements to use a cage properly
- The difference between squat stands and a power cage
- A couple of great value options to buy in the UK &USA
Working out upstairs
As long as you are careful to not drop weights on the floor there is no issue working out upstairs. Dropping weights may damage the floor so that’s why I would avoid it.
To mitigate the risk slightly you can lay down some stall mats or other rubber tiles to act as a buffer between heavy plates and your (probably) timber structure.
What this means in real terms is that you need to control your weights instead of dropping them – deadlifts for example should have a controlled return, not an Olympic style drop from height.
I personally had a basic home gym set up in my spare bedroom and used it for almost a year with no issues.
Dimensions and space required
Commonly cages will measure around 1370L x 1200W 2160H. You will therefore need a minimum of 2.2m height and around 2mx2m floor space.
When working with an Olympic bar which is 7ft long I recommend at least 2.5m x 2m of space, plus some buffer around this to load/unload plates on to the bar.
Squat stands for your apartment
These are often used when space is a little tight as they require a bit less height and length:
These allow you to get the barbell onto your upper body safely. If you’re going for this option you should buy ones that have spotter bars (the horizontal pieces) which catch weight should you drop it, this will save your floor and possibly your back should the worse happen!
The other great thing about squat stands is that they are super easy to move out of the way or store when not in use. This makes them a hit for slotting into a bedroom cupboard or stacking them in a corner out of the way.
Power rack to put in your apartment
These are the real deal and offer a wider range of workout options, you can perform pull-ups with the top of the cage, dips on the side, attach cables for pulldowns etc. If you have space, a decent cage is the best piece of strength training equipment you can buy.
A squat rack offers four posts instead of two so it can hold more weight safely and is sturdier in terms of wobbles.
Can you put a squat rack on an upstairs carpet?
Both squat and power racks can be put directly on to a carpet. It is not ideal, but it can be done.
You do run the risk of marking the carpet if you keep the rack in the same place for a prolonged period of time. Just think of those times you have moved furniture around in your bedroom and you have the little indents on the carpet from where the bed (or chest of drawers, etc) has been sitting for months or years!
Fortunately this is quite easy to work around – put some exercise matting down (preferably something heavy duty) to then put your rack on, or simply move your rack around from week to week.
When training, be aware that carpet can be slippy depending on what is is made of, s consider what shoes you will wear – I like to use rubber soled shoes if working out on carpeted surfaces as they offer some grip. Socks on carpet is a NO from me I am afraid as it is too slippy!
This is also important when racking weights and bars – you need to make sure your power rack doesn’t move around too much. The quality of the rack as well as the weights being lifted will factor in.
Overall – I have successfully had squat stands on my upstairs carpet, but I didn’t feel as sure footed as I would have liked. It is a lot better than nothing however – so if that is your best option then get lifting!
Which ones to buy in the UK & USA
If you’re interested in a power rack then you should check out this review article first specifically for cages.
In the UK the range of workout equipment has increased massively in recent years (EDIT: I’ve come back to update this post in 2020 to reflect the latest options). Bulldog offer an awesome range of equipment in the UK market.
For something upstairs I would be leaning towards a simple squat rack with a pull-up bar like this one:
Now as ever our American friends have a much wider choice at usefully-cheaper price points. It’s hard to look past Rogue for balance of price and quality. They are also American made.