Not all of us live in houses or flats with plenty of space to work with. Sometimes we won’t have a vacant garage or a sprawling lounge area that can accommodate a full gym set up. It may be that the only place for gym equipment to live in your home is a disused room on the second floor.
But is it safe to put a cross trainer upstairs and what are some of the things to consider when deciding where to place it? From a safety perspective, you will usually be fine to position an elliptical machine on an upstairs floor. Although they vary in weight, this in isolation is unlikely to cause structural issues.
Cheaper machines made from lighter materials such as plastic could be between 100 lbs and 150 lbs, with heavier-duty models stretching up 250 lbs or more. This alone, even with the additional weight of the user, is not likely to cause a floor to collapse.
International residential codes outline that, at the very least, floors upstairs should be able to manage up to 30 lbs per square foot, which means a small, 150 square foot room should be able to manage 4500 lbs spread evenly.
There are, however, other considerations to think about when placing a cross trainer upstairs, which we will be exploring in more detail today.
It is also worth noting that if you are planning to move any gym equipment into a space that already accommodates heavy furniture, or if you are planning to move an entire home gym with weights and numerous machines into an upstairs location, you may need to think a bit more carefully about the total weight you’re planning to place on the floor and ceiling below.
Always consult a structural engineer if you have any doubts about the weight limits of your accommodation and, if in doubt, refrain from positioning numerous pieces of heavy kit in a space until you’ve had time to consult a professional about the safety and suitability of your proposed set-up.
Can You Put An Elliptical on the Second Floor?
Let’s assume for the time being that you live on both floors, so don’t need to think about neighbours below. With this in mind, what else might you need to consider before hauling your machine upstairs?
The moving itself is worth looking at – elliptical machines aren’t light, nor are they necessarily easy to shift. Although many models will have the option to be partially dismantled for ease of shipping, they’re not designed to be moved from pillar to post and back again.
You are likely to need at least one other person who is fit and able to help you shift a machine upstairs, and may find that with heavier models load carrying tools such as luggage racks, stair climbing trucks, or hand trolleys are required.
If you have mobility issues or feel as if you’re unable to manage this yourself, you may need to bring in outside help to get your machine into the position you want, although kind delivery staff may be willing to help you get it upstairs when it first arrives at your home.
It’s worth phoning ahead to ask whether this is possible. In short, make sure that wherever you’re planning to position your machine is where it’s going to live for the foreseeable future!
Think about floorboards and the quality of the floor you’re planning to place your elliptical machine on. Second floors can sometimes be springy, particularly when asked to deal with jumping and heavy movement.
Although a good elliptical machine should be able to handle the exercise motion without too much movement in the frame, there’s likely to be a certain amount of pounding and stress placed on the ground beneath.
This can be exacerbated by a floor that isn’t entirely solid – hollow floorboards are likely to bend and shift more than foundational concrete. There are numerous reasons people may find it more enjoyable to workout on the ground floor and this is just one of them.
To minimise any unwanted movement in the floor, you can try to position your machine over supporting walls or joists. This is often a good idea for heavy furniture of all types, as these points tend to be the most structurally solid and best supported in upstairs rooms.
Or you can use a heavy duty mat to put underneath:
Finally, although you may not have downstairs neighbours to worry about, do consider where your elliptical is placed in relation to other rooms in the house. Even quieter models make some noise. If you’re keen on midnight workouts, probably best not to put it right next to a bedroom.
Similarly, if you’re positioning the elliptical over a living or dining room, is someone working out going to end up disturbing people having dinner or watching TV downstairs?
Can You Put an Elliptical Upstairs?
Now, let’s have a look at some more general considerations when placing an elliptical machine upstairs.
We have already touched upon the weight consideration in terms of structural safety. Whenever you are thinking about moving potentially heavy equipment into a new space, you should be giving thought to what’s called the ‘live load’.
This is the amount of weight that any particular floor is designed to take and is usually determined by a combination of local building regulations and international residential codes.
An elliptical machine is unlikely to cause structural issues in and of itself, as upper floors, assuming they have been appropriately built, should be able to handle a minimum of 30 lbs per square foot, spread evenly across a space. Many rooms will be able to take more than this.
Nevertheless, if you are planning to put an elliptical into an upstairs room as part of an entire gym set up, you may wish to consider the overall strain on the floor and ceiling below.
Exercise frames, weights, and other pieces of kit can all add up, so make sure you consult an engineer or appropriate professional before making any drastic changes that could compromise the structural integrity of the room.
In terms of weight distribution and positioning, it can be helpful to find out where the supporting walls and joists are in the floor under you, as these will be comparatively stronger points for supporting weight.
If there are no supporting walls beneath the space you’re planning to put your elliptical in, or if you are unable to find out where these stronger points are, you can also opt for putting your machine close to the edge of the room rather than in the centre.
The amount of weight that an upstairs floor can handle increases the closer to the edge you go, with the unsupported centre of a room often being the weakest position.
A thick, broad mat or platform can also help to distribute the weight of your machine more evenly, rather than relying on the specific standing points of the model itself.
A primary factor to consider whenever positioning a cross trainer is the effect it may have on other people living in the vicinity.
If you live in a block of flats and have downstairs neighbours, you may want to discuss with them existing noise levels and whether or not having an additional piece of exercise kit is likely to cause problems.
If they can already hear you walking around, an elliptical machine is probably going to be audible as well to some extent. Although they do not involve the same repeated, thudding impact of a treadmill, their function is not going to be silent and can still carry into other rooms and nearby apartments.
If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, it may be that you can agree to periods in which the machine can be used and periods in which it is left standing, so that disturbance is kept to a minimum.
If you decide to go ahead, there are ways you can try to minimise any noise caused by your elliptical machine.
This protective rubber flooring can act as a sound muffler, reducing any vibrations made by repetitive movements:
It’s worth noting that this is unlikely to eradicate sound altogether, so make sure you are keeping your neighbours in mind even if you plan to soundproof your set up.
An additional benefit of plastic flooring, and a reason that mats are often used with any gym set up, home or otherwise, is that they can reduce slipping and juddering on machines.
This can be particularly helpful for gym equipment upstairs, as floors may not be as immovable as those on the ground floor.
In short, it will usually be safe to put an elliptical machine upstairs, as long as it’s not standing alongside a range of other heavy furniture or gym equipment.
Think about ease of access as well as noise issues whenever positioning your elliptical and, if you have any doubts about the structural integrity of your room, get a professional opinion from a structural engineer.
An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!