Lowering the weight stack on any cable machine can end in a thunderous bang. What can you do to quiet down your weights stack? Let’s find out.
By far the most effective way to quiet down your weight stack is to lower the weight slower. Alternatively, some manufacturers sell ‘quiet’ stacks. If those options aren’t viable you can add rubber between the weight plates. This will prevent the plates from banging together and creating noise.
There are various solutions that you can try. There are pros and cons to all of them. Find out more below.
Weight stack noise
What is creating the noise when we lower a weight stack and what can we do to make it a bit quieter? First let’s take a look at what creates the noise.
Weight plates are often just bare metal. What happens when you bang two pieces of metal together? Yeah, it creates a loud noise. Banging metal together creates vibrations in both objects. This causes the air around them to vibrate. Those vibrations in the air are noise.
Want to quiet down your gym even further? Here’s a giant post about making your gym quieter.
So the best thing to quiet your weight stack down is to prevent those vibrations from happening. While it might not be possible to eliminate all noise, there are some things you can do to quiet it down considerably.
Here are some options. Pick one that’s right for you;
1. Lower the weight slower
The simplest and a very effective solution is to just lower the weight slower. The less forceful the impact is, the less noise you will create. It’s cheap and you can completely control the speed yourself. Before you change anything or start adding things to your weight stack, just try how far you can get with this. Most other solutions do have some downsides so it’s worth giving it a try.
To get some motivation to actually do this, you should know that the part of the exercise where you lower it down, actually has a big impact on muscle growth. Making that part more controlled and slowing it down a little can actually get better results out of your workouts.
2. Get a ‘quiet’ weight stack
Some manufacturers actually sell a ‘quiet’ weight stack. Of course this isn’t available for every machine but it’s worth asking the manufacturer of your machine. Most of the time these stacks are made quieter by preventing steel on steel contact. Often these stacks also come with a different pin that slides in the center hole. To prevent steel on steel contact you have to put something softer in between the plates.
When you put something between the weight plates, you add height. This means the holes in the center pin don’t line up with the weight plates anymore. And then it becomes much harder to choose the right weight and slide in the selector pin. That’s why a combination of weight stack and center pin is a great solution because you don’t have that problem when they’re matched.
3. Foam/rubber on the bottom
The next option is to put some hard foam or rubber on the bottom of the stack. You could use the same material as you’ve used for you gym flooring.
When you put something that absorbs vibrations on the bottom of the stack, it won’t help with preventing the plates from banging together. It does help prevent transfer the vibrations from the weight plates to the rest of the machine.
Fewer vibrating surface means less noise. It might not help a lot but certainly limits the noise transfer.
Putting foam under the weight stack makes it sit a bit higher. That can cause problems with the cable. There are two things you can do. It means the pin can’t go down as low as it did before which causes you to have slack in the cable.
What you can do to remedy this is to make the cable shorter. This way you can still use all the weight plates. It can be a bit difficult to get it right and not all standard cables can be adjusted. Check out this post to find a solution to that problem. The only downside to this is that the range of motion of the cable gets a bit smaller.
4. Foam/rubber between the plates
The next and most effective thing you can do is to put something between every weight plate so they don’t touch. This will have the biggest impact on the noise the stack creates. It’s also the most difficult.
You might think that it’s something pretty easy. Just get some rubber feet that you stick to every weight plate. And yes, doing that will help massively but it also creates some issues with usability of the machine.
The holes in the center pin are spaced in a way that you can let the cable rest and easily select all the weight plates because the holes line up perfectly. If you start adding rubber or another material, those holes don’t line up anymore. That means you’ll have to play around with the cable to find a hole. This isn’t a huge problem but it can certainly be a nuisance for people. It can also have as result that you might not be able to use all the weight plates.
The perfect solution to that would be to find a center pin that has the correct spacing and length and replace your current one. It can be quite difficult to find the perfect one however. If you can’t find one with the correct spacing, length is more important. Since that’ll at least allow you to use all the plates.
What you put between the weight plates has an effect on how good the results are going to be. Of course the thicker and softer the rubber, the less vibrations and therefore less noise you have. The flipside of that is that the stack becomes very tall and your center pin gets too short.
Other factors to consider are the durability and ease of installation.
This is what to look for;
- Rubber since it’s generally more durable than foam.
- Thin. To minimize the height gain.
- Self-adhesive. Screws are not a good option to mount rubber feet on weight plates.
These are the best rubber feet I’ve been able to find. They’re really cheap so you don’t lose much if you don’t like them. Get them here on Amazon.
5. Manual insert between the plates you’re using
The final option is to make a kind on insert you put under the lowest plate you’re using. This can be a kind of U shape that goes around the center pin and absorbs most of the impact of the two metal surfaces. The plates won’t touch and therefore create no/less noise.
It’ll be effective but has a big downside. Since you have to put it under the plate you’re using, you’ll have to lift the weight you intend to use first. If you’re using lighter weights, you can easily lift it with one hand and put the insert in. With heavier weights you’ll need both hands and have no hands left to put in the insert. When you want to change the weight, you have to change the position of the insert as well.
So, if you’re using lighter weight you can lift with one hand to insert your foam, this is a good option. Otherwise, it won’t work or it’s a two man job.
You can create an insert like this from the same material you use for gym flooring. To read more about the best home gym flooring, click here.
Are there good cable exercises to train your back? There are many great cable exercises for your back. A few of the best;
- Lat pulldown
- Reverse lat pulldown
- Low pull
- Pull through
- One arm cable row
- Reverse cable fly
There are more exercises and variations than just the list above. It’s safe to say there are a ton of great cable exercises to build your back.
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