The Best Treadmill Alternatives That Are Quieter

You want to get a good cardio workout done in your apartment but are afraid your treadmill is too noisy? Here are the best alternatives that will keep the neighbors happy.

Cardio machines and workouts that don’t create an impact on the floor are quieter alternatives to a treadmill. The impact of running is the biggest source of noise that can bother the neighbors in an apartment. Cardio machines like an elliptical, exercise bike and rower are good quiet alternatives.

Which alternative is the best for you? Find out below.

The Best Quiet Alternatives For a Treadmill

What are some alternative ways of getting a good cardio workout done but without any of the noise? There are a few really good options:

  • Elliptical trainer
  • Exercise bike
  • Rowing machine
  • Kettlebells

Let’s explore those options further. Why are those good alternatives and which one is good for you?

1. Elliptical Trainer

The most obvious alternative to a treadmill is an elliptical trainer. It’s the closest thing to a treadmill without being a treadmill. The movement pattern (walking/running) is very similar to a treadmill. It’s not exactly the same but if you’re looking for a good cardio workout, it’s close enough. If you’re training for an actual running race, it’s a bit off but, it’s still closer than any other cardio machine.

On an elliptical trainer, your feet stay on the pedals. That means there is no impact like on a treadmill. This alone makes a huge difference, especially for the amount of noise heard in adjacent spaces.

The other part of why a cross-trainer is quieter is that it doesn’t have a motor like a treadmill. It does have a flywheel and a type of brake on the flywheel to create resistance. But that makes much less noise compared to a treadmill.

An elliptical trainer will still create some vibrations when you’re using it. All cardio machines will have this problem to some extent. It usually bothers the neighbors a lot less since it’s a continuous, low-level noise that is less bothersome than impacts from running on a treadmill. Higher-quality ellipticals will be smoother though.

Putting a rubber or foam mat under your cardio machine will help a lot with this problem.

Find the best home gym elliptical trainer here.

2. Exercise Bike

If you’re willing to go away from running, an exercise bike is a good option. Exercise bikes are small, generally cheaper to buy than treadmills, and are very effective cardio tools.

Just like an elliptical trainer, there are no impacts since the pedals move in a circle. That means much less noise transfer to other spaces.

How noisy the bike is inside the room depends on which type it is:

  • Spin bike: This is the type you see in group classes at commercial gyms. The seating position is very bent over. This is the best for high-intensity workouts. Generally very quiet, with some brake noise.
  • Upright bike: Upright bikes are very similar to spin bikes. The seating position is quite adjustable so you can choose a more or less aggressive seating position. The resistance is often magnetic which feels a bit different than the brake on the spin bike.  An upright bike is good for high-intensity workouts and slightly less intensive ones. The magnetic resistance makes upright bikes a really quiet option.
  • Recumbent bike: Recumbent bikes have a backrest and a much more comfortable seating position as a result. This is a good type of bike for steady-state, low-intensity workouts.
  • Fan bike: A fan bike has a big fan to create resistance. The seating position is usually not very bent over but working out on one is very tough.

Find the best home gym exercise bikes here.

The first three types are good for workouts in an apartment. There is no impact and not too much vibration. A fan bike is noisier. The fan blades create quite a bit of noise. So it’s not an impact on the floor but it is noisier than the other types. However, it is a type of noise that is likely absorbed by your walls quite easily so your neighbors won’t be bothered too much more than any other exercise bike.

Image of a man working out on an air bike.

3. Rowing Machine

Another cardio machine that is low impact is a rowing machine. They are noisier than ellipticals or exercise bikes but there are no impacts.

However, rowing machines often have fan blades or a water reservoir to create resistance. These create a whooshing noise that can be a little annoying. If placed on a proper mat, this won’t be as annoying as the thumping a treadmill creates but it’s still audible if your floors aren’t very well insulated.

High-quality rowing machines tend to have a fan blade to create resistance. That’s a good feature for a ‘real’ feeling rowing machine but it does create a bit of extra noise. It’s not the type of noise that’s likely to make it to the neighbors angry but if you have thin walls, it can.

Find the best home gym rowing machine here.

4. Kettlebells

Don’t mind moving away from cardio machines and getting something really different? Kettlebells are one of the best options in this category. They are small, and cheap compared to treadmills, and most of the time completely quiet. They’re just steel balls with a handle, there’s nothing that makes noise unless they touch something.

Kettlebells are a great option for HIIT workouts that don’t only improve your cardio but also give most of your muscles a great workout.

Try to do kettlebell swings for a few minutes straight. You’ll definitely be out of breath. Kettlebell swings are a great tool for interval training. They get your heart rate up but are also effective in training your glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles. And that’s just one example of a kettlebell movement.

Kettlebells are not for low to medium-intensity cardio workouts but if used right, they can be effective.

There is no impact from training with kettlebells except when you put it back down on the floor. That’s only once a set and you can put it down softly. You can also get kettlebells with a vinyl coating that dampens noise. If you’re still afraid that the impact is too hard, put a yoga mat or even just a piece of carpet in the place you put the kettlebell down and it won’t bother anyone.

Find recommended kettlebells here.

Image of kettlebells

5. Bodyweight exercises

Some bodyweight exercises can also be used as a cardio workout. A circuit of different bodyweight exercises combined with interval training can be very effective not only as a cardio workout but also to train muscles over your whole body.

Some bodyweight exercises are very good for a cardio workout but also create some impact on the floor. For example; burpees and jumping jacks. Both are very effective movements but involve jumping which creates an even bigger impact than running on a treadmill.

It’s always a good idea to use a yoga or exercise mat for your bodyweight exercises. Not only is it more comfortable but also absorbs quite a bit of the impact and noise that could bother your neighbors.

Burpees can be modified a little bit to remove the biggest impact. Just take out the jump at the end. But, there are also tons of other options.

Click here to find a good selection of bodyweight exercises that can form a cardio workout.

Why Is a Treadmill Noisy?

Treadmills can cause some complaints from the neighbors. Why is that? Noise of course, but where does that noise come from?

The biggest reason is the impact of the footfall on the deck. This causes an impact. That impact is what the neighbors or housemates are usually bothered by. Because this impact has a good amount of energy, it’s difficult to completely dampen. Using a high-quality treadmill with built-in damping and a rubber treadmill mat underneath helps but won’t completely get rid of the thumping noise.

Of course, a treadmill does make more noise than just the impact but, that’s the noise that gets through the floors and walls the easiest.

Other noises come from the motor and belt moving. Usually, those aren’t very annoying or loud and will be stopped by your walls. Good maintenance and lubrication help keep that type of noise to a minimum.

Putting your treadmill in a better spot might also reduce noise. Click here for the best places.

Image of a feet on a treadmill
Treadmills can be too noisy in some situations

Make your cardio machine quieter

All cardio machines do create some noise. While the ones recommended above don’t create many impacts, there is still some vibration. Vibration is noise but we can do a lot to prevent that noise from making it to the neighbors’ ears.

Here are a few options;

Better machine

The best thing to do, although not always practical, is to get a higher-quality cardio machine. The better machines tend to have smoother motion that creates less noise and vibrations. Those machines do tend to be more expensive as well which can be an issue.

However, if you already have a cardio machine, you probably don’t want to buy a new one. So here are some other things you can do to reduce noise transfer in an apartment.

Check my recommended cardio machines here.

Image of a man on a treadmill.
Higher quality treadmills tend to be quieter.


Maintaining your cardio machine is also an important part of reducing noise. Not only will it make sure your cardio machine stays in tip-top shape and lasts longer, it also reduces noise.

Friction and misaligned parts create vibrations and therefore noise. Making sure everything is properly lubricated and located where it should be, you’ll be much quieter over time.

Rubber mat

The most effective and easiest way of reducing noise is to put an absorbing layer under your machine. Treadmill mats are made for that specific purpose. Treadmill mats are usually just rubber mats you put your treadmill on. They’re not very special pieces of equipment but effective. Of course, a treadmill mat can be used under any other type of cardio machine as long as it’s big enough.

Click here to find the best home gym flooring

Rubber is quite hard but it is good at absorbing shocks. The shocks are exactly what it bothering the neighbors. Rubber mats are pretty cheap and easy to get so if you’ve already got a treadmill, this is the first thing you should try.

Image of a treadmill on a rubber mat.
A treadmill mat will reduce some of the impact noise.

Cork tiles

If a treadmill mat is not enough, you can try to add one more layer of damping.

A softer material will dampen more noise but there is a catch. The softer the material you put your treadmill on, the less stable the treadmill will feel when you run on it. The softness means the weight can shift a little bit making the whole thing feel a little less stable.

You might want to use foam tiles because they are the softest and therefore dampen the most noise. And while that is true, EVA foam is also a bit too soft. Foam also compresses quite quickly under weight.

Cork coasters are a better option. Cork still dampens a decent amount of the impact but is a bit better under pressure. It’s still best to combine it with a treadmill mat though.

Training time

During the daytime, noises are less bothersome than in the middle of the night. If you can work out during the day, it’s much less likely to cause complaints.

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to use their treadmill during the day. Most people will want to run in the early morning or in the evening. If that’s the case, try to find a time that works best for your neighbors. Some neighbors are just not going to cooperate but most people will be willing to make some compromises if you are.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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