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.
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 are usually bothered by. Of course a treadmill does make more noises than just the impact but, that’s the thing that gets through the floors and walls.
So if we want to have a cardio workout in an apartment, we want something that gets our heart rate up without the big impact on the floor.
Here are the best alternatives;
The most obvious alternative is an elliptical trainer. It’s the closest thing to a treadmill without being a treadmill. The movement pattern (running) is very similar as on 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 you take the impact out of the movement. This isn’t only good for your joints but also for your neighbors’ ears.
An elliptical trainer will still create some vibrations when used. All cardio machines will have this problem to some extent. It usually bother the neighbors a lot less since it’s a continuous, low level noise that is less bothersome that impacts. Putting a rubber or foam mat under your cardio machine will help a lot with this problem.
Exercise bikes come in different shapes;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Another cardio machine that is low impact is a rowing machine. They are slightly noisier than an exercise bike but there are no impacts.
The good rowing machines have a fan for resistance just like the fan bikes described above. 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 but if you have thin walls, it can.
If we move away from cardio machines, there are some other great options that can provide us with a cardio workout that causes almost no noise. Kettlebells are one of the best options in this category.
Try to do kettlebell swings for a few minutes straight. You’ll definitely out of breath. Kettlebell swings are a great tool for interval training. They get your heartrate up but are also effective in training your glutes, hamstrings and back muscles.
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.
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 impacts 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.
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;
The best thing to do, although not always practical, is to get 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.
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 is should be, you’ll be much quieter over time.
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 a rubber mat 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.
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.
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 is, 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.
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.
Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories
Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:
- Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
- Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.
To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.