How to reduce indoor trainer vibration when living in an apartment?

If you are like me, there is nothing better after a long day fighting the elements than jumping on the indoor trainer to ride away from the days worries.

The grating sound of a trainer is like soothing white noise to me, but can get on the nerves of the downstairs neighbours, (and our pets) very quickly.

So how can you reduce trainer vibration when living in an apartment? The best way to keep the vibrations and noise down is to place rubber or cork padding under your trainer. Using an exercise mat or an interlocking rubber foam is perfect to reduce the noise. The padding will dampen the vibrations and help to stop the noise being transferred through the floor to the apartment below.

In saying that, not all paddings are the same. Some exercise mats or foams are more designed for elegant (or not so elegant) yoga poses than for the end of race sprint of a turbo trainer.

Thankfully, there are mats that are specifically designed to for exercise equipment or machinery.
If they are not available or out of your price range, there are other options, so lets look into the specifics.

Using an exercise or yoga mat as padding for a cycling trainer

Exercise mats are the same mat you will see slung over the shoulder of the Yoga gurus on their way to downward dogging their morning away.

Typically, they are made from some type of natural rubber in various thicknesses.
For what we want to use it for, we need the mat to be thick. In this case, size really does matter.

A mat an inch-thick will do a good job in absorbing vibrations from your trainer to start.
Never get anything below half an inch thick. If that is all you can find where you are, you can put them on top of each other to achieve the desired thickness.

If you decide to do this though, get a mat that is promoted as “non-slip”.

These are designed to have a stick bottom surface and will avoid them slipping under the force of the trainer.

These are a little more expensive, but worth every cent to avoid slippage.

It’s not only thickness though, make sure the mat (or mats) are wide enough to accommodate your indoor trainer with room to spare.

For most trainers, 36 inches by 72 inches should be enough, but check the dimensions of your trainer to be sure.

I like to allow quite a bit extra, that way any sweat won’t spread to the floor, and you can step down off the bike onto a padded surface.

Using rubber or foam mats as padding for a cycling trainer

Another option are the rubber or foam mats found in your local hardware stores or online.
Often designed to for concrete in laundries, play areas or outdoors, they can form a great base to a trainer setup.

They are usually like a large jigsaw to allow flexibility of shape, and come in either solid pieces, or with holes throughout.

For your trainer, you will need the solid mat, and don’t forget to get the edge pieces as well so you have a nice even finish edges.

Finally, consider buying a waterproof mat.

This will save you a lot of time when cleaning and will also protect your floor from spills, sweat and other fluids that may come in contact with it (I don’t want to know!).

What other benefits are there for using padding under my trainer?

There is also a plus when using padding under your trainers aside from appeasing your neighbour downstairs.

Constant grinding and vibrations can damage your equipment in the long run. Vibration is the enemy to joints, screws and anything metal.

This is especially important for trainers in the lower price bracket that may not have as strong a construction.

If you use padding, it will absorb those vibrations from your equipment, and prolong the life of your indoor trainer.

I’m already using padding, but my neighbour downstairs is still complaining. What should I do?

Dealing with neighbours can sometimes be tougher than working out in the trainer.

Thankfully, there are still other things that we can do to keep the neighbours happy and maintain the active lifestyle we want at the same time.

The simplest thing to do if one layer of exercise mat or rubber foam is not enough, consider using a thick carpet or an area rug to further reduce the equipment’s vibration.

An even more effective way of dampening vibration from the indoor trainer is to put a corkboard on the floor before laying down your mats.

Cover it with a thick area rug, then top it with either an exercise mat or rubber foam, and you will have the best chance of a happy neighbour.

Cork has been used since the beginning of time as a sound reducing material, though is not as long-lasting as rubber.

Remember, be careful when setting up your indoor trainer with any type of padding setup.

Make sure the surface is level and stable to prevent any instability.

This will help to avoid any accidental slipping or tilting while you are hitting high speeds on your indoor trainer.

Even if you have toned down the noise to what you think is an acceptable level, it wouldn’t hurt to have a small chat with your neighbour.

Tell them that you are concerned if your activities are bothering them. Also, let them know the steps that you have taken to cut the noise from your apartment.

During your chat, take note if your neighbour has odd working hours and consider that when scheduling your workout in times they are not home.

This is not permission to stalk your neighbour by the way, just get friendly and understand when they are trying to have downtime.

Remember that doing hard-core exercises puts more resistance on your trainer which will definitely result in louder noise. In the end, no trainer is completely silent.

Finally, consider moving your indoor trainer to a place that is not above your neighbour’s bedroom or common living area.

Remember that their house layout may not be the same as yours, so it is better to ask your neighbour about the layout of their apartment below you.

Make it clear you are asking is that you want to put your trainer in a better space so that you will not sound creepy.

What other things that you should look out for to keep the vibration low?

So you’ve placed padding below the trainer, moved it to a different part of the house, and it is still too noisy. What can you do?

Move. No, kidding.

If you think your trainer is creating more noise than it should be, a tune-up may be in order.

Take your equipment to a professional for a thorough check. Some moving parts like the belt or the brake may be loose or broken and creating more noise than it should.

Likewise, proper oiling of the parts helps to keep the equipment running smoothly and quietly.

In summary

If you live in an apartment, you do not need to give up your active lifestyle to please your neighbours.
But as a friendly neighbour, it is important that you consider the effects of your activities to the other people around you.

Use pads or mats, find a carpeted area, consider the neighbours apartments layout (i.e. don’t cycling above their bedroom), and make sure your trainer is well maintained.

A quick trip to the sports or hardware store for a mat or rubber foam for under your equipment is the simplest thing you can do to dampen the vibrations from your indoor trainer.

Related questions

Are there any quiet indoor trainers out there? There are three main types of indoor trainers: wind, magnetic, and fluid trainers. If you are planning to buy or replace your trainers, go for the fluid trainers as they produce the least sound among the three. Stay away from wind trainers as these are the noisiest.

What about rollers? Are they any good? Rollers are quite different from the indoor trainers mentioned above. You ride your bike on them like you would when you are out on the road and keep your balance. The problem? Rollers are up there with the wind trainers in the noise department. If you are living in an apartment, fluid trainers are still your best bet.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40 something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live in the glory days of past triathlon glories.

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