How to Build a DIY Lifting Platform

Depending on where you put your home gym and what sorts of training you want to do, you might want to build a diy weightlifting platform. Today, I’m sharing an overview of how to do this using a basic, 8×8 ft design.

Note that my own lifting platform is actually a bit larger than this basic design. I’ll provide details of that build in a future article. But for now, here’s a quick rundown of the process of building a weightlifting platform.

Supplies

  • Four 4×8 ft sheets of cheap, 3/4″ plywood (or OSB)
  • One 4×8 ft sheet of higher quality, 3/4″ plywood
  • Two 4×6 ft, 3/4″ horse stall mats*
  • Box of 1-1/4″ exterior screws
  • 1/4″ x 1-3/4″ TapCon concrete anchors
  • 1/4″ x 3/8″ x 1/2″ steel spacers
  • Hardware for anchoring your power rack

*Note: If you can find one, a single 4×8 ft horse stall mat will suffice. I could only find 4×6 ft mats at our nearest Tractor Supply.

DIY platform overview

Instead of writing out lengthy, ultra-detailed instructions, I will base my description of the following diagram. In short, you’ll form the base by align two sheets of plywood in a “north-south” orientation, and overlaying them with two sheets in an “east-west” orientation.

8 x 8 foot lifting platform

Overview of an 8 x 8 foot weightlifting platform. See text for details.

Once you have the four base sheets laid out with all the edges aligned, screw them together. Don’t be stingy here. More screws (within reason) is probably better. I used 1-1/4″ exterior screws for this step.

Note: You can use Liquid Nails or a similar adhesive to help hold everything together but… If you do this, you’ll no longer be able to disassemble your platform if you ever wish to move or modify it.

Next, lay the high quality down the center in a north-south orientation, flanked by stall mats. You can attach this center strip with screws, as you did for attaching the base layers to each. Just be sure to sink the heads so they’re flush with the surface and won’t snag anything.

For the next step, you’ll need to cut your stall mats to make the side strips. This can be a bit of a pain, but shouldn’t be too much of an impediment.

How to cut horse stall mats

You’ll want to use something like an X-Acto knife or utility knife to cut your stall mats. And you’ll need a healthy dose of patience. You’ll want to start by marking the cut — use something like a chalk line if you can.

From there, just put your knife (and patience!) to work. Make shallow passes, and gradually work your way through the mat. As your cut starts to get deeper, try placing a 2×4 under the mat along one side of the cut. This helps to open up the cut, allowing you to cut ever deeper.

One tip that I’ve seen several places on the web is to periodically lube the blade with WD-40. I haven’t tried this myself, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Securing the stall mats

As noted above, you can use Liquid Nails (or similar) to attach the stall mats, as well as the center piece of plywood, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, I would suggest taking a page from this guy’s book and screwing them down. I used this method, and it worked great, even on plywood.

Start by drilling through the mats using a 3/8″ bit. You’ll want to do this on the corners, and also along the longer edges. Clear any debris out of the holes and slip a steel spacer into each one. Finally, screw the mat down using the TapCon anchors through the sleeves.

While you’re not screwing into concrete, the concrete anchors work well. They bite nicely into the plywood, and they’re the perfect size to feed down through the sleeves and wind up flush with the top of the rubber surface.

Note: You don’t really want to drill into the wood below the mat. Just open up a nice hole in the rubber, otherwise the TapCon might sink down into the rubber and might even pull through it.

Securing your power rack

The final step will be to anchor your power rack. The details here vary by brand and hardware, but there are two general approaches:

  • bolt down through the platform into the substrate below, or
  • feed the bolts up through the platform and secure your rack (from above) directly to the platform.

I did the latter with my power rack (the Rogue Bolt-Together R-3 w/30-inch depth) on my own (larger) platform. I countersunk the bolts from the bottom of the platform and locked the rack down with nuts/washers from above. It’s been rock solid. No rocking, no swaying, and no complaints.

Home Gym Equipment
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