How to build your own lifting platform

June 24th, 2008  |  Published in Equipment  |  4 Comments

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a bit of space in a basement, or a garage, and perhaps you think that you’d like to fill this space with some lovely plates and barbells instead of some icky furniture or a washing machine. What better way to spend an afternoon than building your own lifting platform!?

A platform is a handy thing for a few reasons.

  • It protects the floor beneath the weights.
  • It demarcates a lifting space neatly, which is particularly useful in an area that has some traffic.
  • Depending on how you build it, it can cushion the noise of setting the weights down.
  • It provides a solid foundation to stand on, but something to pad the area that the weight plates touch.
  • In the case of our design, it also provides a little “safety fence” to prevent the weights rolling away.

The concept behind a platform is pretty basic: imagine a large square on the floor, with three panels. One panel on each side is rubber, and will provide some give. The centre panel is wood. You stand on the centre, with the barbell running crosswise, and the barbell’s plates rest on each side, on the rubber. Now, snooty universities with elite sports teams have fancypants lifting platforms with lovely hardwood and expensive bumper plates and so forth. They need a team of structural engineers to make their platforms to accommodate large meaty men dropping 600 pound cleans. But if you’re the average lifter (and average carpenter) shmoe like me, and you just want something to prevent the barbell from bashing up the linoleum, here’s your plan.

Thanks to my incessant whining (and since nobody else knew which end of the barbell was up), I was put in charge of setting up the weight area as part of the construction of a new Toronto Newsgirls gym. My friend, boxer and Mistress Sunday co-instructor OMGBFFA (aka “Machine”) and I decided to construct a lifting platform for the lovely ladies. I began with a basic plan from Randall Strossen’s article on Ironmind, but added a frame.

what you’ll need:

  1. Four sheets of plywood, 4′ x 8′, 1/2 to 3/4″ thick. This will form your base.
  2. One to three sheets of plywood, 4′ x 8′, 3/4″ thick. This will provide the centre piece.
  3. Two 2″ x 6″, 8 feet long
  4. Two 2″ x 6″, 10 feet long
    The wood for items 3 and 4 will provide your frame. You can use thinner pieces of wood, say 2″ x 4″ if you want, for items 3 and 4. Or you can dispense with the frame altogether, as in the Strossen model. It’s up to you. We wanted a nice big edge on the plaform to be sure that no plates would roll off. If you’re using a proper weightlifting bar that has nicely spinning ends, as we are, sometimes those babies can get up momentum if you drop them just right. They’ll leap over the edges of things once they pick up speed, so we wanted to be sure no 45s were going to run amok. This will also provide lots of opportunity for hilarious pratfalls until people figure out how to watch their step. We, um, plan to paint it yellow, just to be on the safe side.
  5. Two pieces of rubber matting, each 2′ x 8′. Thickness will depend on what you can get your hands on, which is why item 2 is variable.
  6. Wood screws, 1.25″ (to screw the plywood base together) and 2.5″ (to screw the outside frame to the base)
  7. Wood glue
  8. Power drill

This will build you a platform that is just over 8 feet square, wide enough to accommodate the standard 7 foot Olympic bar. If you like, you can always build a shallower one — cut the wood to size or have it done for you when you buy it. I do advise the 8 foot width, but you could easily construct it to be 8 feet wide and perhaps 6 feet deep. The only other tool you need besides the drill is a saw. If you don’t have a power saw handy, since you’re only making 2 cuts, you could do this by hand if you don’t mind a little elbow grease. If you don’t even have a hand saw, if you’re not overly picky about precision and don’t care about a perfect edge, you can get the two 10-foot 2″x6″s (item 4) cut when you buy them — cut to 8 feet plus 4 inches, so 100 inches.

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Setting up the materials and equipment.

Sheets of 4' x 8' plywood, 3/4" thick. The platform will be built against to the back wall, with approximately 8" of space in between to allow for the plates on the squat stands (shown at the rear of the junk pile here).

Sheets of 4' x 8' plywood, 3/4" thick. The platform will be built against to the back wall, with approximately 8" of space in between to allow for the plates on the squat stands (shown at the rear of the junk pile here).

Lay out the first layer of plywood. Here, the pieces run right to left in relation to the wall. If you squint you can just make out the centre seam where the two pieces meet. One of the 8-foot long 2"x6" pieces is propped against the back. Again, there's about 8" of space between the back piece and the wall.

Lay out the first layer of plywood. Here, the pieces run right to left in relation to the wall. If you squint you can just make out the centre seam where the two pieces meet. One of the 8-foot long 2"x6" pieces is propped against the back. Again, there's about 8" of space between the back piece and the wall.

Apply wood glue to the top of the first layer and... oh my god, that is SOOOO immature, girls!

Apply wood glue to the top of the first layer and... oh my god, that is SOOOO immature, girls!

The second layer of plywood goes on top, crosswise to the first layer (i.e. running top to bottom in relation to the wall). This second layer is secured with the glue in between, and then screwed down. Here you can see my little helper monkey Machine showing her mad skillz on the power drill. Drill your screws along the edge of each sheet of plywood, about 2" from the edge to prevent splitting. Use the 1.25" wood screws here.

The second layer of plywood goes on top, crosswise to the first layer (i.e. running top to bottom in relation to the wall). This second layer is secured with the glue in between, and then screwed down. Here you can see my little helper monkey OMGBFFA showing her mad skillz on the power drill. Drill your screws along the edge of each sheet of plywood, about 2" from the edge to prevent splitting. Use the 1.25" wood screws here.

Take the two 8 foot long 2" x 6"s and screw them to the front and the back of the plaform (you can see screws along the bottom edge here at the front). Use your longer wood screws here. Screw in at a slight downward angle instead of straight in, if you can. Line up the two other 2" x 6"s on the side and measure for length. Then cut as needed. If you had these cut to the 8 foot 4 inch length already, go ahead and screw those on too. When you're done, you should have sort of a box as shown. Then, take your other piece(s) of 4' x 8' plywood, and lay it in the centre, as shown. Now you have a 4' wide centre piece, and two 2' wide gaps, one on each side. The rubber mats go into the gap. How many pieces of wood you put down in the centre is determined by how thick your rubber mats are. We're only getting 1/2" thick mats, because this plaform won't be used for Olympic weightlifting with bumper plates, and thus won't need lots of cushioning.

Take the two 8 foot long 2" x 6"s and screw them to the front and the back of the plaform (you can see screws along the bottom edge here at the front). Use your longer wood screws here. Screw in at a slight downward angle instead of straight in, if you can. Line up the two other 2" x 6"s on the side and measure for length. Then cut as needed. If you had these cut to the 8 foot 4 inch length already, go ahead and screw those on too. When you're done, you should have sort of a box as shown. Then, take your other piece(s) of 4' x 8' plywood, and lay it in the centre, as shown. Now you have a 4' wide centre piece, and two 2' wide gaps, one on each side. The rubber mats go into the gap. How many pieces of wood you put down in the centre is determined by how thick your rubber mats are. We're only getting 1/2" thick mats, because this plaform won't be used for Olympic weightlifting with bumper plates, and thus won't need lots of cushioning.

We haven't gotten our proper rubber mats yet, so for now, we've laid down a couple of pieces of foam that we had lying around. But this gives you the idea of how the finished product will look. We've moved the squat stands back, and set them at the rear of the platform. They'll be set wider, into their proper place, once we get the mats in.

We haven't gotten our proper rubber mats yet, so for now, we've laid down a couple of pieces of foam that we had lying around. But this gives you the idea of how the finished product will look. We've moved the squat stands back, and set them at the rear of the platform. They'll be set wider, into their proper place, once we get the mats in.

Christening the plaform by pretending like I'm squatting 500 pounds.

Christening the plaform by pretending like I'm squatting 500 pounds.

Responses

  1. jason trott says:

    March 14th, 2009at 3:44 pm(#)

    great info, thank you, i will deffinently put this to good use !!

    jason
    http://www.specializedstrength.wordpress.com

  2. Justin says:

    January 6th, 2010at 8:03 pm(#)

    This information was very helpful. I got a little confused though on the part where you get the wood for the center piece. I would think that the center piece would be 4 ft x 4ft in the center, with two 2 ft x 4 ft rubber matts to go on the sides instead of the 4 ft x 8 ft sheets. Maybe I’m just missing something though.

  3. Mistress Krista says:

    January 7th, 2010at 6:27 am(#)

    Yes, that makes sense — I don’t think we put a centre wood piece in, but simply left the rubber mats as-is.

  4. Developing my gym - openside says:

    July 27th, 2010at 6:25 am(#)

    […] sheets and plenty of gym matting, so it may be a goer. I found a nice, illustrated article on building a lifting platform that I will likely follow. I actually feel like building it now, but it’s nearly 11pm and I […]


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