Do you know what one of the most annoying things about setting up a home gym is? Busting your floor, weights, and safety bars because the full impact of the weights you deadlifted slammed into a floor with no give. Lifting platform is a terrific solution for this, but it can cost anywhere from $350 - $950! Naturally, this leads to wanting to build our own, but how?
To build a weightlifting platform, there must be at least three layers for durability. While the bottom two layers can be cheaper plywood, the top layer must have stronger plywood or another strong substitute, such as MDF, and two strips of tough and smooth rubber matting where the weights will land.
Although it sounds simple, and it is for the most part, there are plenty of ways to ruin a DIY lifting platform. Keep reading below to learn what it takes to make your own.
What You Need to Build a Weightlifting Platform
To build your own lifting platform, the first thing to know is what a lifting platform is typically made of. A standard lifting platform is made of layers of plywood and rubber, with screws to keep them all together.
Let’s start with the wood. Wood is always used for weightlifting platforms because it has the smooth surface you need to allow you to slide your feet to your desired position, with just enough traction that you won’t slip and hurt yourself.
According to professional weightlifters, while cheaper plywood is fine for the bottom and middle layers, the best plywood to use for the top is either oak or maple because they are both durable. Just be wary of extremely cheap plywood because it has a much higher risk of having the layers of wood peel away.
Next is the rubber. Horse stall mats without any texture are preferred because they are thick, won’t get the barbell stuck, and designed to withstand animals weighing 900lbs on average. These are exceptionally hard to cut, which is a necessary step in building your own platform, so if you want another option, Global Industrial can cut rubber you need to your desired size, just make sure it’s smooth and ¾” thick.
It doesn’t hurt to have rubber underneath your platform in the gym because rubber is good at canceling noise, and will still absorb and disperse the shock.
Below are the materials you’ll need, based on the most common sizes of platforms. Regardless of size, you will need:
- 1 ¼” deck screws
- A power drill
- DeWalt snap-off-blade utility knife (preferably but not necessary)
- Measuring tape
8ft x 8ft Platform
- (4) 4ft x 8ft sheets of OSB or plywood of your choosing ⅝” thick for your bottom and middle layers
- 1 sheet of oak or maple plywood or MDF ¾” thick for the top layer
- 2 4ft x 6ft horse stall rubber mats that are ¾” thick
- 1 ¼” deck screws
4ft x 8ft Platform
- (2) 4ft x 8ft sheets of OSB or plywood of your choosing ⅝” thick
- 1 4ft x 4ft sheet of oak or maple plywood or MDF ¾” thick
- 1 4ft x 6ft horse stall rubber mat
How to Build Your Own Weightlifting Platform
Now that you have what you need, we can get to the actual steps.
Lay Your First Layer of Wood
For 8x8 platforms, lay your first pair of 4ft x 8ft boards side by side so that they are laying vertically together, not horizontally. In other words, from where you will stand on it from now on, there is one board under your left foot, and one under your right foot. Make sure the two boards are flush with each other.
For 4x8 platforms, lay your two 4x4 side by side on the left and right, like with the 8x8 platform.
Lay Your Second Layer of Wood
For 8x8, Lay the other pair of 4ft x 8ft boards on top of the first pair, but horizontally this time. In other words, perpendicular to them. Again, make sure the pair is flush with each other and flush with the layer below them.
For 4x8, lay down your 4x8 sheet on top of the two 4x4 sheets, make sure they’re flush with each other.
Screw Both Layers Together
Take your 1 ¼” deck screws and drill at least 3 around the short edge of each top board and 4 along the long edges to connect the two layers. Make sure the screw heads are all flush with the top board to make sure they are all in deep enough. Never use glue, because it will either be so weak that you waste time, or so strong that you’ll never take it apart if you have to move it.
Measure Out Your Rubber Space
Use your tape measure or measuring stick to measure in and mark 24”, or 2 ft., from each end of the long edge of the top boards. This is how wide you will cut your rubber for each side.
Add Your Top Layer of Wood
For 8x8, lay your oak or maple plywood, or MDF, perpendicular to your second layer of wood in the middle of the platform, within the marks you made in the previous step. Make sure it’s flush with the other layers and screw down with 1 screw in each corner, and 1 in each long side of the board. When it’s in place, there should be a 2ft x 8ft, or 2ft x 4ft, on either side of this top board.
For 4x8, lay down your last 4x4 sheet in the middle of the second board, within the measurements you made, make sure it’s flush, and screw in 1 screw at each corner.
Cut and Lay Your Rubber Mats
With your 4ft x 6ft horse mats, you’ll need to trim them to the width of 24” regardless of which size your platform is.
For 8x8 platforms, you will be able to lay one half of your first mat on each side, but then you will need to cut (2) 2x2 pieces out of your second mat.
For 4x8 platforms, cut your one rubber mat into (2) 2x4 pieces and lay in their spaces.
Screw the Rubber Down
Screw in 1 screw for each corner of each piece of rubber, and 1 screw about halfway up on each side of the rubber mats.
Why is a Weight Lifting Platform necessary?
It takes more to protect the floor of your garage or other workout areas than some rubber, especially when you are deadlifting 800 lbs, or so. That’s a lot of weight being literally dropped onto the floor.
Even if your entire floor had ¾” thick rubber it might not protect all concrete floors if they are a lesser quality concrete. That’s why platforms designed to be slammed on are important to have in every gym.
Not only will these platforms protect your floor from the heavy pounding and shock but they also protect the weights you’re using. Being smashed onto concrete floors isn’t great for either party involved. Lastly, especially thanks to the rubber layers, the platform will dampen the noise of your weights hitting the ground, greatly reducing neighbor complaints and loud crashes in your ears.
Sometimes, just looking at a good platform, particularly when custom-designed, is enough to get you pumped and ready to train.
By the end of this project, you should have a functional weightlifting platform for about $250 that will be able to last you for years to come, while at the same time, saving you a pretty penny. You can make your platform even better by measuring the rubber space to 27” or 2ft. 3” to reduce the chance of having your barbell catch the wood instead of the rubber.