DIY Lifting Platform (Complete How-To w/ Pics)


DIY Lifting Platfrom

There’s nothing inherently wrong with lifting straight off a garage gym floor. However, nothing is better than doing cleans on an actual lifting platform. In this article, I’m going to show you, step by step, how you can have your own DIY lifting platform ready to go by this afternoon.

I was shocked by just how incredibly easy a DIY Lifting Platform is to make. The whole project from buying the wood to first clean rep only took a couple hours. Maybe even better, it’s actually pretty cheap to make your own platform. The whole project cost me about $200 (and that’s including renting a pickup truck from Lowe’s!)

Before we get into the details of the build, I want to quickly explain first why (other than it looking super cool) you want to strongly consider a platform for your gym.

Why is a Platform Important in a Garage Gym?

A lifting platform will help protect your garage floor and your equipment. Olympic lifts, deadlifts and any other lifts that involve dropping loaded barbells generate a lot of force and impact. A thick garage gym flooring can help absorb some of this force, but flooring itself may not be enough.

Unfortunately, the only real way to know if flooring is (or isn’t) enough is whether or not cracks start to appear in your garage floor.

If waiting for cracks to show up doesn’t seem like a great solution to you, then consider adding an extra layer of protection. A platform not only adds an extra layer of wood and rubber to absorb the impact of dropped weights, but it will also help redistribute the force as well.

When a barbell is dropped, all of the force generated hits the floor through the bottom edge of the bumpers. This concentration of force on the impact can really beat up your floor if you perform your lifts in the same spot each day. A platform can help to redistribute that force along the platform itself and lessen that pinpoint impact that a dropped bar can create.

This extra force absorption is not only good for your floor, it’s better for your equipment too. After all, the impact force works both ways. Dropping a weighted bar is going to wear and tear the bar and plates themselves. By lessening that impact, you’re prolonging the life of your equipment.

Potentially, saving your garage floor and making your equipment last longer? Building a platform should be starting to sound like a pretty good investment.


DIY Lifting Platform


Materials

  • (4) 4×8′ OSB Sheething Boards
  • (1) 4×8′ Pine Board
  • (1) 4×6′ Horse Stall Mat
  • 3/4″ Construction Screws
  • 1 1/4″ Wood Screws
  • Power Drill
  • Box Cutter

All materials can be picked up at Lowe’s except for the Horse Stall Mats.

These are the original materials. I highly recommend taking advantage of the board cutting available at Lowe’s. It’s going to save you a ton of time and depending on what kind of resources you have at your house, you’ll probably end up with better cuts.

Here is how I had each of my boards cut:

  • I left one OSB board uncut
  • I had one OSB board cut vertically in half resulting in (2) 2×8′ boards
  • I had two OSB boards cut into 4×6′ pieces
  • Finally, I had the Pine Board cut into a 4×6′ piece

After the cuts, you’ll end up with extra boards. You will not use one of the 2x8s. You will also have two pieces of 4x2s that were cut off to make the 4x6s. The same goes for the Pine Board.

I already know the extra piece of Pine Board is going to make an excellent board for deficit lifts. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with the other boards just yet, but it’s always handy to have a little extra scrap wood on hand.

Cost to Build Your Platform

I mentioned at the start that not only is building your own lifting platform surprisingly easy, but it’s surprisingly cheap as well. Considering that a brand new Eleiko platform is “on sale” right now for $3600, I expected building my own to cost more than it did. I’m not trying to snub Eleiko’s platform, it’s amazing. But, there is no chance I’m spending anything anywhere close to that for a platform in my garage.

My DIY Lifting Platform? The entire project cost me about $200.

Lowe's Rental Truck
Rented this pickup truck from Lowe’s to haul the boards to the house. $20 well spent.

The four OSB boards were $22 a piece. The pine board I used for the platform itself was $45. The horse stall mat from tractor supply co. cost me $45. I’m even including the $20 I paid to rent a pickup truck from Lowe’s. (I don’t have a truck, was too impatient to ask a friend and didn’t want to strap boards to the top of my car. $20 was a bargain in my opinion.)

Finally, a couple bucks for screws and you’re ready to roll.

Building the Platform

Lifting Platform Base Layer Diagram
Lay the 4 x 8 and 2 x 8 side by side. Lay the 6 x 4s perpendicular and then line up all the edges.

Step 1: Base Layer

We’ll start building our platform with the base layer. This consists of the four OSB boards. At this point they should already be cut to proper dimensions either by yourself or by the friendly people where you purchased your wood.

Lay down the 4×8′ board first. Lay the 2×8′ down right next to it. You should now have a 6×8′ layer of wood. This will be the bottom most layer of your platform.

Take the time NOW, to position your platform exactly where you want it. Envision yourself lifting on it, changing weights, etc. How close to the wall are you? Do you have plate storage or a rack to take into consideration?

It’s best to figure all this out now, because the further we go the heavier this platform is going to be to move and shift around.

Once you’re happy with the location of your platform, let’s drop on the two 4×6′ pieces of OSB. These two boards should lay perpendicular to the bottom two boards. This will help keep the boards from wanting to move and shift away from each other once you have them drilled together.

Speaking of drilling, once you have the edges of both layers lined up to your liking, start dropping in your 3/4″ construction screws. At minimum, hit all four corners of the 4×6’s. I dropped a few extras into the bottom and sides as well. More is really better in my opinion when it comes to securing your base layer together.

That’s it. Step one done!

Platform Layer Diagram
Your Platform Board will lay in the center of your base layer with a horse stall mat as a drop zone on each side.

Step 2: Platform

Take your platform – I ended up going with Pine, but Maple is a great choice for a platform as well – and set it down in the middle of your base layer. Do a quick measure. You should have two feet on each side from the edge of your platform board and the base layer. This is where your two drop zones are going to go.

Step 2 done.

Cutting the Drop Zones
BY FAR the hardest part of this entire build is cutting the horse stall mat in half to make your two drop zones. Take your time and be patient.

Step 3: Drop Zones

You ready? This step sucks. We’ve been breezing along so far with steps 1 and 2. It’s hard to believe that you’re almost done with your very own lifting platform.

Well, take a deep breathe and get ready to dig in… literally.

If you’ve never cut a horse stall mat in half before, start getting your mind right. The how is easy. Measure and make a chalk line down the center of your 4×6′ horse stall mat. Then, using a box cutter, work your way down through the mat.

This will, by far, be the longest and most tedious part of this entire build. Take your time. Take a break or two if need be. Switch out blades multiple times if need be. You need to really drive the blade down through the mat and then pull through a little at time.

Once you get all the way through, you can fold the mat in half and then pull apart any some edges still holding on. Now lay the two pieces on each side of the platform. I recommend laying the cut side towards the platform. This way you’ll have the uncut straight edge on the outside which is way more visible.

The Final Screws
You’ve made it. A couple screws left and you’re be ready to lift

Step 4: Final Screws

You should have everything in place at this point. The only thing left is to put in the final screws. I used 1 1/2″ wood screws for the Pine Board Platform and the Horse Stall Mats.

You could potentially use glue as well to glue down the platform and mats to the base boards. Screws seemed like a much easier and more reliable method to me. So far, after about a week of workouts on the platform they’ve worked out great.

Step 5: Customize Your Platform (Optional)

Many feel that a platform is not complete until it’s been stamped with a logo. You can get a vinyl logo online, from a local print shop or even a FedEx/Kinko’s if you have one nearby – they should be able to print out a vinyl logo for you.

Personally, I like the look and feel of a bare platform. Makes the platform feel raw and rugged, which is the vibe I like to go for in my garage gym.

Power Cleans on my DIY Platform
No better feeling than power cleaning on a wood platform.

Step 6: Pick Things Up and Put Them Down

Congratulations! You now have your very own DIY Lifting Platform right in your garage. If you’re like me, you’re probably amazed how easy this was and how good your platform looks. The only thing left to do now is load up a barbell and hit that first power clean.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been lifting on my platform for a week and my only disappointment is I didn’t do this sooner. I hesitated because I thought I might still want to bring my car into the garage. Turns out, I never do because I don’t want to get the gym floor dirty. Priorities, right?

Lifting straight off horse stall mats like I’ve been doing for the past few months is fine, but there are few feelings and sounds more gratifying than lifting shoes hitting a lifting platform on a catch.

Stay Strong!

Ryan H

My name is Ryan Horton and I've spent the last 18 years as a Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach and am currently the Director of Sports Science with Georgia Tech Football. I've always set up workout areas at home everywhere we've lived, but now I have a garage and I'm going all out.

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