If you plan on doing some serious weightlifting in your home or garage gym, then a weightlifting platform is an absolute must.
It not only provides a dedicated lifting area but protects your floor from the force of dropped barbells, protects your equipment and reduces noise (and complaints from the neighbors). While you can buy a weightlifting platform from a gym or fitness supply company, most of them aren’t going to be worth the cost.
Building your own platform is easy, less expensive, and what you end up with works at least as well as anything you could buy from a manufacturer.
-  4’x8’ pieces of thick particle board
-  4’x8’ piece of thick, smooth plywood (oak or maple are good options)
-  4’x6’ ¾”-thick horse stall mats (you can get these at Tractor Supply Co. or a similar store)
- 3 or 4 tubes of Heavy Duty Liquid Nails or other heavy duty wood glue
-  box of 1 ¼” screws
- If attaching a squat rack to your platform:  3 ½” lag screws (or the correct size for your squat rack)
- Utility knife or box cutter
- Power drill
- Straight edge
- Pencil or chalk marking tool
- Socket wrench
These materials should run you about $150-$200. If you need a way to haul the materials to your house and don’t have a friend with a truck who owes you a favor, you can rent a truck from Home Depot or another home improvement store for about $20.
How to Build the Platform
1. Position the first layer of particle board
Before you start assembling anything, you need to decide where you want your platform. It’s hard to move once it’s built, so you’ll want to position your two particle pieces side-by-side in the spot where you want the platform to be. Make sure there is no gap between the particle board pieces. Squeeze a generous amount of liquid nails on the middle of the board, starting two feet in from the top and bottom (essentially a 4’x8’ area perpendicular to the boards).
2. Position and attach the second layer of particle board
Lay your piece of smooth plywood over the glued area. It should be in the opposite direction of the first two pieces (across the seam), leaving 2 feet of the particle board exposed on either side. Put weight plates on the plywood board and allow the glue to dry overnight. Once it’s dry, use the screws to secure it to the particle board about 2” from the edge and down the middle. Be sure to use plenty of screws, at least one every 15 inches, starting in each corner then filling the sides in between.
3. Measure and cut the first mat
Take one of the horse stall mats and use the straight edge to mark a line that divides it in half lengthwise. This will give you two 2’x6’ strips once cut. Use your utility knife or box cutter to cut along the line. It may work best to score the line (not cutting all the way through) on the floor, then use a sawhorse to finish the cut.
4. Position and attach the first mat
Position your 2’x6’ mat strips on the exposed particle board. There should be a 2’x2’ square of exposed particle board left on each side of the platform. Use screws to secure the mats to the platform.
5. Measure and cut the second mat
Next, you’ll fill in the 2’x2’ exposed particle board squares with more of the horse stall mat. Take the second 4’x6’ mat and mark and cut it lengthwise down the middle just like you did with the first mat. Discard one of the halves. Take the remaining 2’x6’ strip and measure 2’ from the top or bottom, mark with your straight edge, and cut. This should give you a 2’x2’ square. Repeat with the remaining bit of the mat strip. You should now have two 2’x2’ squares of mat.
6. Position and attach the second mat pieces
Position the 2’x2’ squares on the remaining exposed portion of the particle board and secure it with screws.
7. Attach your squat rack to the platform
If you want to attach a squat rack to your platform, position it near the back of the platform, resting on the plywood. Once you have it positioned where you want it (either flush with the back edge of the platform or a bit in from the edge), drill holes in the plywood where provided on the feet of the rack. Use the lag screws and a socket wrench to secure the feet to the platform, placing washers between the heads of the screws and the feet of the squat rack.
8. Add some optional finishing touches
Once you’ve completed the steps above, your weightlifting platform is ready to use! You can, however, add some optional finishing touches. While the plywood surface of the platform shouldn’t be slippery as long as you keep it dusted and mop it regularly, you could finish the surface by adding fine sand to varnish which will make it slightly rougher and possibly more slip resistant. If you want to customize your platform, you can order a vinyl logo for about $30 online to put on the plywood surface. A vinyl logo is easy to apply and a great way to personalize your garage gym.
A weightlifting platform is essential for keeping your equipment and your house in top shape while you train. The added perk is that it also looks cool, especially if you customize it with your own personal logo.
You really can’t go wrong with this easy and inexpensive weekend project that will improve your workout and might even boost your motivation too.