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DIY lifting platform

DIY Lifting Platform - Featured Pic

“You know what would be awesome? Dropping heavy weights on a custom wood floor!” Said no one, ever. Until now.

I’d like to practice Olympic lifts inside my house but I need a way to protect my floors and I don’t have room for a full lifting platform. What ever shall I do?

I decided to go the DIY route and build a simple lifting platform that fills this need, and now that I’ve been using it for a few months I’m ready to share the details.

Disclaimer

I know it’s common in CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting to drop the weight from full height after a lift, but this platform is not suited for that purpose. 

I’m practicing Olympic lifts, but I bring the weight down with control rather than dropping it after a lift.

I know this isn’t what the cool kids do, but I’ve got to be practical since my gym is in a spare bedroom of my home. I built this platform to protect my wood flooring from damage if I accidentally drop a weight, not intentionally drop a weight.

If you want to intentionally drop your weights after completing a lift, that’s awesome! But, you should use a dedicated lifting platform instead, and probably do it outside or in your garage.

Otherwise, don’t blame me if your floors get damaged ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Materials & tools

I wanted something easy to move and take apart if necessary, mainly to be able to clean under and around it. I decided to use three pieces of 2’x4′ plywood laid down side by side, to make a 24 sq ft platform.

I used the following materials to make my platform, all purchased from Home Depot at a cost of $110 + tax:

  • 3 sheets of 2′ x 4′ x 1/2″ sanded plywood.
  • 24 sq ft of any thin carpet with a rubber backing (indoor/outdoor carpet works well)
  • 24 sq ft of 1/2″ thick interlocking foam tiles
  • 4 narrow utility hinges, 2-1/2″ wide
  • 24 #8 x 5/8″ flat head wood screws

I chose 1/2″ thick plywood because that’s what was available at my local Home Depot, but you could just as easily use 3/4″ plywood if that’s available to you.

The carpet is the base layer that protects the flooring from being scratched by the plywood. I found a thin black indoor/outdoor carpet with a light rubber backing, which helps keep the carpet and platform from sliding around on the wood floor.

The plywood acts as a force distribution layer, which spreads the impact of a drop over a larger surface area. The foam tile mat helps soften the blow a bit and provides a cushioning layer for my feet.

DIY Lifting Platform - Hinges and Screws

Unhinged, but no screws loose

Depending on the brand, you might get some hinges with screws included. The ones that came with mine were too long to use in the 1/2″ plywood sheets I’m using, so I bought separate screws that were 5/8″ long.

In addition to the raw materials, I also used the following tools:

DIY Lifting Platform - Tools

Gratuitous tool shot, in case you’ve never seen an oscillating multi-tool before

Version 1.0

My initial plan was to lay the sheets of plywood side by side on top of the carpet and cover the plywood with the foam tiles.

Simple, cost effective, and not very time consuming.

DIY Lifting Platform - Platform Build v1.0

DIY lifting platform, v1.0

This idea worked, but the plywood sheets would shift slightly during workouts and I always had to readjust them afterward.

After a few days I decided I could do better, so I started thinking about connecting them.

Version 2.0

The simplest approach to connecting the plywood sheets would be to use flat mending plates.

However, using flat plates would have negated one of the key benefits I envisioned in the first place, namely the ability to easily move the platform.

I decided instead to use hinges to connect the plywood sheets. I didn’t want the hinge intersections facing upward though, since they were high enough to cause the foam tiles on top of them to not lay flat.

So, I laid the plywood sheets out again and traced the shape of the hinges on the edges where I planned to connect the sheets. I then use the oscillating multi-tool to cut out enough space on each edge of the plywood for the hinge intersection and I pre-drilled holes for the hinge screws.

Hopefully all this is clear from the picture below.

DIY Lifting Platform - Mortise Groove

Groovy, baby!

Cutting out grooves in the plywood for the hinges was the hardest part of the the entire project, but the right tools make almost any job easy and this part didn’t take very long with the oscillating multi-tool.

After the cutting and drilling was done, re-assembly went quickly using the Phillips head drill bit and the compact drill to screw in all the hinges.

DIY Lifting Platform - Platform Build v2.0

DIY lifting platform, version 2.0

As you can see from the pictures, the hinges keep the plywood sheets together but allow me to flip the ends of the platform up.

This flexibility makes it easy to move the platform around and clean underneath it when necessary.

I do still periodically have to readjust the position of the platform, but it’s much easier to adjust it as one piece rather than three separate pieces.

DIY Lifting Platform - Final Assembly

Final Assembly

After replacing the foam tiles, the platform was done and ready for use!

Wrap up

This was a fairly easy project to tackle since I already owned an oscillating multi-tool. It probably would have been significantly more challenging if I didn’t have one of those tools handy to cut a groove in the plywood.

Without it, I probably would have had to chisel out the grooves the old fashioned way. Still totally doable, just more of a pain.

Overall, I’m happy with the result. This platform is not going to replace a dedicated Olympic lifting or deadlift platform, but it works just fine for protecting my custom wood floors from the occasional drop from a missed rep.

In any case, I consider it to have been well worth the time, cost, and effort it took to build.

Got any questions I didn’t cover? Sound off in the comments!

About the Author Mario

I'm a software engineer with a full-time job, family, and a desire to stay strong, mobile and fit. I separate fact from fiction to find the most effective and affordable home fitness options and pass the knowledge on to you. Want to know more?

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