Deadlifts are an essential part of a good training program. Few exercises demand that you use the strength of your entire the body like the deadlift. If you’ve ever been to a gym and watched someone performing this exercise you’ll probably notice two things right off…One, if they’re doing it right, they will look like a badass; and two, the horrendously loud, ear-splitting clank of the weights and bar being dropped to the floor when they’re done with the lift. In a gym setting, this noise isn’t so unbearable due to the large space and the fact that the gym is probably equipped with bumper plates and weightlifting platforms. In our garage gym, not so much. We had all cast iron weights and only  a super thin euipment mat made for protecting your floors from things like a treadmill or elliptical. Justin would supplement the mats with broken down diaper boxes for extra padding sometimes….classy, yes. Effective, definitely not! A solution had to be found. I couldn’t handle, and I’m sure the neighborhood couldn’t either, many more of Justin’s deadlift training days. Either I was going to go crazy from the brain-rattling noise or I was going to lose my hearing. 

So began my search for affordable bumper plates and a platform. What was I thinking?? Bumper plates purchased new can be anywhere from $1.25 per pound to over $2.00 per pound. I could handle $1.25 a pound. BUT, nice Olympic style platforms can easily cost $1000. I wanted to surprise Justin for his birthday with these things, but there was no way in hell I could afford anything close to what I was finding online and there was NOTHING on craigslist or ebay worth my time. It would have to be built. And if I wanted this to be a surprise, it would have to be built by me. 

We build a lot of things for our home…beds, tables, gym quipment, etc.  If you can think it, we can probably find a way to make it. But by “we”, I mean Justin of course. I “help” by finding pictures of things I like online and giving them to Justin with a big smile on my face. I don’t drill things, I don’t saw things, and I certainly don’t know how to make strong, stable flooring that can handle hundreds of pounds of metal being dropped on it.

The task seemed daunting at first, but with a little online research, I talked myself into giving this little project a shot. As it turns out I CAN build things! Well, I still had help, but I did build a lot of it all by myself! (BTW, a huge thanks goes out to Justin’s mom for the calking, drilling and transporting! You are amazing!) And instead of spending $1000, I only spent about $150, which included some pretty damn good custom artwork. 

What You Need





Approximate Cost

2 ¾” x 4′ x 8′ Plywood Sheets Try to find pieces that aren’t terribly bowed or damaged $60.00
1 ¾” x 4′ x 4′ Oak Plywood Sheet This will need to be cut down to a 3′ x 4′ piece. If you don’t have access to a saw, have the guy at Lowe’s – or wherever – cut it for you. They do this for FREE! And keep the extra 1′ x 4′, it never hurts to have an extra piece of wood lying around. $20.00
1 ¾” x 4′ x 6′ Rubber Horse Stall Mat This sucker is HEAVY and very awkward to carry. You will need help getting this into your vehicle. If you drive a car, you are out of luck. Find someone with an SUV or truck to haul this thing. Also important to note…it stinks. Lay it out in the sun for a few hours to get rid of some of the rubber smell. It will get better with time, trust me.  $40.00
1   Liquid Nails   $5.00
1   Calking Gun   $5.00
1 box 1.25″ Wood Screws Use these to fasten the base together $5.00
1 box 2.5″ Wood Screws Use these for the top layer of your platform $5.00
1   Power Drill   On Hand
1   Pencil   On Hand
1   Long Measuring Stick   On Hand
1   Really Sharp Box Cutters or Circular Saw   On Hand
  80 – 120 Grit Sand Paper Optional On Hand
Sample Sample Size Paint & Polyurethane Spray Optional $10.00

True Olympic platforms are 8′ x 8′, but we just don’t have that kind of room (or budget), so I went with a 4′ x 8′ platform. It is the perfect size for our little garage gym. 

Step 1

Use the Liquid Nails to glue the two larger peices of plywood together to create the base.

Step 2

Measure in about 2″ from the edge (to prevent splitting) of the base and drive your 1.25″ wood screws in every 16 inches.

Platform - Step 1

Step 3

Use the yard stick as a guide to cut your rubber mat (with the box cutters) into two 2.5′ x 4′ sections.  (If you have access to a circular saw you can attempt to use it instead) Try and make the cuts as straight as possible so you don’t create any unwanted gaps between the rubber and wood once the platform is contructed.

Stall Mat

Step 4 (Optional)

This is the centerpiece of your platform, you want it to look good and feel smooth, so lightly sand it if it needs it. If you want a logo on your platform, now would be a good time to paint it on. Be sure and give it time to dry though! If you prefer to wait until after you’re done contructing the platform that’s fine too.

Step 5

Use the Liquid Nails to glue the mat pieces and centerpiece to the base. 

Step 6

Measure in about 2″ from the edges and drive your 2.5″ wood screws in every 10-12 inches or so. DO NOT place any screws along the inside of the platform where the rubber and cetnerpiece meet. You don’t want to stub your toe catch anything on a screw that has worked it’s way up over time. ouch! 

Platform - Step 6

Step 7

If you want that nice looking shine on your platform, lightly spray some Polyurethane on the centerpiece. Be sure and protect your mats though…you don’t want any Poly on those!

You’re done! Now one very good tip is to contruct your platform in or around the spot it will sit in your gym. I hear this thing is really hard to move and HEAVY. (Thanks again, Chrissy!)

This was a really fun project for me (and hopefully everyone who helped), and I was so glad we were able to pull off getting the supplies and completing the build without Justin having a clue what was going on. I wish I could tell you exactly how long it took us to finish, but I worked on this thing for about an hour at a time over the course of a week or so. We stored and built the platform at Justin’s mom’s house, so I would have to rush over there on my lunch breaks and make a few fake trips to the grocery store in order to work on it. It was a pretty crazy week, but well worth the time, money and effort!


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