Lifting Platform - DIY Questions

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by Steve Freides, Jan 20, 2019.

  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    For years, I've had a "deadlift corner." 3/4" mats over an irregular surface of handmade, amateur-installed tiles. It's uneven enough that deadlifting on a flat floor feels different - I train in my socks and compete in DL slippers so I feel the irregularities.

    The 3/4" rubber mats have protected the floor well for years here. A few layers of 3/4" plywood, as recommended by Building a Lifting Platform , worry me that I'd start breaking off the corners of the tiles where they stick up.

    Question 1: OK to build a platform with a 3/4" rubber mat on the bottom, then plywood on top of that, essentially doing what the article suggests but with a rubber layer underneath it?

    Question 2: For a top surface, how different is it to stand on plywood or to stand on a 3/4" rubber mat? This is sold as a lifting platform - Rogue 8' x 8' Oly Platform - but there's no wooden surface to stand on, just rubber.


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  2. william bad butt

    william bad butt Triple-Digit Post Count

    My platform, that I built, is 2 4x8's cheap plywood on top of each other (I can't remember the thickness, 1/2 or 3/4 in). On top of the plywood is 4x4 oak (in the center) and 2x4 horse stall rubber mats from Tractor Supply. This third layer is 3/4 in thick.

    I like lifting on the solid oak surface. If I was to lift on the rubber itself, it would have to be very hard. Check and see if it is a hard natural rubber or a soft synthetic rubber. My guess is it is the former. Does s the website have a Question and A.

    Concerning your question about having a rubber mat on the bottom... my entire room floor is covered in a soft rubber mat. My lifting platform, described above, sits on this soft rubber. I think you will be OK. It feels very sturdy to me.
  3. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I just built my platform.


    I have rubber mats underneath my area and my platform on top of that. It is around 200lb and I can stand it up against the wall if I need that space.

    I used:

    2 x construction grade 3/4 x 4 x 8 T&G plywood, $40 each
    1 x finished pine 3/4” x 4 x 8 plywood, find one that speaks to you, $60
    1 x horse stall mat 3/4 x 4 x 6, $45
    100 x 1 1/4” #8 deck screws, $8

    - cordless drill, #2 square driver
    - layout tools, framing square, tape measure, straight edge, paint marker
    - 12” skill saw, you could use a hand saw
    - utility knife

    Cut bottom plywood to 6ft long. Lay face up and lock tongue and groove together. Take one 2ft long cut off and place on center on top. Lay finished pine plywood face up. Position with best finish and centered. Screw down about every 6” around 1-1 1/2” around edge of plywood.

    Cut stall mat down middle of length with sharp utility knife. It will take a few passes breaking the blade occasionally to keep a sharp cutting edge. Position on each side of platform and screw only on the outside and ends about every 6”.

    I have not finished mine yet. I’m not exactly what kind of sealer to use. You don’t want it to be slippery. You just want to seal it from water .

    I have the 2ft section at the top for my half rack, but if you use stands or nothing just cut your finished plywood to 6ft long.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  4. Horatio

    Horatio First Timer

    Nice set-up!
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  5. krg

    krg Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Teak oil, Danish oil? works well to waterproof wood without the shine of varnish.

    And it smells great.
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  6. Tony Gracia

    Tony Gracia Double-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor

    Q1 = Unlikely to be a problem. We have nearly identical set up on 5 platforms at our gym.

    Q2 = This is individual, but deadlifting on wood for some folks is precarious. If someone pulls sumo and emphasizes spreading the floor the wood can feel more slick than rubber mats, which is no bueno. At our facility we have the option of doing deadlifts on either wood or rubber flooring, and always prefer rubber. Wood lifting surfaces are the preference of weightlifters (Olympic lifters) largely because the NEED to move their feet when they lift ... on a deadlift that would be a disaster if your feet moved.
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  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

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  8. H. Mac

    H. Mac Double-Digit Post Count

    I might be misunderstanding something, Steve, but I think you’re after an even surface to stand on, and also one that protects your flooring.

    The basement floor in my former house was tile over concrete. I used two 25 pound bumper plates (same diameter as 45 pound plates, but only about an inch wide) and then used smaller diameter steel plates (mostly 35 and 25 pounders) to reach my desired weight. I stood on a small piece of plywood over a throw rug.

    The bumper plates were the only ones that touched the floor, and I used folded throw rugs under them to help avoid chipping or scratching the tiles.

    It gave me an even surface to stand on, and also did a good job of protecting the tile flooring.

    Could a similar set up be useful for you?
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    I am trying to duplicate competition conditions.

  10. watchnerd

    watchnerd Triple-Digit Post Count

    I had an 8' x 8' lifting platform like most of the DIY versions you see (4' x 8' plywood in the middle, horse mats on the sides, MDF underneath).

    But my garage floor is not perfectly flat, so I kept having to shim it...and then the shims would shift out over time.

    So I just went with 2 layers of 4' x 8' x 3/4" stall mats (4 pieces total), perpendicular to each other, then screwed together.

    It's 1.5" thick, and full 8' x 8' of rubber, 400 lbs or so in weight. It doesn't move.

    The only downside, is that if you're a split jerker who slides the feet, as opposed to jumping, the rubber is too grippy to do that move well.

    But I'm a jumper, and alternate between split and power jerking, so not an issue for me.
  11. watchnerd

    watchnerd Triple-Digit Post Count

    Definitely the preference of the sliding jerkers....but jumping jerkers (like me) do fine on rubber.
  12. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    I feel - a lot - the irregularities of my floor while standing on a single layer of 3/4" DL mat. In some spots, it feels like I standing over a small hole in the floor, not just an unlevel surface. The question in my mind is whether a second layer of rubber mat mitigates that well enough. My current thinking is that a layer of rubber mat then 2 layers of plywood then another rubber mat will feel flat and also continue to preserve the floor underneath my lifting area.

    But it's easy enough for me to test out the second layer of mats, since I can take some from the other room.

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  13. watchnerd

    watchnerd Triple-Digit Post Count

    What kind of mats are they?

    I've found huge differences in compliance between different 3/4" mats. The 3/4" tiles sold at the gym stores were pretty squishy, whereas the horse mats are pretty hard to compress.
  14. The Nail

    The Nail Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Standing on plain rubber when you pull is great if you do not live in high humidity environment. Gives the best feel.
  15. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    They are all 3/4" x 4' x 6' mats that weigh roughly 90 lbs. apiece. Some were bought at a fitness store, others at a farm supply store as stall mats.

  16. Geoff Chafe

    Geoff Chafe Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Steve Freides Platform over mats sounds like the best option to me. If you have mats that are a softer rubber I would put those on bottom.
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  17. watchnerd

    watchnerd Triple-Digit Post Count

    I'm curious what high humidity does?

    The mats I have are stall mats, so designed to be hosed down regularly.
  18. miked

    miked Double-Digit Post Count

    Steve - I finally got some pictures pulled together for you, sorry for the late reply here...

    We have 3/4" mat for most areas of the gym, and then 6 lifting platforms made out of 3/4" AC plywood (A side up, obviously). The concrete underneath isn't very good, and where they had to cut to put the plumbing in, you can still feel it under the mats (there are areas of the gym that all the veterans know where not to lift). But that same unevenness under the platforms is totally unnoticeable. Plywood will deform enough on the bottom to fit around the bad spots and still be level and smooth on the top. In fact, I wouldn't even worry about it chipping your tile, I bet it would deform around all of the corners easily.

    Here's what it looked like new.


    And after 4 years of heavy use. We didn't do any treatment or coating. The scrapes and grime (patina?) help make it not too slippery. Everyone prefers using the platforms for barbells, even shoe-less deadlifts.


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  19. The Nail

    The Nail Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    They get slippery when the humidity condensates on them in those hot & humid dog days of summer.
  20. Carl in Dover

    Carl in Dover Triple-Digit Post Count

    USA POWERLIFTING Technical Rules, page 12, indicates that "non-slip smooth carpet" be used for the surface of the platform. Not sure regarding other Federations.....

    Carl in Dover


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