How to Build a Squat Rack – DIY Tutorial


So you want to build your own squat rack?

That’s great! We guarantee you that you will save a lot of money and time this way. No matter how experienced you are in DIY projects, we really hope that you won’t have a hard time following these steps.

Many people ask us how to build a squat rack. There are literally thousands of different designs and ideas on the web. Some of them work wonders, while others aren’t really worth the time. We have reviewed the most popular ones and came up with what is in our opinion the best design. It will take you some hours of work and will cost about 160 dollars – how cool is that?

This guide is based on many reviews and sources. Now, it is fair to mention that our biggest influence was a design by the Buff Dudes. While our design is different in some aspects, you can say that this tutorial somehow based on their work.

This rack supports somewhere between 400 lbs and 500 lbs, depending on the type of wood you are going to use.

I figured I should write something on the topic of building your own leg exercise equipment. This may sound like an easy way out if don’t have enough money for those fancy squat racks from the Amazon, but it is not that simple. This actually depends on few factors. OK, let’s break it down.

There are basically three options that you are presented with when it comes to spending money on such stuff; buying new, buying used and building your own. Building and used usually cost the same, although both of them require some work. For the first you need to find someone who is selling his old stuff while making from scratch requires finding someone to do it for you if you don’t know how. If you’re on a budget, it’s best to build a squat rack. This is by far cheaper solution than buying a completely new squat rack.

Before You Get Started to Build a Squat Rack

how to build a squat rack

First of all, please check the list of tools and materials you are going to need. People also often ask how much time it takes to build a squat rack. That’s a good question and it really depends on your skills, tools and work pace. This tutorial explains how to make a squat rack; we don’t really know whether you will follow the steps as they are or perform some modifications.

Just to give you some numbers, people often complete the task in about eight hours. Some work alone, some have a buddy. This design is quite simple, and it shouldn’t take you too long to build the squat rack.

You will need these tools:

To build a squat rack or any other construction for exercising you need to know what you are doing. That includes having a plan about what material you will use, finding the necessary tools to actually do the job and of course blueprinting the whole shebang (calculating dimensions, spacing, etc).

One note about material; it’s best to build these constructions out of metal. It guarantees a long life and can be maintained very easily, which can’t be said for wood. I have seen quite a few people that made their constructions using wood. If you squat seriously that party won’t last long, trust me. My advice would definitely be to go with metal. You won’t need a lot of material. The most of it will go into assembling heavy side post.

Since metal requires welding, in case you never did this, don’t worry, there are plenty of services out there that do this and it’s not even that expensive. Just visit the nearest workshop with your blueprint and let them know about your plan. You can be surprised how cheap you can get by. I have built a few racks this way, each came out about $100 – $150.

– Hand saw – cheap and effective, you can get one for two bucks, Circular saw or Chop saw(you probably can borrow or rent one for one day). Chop saws allow you to cut at 90 and 45 degrees quite easily.
– Drill, either electric or battery powered
– Tri flute wood boring Drill bit to drill 1 1/4 inch holes (you are going to drill 56 holes, so it better be a quality one). Tri Fluted Wood Boring Bit
– 1/8 inch Drill Bit (you are going to use it for pilot holes)

Materials Needed

1. Wood – we are going to be using eight 4×4 in pieces, eight feet each:
a. Four for the uprights
b. Four for the cross pieces
2. 1 lb of 2 in. Star Bit Wood Screws and 1/2 lb of 3 in same screw type
3. 14 – 1/2x2x2 3/4 90 Degree Steel Ties (the strongest ones you can get)
4. 8 – 3×5 strong Flat Steel Ties

For each safety bar you will need::
A 60 Inch (3/4 in) Pipe
A 4 Inch (3/4 in) Pipe
A 90 Degree Elbows (optional)
One Cap (optional)

For each racking pin you will need:
A Chair Flange
A 1 1/2 Inch Pipe
A Pipe Connector
A 4 1/2 Inch Pipe
One Cap

Step by Step DIY Tutorial for Squat Rack

diy power rack

1. Decide where you want your squat rack to be and measure the height of the room – your rack will be a couple of inches lower that that. In our case, we have decided that the perfect height for our squad rack is 7 ft. We are going to use that number as a reference to simplify things.

2. Take the uprights and measure 7 ft. Again, this measure is based on the height of our basement; yours can be taller or lower.

3. Cut the four uprights at 7 ft each.

4. Once we’ve got the uprights done, let’s cut the horizontal pieces. Those are the eight pieces that go around the top and the bottom. The measures are: three pieces at 41 in and four at 43 in.

5. Let’s go ahead and drill the holes in the uprights. Let’s mark the first hole 12 inches from the bottom of the piece. From there, we go 4 1/2 inches on center; we keep marking the holes every 4,5 inches until we mark a total of 14 holes. Remember that the 4×4 bar is actually 3 1/2 inch wide, so the middle will be at 1 1/4 in, NOT at 2 in.

6. Rinse and repeat. You have to drill 56 holes in total (14 holes on each of the four uprights stands for 56 holes in total.)

7. It’s time to put the pieces together. We are going to assemble each side on the ground first. In other words, we are going to assemble two frames, each of which consists of two uprights and two 43 in horizontal pieces. Then, we screw the galvanized 90 degree steel ties to the joints, as illustrated in the diagram below. You can use either 1 in or 2 in screws. Make sure each of the holes has a screw in it.

8. Make sure that the frame is at 90 degrees angle.

9. Now we attach the 3×5 flat steel ties to further secure the 90 degree angle. Make sure that the frame is properly aligned before you place those.

10. Once we have that done, it’s time to further reinforce the stand. We are going to take the leftovers of the 4×4 bar and make 45 degree cuts, as illustrated in the diagram. We will need fourteen of those – four for each frame and six for the transverse horizontal pieces (we are going to talk about them in a moment).

11. Now it’s time to attach those diagonals to the frame. We are going to use four screws for each piece. The position of the screws is indicated with red. Pre-drill the holes first, and then add the screws.

12. Rinse and repeat, until you get two identical frames like in the diagram:

13. Okay, we’ve got the two identical sides done. Now we are going to put a 90 degree bracket on the top side of both frames. The bracket is meant to support the horizontal 41 inch piece. We are going place the brackets the way illustrated in the diagram (3 inches from the bottom edge of each frame):

14. Now that we got that covered, we need to place the 41 in. piece and fix it to the freshly installed brackets. Make sure the two frames are parallel to each other before you attach the piece.

15. This step is quite obvious and repetitive – you add the two remaining 41 in. bars where they belong. The steps are the same: attach the brackets, put the bar, check the angle, fix it with screws and move on to the next one.

16. Once you’ve got the cage set up, you can go ahead and place the remaining diagonal 10 inch pieces (the same way you did on step 11). Make sure you check the angles before you add the diagonal pieces. Once you fix them, there will be no way back!

17. Try the rack – does it feels stable? If it feels a little bit shaky, then the issue is surely the floor. That can be easily fixed with a wooden shim. Check the edges of the cage and see whether there is a gap between the wood and the floor. If there is one, then slightly force the shim into that gap and check the wobbling. Is it still there? There can be more than one gap and sometimes you have to use a couple of shims.

Also, when you build your own squat rack, you have to pay extreme attention to the angles – any non-90 degree angle can result in wobbling. If you notice that this is the cause of the issue, don’t panic – the rack won’t fall off if there is slight wobbling, and it will become more stable as soon as you will add some weight plates on it.

18. To make it even more secure, you can add some additional 90 degree steel ties to the interior of the cage, like this:

19. It is time to assembly the safety bars. Those are made of the 3/4 Pipes we mentioned in the materials list, 60 inch long each. You can attach a 90 degree elbow and a cap to the main pipe to make it look more elaborate.

20. We’re almost done. All we have to do now is assemble the two racking pins. First, we put the cap on the 1/2 inch pipe and put it through the hole. Then, we attach the coupler to the other side of the pipe – this will prevent it from falling off. Attach the pipe connector to the coupler and tighten the three up (pipe, coupler and connector). Finally, attach the chair flange to the connector and tighten it up.

21. This one is optional. You already know how to build your own squat rack, so now it is up to you whether you want to customize it in any way. For instance, you can paint it the way the Buff Dudes did, or leave it like it is. It doesn’t really matters.

Congratulations, now you know how to how to build a squat rack out of wood! Designs like this one are really popular because they are cheap, functional and safe.

Pros and Cons

Definite pro is lower price in oppose to out of the box fancy stuff. By making custom stuff you are risking some inexperienced person to do the welding, which can result in poorly measured and badly assembled angles of the construction. Although this rarely happens, be sure to double check his previous work.

Since my reasons to train are professional I do need some reliable equipment that can’t be custom made that easily. But I do recommend you to build a squat rack because this is one of the simplest things to make, even if you’re not that crafty. Roll your sleeves or hire somebody else to convert your ideas into reality.

It’s time to put some weights on that barbell and establish a squatting routine. If you are not sure how to squat properly make sure to read our guide. Additionally, you can add a couple more racking pins, place them on the top two holes and use them to hold your pull up bar. The most important part is that now you know exactly how to build a squat rack. This thing gives you amazing customization possibilities. Factory racks can be rarely customized the same way. You can add stuff, adapt the rack to other exercises, it’s all up to you now.

There you have it, now you know how to build a squat rack. We really hope you found this tutorial helpful. Please leave your comments, thoughts (and ideally success stories!) in the comments section below.

Once your squat rack is ready you might want to learn the proper squatting technique.

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