DIY Incline Bench

Written by tammy bronson
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DIY Incline Bench
Lifting free weights is a good way to build muscle mass. (weightlifting dumbbell bars image by JCVStock from

An incline weightlifting bench is a common piece of home gym equipment for the serious weightlifter. An incline bench maximises the performance of free weight exercise something that standing and sitting doesn't do. Using an incline bench allows you to target different muscles in the upper body by combining exercises. With a flat bench you are limited, but with an incline bench you lift at a variety of angles up to 90°. There is no need to buy a new incline bench if you are handy with a saw and drill. This project is for a 3.75 foot long incline bench.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 4 feet--3/4 x 12 piece plywood
  • 3 feet--1 x 2 wood
  • 8 feet--2 x 2 wood
  • 8 feet--4 x 4 wood post
  • 1 (#10) 8" bolt and nut
  • 2 (#8) 3" bolt and nuts
  • 1 (#10) 12" bolt/screw and 4 bolt nuts
  • 8 (#10) nylon washers
  • 14 (#10) flat washers
  • 4 ct 3 inch long lag screws
  • 4 ct rubberised feet
  • Nails
  • Wood glue
  • Circular saw
  • Mitre saw (optional)
  • Power drill with drill bits used to counter sink lag screws
  • Wood chisel
  • Socket wrench/ pliers
  • Hammer
  • Sander and sand paper (optional)

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  1. 1

    Cut all the wood into pieces the proper length according to these measurements: 4 foot of 3/4 x 12 piece plywood, 3 foot of 1 x 2 wood, 8 foot of 2 x 2 wood and 8 foot of 4 x 4 wood post. Use a circular saw to make a 1 ½ inch dado joint and finish it with a wood chisel. Make dado joint by cutting a slot into one piece of wood to match the end of another piece of wood. Pour wood glue in the wood with the cut out slot and push the other end into it then use a lag screw to pull the wood together for tightness and let the glue dry. In this step you are putting together the bench base and legs. The bench base is a 4 foot piece of 4 x 4. The legs are 2 foot pieces of 4 x 4. The leg construction is a "T" shape; there are two. The base piece is 4 foot. Turn the "T" upside down construct a dado joint into the base like you did the legs to join them together.

  2. 2

    Drill a hole into two pieces of 2 x 2. Drill the hole big enough to fit a #10 bolt through. Attach the two pieces of 2 x 2 to the base of the bench with the #10 bolt; drill a hole directly through the incline base. Make sure that the 2 x 2's can slide backward and forward; this requires not tightening the bolt and the nut too tight. Use a nylon washer for the bolt side and the nut side to prevent the wood gauging. The nylon washers also minimise friction during use. This step creates the braces for the adjustable back of the incline bench.

  3. 3

    Do the same as in step 2 at the opposite end of the incline base to make the swing arm for the bench. The swing arm allows different angles of incline for a more complete workout. In order to secure the swing arm use the #10 12" bolt and use 2 bolt nuts on the left and right side to tighten the arm to the incline base.

  4. 4

    Measure the angles of incline you want while lifting weights and mark them off with a carpenter pencil. Use a protractor to mark the angles. Lay the protractor on the wood with the edge aligning to the wood edge. Start with the smallest angle and work up. Convert the angle measurement on the protractor to inches and you can mark precisely the correct angle. The conversion is 1° equals 1 inch. The most common angles are: 15°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°. Cut the notches out of the incline base at these angles using a circular saw at a ½ inch depth. A wood chisel will help smooth the area.

  5. 5

    Set the bench seat on the incline base. Attach the bench seat with nails and wood glue to the swing arm and two side braces. Glue on rubber feet to the bench legs to prevent the incline bench from sliding while lifting weights.

Tips and warnings

  • The best way to use and incline bench is with a human spotter. Always be aware that accidents can happen to anyone.
  • Make sure everything is flush on the incline base. Uneven notches can cause rocking during a lift which can create an injury.

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