DIY Squat Rack

Updated April 17, 2017

If you want to be able to work out on your own schedule, you can benefit from building a set of homemade squat racks for your gym. Adding this exercise equipment to your home gym enables you to perform squats and overhead presses safely without fear of dropping the weights.

Size and Complexity

Go into any gym, and you're likely to see a squat rack that looks like a hollowed out, three-dimensional rectangle: four vertical beams connected by horizontal planks at the top and bottom. Holes drilled into the vertical beams enable lifters to adjust the position of the barbell and insert a movable bar on each side to catch falling weights, preventing injury or accident. One popular variant of the squat rack replaces these movable bars with a beam set at a fixed height. This allows the user to move a pair of vertical supports up and down to adjust the position of the barbell. If you wanted to construct a very simple squat rack for home use, you could use a pair of wooden sawhorses as the safety bars and then build a pair of squat stands to go with them. You can build squat stands by drilling several holes into 2-inch diameter metal pipes--to fit pins for vertical adjustment--and then welding a J hook on to the top end of the pipes. Then simply insert the opposite end of the pipes into a small tire filled with cement. However, if you want to build a squat rack that resembles those found at gyms, you can download the dimensions from an online catalogue. Just ensure that whatever racks you build will allow you to use a standard seven-foot barbell that can be removed if you plan to use it for other exercises, and that both the racks and the barbell will fit in the area of your home where you plan to work out.

Choosing Your Material

Next you need to decide whether to construct your squat racks primarily out of wood or metal. Each material presents its own challenges.
If you decide to use wood, purchase pressure-treated beams strong enough to support whatever weight you plan on squatting (4-by-4s should suffice). Also, consider using metal parts for the joints and any surfaces that will hold, receive or contact the bar. For instance, you can buy steel J-hooks at a hardware store and bolt them into the wooden beams to hold the barbell in place between sets. This adds durability to your racks. Please note that even pressure-treated wood can crack, fray or chip if you drop a loaded barbell on it. Unlike wood, metal racks will not chip or crack and are generally more durable. However, they can require some welding. If you decide to use metal, you can buy the same pipes used to make commercial scaffolding; such pipes will support up to 907 Kilogram. If you cannot find scaffolding supports, then 2 1/2-inch diameter, 11-gauge steel would suffice. If you don't know how to weld, you can use bolts to hold your rack together. Avoid using PVC piping. Though these pipes could support the weight you plan to use, they can bend and shift under stress.

Follow Expert Advice

The references below cover different approaches that other fitness enthusiasts have employed in building their own squat racks. Many of these enthusiasts offer detailed, step-by-step instructions that you can follow in building your own rack.

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About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.