How to Build The Best Lifting Platform

lifting platform

One of the staples of any strength training focused gym is a good lifting platform (or weightlifting platform/deadlift platform depending on your persuasion) and for many, the lifting platform is the focal point through which they do the majority of their training.

With increasing interest in building a home or garage gym, many people are turning to DIY to build their very own platform. But how exactly do you go about building a lifting platform?

As DIY projects go, building a lifting platform is a surprisingly simple affair, which even the most DIY averse individuals should have no trouble. Even better, it should only take an Afternoon’s work and you’re ready to start lifting!

In this article, we’ll outline how to build your very own lifting platform including all the materials and equipment you’ll need as well as some other general considerations to help you build the perfect platform!

What is a Lifting Platform and do you Need One?

A lifting platform is a rectangular layer of flooring, often made from wood and rubber matting, which is intended for performing lifts such as the Clean & Jerk or the Snatch in Olympic Weightlifting or the Deadlift in Powerlifting, to name a few.

A lifting platform provides many benefits, such as protection to the floor below from repeated dropping of weights as well as providing a solid, flat base to lift from.

It’s really up to the individual to decide whether a platform is necessary for their needs. Anyone doing a lot of barbell exercises where there is potential to drop the weight on the floor will likely benefit from a platform.

If you’re an Olympic Weightlifter then a lifting platform is a must, as you’ll be dropping a lot of weight a lot of the time! Similarly, Powerlifters who deadlift frequently will get a lot of use out of a platform.

As a general rule, if you want to protect your floor from damage or do a lot of exercises that start or end on the ground, a lifting platform is a good investment!

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Lifting Platform?

A basic lifting platform should cost somewhere in the region of $150-$250, depending on the exact materials and consumables you go for.

Contrast this with built for you lifting platforms which can go into the $1000s and you can quickly see the appeal of the DIY approach!

That said, if you really aren’t DIY minded at all, or just fancy something more professional, be sure to check out Rogue’s options for lifting platforms.

How Big Should a Lifting Platform Be?

The standard size for a weightlifting platform is 8×8 ft and a deadlift platform is typically half the depth at 4×8 ft. That said, there’s nothing stopping you from building your platform any size you see fit, it’s your platform after all! However remember, your platform should be at least 8 ft wide, otherwise your barbell probably won’t fit on it!

Whether your platform needs to be 8 ft or 4 ft in depth will come down to the type of lifts you do primarily. For example, a Weightlifter will require an 8 ft deep platform as they tend to move about a lot to ‘catch’ the weight or when extending their rear foot during a split jerk.

A Powerlifter performing a deadlift, however, doesn’t require as much real estate as they stay fairly rooted in one position, so can get away with less depth on their platform.

You may also want to consider if you will be using a squat rack in your setup, in which case you may also want to assign some extra room to accommodate this.

Tools and Materials

You won’t need very much tools and materials to build a lifting platform and should be able to find the majority at your local DIY store. I’ve listed below everything you should need for a standard 8×8 platform.

  • 5/8″ 4×8 OSB or Particle Board (4 sheets)
  • 3/4″ 4×8 Plywood (1 sheet)
  • 3/4″ 4×6 Horse Stall Mats (2 mats)
  • 1-1/4″ Wood Screws/Multipurpose Screws (1 box)
  • Power Drill
  • Stanley Knife/Box Cutter
  • Measuring Tape/Stick

If you’re only building a 4×8 Deadlift Platform you will only need 2x OSB sheets, a 4×4 Plywood sheet, and 1x Horse Stall Mat.

And that’s it! Pretty simple, right?

What Wood Should I Use for a Weightlifting Platform?

You have a few options to choose from when selecting your plywood top layer and this will largely be down to personal preference. The majority tend to be made from oak or maple and I recommend sticking with either of these options for the best results.

One thing to watch out for is that you go for a good quality plywood as cheaper variants are prone to delamination quite easily, that is, the layers start peeling away from each other.

How to Build a Lifting Platform

Ok, we have all of our materials and tools to hand, let’s actually build the platform!

Step 1 – The Base

8×8 Weightlifting Platform

Lay down two OSB sheets side by side on the area of floor that the platform will be located. Make sure they are aligned vertically, I.E there is one sheet on the left and one on the right, not one in front and one behind. This is important to ensure your finished platform is facing the right way!

It should go without saying, but make sure both sheets are flush with each other. This should give you your first layer, making an 8×8 ft square.

Lifting Platform Base Layer

4×8 Deadlift Platform

If you’re choosing to make a smaller Deadlift Platform, you only need one OSB sheet for this stage.

Cut the OSB sheet in half to create two 4×4 sheets (most DIY stores should be able to do this for you when buying your materials).

Place both sheets side by side, one on the left, one on the right.

Step 2 – The Mid Layer

8×8 Weightlifting Platform

Lay two OSB sheets over the OSB sheets from Step 1. These should go in the opposite direction to the previous sheets, I.E one sheet at the front and one behind.

Now take your drill and screws and secure both layers together. There’s no exact amount of screws you should use here but I recommend screwing down the corners of each sheet and then at least two along the sides of each sheet, roughly where the corner of the base layer sheets would be.

Lifting Platform Mid Layer

4×8 Deadlift Platform

Lay down a 4×8 OSB sheet over the two 4×4 sheets from step 1.

Take your drill and screws and screw through the 4×8 sheet roughly where the corners of the base layer sheets are. This will require 8 screws total but feel free to use more if you require.

Step 3 – The Top Layer (Center)

8×8 Weightlifting Platform

Take your Plywood sheet and align it in the center of your platform, it should run front to back, not left to right.

Secure the Plywood using your drill and screws, following a similar approach to Step 2. A screw in each corner and then two along each side should do the trick.

Lifting Platform Top Layer

4×8 Deadlift Platform

Lay down the 4×4 square of plywood in the center of your platform and secure to the mid-layer using your drill and screws, one in each corner should be plenty.

Step 4 – The Final Step

8×8 Weightlifting Platform

We’re almost done now and all that remains is to add the horse stall mats at either side of the Plywood.

If you did everything right, you should have a 2×8 space on each side of the Plywood, we’ll be cutting our stall mats to fit these dimensions.

Annoyingly, Stall Mats don’t come any longer than 6ft, so this means you won’t be able to have one continuous piece across the whole platform. Instead, you’ll need to cut your Stall Mats into four sections; 2x 2×6 and 2x 2×2 (you could cut 4x 2×3 instead if you really wanted).

To cut your stall mat, you’ll need your box cutter. Mark up the mat into the sections as required and using your box cutter, continuously score the mat along the cutting line. This is a really laborious and tedious process but stick with it, just make sure you don’t do it the day after arm day!

Once you’ve got your sections of stall mat all cut to size, simply lay them down either side of your Plywood and screw them into the mid-layer (make sure you don’t drill in the same location as your previous screws) and you’re done! You now have yourself a purpose-built Weightlifting Platform ready for use and abuse!

Finished Lifting Platform

4×8 Deadlift Platform

The final step now is to add the horse stall mats, and you’ll be glad that you’re only building a Deadlift Platform at this stage because it’s easily the least enjoyable part!

We’ll need to cut the stall mat into 2x 2×4 sections. These will go at either side of the plywood to complete the platform.

Mark up the stall mat ready for cutting and score along the mat with your box cutter to cut the desired sections. As I mentioned above, this will not be fun and will take some time but stick with it, continually scoring along the cut line, you’ll be done before you know it!

Once you have your two sections, simply lay them down at either side of the plywood and screw them into the mid-layer.

And that’s all there is to it! You now have yourself a Deadlift Platform!

How to Level a Lifting Platform

It’s a surprisingly common complaint whether at a home gym or even a commercial gym, you set your barbell down and it starts to roll away. This is a pretty good sign that your platform is not level.

Luckily, there’s a pretty inexpensive yet effective method to solve this and it basically involves making a big wedge!

Note that this method assumes that the issue lies with your floor being sloped. A platform that is not level could also be down to warped materials, in which case this method may not help and the best solution, in this case, is to get a whole new platform, unfortunately.

Firstly, you need to determine how sloped your platform is sitting. To do this, get a spirit level and lift the side of the platform until you get the bubble in the center. Now measure the gap between the platform and the floor (you may need an extra pair of hands to help you).

Once you know what the gap is, you are basically going to make a giant wedge that is as long and as wide as your platform and tapers up from 0 thickness on one side to the thickness of your gap on the other. Then you simply place this under your platform to level it off!

To do this you will need thin sheets of plywood, about 1/4″ thick should work in most cases. The exact number of sheets you will need depends on how much of a slope you are dealing with.

For talking sake, let’s say you measured your gap to be 1″. You would then need 4x 1/4″ sheets staggered along the length of your platform to level it off. each sheet can be joined together with wood glue or similar construction glue.

All credit for this method goes to Kratos Strength Systems. The video below gives a good visual of the method too.


Building your own lifting platform is a great way to add extra oomph to your home or garage gym and, as DIY projects go, it’s about as easy as they come!

By following the steps in this article, you should have everything you need to build an effective lifting platform that will not only protect your floor from damage, as well as your weights but also provide an excellent base to lift from for many years to come!