From personal research and experience in the industry, I decided to put together some helpful hints and directions on how to build a squat rack. A DIY wooden squat rack can be made for multiple uses as well by adding a homemade weight bench to it and a squat rack pull-up bar.
You should be able to use and expand on these ideas as a way to get started on building your own DIY exercise equipment.
I’ve done a “mock-up” in my garage for this “how to build a DIY squat rack” presentation to show that it’s possible. You can produce a wooden squat rack simply out of materials from your local building materials store.
This may or may not be the best solution for your situation, but I’m including everything that I’ve learned as far as material budget and steps to the best order for installing this weight rack.
Although no homemade squat rack is guaranteed to function as a quality factory-made squat rack, it is a valid alternative. However, there is a good chance that it will be more functional than a cheap squat rack. No matter which way you go, I would urge you to stay away from cheaply made exercise equipment.
The way I’ve designed this workout rack gives the ability to also use it as a weight bench to add a lower bar holder for bench press exercises. There is another money-saving combinations besides setting your rack up with the DIY weight bench rack. You can easily add a pull-up bar as part of this unit for your back exercises.
That’s three pieces of exercise equipment in one. I’m estimating around $150.00 to build squat rack with a bench/pull-up combo. Of course, you can spend hundreds of dollars reinforcing a mack daddy power rack, but at that point, why not just buy a good factory-made rack.
DIY Wood Squat Rack BUDGET
A quality squat rack that lasts should cost in the starting range of $500 and up. That’s with a good warranty and 1000lbs weight limit. If you just want to go this direction, see my recommendations at the 3 Best Squat Racks for a Home Gym.
If you did purchase a decent squat rack, weight bench, and pull-up bar separately this would cost up to $1000 or more. So building your own squat rack can save significant costs.
I have seen homemade barbells before. It seems a bit comical, but they pour cement into two large cans or buckets for the weight plates and set the bar ends into the cement, and let it dry. However, this idea won’t be for most of you, so go ahead and purchase your own barbell set.
If you’re wondering what to buy for the home gym, add an Olympic bar and weight plates or bumper set to your home gym budget.
It’s also important to add an adjustable weight bench to your budget. You should be able to pick up a decent workout bench with a high weight capacity for $150.00 to $300.00. A bench is not critical but will add some great chest workout exercises to your home gym workout program.
All in all, building your own squat rack weight bench combo will be significant savings if you can put it together yourself.
The attached receipt includes everything necessary for a full squat rack combo per my design, though I only did half of a “mock-up” for demonstration purposes.
These drawings include two different designs to install the bench bar holder and squat bar holder, so these quantities my vary. Use whichever way looks better or easier for you.
DIY Rack –
Here is a list of materials needed to build a wooden squat rack for my design. Yours will probably vary a bit depending on your store.
- 2 – 8′ 4×4’s
- 2 – 6′ 4×4’s
- 4 – HS24 “H” shaped 18-gauge hurricane ties
- 1 box of 1 1/2″ drywall or wood screws
- 1 box of 3″ drywall or wood screws
- 4 – metal corner “L” braces
- 2 – metal “T” straps
- 4 – 8′ 2×4’s (I used pre-cut boards for demo)
- 1 – galvanized 3/4″x48″ pipe
Space Saving All-In-One Functionality
In this “how to build your own squat rack” guide, I really like the option of making a versatile workout rack that can also be used as a weight bench and a pull-up tower.
Having the ability to perform several exercises with one machine is the best way to save time and money. I’ve written plenty of articles for the best small home gym ideas to realize the advandages.
One of my favorite small home gym ideas is simply a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a folding weight bench, but this wooden squat rack is one step further. Using the smallest footprint to get the most exercises out of gym equipment is my goal when putting together a compact home gym.
I was going to put together a “how to build a weight bench” guide, but there is no need now. With this squat rack idea, we are shooting to use it for a full workout program. Even if you have an entire basement home gym, all-in-one home gym equipment is still recommended since the amount of workout space fills up so fast.
Here are just a few of the exercises that you will now be able to do with your all-in-one squat rack combo.
- Back/front squats
- Shoulder shrugs
- Shoulder press
- Bench press
- Incline/decline press
- Overhand/underhand pull-ups
- Hammer pull-ups
- Close-grip pull-ups
- Leg raises and crunches
How to Build a Squat Rack
During my “mock-up”, it took several attempts at different ways to build this squat rack the most secure way. Not every way works, and some of my research provided unclear information. Therefore, I learned an important lesson; it’s best to build your DIY squat rack in the correct order.
Posts and Barbell Holders
That being said, you will first want to attach the hurricane rafter ties to the top of your 2×4″s or “posts” first. Be sure to use all of the screw holes in the ties. These will function as your j-hooks to hold the bar at two different levels, one for squat exercises and one level for bench exercises.
Do a dry run before screwing in all holes so you will know the best height that is comfortable for both bench presses and squat exercises. For the bench press hook/ heights, make these a little higher than you would think.
If you are using an adjustable workout bench, you will need extra room under the barbell if you want to perform incline bench presses.
Keep in mind when you are setting the bench press bar holder height, that an average workout benchtop is around 18″ high. Use this number plus your arm length to help find the “sweet spot” for your bar height.
Once you have the barbell holder brackets in place on top of the posts, screw them into your 4×4″ that you will be using as your upright. It always better to use a taller length (8′) since they can always be cut down.
After you have the posts screwed into the column, lay them down on the ground to fasten to the 4×4″ base. This will enable you to tightly attach the straps, brackets, and/or braces to the upright and columns. Having this nice and sturdy is the most important part of making this squat stand safe enough for heavy weights.
At this point, you are almost done with your DIY squat rack.
Set the columns toward the middle of your 4×4″ base. There should be adequate lengths both front and behind. This is so when attaching the base, there will be enough room to stand under the bar but still connect the two bases together at the front.
Once you have attached columns to each base, stand them up and connect them with a 2×4″ at the front of your squat rack. This helps stabilize your rack and keep it balanced in the air.
Lastly, drill a hole at the top of each column large enough to hold your pull-up bar. Don’t make it so high that you have to jump up to grab it since this can weaken your wooden squat rack assembly. The bar connecting the two columns will also help further stabilize the entire rack. If possible, make the holes tight so you can force the ends of the bar inside them to help it in place.
Once again, my rack is not fully functional but a “mock up” version. If I had more room in my garage home gym, you would see me demonstrating it with a barbell set.
At this point your home made squat rack should be complete. Please leave a message below to tell me how everything went! I’m interested in hearing about any modifications that might make your own squat rack process easier and a better product. Building a squat rack out of wood can be done in several ways.
Homemade Squat Rack Alternatives
Depending on the exact way that you are putting together your homemade squat rack, chances are that you are going to spend close to $150.00 in materials. Besides saving money, building something useful provides that nice feeling of accomplishment. Your home gym rack will be a one-of-a-kind piece of DIY exercise equipment.
Another alternative, of course, is to purchase a squat rack at a store or online. Keep in mind that most factory bought squat racks will also have to be put together to some extent. That being said, an advantage to a quality manufactured squat rack is feeling safe by knowing how much weight capacity your exercise equipment is rated for.
Once again, look for gym equipment that comes with all-in-one workout features. Not only can many of these weight training racks be used with a bench and for pull-ups, look for one that can also accept squat rack attachments. These add-ons are genius and will multiply the number of exercise options that you can do with your rack.
If you do decide to purchase a squat rack, I’m listing two of my favorites. Which one is best for you depends on the amount of home gym space that you need. From my experience, if you are a beginner to amateur level, there is no reason to spend much over $500.00 for a good quality squat stand or power rig. However, spending more than this does add some really cool features.
This price category provides a rach with the versatility of heavy squats, shoulder presses, bench press, pull-up exercises, and the ability to add exercise accessories and attachments. The Rogue Squat Racks that I’m recommending are made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty.
#1. Rogue Folding Squat Rack
This squat rack is space-saving but durable. The Rogue Foldable Squat Rack is my favorite one, and it also has a 1000lb weight capacity and comes with an adjustable pull-up bar.
The nice part about this one is that it can be folded down into just 5″ from being flush with the wall. It folds in, out, or fold both columns to right or left and this foldable squat rack even looks cool. The J-hooks are adjustable enough to hold the barbell at various heights for doing shoulder presses, squats, bench presses, back rows, and deadlifts.
The Rogue fold-up squat rack is made to accept any of their “Monster Light” Attachments. I recommend the first one being a pair of spotter arms.
#2. Rogue Squat Stand
The Rogue SML-2C Squat Stand is their least expensive squat stand, but it still comes with a few options and the same heavy-duty 1000Lb+ weight capacity. It’s made of sturdy 11 gauge steel but still is a lightweight squat rack at the same time.
This Rogue “Monster Lite” Squat Rack comes standard with an adjustable pull-up bar and sturdy, adjustable J-cups to set the barbell in increments of 1″, according to which exercise you are doing. To add even more exercises to your workouts, this versatile Rogue Squat Rack will accept any of the “Monster Light” Attachments. Change up the look of your home gym with the 10 different color options available.
How To Build a Squat Rack Conclusion
For the weightlifter that is also a handy type, a do-it-yourself squat rack is a definite money saver. Keep in mind for your budget that whether you build the rack or buy it, either way, you will need to purchase a dumbbell and weight plates to make this home gym setup work.
If you are not mechanically inclined, and if this project is a flop, at least keep your receipt so you can return the lumber. This way it’s only a loss of time, and perhaps purchasing a squat rack is a better idea.
This project can’t be done in just an hour. It took me two days to research, design, shop, and put together this mock-up. If you can’t build this squat rack safely, I don’t recommend risking your physical health just to save a few bucks.
I’d like to hear about your home gym squat rack endeavor, so please leave a message below and I will respond. Tell me about your “how to build a homemade squat rack project, and what changes that you made to make it a better product.