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Following the latest COVID-19 response, a lot has changed making life more volatile than ever before. For avid gym enthusiasts, making it to the gym on a daily routine has become impossible following the full 24 hours lockdown. However though, despite the vast uncertainty surrounding the virus, investing in a home gym is one surefire way you can achieve full-body fitness while building strength and stamina. Bit, with the high volatility surrounding the world economy, thinking of how to build a squat rack is the only surefire way of having a squat rack right at the comfort of your home gym without having to break the bank.
Now, let’s be honest here….
The power rack is the heart of any bodybuilder’s home gym. Unfortunately, it’s the most expensive with prices that go upwards of $500. If you’re planning to purchase it online and be delivered at your doorstep, then you’ll be talking of substantial costs that can go upwards of $1000.
So, without having to spend a lot of your hard-earned money, you can still make a squat rack at home with the help of family members as a way of passing your precious time constructively. The only thing that’s needed is proper information on how to achieve that which we’re willing to share in this insightful guide.
With that said, please adjust your seat and trade your concentration for the next few minutes.
How to Build a Squat Rack: DIY Guide
But, Before we get started…
Since your main purpose is to save on costs, there are essentially three ways you can add a squat rack in your home gym without having to overspend. One of those is buying already used equipment, buying new and finally, building your own.
- Buying a Used Equipment:
Now, this is one of the most obvious ways of adding a squat rack in your home gym. All you need to do is research the marketplace, such as Facebook Marketplace, to find a willing seller.
The best thing about Facebook and other sites such as OfferUp, LetGo, and Local garage sales, is that you can see the seller making it easier to develop a mutual connection. What you need next is to negotiate, examine the squat rack then decide whether it meets your expectations or not.
- Buying New:
Another alternative you might opt to consider is to buy new equipment. Obviously, there are lots of great stuff out there available at pocket-friendly prices. However, since you’re in a budget, you’ll definitely be forced to divert your attention to those cheaper squat racks that offer limited features.
- Building a DIY Squat Rack:
The meat of this guide is actually based on how to build your own squat rack. According to most folks, building your own equipment is way cheaper when compared to buying new.
Since you’ll need to purchase the materials, which by the way are very cheap, you can build the squat rack and still have some leftovers which you can use to build the plate holders. In fact, the cost of building a DIY squat rack, whether wall-mounted or stand-alone, can range anywhere from $100 to $150 depending on the cost of the materials.
How Long Will it Take?
This is one question most first-timers usually ask when it comes to most DIY projects. Now, when it comes to building a squat rack from scratch, the time you’ll take to complete the project will be influenced by your skill level, the type of tools available and, of course, your work pace.
Some people might opt to work alone, to observe social distancing, while others might opt to have their teenage kids and spouses help out. No matter the situation, the entire project should not take you more than eight hours to complete.
What to Expect
So, in this guide, we will be discussing how to build a stand-alone squat rack. This one is a smaller version of the full-sized squat rack with all its attachments. Since the budget for building the entire full-fixed version will be hefty and out of the equation, this smaller version will definitely suffice.
This standard squat rack is usually considered the best for those with some bucks to spend and it also takes a little more space meaning you’ll need to sacrifice some space about 12 ft. wide by 7 ft. deep by 7 ft. high.
Now that we’ve cleared the air for everyone, let’s now begin our step-by-step guide on how to build a DIY squat rack.
- You will need wood 8 pieces of 4 × 4 each 8 ft. long
- 8 – 3 × 5 super strong flat steel ties
- 14 strong 90° steel ties measuring ½ × 2 × 2 ¾ inches
- 1 lb of 2 inch Star Bit Wood Screws and ½ lb of 3 inches similar screws
To Set up the Safety Bar, You’ll Need:
- 2 – 60 inches ( ¾ ) pipes
- 2 – 4 inch ( ¾ ) pipes
- Caps and 90° elbows
For the Racking Pins, You’ll Need the Following:
- Chair flanges
- Pipe connectors
- 2 – 4 ½ inch pipe
- 2 – 1 ½ inch pipes
For the Pull-Up Bar, You’ll Need:
- 1 – 60-inch pipe
- 2 caps
- Electric drill
- One pound of 2-inch star bit screws for the wood
- Another ½ pound of 3-inch star bit screws for the wood
- Hand or table saw
- Washers for the screws
- Measuring square
- Measuring tape
- 1/8 drill bit for the pilot holes
- C-clamps and grippers for holding the pipes when drilling
Part One: Cutting the Wood for the Frame
- Step 1.
So, you will commence the project first by measuring your room to decide on where you’ll be setting up the squat rack. Measuring the length, width and height of your room (whether it’s in the garage, basement or spare room) is very important as it will dictate the overall dimensions of the rack.
So, in our case, we will assume the height of the ceiling is about 8 ½ ft. So we will build our squat rack with a height of 7 ft. As I mentioned, the height is dynamic therefore, you can make your rack taller or shorter depending on the available space.
- Step 2.
Once you’ve decided about the dimensions, start by measuring the uprights 7 ft. then cut them. You will be cutting 4 upright pieces here. Now, when cutting the uprights, either by using a handsaw or a power saw, make sure the cuts are straight and not slanted.
Note: Since they’re the main support, making slanted cuts on the uprights can cause the entire rack not to be level but rather feel wobbly.
- Step 3.
Once you’re done with the uprights, you can now turn your attention to the horizontal pieces. Here, you’ll need to cut a total of eight pieces with 4 measuring 41 inches and the other 4 measuring 43 inches.
Now, just as I mentioned earlier, the measurements are dynamic and can be adjusted depending on the size of your room and your own requirements. So, about the eight cross pieces, they will go around the rack both at the top and bottom.
Also, remember that these horizontal pieces are part of the foundation and supporting fixtures that support the top and bottom of the squat rack. Therefore, inaccuracies and imperfections are strictly not tolerated. That’s because, in every exercise you perform, it’s your safety and the safety of others that’s always at stake.
When you’re done cutting the horizontal pieces, cut at least four 45° pieces of wood. These will be used to support the bottom corners of the rack by attaching them on the base and the bottom of the uprights.
- Step 4.
So, having said that, lets now get to our next step which is marking the holes on the uprights for the spotting bar and the J-Caps. This is another part of our project that requires a lot of concentration and lots of precise marking.
In our case, we will mark the first holes at least 12 inches from the bottom (of the upright poles). From there, you can mark the holes at least 4 – 5 inches apart until you mark 14 holes on each upright pole. Besides, since the uprights are four, you’ll hence mark a total of 56 holes.
Now, when marking the holes, you must be strictly precise with the measurements to ensure that the adjacent holes are on the same height and centered properly. Slanted holes will hurt the structural integrity of your squat rack making it difficult to insert the spotter pins.
Part Two: Drilling the Holes for the Spotter Arms/Pins
- Step 1. When you’re through marking, you can go ahead to drill the holes. You can either use a hand drill or a drill press for this process. Since you’ve already marked the holes, drilling is pretty much self-explanatory. However, you need to be gentle enough to avoid splitting and damaging the wood (though it’s rare).
- Step 2. When you’re through drilling all the 56 holes, you can now drill a hole on either side of the top braces where you’ll insert the pull-up bar. Here, you can use a larger spade bit to make the holes large enough to fit our 60-inch steel plumbing pipe.
- Step 3. Next, sand the holes gently and rinse them properly. You can repeat the drilling process again just to make the holes clean and smooth enough to pass the spotter arms. At this point, you can also sand and stain the poles with any finish of your choice to customize your squat rack.
Part Three: Assembling the Pieces
- Step 1.
Start by positioning each piece exactly where it’s supposed to go. You can start by assembling each side separately first. Therefore, you’ll have to attach the bottom brace with one of the uprights using bolts and screws. Fasten them properly to enhance stability. When you’re done attach the top brace and screw it tightly.
Now, when you’re done attaching the frames on one side (let’s say on the left), you can go to the other side (the right) and attach the front and back uprights with the respective top and bottom braces.
- Step 2.
When you’re through, now attach the left and the right framework into one rack. Always make sure the left and right uprights are perfectly adjacent to each other to prevent any inaccuracies. Use the 90° brackets to secure the edges of the braces and the uprights at the top to enhance stability.
At the bottom, you can use the 45° pieces of wood we prepared earlier to reinforce the bottom braces with the uprights. This too will give the rack more structural integrity while giving it a uniform and professional appearance.
- Step 3.
Once the cage is set up, you can shake it a little to see whether it’s wobbling. You can also use the measuring square to ensure that all angles are 90°. You can also examine your floor to ensure that its level. If it’s not, then you can force some wooden shims into the gaps to reduce the shaking.
Part Four: Attaching the Fixtures
Now that we’ve accomplished 90% of the project, it’s now time to customize the squat rack with the required fixtures which will be assisting you during the various workouts. Remember, this piece of gym equipment will be in your home where there’s no one to support you. Therefore, you need to make sure that every piece is as steady as possible.
- Step 1.
Use the ½ inch pipes we mentioned in the materials section to assemble the spotter rails. You can also use curved plumbing fittings here if the pipes are not available. They will also work just fine in supporting the weights.
Insert the pipes in the holes we drilled earlier then secure them with a coupler and a connector on each side (front and back) to prevent them from falling.
- Step 2.
Pick the 60-inch pipes we mentioned in the list of materials and attach them on each hole of the front and back uprights (or legs of the squat rack). To keep them secure, you can attach 90° elbows on each of the pipes and caps at the backside.
If you have accomplished your DIY project up to this point, then congratulations! You’ve just built a DIY squat rack. From here, the next step is to sit back and admire your work. You can take photos and send them to friends, family, and workmates telling them how you intend to spend your time before things resume to normalcy.
Why Do You Need a Squat Rack Anyway?
Now, there are many reasons why a squat rack is a perfect choice as compared to most other gym equipment. As you all know, a squat rack is considered a centerpiece or rather the heart of any home gym. Its versatility allows you to perform a wide range of exercises such as back squats, reverse back squats, paused squats, pin squats, no belt squats, and pull-ups among others.
With that said, here are a few more benefits that will force you to consider a squat rack, especially our DIY variation.
If you consider the price factor, you’ll realize that our DIY squat rack will cost you way less than what you could have spent if you happened to purchase a new one. When it comes to building your own rack, you shouldn’t shy away from the project. After all, even when you’re unable to roll your sleeves and grab the tools, you can still hire someone to convert your ideas into a reality.
Another major benefit of having a DIY squat rack is the fact that it’s open to customization. Therefore, if you’re taller or shorter than normal, you can still construct something that will match your expectations. You’re also free to attach various fixtures of your choice without being limited.
This is by far one of the primary reasons why a squat rack is a masterpiece in any home gym. During strength training, you don’t expect to have a spotter around since you’re all alone at home. However, with the help of spotter rails and safety pins, you can always settle the bar on them to relieve yourself from the load.
This is one way you can guarantee your safety as you won’t feel too overwhelmed to a point of dropping the heavily weighted bar on yourself.
Another advantage of the spotter rails is that they hold the bar for you when adding the plates. This allows you to lift heavier weights which you would otherwise be unable to lift in normal situations.
- Ease of Loading:
Although we’ve already mentioned it above, squat racks indeed make it easier for you to load the weights. You see, in the olden days, performing various demanding exercises such as bench presses and squats was almost impossible as there was no way you could position the bar to load the plates.
Thankfully, with the advent of the squat rack, performing such weight training exercises has become super easy.
Now that your squat rack is up and steady, it’s time to add the weights and establish a squatting routine. As you can see, our DIY rack is open to customization meaning you can add more fixtures of your choice to suit your training needs.
One more thing I need to mention though is that building a squat rack isn’t easy. It demands you to have some basic experience in building furniture especially when it comes to measuring the pieces, cutting them straight and drilling the holes.
All in all, the entire process is quite straightforward and the best thing about it is that it doesn’t leave a dent in your wallet. Costing anywhere from $100 to $150, this is basically one of the most affordable DIY projects you can ever accomplish.
So, we believe our tutorial was insightful, straightforward and helpful. In case you’d like to add a point or two, or maybe share an experience, then feel free to drop us your thoughts in the comments section just below.