A lot of people want to get started lifting with a home gym but simply do not have the money to afford a big squat rack.
This is completely understandable and not a reason to worry. Building your own squat rack is a great alternative. A homemade squat rack will have you squatting and benching in no time.
First, let’s go over some concepts for your homemade power rack. Then we will do a quick tutorial on one of the cheapest ways to build a wooden squat rack.
Table of Contents
If you are looking for some inspiration, or want to see how the finished product will look like, check out these cool ideas.
Wooden Power Rack
This is an amazing wooden power rack from Carlos DIY that makes no compromises. It has all of the parts you would expect to find in a standard squat rack. The benefit of designs like these with drilled holes is that the rack becomes fully adjustable. Assembly is definitely on the more complicated side of the spectrum, but if you are handy this is perhaps your best option.
Estimated Cost: $180
Wall-Mounted Wooden Squat Stand
I really like this wall-mounted squat stand. The fact that the stand will be bolted to the wall, gives you an extra degree of confidence and stability. This is great for people that maybe have an unused wall in their garage.
Estimated Cost: $100
Slanted Wooden Squat Rack
This bad boy makes great use of the wall and triangles to be incredibly stable. Some people also prefer the slanted racking position as they find it more comfortable for squatting.
Estimated Cost: $140
Classic Wooden Squat Rack
This is one of the most common designs you will see because of how simple it is. Even if you are not very handy, you can still assemble this with just a few posts and some bolts. The only downside here is that it is not adjustable so you will have to make sure to take accurate measurements.
DIY Squat Rack Building Buide
If you wanted to get started right away, here is a quick guide for a simple and cheap option that does not require much work. The total cost here will be about $50 for the materials.
Tools and Materials
You will need some basic tools:
Also some materials:
2 large buckets
2 bags of concrete
2 4*4 posts (These should be 8 ft long each)
6 1/4-inch by 6-inch lags
You will want to take two measurements:
Shoulder height: This will be the measurement that dictates where the bar will rest when you are squatting. You cannot change this, so take an accurate measurement while you are wearing your shoes.
Bench press height: Lay on a bench and extend your arms to about the point where you would feel comfortable unracking a bar from that height and have someone measure it. You do not want to have your arms fully extended, there should be some bend in your elbows when taking the measurement here.
Cutting The Wood
Now that you have your measurements, you are ready to get started cutting your wood.
From your two 8 ft long posts, you should have plenty of wood to get two posts to shoulder height and another two posts to bench press height. Make sure to use a tape measurer here and take your time.
The next thing you want to do is to create some divots at the top of the posts so that your bar can rack safely. Sketch out a triangle along the top of the post before cutting it out with your saw. It should look something like this:
Bolting Your Wood Together
Now that your wood is cut, you are going to want to bolt it together.
I like to lay the larger piece of wood on the floor before placing the smaller post on top of it.
Make sure that everything is flush and then drill 3 of the 6-inch lags into the posts. For the sake of stability, the bolts should be nice and evenly spaced.
You are going to want to do this twice of course, so you end up with two posts with a bench press and squat height.
Now you will probably want some help with the next step. Here, you will want to put the posts into the bucket and fill about 2/3 of the way with concrete. Once this is done, go ahead and fill the bucket up with water so that the concrete starts forming. Make sure the posts are nice and level.
At this point, the posts should be pretty stable but go ahead and let the concrete dry for about a day.
Are DIY Squat Racks Safe?
Even if they are fun projects, DIY squat racks can be just as safe as any steel squat rack you find in the gym. The key is to take your time and take extra precautions if necessary.
Once you build your rack, go ahead and test it a few times by dropping a barbell with some weight on the safety bars. This squat rack is supposed to keep you safe, so you want to be sure that it can handle when you drop some weight.
What If I am Not Very Handy?
This is perfectly normal, and the best solution here is to ask for help. Dad, brother, or friend, I am sure they will be happy to help.
If you really cannot find anyone, there are some cheap power racks out there. You can find some basic ones for as low as $250 online new. If that is too much, try looking around for a used one on Facebook, Offerup, or Craigslist.
There are usually some great deals on there. The rack may have some wear and tear but should be great for you.
What Exercises Can I Do With My DIY Squat Rack?
Squat racks, homemade or not are the centerpiece of every gym for a reason. They take precedence over any other gym equipment in my opinion. With just a rack and a barbell, you can basically do any exercise to target whichever muscle you want in your body. We have an in-depth squat rack guide but if you are just looking for a quick overview:
Legs: Squats, Romanian Deadlifts
Chest: Bench Press, Pause Press, Pin Press
Back: Barbell Rows, Rack pulls, Pull-ups if you have a pull-up bar on your rack
Shoulders: Shoulder press
Arms: Curls, Overhead Extensions
Should I Build My Own DIY Squat Rack?
As you have seen, building your own squat rack can be a very easy and great alternative to spending hundreds if not thousands on a commercial squat rack.
The only real consideration you have to keep in mind is the space in your home. I would take some measurements and look at some of these ideas we have here to make sure you have enough space for your rack.