Thursday 20 October 2011

Solid DIY Olympic Lifting Platform


I was introduced to olympic lifting via the Starting Strength program and it’s use of the power clean. I don’t have the luxury of a coach to hold my hand so a lot of my learning is done by watching videos of others performing the lifts and emulating their manoeuvres and analysing my form and technique.

Our garage gym floor is 18mm ply that is resting on a bed of 30mm struts that are placed a little too far apart. I know they’re too far apart because after a failed snatch I dropped a meagre 40kg and it went through the ply. This highlighted the need for a proper “drop as much as you want and it won’t do anything other than bounce” platform. So as part of finalising the garage gym ( a.k.a The Chamber ) I decided to build a platform that could (hopefully) take a battering.

I don’t look to drop the weight for the sake of it, but it’s nice to know that if you do, that you’re not going to screw the floor up.

Here’s a photograph of the finished platform


Materials & Tools

Here’s what I used

  • 6 × 63×38mm × 2.4m stud work timber. This will be for the impact zone.
  • 3 × 2400mm×1200mm of 11mm OSB
  • 1 horse mat / large piece of rubber
  • 1 × 20.5×44mm 2400mm length of planed square edge timber. This is the edging and I only needed one side.
  • Something to cover the OSB with - I used some vinyl that was previously covering the plywood
  • Lots of 12 x 2.5” screws
  • Wood nails
  • Plenty of 1” wood screws
  • Vinyl floor adhesive.

You’ll need something to cut the wood with (a circular saw, jigsaw or good old fashion saw), a drill and a screwdriver. I also used some vinyl flooring adhesive to secure the top vinyl surface, but you may not need this depending on what you’re using for the top surface.

Cutting The Timber

Cut each of the 2.4m pieces of OSB so that they’re 180cm in length. I’ve kept the offcuts because you never know when that stuff will come in handy. Cut each of the 63×38mm timber to 180cm in length. We’ll be using the offcuts in the platform structure so there is no excess here. Finally cut the edging timber (20.5×44mm) to be 1830mm in length. Save the offcut for something else, or make a play sword with it. Whatever.

Here’s where I cut each of the timbers.

Where to cut the wood

Laying The Platform

I started by laying the OSB sheets and screwing them down. I was very low on width in my garage gym so I had to make sure that the platform was bang in the middle of the room. I laid each of the OSB sheets on top of each other screwing each layer into the one beneath it using standard inch wood screws. On the top layer however, I used the big size 12 screws to pin all the layers together and fasten it to the plywood base. I could have used nails, but I wanted to use screws to make any repairs later on easier. Nails are faster, but they are a pain to remove.

With the OSB sheets in place it was time to lay the solid timbers that were going to take the battering from the impacts of the number plates. To ensure a snug fit I started in and worked out. Each piece had a pilot hole drilled into it before screwing to prevent the timber from cracking.

Here’s the plan for the platform. The dark areas to the sides are the walls. You can see there is not a lot of wiggle room in this design!

Top elevation of the structure


With the platform laid, I just had to cover it. Firstly I cut the rubber horse mat. The was a major pain and took quite some time. Once I was happy that everything was nice and neat I stuck the vinyl flooring down with floor adhesive. I then laid the rubber over each of the impact zones and allowed the rubber to extend about 8cm over the vinyl; just to make sure it looked nice and neat.

Using the small wood screws I gently screwed the rubber in place at the ends. I was careful only to screw to the bite point. I just wanted to stop the rubber from moving when it was stood on. I didn’t want to fasten it hard into place because the small movements in the rubber will absorb energy. This will pass less onto the impact timbers and hopefully help extend their lifespan.

The top surface has the following dimensions.

The top dimensions

Here’s a close up of the vinyl and rubber. If you look carefully next to the (small) door you’ll see the two screws holding this in place.

The surface


As you can see from the photograph below the platform only has one end exposed that you can see. Because the sides are made of solid timbers they already look nice and finished. To edge the exposed side of the platform I took the timber cut to 183cm and screwed that tight into the ground, using a few nails knocked into the impact timbers.

The edging

Platform Size

I didn’t have a lot of room to play with in my garage. A lot of the designs I’ve looked at one the web use have their platforms square in size at 2.4m×2.4m. I simply didn’t have this much room. The impact zones have been calculated so that each is only as wide as it needs to be.

Plate impact zones

The barbell can only move so far left (A) or right (B) before it hits a wall and this means that the area that the plates will impact on is only around 30cm in width either size. Ideally I would prefer to have a bigger platform, but you make do with what you’ve got. You can see in the below photograph that when the barbell is against the left wall, that the right plate can only go so far into the platform.

Plate impact zones

Snug. That’s the word.


It feels very solid and I’ve tried dropping 60kg on it from a overhead press and just bounced back. I don’t doubt that some of the timbers will need replacing at some stage, but for now I’m super happy with it.