Weight Rack and Bench

I would not describe myself as particularly athletic or someone with a high level of physical prowess, but I do like to try and stay relatively healthy and fit through exercise.

I’ve owned a variety of workout equipment over the years.  Unfortunately, all the stuff I could ever afford was fairly cheap and of poor quality, so when I decided I needed a squat rack, it didn’t take long for me to realize I wanted to make it myself.

A day later I had built the Squat Rack version 1.0.  The supports were too narrow (not allowing me to grab the bar where I wanted to) so I widened it from 3 to 4 feet.  With that change I had created version 2.0 seen here in my old house:

Squat Rack

I chiseled the word “Today” into the crossbeam, so that I’d see it right before I unracked the bar.  This was a favorite mantra of the Franciscan monks of the Medieval period, and since adopting it I’ve found that, like a good horoscope, it applies to almost any situation.

The design of the 2.0 was very sturdy and, though larger, it’s actually much lighter than its steel-framed counterpart.  The only problem I had was from a shearing motion which was solved quickly with a pair of diagonal wires tightened with turnbuckles (thus giving me Squat Rack Version 2.1…a reliable model I’ve used without a hitch for years).

Recently, I’ve decided to incorporate the bench press into my workouts.  All I’d need to do is make a bench and add a new set of lower pegs to hold the bar.

The previous owners of my new house left a bunch of stuff on the property, and in cob-webby corner of a barn out back I found some short sections of heavy wood timbers:

01

I threw a spray-paint can into the picture for scale.   To get my bench the right size I looked up the official equipment specifications for olympic power-lifting.  Based on those regulations I ended up picking out the 4-foot long 4-by-11-inch piece just to the left of the can.

I wanted my bench to match the faux-heavy-timber-joinery style of the squat rack, so the first thing I did was cut out some slots for the first pair of legs:

02

Then I attached the legs with some heavy lag bolts.  These were actually leftover 4×4’s that were used as the cross-beams on the old version 1.0…

03

I was about to add some more legs when I came up with an idea that would allow me to do both a bench press AND an incline press.  It’s kind of difficult to describe what I did to make this possible, so I made a really short video of how the rack can switch from one mode to the next.  Just click on this link to see it:

Weight Rack Demo

Basically I upgraded my Version 2.3 Squat Rack (2.2 was added support, 2.3 was additional space to hang plates) into an all-new, totally revamped, transforming, total body workout apparatus…or the TBWA 3.0.

No, I don’t really call it that.

Squat mode:

04

Bench press mode:

05

Incline bench press mode:

06

I was considering adding some padding to the bench; I even bought a thick 1/2-inch yoga mat to cut and nail to the top, but I liked the look of that chunky slab of old weathered wood so much that I just left it.  Without the pad it looks like something that Rocky would have trained on before the Drago fight in Rocky IV.

Padded benches are for spineless commies.

…now the trick is convincing myself to actually use it, but if I can change….and you can change….EVERYBODY can change!!!!

ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!!

Thanks for stopping by,

-Jack

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10 thoughts on “Weight Rack and Bench

  1. Rocky indeed! This is so cool, and I loved the video! You’re looking very professional, cuz. I love that you made this yourself instead of spending a bunch of money on something that was made in a factory somewhere. And I love that you were able to use the wood that was already at your house. I feel like my arms have gone to pudding (if they were ever anything else?), so maybe I should lift some weights too. The medicine I’m taking for a skin irritation is making me feel like Hercules! So maybe now is a good time to start!

  2. This looks like a really good design. Do you have any dimensions? How big is the base and the top? How tall is it, overall and what’s the angle on the upright? Anything you would do differently?

    I’ve been looking for ideas on building my own rack, and yours is the best design I’ve seen. Thanks for posting it!

    • Thanks, that’s nice of you to say. When I first built it, there were many things I’d wished I’d done differently, but all those changes were able to be incorporated into the final version without having to remake it from the start (increasing the width, adding the cross-cables, adding storage for more plates). So, short answer: no, I have no regrets, it still works great and is actually pretty light and easy to move around (relative to steel racks).

      As far as dimensions, I won’t be back home for a few days, but when I do I’ll put in another comment with some numbers.

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply and help me out! I can get a pretty good idea from the pictures. The angle of the upright is what I’m most curious about!

    • Okay…sorry for the wait. The outside dimensions of the rhombus that comprises the side of the rack is 66″ tall, 17″ along the top, 67.25″ from the angle at the top along the front beam all the way to the floor, and 31″ from the outside of the angled beam to the 90-degree angle against the wall (in addition the rack is 47.75″ wide). I don’t know the precise angle, but you could certainly figure it out with a little geometry (cosine of [14 divided by 67.25]).

      Sure you could do all that math, but the truth is that I just laid the 4x4s on top of each other before cutting and drew lines on the beams where they overlapped. The only thing you need to do is make sure when laying them on top of each other that you place them precisely so that you can make both sides identical. It’s hard to explain in text, so I hope you understand what I’m saying. Let me know if you’re confused.

      I’d love to see pictures if you end up making a rack for yourself. Good luck!

  3. I love your idea! I want to make this squat rack without the bench…What did you use for hardware as far as the bolts/nails and also the pegs that hold the barbells in the front of the rack!? Also what type of timber did you use? And was the squat rack made out of 4x4s like the bench?

    • Yes, the squat rack is made out of 4x4s. I held them together with nuts, bolts, and washers. I can’t remember the exact size, but I picked a length of bolt so that the hardware would be flush with the 4x4s inside the recessed holes I drilled out (so they wouldn’t stick out and hurt anyone). The barbell pegs are made from plumbing pipes. I drilled a hole through the 4×4 upright that would fit a small 6″ pipe (threaded on both ends, called a “nipple”). On the underside/back-side of the hole I screwed a pipe flange to the 4×4. The nipple goes through the hole and twists right into the backside of the flange (actually it makes more sense to assemble the flange & nipple BEFORE screwing the flange to the 4×4)

      If any of this is confusing, let me know. Maybe I can take a picture or something.

      Good luck, and I’d love to see a picture when you’re done!

      -Jack

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