After thoroughly enjoying SOFREP writer Alex Hollings’ ongoing series “Old Man Fitness” he made me realize that there may be interest among SOFREP readers in having a workout space like the one Alex and I use in our garages.

My home gym is a special place for me, and has been for many years. It doesn’t require a membership, I get to play over-the-top aggressive metal as loud as I want, and I get to slam as much weight as I damn well please without being judged or accused of being a Crossfitter.

As I’ve accrued strength gains over the years, I’ve run into the problem of just how much damage that weight flying around can cause to the floor of my garage. Despite the layer of rubber matting I’ve faithfully used for years, dropping a loaded 500-pound barbell will take a toll on any surface. So after doing some consulting with a number of much stronger men, I put together a simple, good-looking lifting platform that will withstand all sorts of abuse for about $165.

This will make a lifting platform that is 6 feet long and 8 feet wide. My lifting space is a little confined but this gets the job done. Materials are as follows (you can just as easily make an 8′ by 8′ platform here if you have the space for it, you would just need more rubber matting to account for the additional space, and obviously not need to cut the 4’x8′ pieces of wood you get from the store):

(2) 3’ x 8’ OSB/plywood boards, 5/8”-thick

(2) 4’ x 6’ OSB/plywood boards, 5/8”-thick

(1) 4’ x 6’ smooth pine, oak, or maple plywood 3/4″-thick

(1) 4’ x 6’ rubber horse stall mat 3/4”-thick

(1) box of construction screws

First, if you can’t cut the boards to these dimensions, the guys at Home Depot or Lowe’s should be able to do it for you. As a warning: nearly all the cuts were off by 1”-2”, so I had to use my own saw to make slight corrections. Otherwise, a layer of plywood not being flush with the others would drive me insane.


Before construction. Dogs.

1. After your cuts are made, lay the OSB or plywood down in two layers on the spot you intend to build the platform. When appropriately layered, they will form a 6′ by 8′ platform.

2. Using a drill, screw the layers together. Start at opposite corners and then go down the sides.

3. Place your nice piece of pine, oak, or maple in the center. Screw it down in the same manner.

Two layers of plywood with the top layer of pine on top

4. (Optional) Coat the top piece with a few layers of polyurethane to protect it from stains.

A Marine goes to college (Part 1)

Read Next: A Marine goes to college (Part 1)

5. Cut your horse stall mat directly down the center, creating two identical 2’ x 6’ pieces of rubber mat. Cutting the mat with a box cutter can be a real pain in the ass, but I made it easier by laying the mat on top of the bench I use for bench press (but protected by a 2×4 so I would not cut my bench). The natural bend that was created from the sides dangling over the edge of the bench made a curve that made cutting down the middle much easier. Use screws to secure your now two rubber mats to the edges of the platform.

Rubber mats added

Boom. That’s it. You now have a functioning lifting platform you can use for deadlifts, cleans, or whatever you want. I screwed my squat rack onto the platform as well, so I can do all of my lifts safely on top of a sexy platform. If you need to do the same, just get some 2” lag screws and washers, and bolt that thing into your top wood layer.

The finished product, ready for smash.

Images courtesy of the author