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How to Make Weightlifting Squat Racks

Serious weightlifters often create their own home workout areas as a place to bench, squat and deadlift. And it seems that plenty of those folks who pump iron have a serious tinkering streak. They fashion their own squat racks out of pipes set in bases of car wheel rims, two-by-fours stuck in buckets of concrete or even stacked milk crates -- as scary and unstable as the latter may look. You can make a strong, stable and easy to assemble squat rack out of threaded black pipe instead.

  1. Prepare to assemble a custom squat rack that resembles an inverted U. You’ll be creating two stands that act roughly like tall sawhorses to support each end of your barbell. They can be spaced as you prefer to accommodate barbell widths of 4 to 7 feet. Your component parts will include four uprights connected at the top by crosspieces, and floor supports running perpendicular to the crosspieces.

  2. Assemble the squat rack in place in your home gym. You will work from the top down, tightening the members with a pipe wrench. Start by threading an elbow joint to one end of each crosspiece. Thread a T connector -- aligned vertically -- to the other end. The lip of the elbow joint and the top of the T prevent the barbell from rolling off the crosspiece. The open end of the elbow joint and one end of the T connector aligned and should be pointing in the same direction, as they will accept the uprights.

  3. Thread one end of each upright into the free end of the elbow joints and T connectors. Tighten with the pipe wrench. You now have two tall, inverted U shapes.

  4. Thread the four T connectors to the bottom of each upright. Tighten until they are aligned perpendicularly to the crosspieces.

  5. Thread the eight floor supports to each of the openings on all four T connectors. Again, tighten with the pipe wrench. Thread pipe end caps on the ends of the floor supports and tighten.

  6. Place your assembled squat rack components parallel to each other for use, with the elbow joint in the front to allow the barbell to clear the rack more easily.

    Tip

    Check on a commercial squat rack or power cage at a gym if a 4-foot or a 5-foot hook position works better for you, advises Rob McNeal, a pipe fitter at Lombard Hardware in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Lifters 6 feet tall and shorter should be able to work with a squat rack with uprights measuring 4 feet long, notes McNeal, a former powerlifter and lacrosse player who stands 6 feet tall. You will readily be able to squat under the racked bar, rest the bar on your shoulders, and proceed with your workout.

    If you are substantially taller than 6 feet, you may want to assemble uprights that are 5 feet tall, he notes. In this case, obtain four threaded black rods measuring 5 feet.

    Your finished rack height will actually be 4 feet, 2 inches, or 5 feet, 2 inches, when you add your connections.

    Work with threaded black pipe, which is cheaper than galvanized pipe, unless you have access to scrap or affordable galvanized pipe. You can buy black or galvanized pipe already threaded on both ends in multiples of 1-foot lengths as well as 6-inch lengths.

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Things Needed

  • ¾ inch black threaded pipe, 4 feet long, 2, for uprights
  • ¾ inch black threaded pipe, 1 foot long, 2, for crosspieces
  • ¾ inch black threaded pipe, 6 inches long, 8, for foot supports
  • T-connectors, 6
  • Elbow connectors, 2
  • Pipe cap ends, 8
  • Pipe wrench

About the Author

An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.

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