Why Build a Homemade Power Rack?

I wanted to build my own power rack so I could work out at home with heavy, compound exercises. That's how I've been working out for the better part of 30 years and how I'd like to continue working out.

Also, my son has turns 14 in a few weeks; he's interested in doing some weight training. Working out together will be a fun father-son activity. I can make sure he does the best exercises using good form so he can begin building a good base should he decide to continue in his later years.

We've fooled around with working out before--I've show him the form for all the major exercises--but he's pretty inconsistent without supervision. A home power rack will give us the capability to workout together. Safely.

Lastly, I simply thought building the rack would be a fun project. I'll get to show him how to use various tools, and we'll end up with something we built together and can use together.

I'm making this site so you can see what we did. Maybe you'll want to do it too.

Wooden Power Rack Plans

Here are the plans for the power rack sketched out on some graph paper. The rack didn't turn out exactly as depicted here (and I haven't added the pull up bar), but it's pretty close. Click on to see them bigger:

Tools for Building Your Homemade Power Rack

So here's the gear we assembled to accomplish the mission.

Here's a drill press made from a drill press kit where you strap your hand drill to it. It did the job, but if you have a "real" drill press you will have an easier time. This one only had a 2" throw, and we were drilling through 3.5" inch posts, so we had to finish the holes with the hand-held. Not fun when drilling 28 holes.

Supplies for Building Your Wooden Power Rack

The supplies were very minimal, purchased for around $115 from Home Depot:

Six 4" x 4" posts. These came in 8-foot lengths. We trimmed them to 7 feet.

Building Your Homemade Wooden Power Rack, Step by Step

First thing we did was trim the posts from 8 feet to 7 feet. We could have had them cut at Home Depot, but we wanted to do it ourselves. We also took three of the 2" x 8" board and cut them in half.

After getting the posts trimmed, it was time for the drill press. We marked the center of each post at the top and bottom and used the chalk line to snap a line. The drill press only had a throw of 2 inches, so we used it to start the holes, then used the electric drill to finish. 

Our Power Rack Training Equipment

The rack is located in our garage on a concrete floor, so we didn't want to get metal plates. The gym I currently work out in has bumper plates and I like them... a lot. So that's what we wanted.

I did a day or two or research and after getting over the initial shock of just how much a heavy piece of round rubber costs, we ordered a 260-pound set of bumper plates.
  • 2 x 45
  • 2 x 35
  • 2 x 25
  • 2 x 15
  • 2 x 10
We also got a 7-foot olympic bar. The bar is standard and weighs 45 pounds. We'll also get a set of 5s and 2.5s, which we'll just pick up at the Sports Authority or something. They won't need to be rubber.

Power Rack Training Exercises

My son and I will be doing your basic 3 day a week compound lift program. We'll be doing it RPT style, with rep ranges between 6 - 15 (my son at the higher end). At 14 I don't want him working too heavy.

Every workout will start with a 5-minute warm-up, elliptical, jumping rope, jumping jacks, air squats, push ups, etc.... Our routine will look like this, 3 sets per exercise. Alternating means exercise the first exercise one week, the other exercise the next:

  • Dead lifts
  • Chins (weighted for me)
  • 1-arm Dumbbell Rows (1-2 sets)
  • Bench Press
  • Pushups or Behind the Back Dips (alternating)
  • Close grip bench (1 set)
  • Squats
  • Standing Clean to Press
  • Front pull or dumbbell side pull (1 set)
Every workout will finish with stretching and a planks (as long as we can hold).

Edit 17 Feb 2014:

We've been using the rack for over a year now and have had good results. My son recently competed in a local power lifting meet, 148 pound weight class (he actually weighed 142, up from 102 when we started lifting, so 40 pounds in a year). His results:
  • 200 Squat
  • 140 Bench
  • 290 Dead
Great progress for a year!

We've changed our workout to 4 days a week:

  • Bench Press, warm-up then 3 sets of 6-8
  • Dumbbell Press, 3 sets of 15
  • Close Grip Bench Press, 3 sets of 12-15
  • Lateral Raise, 3 sets of 15
  • Dead Lift, warm-up then 3 sets of 6-10
  • Pull-ups, 3 sets of max reps
  • Good mornings, 3 sets of 10
  • Bar curl, 2 sets of 12
  • Military Press, 3 sets of 10 - 15
  • Dumbbell Flyes, 3 sets of 10 - 15
  • Front Pull or Dumbbell Side Pull, 3 sets of 10 - 15
  • Behind the Back Dips, 3 sets of max reps
  • Squats, 3 sets of 6 - 10
  • Pull-ups  3 sets of max reps
  • Dumbbell Row, 3 sets of 10 - 15
  • Dumbbell Concentration Curl, 2 sets of 10 - 15
The primary exercise (bench press, dead lift, military press, squat) is done heavier for fewer reps (usually 6 - 10) and then the accessory work is done light with more reps. So we're combining strength and hypertrophy (size) exercises in the same workout.

Metal Power Racks: Buying One

Maybe you don't want to build your own power rack. There are plenty of options if you are looking to buy one. I spent about $115 on the materials we used to build our own; you can expent to spend at least $300 for the lowest cost new power rack out there. You can try going through Craigs List to get a used one. I checked before I decided to build my own, and it looked as though a decent was was still running around $200 or more.

Here are some home gym racks available on Amazon:
  • Powerline PPR200X 1000 pound capacity, pull-up bar and outside uprights. It's shorter though, with a height of 6 feet and 10 inches. It has good reviews and free shipping. As of this post, it's selling for $389.98.
  • New York Barbell 1000 pound capacity, pull-up bar, and a lifetime warranty. With a 6-foot 10.5 -inch height. It's got a 4 star review from 10 people and sells for $329.99. No free shipping, so that will probably add up to $100.
  • Atlas Power Cage 700-pound capacity here, pull up bar. Height is 6 feet and 11 inches. It has a 5 star rating from 37 customers. Sells for $259.99 and no free shipping.
  • XMark Fitness Power Cage Another one with a 700 pound weight capacity, with a max of 350 on the pull up bar. Also has a dip station - nice! Comes in at 6 feet 11 inches tall. More expensive though, sell for $434.28 but does ship for free.
  • Valor Athletics Rack with Lat Pull 1000 pound capacity with a 250 pound max on the lat pull component. Shortest so far at only 64 inches tall. Honestly, so you need a lat pull? Not cheapt at $509 and no free shipping.
  • X Mark Fitness Power Cage Lat Pulldown/Low Row No capacity given on this one. It has a lat pull down and a row attachment, also dip bars and pull up bar. Less expensive than most at $334.32, especially considering the attachments. No free shipping. No ratings or reviews.
If you're looking for something more commercial quality, here are some (much more expensive) choices:
  • BodyCraft F430 Power Rack 800 pound capacity. has a chin bar; you can get dip bars and other attachments too, like a lat pull and low row.  5 star rating from 7 customers. This one will run you $798.00(!), but it does have free shipping.
  • Body Solid 11-Gauge Pro Power Rack Model GPR378 No spec given, but check out the shipping weight at 285 pounds (some of the home version racks are under 100) so that should tell you something. A bar for chins. A cool $595.00 with no free shipping. Based on my poking around Olympic weight sets, I bet you're looking at $150+ for shipping though, so factor that in.