How to Construct a Homemade Bench Press
By Nicholas Chen
, last updated January 21, 2012
With the economy struggling, many people try to make a homemade bench press to cut back on the cost of gym memberships or expensive equipment. The main component of a bench press is the rack. Since the rack is a relatively expensive piece of gym equipment itself, most people prefer joining a gym over buying their own bench press. However, for some this luxury is not feasible due to geographical distance between their places of residence and any exercise facility.
The main difference between homemade bench presses and those found in public gyms is the quality of material that goes into the production. Homemade bench presses are often made of wood since metal is a difficult element to mold. Materials can be bought from hardware stores or any supply stores in the area. Lumber comes in different shades and sizes, each having its own unique wood density. Pine, cedar and redwood are usually recommended for building structures that can support greater weight.
Lumber bought for the vertical legs of the rack should be relatively sturdy as the entire weight falls on it. Price is an important factor in determining which lumber to purchase, however when it comes to the base of the bench quality should not be compromised for cheaper wooden sheets. Thick, preferably 2x4 feet boards are required along with 3/4 inches steel plumbing pipes for spotter bars. Other supplementary washers and plumbing fittings are needed to hold the bars in place after holes are drilled in the vertical legs. While assembling the frame several screws will be required, including 3 inch number 14 heavy duty wood screws. The platform board forms the main part of the bench press.
The length of the board should be long enough to fit the entire body from the head to the tail bone. Choosing the right width for the platform board is crucial. A board that is slightly too wide will restrict the elbows during the weight lifting motion, when the bar is brought downwards. Legs or single blocks can be attached to the sides of the bench. Extra boards can be attached in the middle portion, connecting the two opposite legs to give it more support and stability. After the construction is complete the bench needs to be sanded down thoroughly to give it a clean look and to smooth out the rough edges. Wood can be polished for longer durability.
Weight benches are usually not complex; it’s a standard wooden bench with half-hexagon legs and vertical racks for the spotter bar. Basic hand tools, circular saw, wood glue and a scissor does the trick. A step-by-step approach to this is cutting a 12 inch and a 20 inch portion of a 2x4 inch wooden plank as the top and base for the half hexagon legs. The two pieces are placed 20 inches apart on a table and two pieces of 2x4 plywood are used as legs between these two planks. This forms a leg frame, which is put in place by gluing all the components together.
Four pieces of 5/8 inch wood are cut as triangular braces for the legs and attached with metal bolts. Two 48 inch planks of wood are cut out to frame the sides of the bench. Holes are drilled in the top end of the leg frame where the sides are attached. Another 5/8 inch piece of plywood is cut to make the platform and is then attached to the frame using glue and metal screws. Next, a foam covering is cut out using scissors and attached to the platform using a staple gun.
This is the most basic form of bench press that can be built at home. The dimensions and construction of the bench largely depend on the kind of exercises an individual wants to perform on it. The upright racks can be made from pipes with a 2 inch diameter. A J hook can be welded at the top and the bottom end can be cemented in tires. However, if you want to do presses at an angle, the bench needs to be adjustable so that it can be positioned at an incline when required and the racks also need to have holes drilled in them so that the height can be changed. The dimensions of the bench should be adjusted according to your body size and the space where you plan to work out. Metal parts should be used while welding the wooden components together.
Most enthusiasts want comfort while exercising, thus lining the bench with a soft rubber or foam sheet is a good idea. Most power lifters use weights of 500 pounds or more which means that the bench should be made of a very strong wood to help ensure that it will not collapse under the pressure of the weights.