July 21, 2005

37 responses to The making of an outdoor power rack and heavy-duty bench

  1. Kris Says:

    This entry was published on August 20th as part of a general backblogging effort to bring things up to speed after a computer-free summer.

  2. Scott Says:

    Wow. I’m speechless. Comprehensive indeed.

  3. Alberto Caraballo Says:

    Is there anything that you don’t know, Kris? You are indeed a jack of all trades, that rack looks awesome. Good craftsmanship.
    BTW, when your son deadlifts 800+ at the IPF Worlds someday, they’ll look back at that picture of him with that smile and his hand gripping the bar. Prophetic, eh?

  4. Kris Says:

    Indeed, the welder did a good job and I am satisfied I didn’t screw up the design or create a leaning rack of Pisa. Inspiring words regarding Rufus! I’m sure he’ll look back at that when he’s a bit older with a smile. Then he’ll wonder how some thought he, the foremost welder in the world, would become a powerlifter. ;-)

  5. VinceS Says:

    Awesome job, Kris.

  6. Jon Says:

    Very nice work on the rack and bench as well as detailing the process for others to use. It’s so much easier to place an order but oh how rewarding this will be every time you use the rack.

  7. Gords Says:

    Looks like a professional job. I would love to weld a platform for doing dips. If you ever make one of those definitely put up your specs. Thanks for the pictures, it sure makes me feel like I’m there smelling the fresh air. I wish I could pay membership fees and transport there for daily workouts!

  8. Kris Says:

    Speak of the devil… I’m actually half-seriously thinking of welding a dip rack myself next year. As I was joking on a Finnish powerlifting board, I wouldn’t lose a lot of money if it turned into a cambered model. ;-)

    Took a look at your home page. You’re one lucky man, Gords to have been blessed with six children! How do you squeeze in lifting time, especially now that you have a 2-month-old in the house? We have just agreed that I will start to head over the gym in the late evening when Rufus goes to bed. That way I can start training at Metal Gym, the foremost powerlifting gym here in Finland and home of Ano Turtiainen, at the other end of town without losing family time (sleep is another matter though). They have a key card system that allows one to train until midnight. From the looks of your bench videos, you also have your own home gym. Is that in the basement of your house?

    If you ever happen to be in Finland in the spring/summer, get in touch and we’ll do some outdoor lifting.

  9. Helgi Briem Says:

    Hi Kris.
    I have enjoyed reading your blog very much. I’m from Iceland and have been weight training for nearly two years, powerlifting style for 1 1/2.
    That looks like a great outdoor gym.

  10. Kris Says:

    Helgi, it always warms my heart when I hear that someone out there is actually enjoying this stuff… Guess it stems from the days when any life sign at all from a reader was a miracle. ;-)

    Out of plain curiosity, do you happen to live near the Husafell Stone? I’ve never been to Iceland, but my parents have on several occasions. Interestingly enough, my dad is there as we speak. Small world.

  11. Helgi Briem Says:

    Hi Kris.
    Well, I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure where precisely the original Husafell stone is kept, only that it is in safe storage somewhere.
    I live in Reykjavik, about 130km from Husafell .
    Good luck with your training.

  12. Stinn Says:

    Great article Kris, it was really a very good read. Makes me want to build my own gym, it’s a shame I dont’ live in as beautiful a place. It must be amazing to workout in the open air.

  13. brent Says:

    this is pretty cool. what made you want to construct an outdoor gym?

  14. Kris Says:

    Need spiced with opportunity. Our summer cottage is out on an island and it would be a hassle to go to the mainland for training. That said, I wish I could train there May through September… in my book nothing beats a barbell against a clear blue sky (well, yes, it does rain too) and a dip in the sea afterwards.

  15. Måns Says:

    Lessee now, I believe we meant to go up there in, what, November I think it was..? =)
    Nothing like training with a frosty bar. At least there’s gonna be a first. Maybe we’ll get pommeled by sleet while maxing? Perhaps a carpet on the floor of the rack would be best to keep the feet from sliding about..?
    Although I think we might not take a dip in the sea afterwards.
    In my book that would qualify as torture…

  16. Kris Says:

    I do recall something like that… Barring snow, perhaps… maybe… lessee now… ;-)

  17. richard Says:

    Hi your rack inspired me to make one like yours, im having trouble figuring out the hooks tho, could you shed some light please.

  18. Kris Says:

    Richard, I’m at the summer cottage now, will post some close-up shots with explanations for you either later today or tomorrow. Incidentally, I just discovered that my new safety squat bar does not fit in the hooks (they catch the bar in the camber), so one of the projects for this summer will be to get a broader set welded. Are you making your rack for indoor or outdoor use?

  19. richard Says:

    Thanks so much for replying :D
    Its for indoor use, yer that would be awsome !
    I cant wait to move house, im going to make a forest gym hopefully too , i bet its amazing training outside.

  20. Kris Says:

    Richard, awfully sorry for the delay. Got caught up with writing job applications, will get the picture for you tomorrow. :-(

  21. Kris Says:

    Here you go. The quality of the images are not particularly good as they are snapped at dusk, but they should do the job. Simply saw off one side of the 80x80mm pipe so that the hook can be wrapped around the upright (the sides are not cut down as in the blueprint). A piece of 60mm metal can be seen welded to the front inside to make for a snug fit. Then the hook is made and welded to the bottom of the 80x80 pipe. Finally, a hole of the same size as those in the rack (31mm) is drilled at the top to allow the hook to be securely fastened to the rack with the pin.

    hook on ground
    hook attached to the rack

    Let me know if this is not helpful. Good luck with your rack project!!

  22. richard Says:

    Thats perfect thanks :D i Finally understand lol. Only one thing how thick is the box section you used and the strip for the hook and the 60mm strip thats inside the 80x80 box section? (eg 3mm thick) Thanks cant wait for this to be built il send you some pictures when its done.

  23. Teemu Says:

    Milla nimella mahtavat “closed-cell foam camping mats” kulkea Suomessa?
    PS. “Aakkoset” eivat toimi kommenteissa.

  24. Måns Says:

    Terve, sanoisin etta solumuovi on lahinna se mita haet. Mika tahansa tarpeeksi jaykka ja paksu vaahtomuovikin toimii tuossa yhteydessa.
    A translation to all who may be wondering; Teemu asked what the closed-cell thingy is called in Finnish and I replied. Also, he lamented that the scandinavian letters don’t seem to work in the comments.

  25. Kris Says:

    Moi Teemu! Anteeksi hidas vastaus, huomasin kommenttisi vasta nyt. Hienon termin takana piilee ihan tavallinen retkipatja. Erittäin hyvin on toiminut… en valehtele kun sanon, että parempaa penkkiä saa etsiä. ;-) Onnea omaan projektiisi!!

    PS. Korjasin ääkkösongelman. Ellet olisi pistänyt suomeksi, olisi varmaan mennyt muutama vuosi lisää ennen kuin ongelma olisi paljastunut… Kiitos!

    Problem fixed.

  26. Teemu Says:

    Heh heh, kiitos paljon! :)

  27. Rich Says:

    I love the bench, a true titan! I made one of myself recently but not quite as monstrous as yours. Is that Dr Hatsumi on your t-shirt in the photo by the way?

  28. Kris Says:

    Thanks Rich! Yeah, that sure is Dr. Hatsumi gracing a Luxembourg TaiKai shirt (1992?). I was an avid practitioner of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu for many years and had the luxury and privilege of seeing him in action live a few times.

  29. Marco Says:

    Hello! I would just like to say that your post has made my day, as I was looking for info on how to build my own power rack.
    Here in Brazil commercial power racks are below mediocre and also very expensive, as is the shipping from overseas.
    My training partner’s dad is a welder, so we where looking for blueprints. Hopefully your post will be of great help to us! Now we think we can do this together.
    Thank you, when we are done, we will send you some pictures!

  30. Kris Says:

    Marco, thanks a lot and best of luck with your rack project! I would indeed be very keen to see pictures of your rack. You’re lucky to have a welder so close to you. :)

  31. Alex Says:

    Well done mate!I am going to attempt a rack very shortly, it will be based on two uprights design see:http://www.kettlebells.com.au/store/power-station/
    I\’m also going to make my own rolling thunder and grip tools. I\’ll send photos if it works out ok.

  32. Kris Says:

    Cool, I’d be very interested in seeing how it turned out for you. Are you building it for indoor or outdoor use?

  33. Alex Says:

    Hi Kris,
    It will be for garage most likely. As you can see from the pics i did have some concerns regarding the strength, but apparently it is pretty strong. I will increase the base of support at the bottom and also weld instead of bolt it together. I\’m thinking of adding attachments for ropes, bands etc. Basically, I will us whatever steel i can find lying around and hassle my father-in-law to weld it (like you I have a young child and I want my rack to be the centre of my health and fitness, where I can easily train early in the morning and not have to deal with gyms,fees and all the rubbish associated with the ‘fitness industry’. I have made the rolling thunder base (easy part) but the handle will take some planning as I need to incorporate bearings in somehow…It may simply just be too much of a hassle. How is your training coming along? Like you I hope to do some grip training as well as lots of squats, deads etc and add some bodyweight, yoga, pilates, and swimming to round it out.

  34. Kris Says:

    Sounds great. Welding definitively beats bolts any time of the day. Doing a rack with spotting arms as opposed to a full rack also has its benefits as the REALLY tricky part is getting the holes aligned perfectly. A couple of millimeters off and the pins won’t go in without brute force (if so, getting them out is another story). If the holes on either side are a tad uneven it won’t kill you. For the base I’d go with some pretty heavy duty stuff, nothing like knowing that you can safely drop a tank on the safety arms…
    Like you say, I suspect the rolling thunder handle may be quite tricky to make. I’d just order an official one. Then you’ll also be able to compare how your grip strength is a coming against what people out there are doing.
    My own training has been on the backburner for a couple of years now due to time constraints. Or rather, due to prioritizing it lower than working on the second version of my project Virtualmeet.net in the face of the usual time pressures of having small kids (my daughter turned two in October and my son will be five in three weeks). I did a comeback of sorts last July when I did a virtualmeet (results, pics on Facebook) with very little training under my belt. The results weren’t all that great, but a lot better than I had hoped for thanks to the nature of the meet that really set the adrenaline rushing through the veins. I’m currently hitting the gym 2-3 times a week doing the basics split up into an upper body (pressing and accessory work) and a lower body day (plenty of squats), but have vowed to pull my act together once I finally ship Virtualmeet version 2. That’s it in a nutshell. Since you mentioned Pilates, that’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind to try out for some time to see how it would affect the back, I could really use more mobility training and core work.

  35. Alex Says:

    G’day Kris,
    I think I will definately scrap the RT plan and buy a handle when I can. The OZ kb site has added video and pics of all their accessories so I have been studyig them and tryng to work out exact dimensions. I think I will go with the 60 by 60 3mm uprights and maybe add an 80 section on the base to beef it up. I think i will also make the supporting arms wider and heigher than the aforementioned example. I will add sections where I can attach a rope or rings from pullup bar.
    As for pilates, it can have a lot of benefits if you go to a studio with a great instructor. Given that a lot of instructors are ex-dancer etc they know ‘movement’ a lot better than personal and in my experience have a far better ‘eye’for seeing how you move and futhermore are very good teaching movement. I’ve done a fair bit of pilates over the years at many different studio ad it has helped: thoracic mobility, scapulo control and recruitment,articulation through outspine, posture, recruitment patterns, dynamic flexibiliy esp in hips, mental focus etc. Some guys also incorporate aspects of Franklin method into pilates which works very well. I find the criticsm of pilates by usually intelligent people like Mel Siff to be short sighted - that everything nees to be empirically validated is ridiculous. I think it will also complement PL since it is at the opposite end of the spectrum i.e. PL mentality is to ‘grip and rip’, pilates selectively recruit etc - just my opinion.
    Although I am detrained at the moment and need to get back into it I thought that a great suggestion for your circumstances maybe to purchase kettlebell which yo can store under your desk: got no time…drag it out 5mins clean and presses and finish with pullups done 5minutes total - the neuromuscular reinforcement probably wont hurt your lifts aswell not to mention the benefit of extra conditioning without loss in strength - just a suggestion.But seeing that we are essentially the same age both have children (I have another on the way) both busy (completing a phd at present) etc etc… I put the following proposal to you. I will agree to get back training and compete in a virtual meet latter this year (say, Novemeber) if you will. If I know I have agreed to something I will stick at it…if I can do it Im sure you can!
    I’ll let you know how my rack is coming along.

  36. Kris Says:

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how the rack comes out. It pays off to do a lot of studying, measuring and thinking before executing… and it definitively sounds like you’re doing just that. Once it’s welded hard steel mistakes are notoriously hard to fix. When I planned my rack, one of the hardest questions was how far apart to place the uprights. Given a standard olympic bar, I wanted to also be able to grab it outside of the hooks for wide-gripped squatting (that was then then…). Later I’ve realized that the hooks are just a tad too close since you cannot quite slide the hands out to the maximum legal bench width. It’s only by a finger per side and I personally never go that wide, but now that other people are starting to come lift there I’ve considered making a set of special hooks to accommodate all styles.
    And thanks for the challenge. I’m already committed to doing the virtualmeet on August 20-22. Like the meet I did last summer (links above), this one is also part of a Virtualmeet Gathering so some people will probably be flying in again to lift at Toffe’s Gym. Only this time we will be going at it in a dark forest lit by torch light. Now, this ought to be one of our main meets of the year regardless of whether one is doing it at home or at the Gathering. Would that fit your schedule? Would be kind of cool to have your rack and my rack in the same meet. :)
    Keep up the hard work with everything that’s on your plate and best of luck to your whole family with bringing your second jewel to the world!

  37. Alex Says:

    Hi Kris,
    Rack update - I was wandering around my father-in-law\’s yard and stumbled upon a large section of steel.I measured it up and it came to 7.4 metres in length which means I can extract two 2 metre uprights and two 1.7 metre base supports which is just enough steel to get the job done. The best part - it is 100 by 100mm tank stopping steel. It looks pretty beefy I can only imagine when it is cut and welded how it will look. Like you say, one of the final details I am pondering is the width of the rack - but given that my rack will have a high mounted horizontal support bar…even if the width turns out to be unsuitable I can simply unbolt out and make another section.
    Unfortunately the timing of the meet is really lousy - my new born will have been born, I will be sleep deprived, and I am also currently coming back to exercise and fitness after letting myself go, hence, I am easing back in slowly with a few months of GPP (general physical preperation), then a couple of months of low volume training and then finally into some heavier lifting after my body is better conditioned to handling high volume and intensity…the last thing I want to do is rush in an get injured. i hope to give powerlifting type training a solid three odd years of effort (or for however long my doctorate takes) but I will probably mix it up a bit to keep me interested and injury free i.e. take time off in summer and do more outdoor activity base exercise. Thanks for the best wishes and good luck with your preparations for the meet. But enough talk, more rack planning is needed…

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