Loading and unloading 45 lb plates on and off the bar for deadlifts used to be a huge pain in the ass for me.
I didn’t do anything except try to force the plate onto the bar, which sometimes became a workout in itself.
I was thinking of making a DIY deadlift bar jack out of some steel pipes, but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out how to make one.
So I started placing a small 2.5 lb plate underneath the innermost 45 lb plate to prop up the bar slightly to add (or remove) plates, however, the problem with this is if there is a gap between the innermost 45 lb plate and the sleeve, you cannot push it in so that it is flush with the side of the sleeve.
Personally I like all my plates to be as close to each other as possible so it doesn’t end up rattling when I lift.
The other day I saw a pair of jack stands (also known as axle stands) on sale in an online flyer for Canadian Tire (a Canadian hardware store) and I thought, “hey, these could work as a deadlift jack!”
So I headed on over to the store and picked up a pair.
There were many sizes available, but I went with the smallest ones which are rated for 2 tons. The bigger jack stands seemed like it would be an overkill if it was only going to be used as a deadlift jack, and they also appeared a little too tall, which could make placing the bar on the jack stands more difficult.
These jack stands are designed to hold up a small car. It’s rated for 2 tons, which is 4000 lb. FOUR THOUSAND! That’s 2000 lb for each stand. I don’t think I’ll be using anywhere close to 2000 lb, let alone 4000 lb, so I’m pretty sure these will hold up to whatever weight I put on the bar.
How To Use A Jack Stand As A Deadlift Jack
Tilt one of the stands at an angle with the top facing the bar.
Then, with one or two hands, pull the bar until the bar sits on top of the jack stands.
That’s it! Here’s some pictures below that shows me demonstrating this:
Why Jack Stands Are Better Than A Deadlift Jack
The main reason why they’re better than a deadlift jack, and one of the main reasons why I purchased these, is that the height of the axle stands can be adjusted. The height of my jack stands can be adjusted from 10 1/4” to 16 1/4” or 26 cm to 41.2 cm.
With a deadlift jack (or mini jack), the height is fixed. Check out the pictures below to see what I mean:
So when I perform mat pulls, and the height of the bar and plates are elevated higher than ground level by rubber mats, I can adjust of the jack stands to accommodate for the additional height.
The main problem with the jack stands is that the metal is damn tough. I don’t know what kind of metal they use (I am not a metal expert), but maybe it’s something close to the Asgardian metal "Uru" or even Adamantium.
The first time I jacked my B&R bar onto the jack stands, the knurling on the bar grinded off somehow! I used to think that the B&R bar had some really strong steel, because it grinded off some of the metal on my J-hooks and made imprints of it’s knurling on the safeties of my power rack. But it is no match for the jack stands.
It’s a little hard to see, but here’s the damage done to my bar:
So what I have done (and what I recommend to do first before placing your bar onto the stands), is put some sort of barrier between the bar and the top of the jack stands in order to protect the knurling of the bar. I used some velcro strip (the soft, fuzzy side, not the hard, scratchy side) with a sticker on the back that I got from the Dollarstore earlier and stuck it onto the top of the jack stand.
I’ve tried using a strip of rubber that I cut from a rubber inner bike tube, but the rubber ended up in the knurling of the bar.
Additionally, the base of the jack stands that I own do not have feet. In other words, the base is not have a flat surface. Rather, it’s just a thin edge of metal, meaning that the all the weight of the bar and plates on top of the stands can end up leaving an imprint on the ground. I have some rubber mats that used to be part of a Crossfit gym, and they’re quite durable. So far I have not seen any damage to my rubber floor mats.
A pair of 2 ton jack stands for around $20 is a cheap way to make loading and unloading plates for the deadlift and other ground-based lifts a lot easier.
These things are designed to hold up a car, but I’m just using them in my home gym. At the very least, they’ll get used once a week (hopefully) so I’ll get my money’s worth.
You can be the envy of all your friends and pick up a full sized deadlift bar jack for over $160 (or a mini deadlift bar jack for over $60), or be frugal guy like me and grab a pair of 2 ton jack stands when they’re on sale for cheap.
If it’s good enough to hold up a small car, it’s good enough to lift up one side of the bar with whatever weight you’re planning on using.