Stall Mats: A Need Not A Want

Let’s talk stall mats

Horse stall mats are designed for exactly what you’d think. To cushion the floor of horse stalls for horses. As such, they have to be durable enough for a thousand pound animal to stand and move around. But what’s that go to do with you?

I’m assuming that you’ve read Buy What You Need, Not What’s On Sale and It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas and you’ve put together your list of must haves for your brand new gym. You might not realize in all of the excitement that one of those must haves should be flooring.  All it takes is one dropped deadlift to start a crack in your garage or carport floor that will create headaches down the road.

Stall mats are usually 3/4 inches, slightly cheaper and thicker than fitness flooring and come in various sizes including 12×12, 4×6 and 3×4. A platform will protect your floor from barbell related trauma; stall mats are there for if you drop dumbbells or kettlebells by mistake. Say doing dumbbell presses to failure on a utility bench.   Stop looking around; I knew it was you.

Second of all

I noticed that my power rack always drifts a little bit whenever I rack a squat or bench despite the fact that it has several hundred pounds of weight stored on it at any given time. Having a wood platform that you can bolt your power rack to solves both the cracked floor and drifting power rack issues.

So since it’s the week after Christmas and you’re probably on vacation anyway, (lucky dog!) this is a great time to take advantage of the after Christmas deals to protect your floor.

If you need information about building the actual platform, there are tons of how to videos and blog posts on other sites that have covered this topic well enough for me to not beat a dead horse. Just google weightlifting platform or check out Garage Gym Reviews’ post on the topic.

I’m not too keen on interlocking mats

You might also be able to find mats on Craigslist in the sporting goods section, but be aware that some people will try to sell you foam mats as fitness flooring and that is flat out a waste of your money. Besides the fact that the grooves on the bottom of stall mats help minimize moisture build up on the floor (unlike puzzle mats or carpet) I’m just not keen on interlocking puzzle mats.

They always seem  come apart; they’re flimsy and too thin.   See my previous comment about dropped deadlifts and picture a foam mat being your floor’s only protection.

My advice? Grab brand new stall mats from Tractor Supply or your local feed store.

One final note

If you’d like to put flooring over your entire workout area, a la a CrossFit box, you might want to go with a rollout flooring solution but just don’t go without matting at all. Eventually it will come back to bite you.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on