T Nation

Homemade Fitness Equipment

My gym, homemade fitness…sled, db rack, bag stand, medicine ball, and more

I have been �??redneck-engineering�?? my own ideas and inventions for years. I am in college and don�??t have a great supply of cash so most of my equipment is discounted, used, or my favorite�?�homemade. I am here to thank all who have given me ideas and share to all my own.

My latest project has been a weight dragging sled.
This is the sled part�?�obviously. It is $7.66 at Wal-Mart. I modified it by drilling 1/4�?? holes at strong points throughout the lip of it. Then simply feeding 1/8�?? coated cable through the holes. This sled needed about 10�?? of cable and that came to $2.80 at Lowes.
Above is where the sled and strap meet. This may look like overkill here as you could simply tie the strap to that handle but the sheer force of a 300# man pulling 165# on bumpy grass could exceed the limits of that plastic handle. The cable hardware came to $3.15. I simply feed the strap through a welded ring and quick-linked it to the cable loops. I could have used a cheaper pipe clamps or even a series of zip ties; however I also use the harness and strap to pull my car and the strap has to be easy/fast to remove. The shape of the strap end fits right on the front of my front frame mount on my Chrysler. It�??s not as rough as it sounds�?�level parking lot good!!!
The cable distributes the weight nicely. I pulled my girlfriend and her 2 friends (roughly 420#…sorry girls!) with no problem�?�to the sled, not me�?�I didn�??t go too far. The strap is a logging or tow strap found at Wholesale Auto Parts (local store, but Advanced Auto Parts has them too) for $14. That is a lot more than I wanted to spend but it came with 35�?? of that nylon strap and I can use the extra for other things to come.
The harness is simply pipe insulation ($5.88). There are multiple kinds available�?�when choosing get one that is comfortable and will not chafe. This one is 6�?? in length and was 2�?? inside diameter (enough to fold over the strap), and like most had the adhesive to stay in place. It is very easy to put on in multiple places, I prefer the behind the neck, under the armpit method. Face away from it and place it on the back of your neck and put your arms through it like a coat.
Above is the stitching that yes, I did. Thank you! First time sewing, I swear! Strong Nylon thread spool $1.12. It is to attach the end to the rest to enclose the harness area. Make sure you allow plenty of room for your legs when attaching. I made mine a little too long at about 16�?? for the overall length of the strap. Too long is better than too short�?�. As for the weight, your training partner, sand bags, bricks, blocks, or my favorite heavy bags.
Easy, efficient and�?�
7.66+2.80+3.15+14+5.88+1.12=Under $35�?�CHEAP

Weight Dumbbell Rack
I bought an old crappy weight bench with old school vinyl/concrete weights from a friend of mine for $10. It came with a good standard bar, adjustable dumbbell handles and 160# of old �??plates�??. I removed the board from the bench and bought some scrap angle iron ($2.50.)
After drilling holes in the iron where they would rest on the brackets the bench mounted to�?�I zip-tied them. I wanted to let them move a little and the constant racking and un-racking of dumbbells would have loosened almost any bolt/nut setup.
http://www.geocities.com/thetrinitygallery/100_0170.JPG Kinda dark picture

Wrist Roller/Forearm bar
Been done before in thousands of homemade gyms. Check links at bottom
This is a 2�?? PVC pipe (2.25) cut at 16�??, with a strong nylon rope (.65) wrapped around it and clamped ($.34).

The rope makes a long loop and then is pipe clamped to itself to enclose it. Twist the ends twice and wrap them around the collars or threaded ends of adjustable dumbbells. More effective than farmers walk for BJJ work but not for building forearms.

Foam Rollers
Great way to work out soreness, look �??em up! They are made from pool toys/FunNoodles. The first one is filled with foose balls and zip tied at the end to hold them in there. The second is simply a 1�??D PVC pipe through it and the last is a metal dowel, best used like a rolling pin.

Cheap Mats
http://www.geocities.com/thetrinitygallery/100_0180.JPG < the same picture as above.
Stall mats at your local feed supply store are $40-ish. However I prefer free. Go to your local grocery stores and ask them for there old and used butcher/produce mats. They are supposed to be replaced every year in the meat department and you might get lucky.

Medicine Balls

I went to my local sporting goods store to their dodge ball display and looked for flattened balls. I managed to find one with a hole in it. I talked to the manager about marking it down and he said they can just throw them away and reclaim them on inventory or to be sold at cost (what they pay for them). Cost was 49cents on them�?�they were selling them for $6 (that is absurd markup).
I cut a small X over the hole and used a funnel to pour play sand into it. After it was about ¾ full of sand I filled the rest with Great Stuff foam insulation. I duct taped it closed and let it sit for 24 hours. The foam filled the ball and hardened and even grew out of the ball. I trimmed the excess off with a knife and duct taped the area again. I then covered it in grip/athletic tape. It is best to do multiple ones or have more instant uses for the foam insulation because it is a one time use only product and there is A LOT in one can. I made 2 balls (giggle giggle), one weighing 12# and an old basketball made the same way that weighed 20#. The one in the picture is the twelve.

My Boxers Dream Setup.
2 Heavy Bag, 2 striking balls, pull up tower with leg raise and dip capabilities.

Okay, by boxers dream�?�I mean if dreams had a budget. The pull up tower was a Christmas Gift

Pipe clamped to the back of the pull up tower is a 4X4. The tower weighs over 100# and has a very broad base so stabilization on that side is fine.

On the top of the 4X4 is the 4x4 that is going across the width of my gym (16�??). To hold it on there I used truss plates and then screwed 2x4 pieces over the connection. It is solid! The fan is mounted there and it barely moves when I hit the bags.

This is the 4x4 that is spanning the gym. I cut two 10�?? PVC pipes lengthwise and screwed them to the wood to aid in the heavy bags sliding back and forth easier.

The heavy bags are hung with coated cables and clamps.

The other 4x4 is held with truss plates, 2x4s and pipe clamps due to the sheer movement of that side. It is not as stable as the other side that is connected to the pull-up tower.

This side is in 2 feet of concrete that I jack hammered up for stability.

For more support on the pull up tower side and for weight storage, I clamped some of these plate �??things�?? (they were at Lowes, in the decking stuff, they are meant to hold a wooden banister for your deck railing) with a piece of PVC through it. The other black piece is a converter for standard to Olympic weights. I don�??t have many Olympic weights nor want them so I normally have a stack of 10#ers on the thing.

Using pipe clamps once again, I attached steel rings to the bottom push up bars (which I never use). Attached to those are bungee cords.

Bungee cords with ghetto speed/striking balls on them. All I did was buy 2 dodge balls at WalMart and wrap them in black duct tape, then got 2 �??S�?? hooks and bent the end of them so they contour the shape of the ball and taped over the contact area in the opposite direction of the previous duct tape. Using the S hooks, I linked them to the bungees.

Across the top, 2 steel rings hold a bungee between them and the two sets of striking balls going down

Random ideas
I use this for everything from plyo boxes, to jumping platforms, to squat boxes, use them for doing rack pulls, step ups.

They are concrete blocks�?�and so much more.
Bailing wire is feed and wrapped through the blocks, then white duct tape is wrapped around them (to prevent chafing of the zip ties) then zip ties are ran through them. Believe me, they are very strong.


Pipe hangers used for bar storage.


Home made pad, used a board, bed foam from an old eggcrate style pad, some pleather/vinyl material and some staples.

Fat Guys Stabilization Ball. These things are used to take up room in the back of semi-trailers to prevent product shifting during transportation. They can only be used 3 times then the distribution center has to disregard them. If you ask for them, most DCs (distribution centers) will give them to you. This one is 6�?? by 3�?? and holds 3,000#s.

When buying equipment, you should ask the stores if they have any floor models or damaged ones that are discount. Most of the time some scratched paint and a tear in the padding is all it takes to get something 40% cheaper or so. Also talk to your local thrift shops, Good-Wills and Christian Social Services, many of them don�??t know what to do with equipment or weights that they can�??t move much less sell so if they have your name and number they can just get you to come get it. Numerous times I have been called to pick up plates that the employees could not lift; I have accumulated over 2,400#s of standard plates.

Helpful Links


OUTSTANDING!!! I also love making my own stuff and you are absolutely right. It is amazing what you can get for a song if you look around. Around here garage/yard sales are a gold mine as well. Last years new year resolution is this years [quote]“just get this shit outta my house”[/quote] practical giveaway. Clearance sales too.

I’m fortunate enough to have an equipment seller near me that always has used stuff for peanuts like a pair of 100 pound oly plates for 90 bills. 2 kilo spinlock collars for 5. I’ve got quite a bit of stuff in my basement for way less than the cost of a Bowflex.

My next project is a kettlebell, preferably an adjustable weight kettlebell. I have seen a few homemade ones, but they are either too light (and wouldn’t hold much weight or the grip system is poorly engineered. Anyone have any suggestions? Other than these


I, too, have used cinder blocks for rack pulls, but you have to be careful. I’ve had a few crumble when I put the weight back down.

Very cool stuff. I love making my own stuff. Doesn’t every guy. Any ideas for a pull-up bar?

GPP Done Dirt Cheap

I believe the two greatest tools for General Physical Preparedness�?�are the effects of gravity and Crossfit; however the next two in line are definitely kettlebells and weight sleds.

Numbers 3 and 4 are extremely expensive. A set of kettlebells can run you well over $400 and a weight dragging sled can set you back a Benjamin at least. Lucky for you there are broke, innovative people who care about their health and yours and those two very expensive objects can be substituted for a single house hold object, some hardware and 10 minutes of your time. All (most is what I mean) of your GPP needs are in�?�

No, this is not an attempt to get you to clear my driveway!
Have you actually ever looked at a snow shovel in a while�?� http://img125.imageshack.us/img125/3327/snowshovelproductbx3.jpg

and then looked at weight dragging sled and an adjustable dumbbell?!?!?


What you will need:
�?� 1 - snow shovel
�?� 1 - �??Post stop�?? for 4x4 w/ 1�??D hole
�?� 4 �?? bolts and nuts to fit through the holes in the post stop
�?� 1 - 2�?? section of ¾�?? PVC Pipe
�?� 2 �?? Eye bolts w/nuts
�?� 4 �?? rubber washers for eye bolts
�?� 15�?? of chain, rope or nylon webbing/straps
�?� 1 - .75-1.25�?? pipe clamp (collar for kettlebell)

The hard part of this is finding a snow shovel with a strong, comfortable handle, a strong shaft that is 1�?? in diameter and a durable head.

I am not going to treat you like you�??re stupid and give you step by step instructions; I am just giving you slightly helpful directions. Basically you cut the handle shaft below the handle attachment wherever you find necessary, remembering that this length is the length in which you will need to slide weights onto and a collar (pipe clamp) for the kettlebell.

Next, disconnect the shovel head from the remaining shaft and drill the holes for the post stop. It is important to remember that when weighted you want the front of the �??sled�?? (top of the shovel head) to be curved up, so mounting it at the furthest possible point back is ideal. Next put the PVC pipe through the hole in the post stop�?�this is far easier said then done.

The pipe will need to be pounded up through the underneath side (once you see the post stop up close you will understand) I have perfected a technique where you stack a bunch of weights up, place the post stop (centered) on top of them, then forcefully push the pipe through the hole. The pipe that passes through it will slide down the hole of the weights. Now bolt the post stop and pipe to the sled. Stack weights on it to find how it will settle when not being pulled.

You might want to trim the pipe later if 2�?? is far too long for your needs. Attach the eye bolts using rubber washers on both sides, to a point that will not affect the dragging, nor change the angle of the sled when dragging. Normally this is about a fourth of the way down on the shovel head. Attach the rope/chain/web/strap at these points then to your harness or weight belt.

The kettlebell is self explanatory, simply slide weights on the shaft of the handle and use the pipe clamp as a collar and swing away!

An adjustable kettlebell and weight sled under $28�?�your welcome.
Although if you have the money I suggest you go to www.newyorkbarbells.com and make an order (thank you New York Barbell of Elmira for the images).

Thread bump. Nate, I just ran into your other page showing your homemade stuff. Good stuff man.

I’m in the process of making my own squat stands using 4x4s or 4x8s on concrete buckets and bolts of notches. In addition to that, I’ll be making another part like that, all four pairs with holes in them through which you can pass metal poles as safety pins.

Just to contribute a bit, I made these platforms a while ago when I started working out at home:


You can stack the platforms on top of each other for rack pulls, and if you secure a dowel with clamps (as shown in the inserted pic to the bottom right corner), you can use that for glute ham raises (make sure you put enough weight on the platforms to compensate.)

For a sled, I use a tire, and I just put some shit inside it (dumbbells and what not) to add weight. It also serves me for sledgehammer work:

[photo]10703[/photo] [photo]10601[/photo]

I also made some ghetto clubbells with plastic baseball bats filled with sand and some thickbar dummbells using 2" metal pipes:


Hope somebody find crap useful :stuck_out_tongue:

I too made a sled out of an old tire…I prefer my plastic sled; however running backwards (hamstring recovery) is very difficult on grass. The plastic will not hold up to the road abuse either.

Although I will eventually make a Prowler, it will be awhile.

Good stuff there ELNYKA

On one of my other messages I have several links for helpful sites, some even have instructions for a squat rack. Good Luck!

[quote]elnyka wrote:
For a sled, I use a tire, and I just put some shit inside it (dumbbells and what not) to add weight.

Dammit I used a tire before but it was too small and I didn’t have a larger one. And apparently I was too stupid to think about putting something inside of it. :frowning:

Thanks for all these pics, very very educational. Stuff about sleds helps.


seriously, some of you guys have got the coolest fucking stuff this is great to see.

just wanted to bump this because it is full of awesome info. great for summer projects

Here’s a couple of links I,ve been meaning to share:



These are probably the most interesting (and related to this thread) but the rest of his site is worth looking around too.
This guy is cool.

Here is my version of a Homemade Prowler…