Please refer to Part II as well, updated March, 2009
Throughout this holiday season, I’ve received several emails from readers inquiring about recommended equipment purchases. Many have asked what is best to buy with 50, 100, or even 200 dollars. My response is always the same. Monetary value does not always equate to actual value. Some of the best equipment that I use is homemade. I’m obviously not suggesting that I can build everything, but it is worth noting that more expensive purchases do not always equate to more value.
Throughout this blog, I often reference the homemade equipment sticky found within my message board. This isn’t by accident. I happen to enjoy building homemade training tools. I’m not the handiest person in the world, but many of these tools are very easy to build (not to mention inexpensive).
It is always nice to save money, but there is more to building equipment on your own (at least for me). It is in some ways similar to working on your home and taking pride in your own work. When my wife and I bought our home, we moved in knowing that it needed a lot of work. Neither of us had experience with home improvement. We bought several books and started working through one job at a time. We ripped out the old carpets, rented a sander from Home Depot and refinished the hardwood floors that were underneath. We put down the stain and polyurethane. We then tried our hands at tiling. We tiled the kitchen floor, the bathroom, and the hallway. We then put in our own kitchen cabinets and even made our own countertop out of large tiles. Over the course of a few years, we refinished every room in the house.
Yes, it was great to save money, but there was also a sense of pride in doing the work ourselves. Building or working on a home is obviously not the same as building a piece of training equipment, but in many cases there is at least some pride that you can take away from doing it yourself, not to mention the assurance that you’ve built it properly.
Below is an example of one such piece of equipment. I mentioned this tool on a recent blog entry after it was brought to my attention by one of the readers. This T-handle cost a few dollars to build and is really a great piece of equipment. This is an ingenious idea (here is the original design). One small addition that I made was a small hose clamp to secure the weights in place. These clamps are available at any hardware store for less than a dollar.
In the image below, the arrow points to the hose clamp, which can be quickly tightened with a screw driver.
If you prefer to use standard Olympic size plates, take a look at this design.
I’ve always enjoyed one arm dumbbell swings, but do not like the feel of two hands on a single dumbbell. And while a one arm swing is a great exercise, limiting yourself to one hand limits the amount of weight that can be handled. A kettlebell offers an advantage over the dumbbell if you are interested in a two hand swing. This T-handle offers a great alternative however. It also allows you to go fairly heavy if you wish. I’ve loaded over 150 pounds on the handle without any problems. The tool can be used for conditioning (higher reps) or strength. It is truly a full body movement, with particular attention to the posterior chain.
If you already have weights, the investment will be only a few dollars. I highly recommend it.
PS – If the creator of this tool stumbles upon this thread, thank you for sharing such a great idea!
PPS (Updated on May 13th) – For those looking to use standard Olympic plates, you can still use 3/4″ pipe. Simply use a stopper plate at the top and bottom of your standard Olympic sized plates (ex. 2.5 lb plates are inexpensive and will do the trick). These stopper plates should fit a 1″ dumbbell handle. They will keep the Olympic plates in place as you swing the standard size T-handle.