Homemade Wheels – Over a Decade Later

One arm ab wheel rollouts

An online magazine recently asked me to contribute to an article by naming my favorite training tool. I replied by stating that I don’t have a single favorite, but that my homemade wheels are one of my prized possessions. The magazine then quickly responded by asking me to name a tool that wasn’t homemade. They wanted me to recommend something for those seeking higher quality equipment. In other words, their assumption was that a homemade tool is naturally inferior to one that is commercially produced. Apparently, the magazine did not research who I was before asking the question.

Value vs. Price

One of the biggest marketing cons of all is to jack up the price of a product to increase the perceived value. When certain customers see a high price tag, they automatically assume that the product is high quality. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, particularly in the world of fitness. Some my most effective and durable training tools were inexpensively made from a few parts at the hardware store.

The homemade wheels below are a prime example.

I first demonstrated these wheels in 2005. I’m sure many readers will recognize them from my Never Gymless book, my core training DVD, or one of my many YouTube videos. The wheels that you see above are same pair that I first demoed many years ago. For over a decade, these wheels have been consistently used and abused by myself and many athletes.

Yet, despite all the use, my wheels are still as good as new. I honestly believe that they will outlive me. They are virtually indestructible. When you read the instructions below, you’ll see that there really isn’t a part that is destined to go bad. The lawnmower tires are also quite rugged so can be used virtually anywhere. I’ve used them on many surfaces (ex. grass, snow, dirt, etc.).

Instructions

Whenever I demonstrate the wheels, my inbox fills with questions about how to build them. Fortunately, the instructions are quite simple. Each of my wheels consists of the following:

  • Two 6-inch lawnmower tires
  • One 10-inch hex bolt (1/2 inch thick)
  • Three hose clamps
  • Duct tape

To put the pieces together, start by securing one tire at each end of the hex bolt. Use the hose clamps to keep the wheels in place. Wrap each handle in duct tape to increase its thickness. A 1/2 inch hex bolt is too thin on its own.

A more visually appealing model could be made with PVC as the handle. This past video shows step by step instructions.

Another variation can be found here (which modifies a commercially bought ab wheel). This version isn’t going to be as durable, but should get the job done.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I’m not writing this entry to suggest that homemade equipment is always going to be superior to its commercial counterparts. There are instances however when homemade gear is just as good (or better) than anything you will find at the sporting goods store. Don’t be so quick to judge a product’s value based on price tag alone. I encourage everyone to make informed decisions about each individual tool before rushing to purchase.

If you are looking for a durable pair of wheels, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything as rugged as what can be built with a few parts from your local hardware store. These homemade wheels have already withstood years of regular use. They’ve certainly become a favorite of mine, and I plan to keep rolling with them for as long as I can.

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“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

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7 comments:

  1. Love it! I had the same argument on Amazon with a review and a person was trying to convince me their massage balls are better than Lacrosse Balls and every argument they gave me I just countered.

    BTW I made the same wheels you have but I went further with it using more expensive parts which allowed me to do things without the duct tape and in cover it with Fat Gripz. Fat Gripz aside it cost me $50 but like you said, they are showing zero wear and tear. So it was a worthy investment and that was years ago and they still look like I just built them.

  2. Hey Ross, love your site, been following your stuff last couple months since I decided to get back into weights. Last time I weight trained I was sixteen, 51 today. Even though I’ve forgotten alot of what I’ve done over the years, lol, I was surprised to note I was able to remember most of the exercises I did in the gym I went to, even the split routine I had going at the time.

    But for some reason I was having a really hard time finding the neck harness I used to love using for neck exercises so I really appreciate the article you had about making a homemade one so I made it and it does the trick, my neck thanks you, lol.

    But related to overpriced stuff in athletics stores, I was flabbergasted at the prices of the stuff they had. Hand tension grips, 20 to 30 bucks, a single plastic wheel attached to a plastic handle, 20 to 30 bucks. Worse of all was these foam rollers I wanted to get because being sedentary for the last 35 years can build a few knots, the largest one they had was 89 dollars. I never used one before but upon closer inspection I noticed it was nothing but foam wrapped around PVC pipe…for 89 dollars.

    Anyway I’ve ended up using the foam rollers that come with the Quad/hamstring curl attachment for the bench I bought and just slid one over a broomstick and it feels great to just lay on it and roll. Next time I come across an old lawn mower I’m grabbing the wheels, lol.

    1. I’m in Australia but for my foam roller I just went to my local k-mart and Target store and picked them up for about $10 for a full size one. Sure wherever you are head down to your local outlet and should be able to find one cheap in the sporting department:)

  3. Ross, I have been following you for years and really admire the way you have stuck to your guns. Indeed, people are sheep and have become blinded by the marketing geniuses.

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