After posting a recent homemade equipment compilation, my inbox was flooded with questions about the T-handle that I used to perform heavy swings. Many of the questions were identical to those that I saw over ten years ago when I first demonstrated the T-handle. With that in mind, it’s time to post a short tutorial for those interested in making this inexpensive, yet highly effective tool.
Below, you’ll find a brief T-handle tutorial that I recently shared to my Instagram page.
To build the T-handle, I used 3/4-inch pipe (inner diameter), which is the size of a 1-inch dumbbell handle. Therefore, I am using standard 1-inch iron plates when performing swings with the tool. The complete part list is below.
- 12-inch pipe nipple
- Floor flange
- Tee Fitting
- Two 3 1/2-inch pipe nipples
- Standard 1-inch dumbbell collar
Olympic Plate Alternative
If you wish to use standard Olympic plates rather than 1-inch plates, there are two options. One would be to use larger pipe and pipe fittings (ex. 1.5-inch inner diameter). The other option is to stick with the 3/4-inch pipe but add a stopper plate to the top and bottom of your standard Olympic sized plates. For example, place a 2.5 pound plate (1-inch) on the bottom, then stack your Olympic plates, and add another 2.5 pound plate to the top (just below the collar). This will keep the larger diameter Olympic plates in place as you swing the standard size T-handle.
What About Kettlebells
Whenever I mention my T-handle, there’s always at least one response from someone asking about kettlebells. For starters, I have nothing against kettlebells. I own several. I do prefer the T-handle for swings however. I enjoy being able to adjust the load in a matter of seconds by adding or removing weight.
For example, in the video above, you can see my swinging 200 pounds. Realistically though, I can perform 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, or 200 pound swings with those plates. I could also include 2.5, 5, or 10 pound plates if I wanted to make smaller adjustments. Doing so can be quite useful when first progressing towards heavier loads. The T-handle grants me that luxury.
In summary, I don’t get paid if you go to your hardware store and purchase plumbing supplies to build a T-handle. I have no financial stake in the game. I am simply recommending a tool that I’ve used with great success for many years. The T-handle is ridiculously easy to construct and has been a staple in my training for many years now.
T-handle swings can be performed with lighter loads to develop endurance or they can be performed with heavier loads to build strength and power, particularly in the hips and posterior chain. The learning curve is also next to nothing. The exercise is easy to perform, yet highly useful for athletes involved in almost any sport.
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” – Thomas Edison