Thanksgiving

It’s the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA, a time when we should all take a moment to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. There are many things for which I’m thankful, but I’ll stay on point for this forum. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge with like-minded Garage Gym Guys and Girls!

Ryan's Garage Gym

Ryan’s Garage Gym

I sincerely appreciate all of the interactions I’ve been able to have through this blog, and I hope that you all get as much out of it as I do. Indulge me for a moment, as I share one of these recent interactions.

Ryan is a CrossFitter and Olympic Weightlifter who has been building a gym in his garage. Here are his words, and a couple pictures of his gym.

“I just recently moved and sold my CrossFit Business. I wanted a place to work out but wasn’t sure if I would fit into another CrossFit box. Therefore, I reached out to Eric the Garage Gym Guy. I came across his blog several months ago and I was impressed with his work. My plan was to build a Garage Box and I didn’t quite know what pieces of equipment I wanted. When I emailed Eric, he messaged me back very quickly and took the time to help me with no strings attached. He didn’t hesitate to give me his advice and I am so glad he did. I don’t recommend anyone setting up their Garage box on their own without Eric’s insight. Eric is the source I am going to continue to use in regards to setting up my Garage Gym needs in the future.”

So, to Ryan and all you other Garage Gym-ers out there, THANK YOU, and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Bruce Lee Graphic on Ryan's Lifting Platform

Bruce Lee Graphic on Ryan’s Lifting Platform

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DIY BBQ Smoker

You know what one of my favorite things about lifting heavy weights is? You get to eat a lot of tasty food afterwards. One of the tastiest types of food is bbq. Let’s get something straight right away: grilling and bbq are two different things. I like both, and am decently practiced on the grill. I’m always up for new challenges and new adventures, so with a couple grills to start with, I set out on a new meat-preparing quest: a smoker.

I have a standard charcoal grill that I use regularly, and I stumbled across my old tailgating grill while cleaning up the garage. I didn’t want to modify the standard grill since I use it all the time, but I had no problem making modifications to the tailgating grill.

DIY Smoker Sketch

DIY Smoker Sketch

The basics of a smoker are simply that there’s a fire, where the smoke gets contained and channeled to a somewhat isolated location where the meat is. The meat is then engulfed in smoke, and in some cases, exposed to a low-to-medium cooking temperature. As such, my plan was to use the tailgate grill as my fire chamber, and the standard grill as the smoke chamber. I’d use simple ducting in between to transfer the smoke and a small amount of heat.

I sketched out my plan, took some measurements and headed off to the hardware store for the pieces I’d need. I got a 4″ duct starter to come out of the top of the tailgate grill. I used an adjustable dryer vent duct to move the smoke from the fire chamber to the smoke chamber, and I got a 5″ to 4″ adapter to connect the dryer vent to the standard grill. All told: $26.

DIY Smoker Materials

DIY Smoker Materials

Back home I set out to assemble it. I started by marking and cutting a hole in the top of the tailgate grill. I used a cut-off wheel, but you could get away with a drill and a pair of metal shears if you don’t have a cut-off wheel. I inserted the 4″ duct starter and bent the tabs over to hold it in place. Next, I cut tabs into the adapter, bent them over, and inserted that in place of the ash bin in the standard grill.

DIY Smoker Tailgate Grill

DIY Smoker Tailgate Grill

I wanted to be able to remove the tailgate grill in order to tend the fire, but wanted the ducting to stay in place. I also wanted to be able to fully disassemble the smoker when not in use. To do this, I drilled through the adapter and the duct so, and straightened some wire to make a pin. While in use, the pin holds the duct in place, and is easily removed for dis-assembly.

DIY Smoker

DIY Smoker

On it’s first use, the smoker proved functional. The setup easily channeled smoke, and in adequate quantity. I was able to reach temperatures from 130-200 degrees F. In some cases, that temperature might be a little on the low side. To make it easier to elevate and otherwise control the temperature, I plan to add some intake holes to the tailgate grill. This should allow the fire to breathe a little better, resulting in higher temperatures and a more consistent burn.

Smoked Round Steak

Smoked Round Steak

If you’ve been considering an adventure into the realm of true bbq, hopefully this gives you some ideas that are functional and cost-effective! Be sure to let us know how your setup works in the comments or over on the Facebook page!

DIY Smoker: Concept to Completion

DIY Smoker: Concept to Completion

HSPU Station

It’s been a busy week in real life here, but I didn’t want to leave you all hanging! So, I’ve got a quick, easy diy for you: an HSPU station!

In my gym, I have unfinished walls, which means that if I were to kick up against them for hand stand push ups, I’d be buried in a pile of insulation. If you’re in a similar situation, but you own a power rack, I’ve got a solution for you!

HSPU

HSPU

Start with a piece of plywood or OSB, approximately 24-30″ tall by 48″ wide. At the hardware store or lumber mill, they’ll call that a “cut-off.” If you were to get a piece cut in the other direction, it’d be called a “rip.”

C-Clamps

C-Clamps

Set your J-cups at about chest-height and place the plywood into the J-cups. Use two 4″ (or other appropriate size) C-clamps to clamp the plywood to the rack’s uprights.

Kick up, lower and push push! And don’t forget to tell us about it in the comments or over on the Facebook page.

DIY Pulling Sled

This is probably the easiest DIY that I’ve done so far. Paradoxically, it’s also one of the most useful pieces of equipment that I have. Mine gets used primarily for warmups and finishers, but there are a variety of other uses for such an implement.

DIY Tire Pulling Sled

DIY Tire Pulling Sled

The most difficult part of this project is getting a tire. Old, beat up used tires can be found in a variety of places. I picked up a truck tire from the family farm, and also kept the full set of four old tires when I bought new tires for my car. You might also check scrap yards and community recycling centers. A 16” radius tire will work well for holding weight plates.

The other pieces we’ll need are two straps (ratchet or cinch straps), an eye bolt and some extra washers and nuts for the eye bolt. The only tools required are a drill (with a bit) and wrenches to tighten the nuts on the eye bolt.

Drill a Hole in the Tire

Drill a Hole in the Tire

Begin by drilling a hole in the tire. I prefer to put the hole a little closer to the bottom than the top so that when pulled, the front edge of the tire is lifted slightly so it doesn’t dig into the ground. Thread a nut all the way onto the eye bolt, and then follow it with a washer. Then, insert the eye bolt through the hole in the tire. Add another washer, then a nut. Tighten the nuts toward each other until suitably tight.

Eye Bolt with Washers and Nuts

Eye Bolt with Washers and Nuts

Remove the two long straps from the pair of ratchet/cinch straps. Slide one tail through the eye of the eye bolt, then tie the other tail to the first. Finally, tie the two straps together, thereby locking the straps together and to the eye bolt.

Straps Tied to Each Other and to the Eye Bolt

Straps Tied to Each Other and to the Eye Bolt

To drag the sled, attach the hooks to a dip belt or lifting belt. For free-hand exercise, simply grasp the straps, or create handles similar to the ones we made on the suspension straps.

Pulling the Sled with a Lifting Belt

Pulling the Sled with a Lifting Belt

For stacking multiple plates, I found that having a length of 1 1/2” PVC pipe with a cap or union on it and slid through the holes keeps the plates from sliding off each other.

PVC Pipe and Union to Secure Plates

PVC Pipe and Union to Secure Plates

As always, share feedback in the comments or over on the Facebook page.

DIY Suspension Straps

Suspension training is a great way to spice up calisthenics. By adding a level of instability to familiar movements like pushups and rows, you can further engage and challenge the muscles that stabilize the joints involved in those movements.

Rows on Suspension Straps

Rows on Suspension Straps

In this post I’ll show you how to build a set of suspension straps at a price far below the commercial offerings. To start with, you’ll need three cinch straps, a foot of 1” PVC pipe, a pair of scissors, a lighter, a carabiner and a quick link for chain. Cinch straps are a little different than ratchet straps, but they’re in the same location at the hardware store.

Just a quick note on safety here: look for straps and hardware with weight ratings. These ratings will let you know if the materials you plan to use will be strong enough. Remember that you’ll be suspended on this stuff, so don’t sacrifice safety to save a couple dollars. Get materials to build gear you can trust!

Cut the PVC pipe in half. Boom: handles! While we’re cutting stuff up, cut the buckle off one of the cinch straps, and use the lighter to make sure the end doesn’t fray.

Suspension Strap Anchor Loops

Suspension Strap Anchor Loops

Remember that overhand loop knot from the lat pull down? Make one big loop with the buckle-less cinch strap and tie a tie an overhand loop knot at the end. Starting from the knot-end, continue to tie overhand knots at intervals of 6 inches until you reach the opposite end. Put the quick link in this last loop. This strap becomes the “trunk” of the suspension strap and the loops are essentially adjustable anchor loops. The quick link is where the other two straps will connect. The carabiner gets used to connect the anchor loops when you loop the strap around your rack, pull up bar, tree branch, playground equipment, etc.

Quick Link

Quick Link

Back to the other two straps: Feed one end of one strap through a PVC handle, through the quick link, and then through the buckle to create a loop. Repeat for the other side. We could stop here, but we’re on a roll!

Go set the straps up and get them adjusted for typical working length. Chances are you have a bunch of extra strap on the two handle loops. Cut off 24-36” from each strap. Use the lighter to de-fray all the cut ends. Now put one of the cut-off straps through the handle and tie a square knot to make a loop. Repeat on the other side for a pair of foot cradles.

Suspension Strap Handles

Suspension Strap Handles

Congratulations on creating your very own suspension straps! As always, share your experience in the comments or over on the Facebook page!

Push Ups on Suspension Straps

Push Ups on Suspension Straps

DIY Lat Pull Down

Lat Pull Downs are a common accessory movement in many training programs. For those who are unable to do pull ups or chin ups, the lat pull down is the best way to build up to pull ups and chin ups. The same equipment is required for triceps press downs, which are another common accessory exercise.

DIY Lat Pull Down

DIY Lat Pull Down

You’ll need the following materials, all of which are easy to locate at any hardware store:

-2 pieces of ¾” black pipe, 18” long

-2 ¾” floor flanges

-2 pieces of ¾” black pipe 6” long

-2 ¾” 45 degree elbows

-Tie down/Ratchet strap in the color of your choice, preferably 12’ length

-2 Carabiners (suitable for loading/lifting/climbing)

-1 Quick Chain Link

-1 U-Bolt 5/16” by 2” by 4 1/2” with washer and nuts

-2 5/16” nuts and washers

You will also need the following tools:

-Drill with 3/8” bit suitable for drilling metal (not a masonry or wood bit)

-C-Clamp

-Wrench

-Scissors

-Lighter

We’ll begin by building the loading pin. Screw one of the floor flanges to one of the 18” pieces of pipe. Using a C-Clamp, secure the other floor flange to a suitable surface, and drill out two of the opposing bolt holes using the 3/8” drill bit. Be sure to use appropriate eye, ear and hand safety equipment.

Drilling the Floor Flange

Drilling the Floor Flange

Thread a nut onto either side of the U-bolt, about an inch into the threads. Put the washer that came with the u-bolt on. Now put the u-bolt through the floor flange, and add the remaining washers and nuts. Tighten the nuts securely.

U-Bolt Flange Assembly

U-Bolt Flange Assembly

You may now thread the u-bolt/floor flange assembly onto the 18” pipe. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a loading pin. There are many additional uses for loading pins, but we’ll save that for another post. On to the pull down strap!

Loading Pin

Loading Pin

Open one of the ratchet straps, and set the ratchet/buckle portion aside. On the strap portion, carefully pry open the hook, just enough to slip the strap off the hook. Put one of the carabiners in place of the hook you just removed. Put the loading pin in place under your rack, connect the carabiner and strap to the loading pin, and drape the other end of the strap over the chin up bar on your rack. Tie an overhand loop knot with the strap that hangs over the chin up bar. The knot should be within a couple inches of the bar when the strap is pulled tight. Put the chain quick link in the loop you just created. Leaving a little strap to spare (approximately 4-6”), cut off the rest of the strap. Use a lighter to carefully melt/weld the edges to prevent fraying.

Overhand Knot

Overhand Loop Knot

Now we need a handle for the pull and press downs. Thread the two 45 degree elbows onto the remaining 18” piece of black pipe so they are hand-tight. Thread the 6” pieces of pipe into the other ends of the elbows, again hand-tight. Now adjust the joints so that all of the pieces are in-line with each other.

Handle

Handle with Lark’s Head Knot

To attach the handle to the strap, you’ll need the remaining piece (24-36”) of strap. Tie an overhand loop knot in both ends, then tie a Lark’s Head knot around the handle such that both overhand loops come through at the top. Use a carabiner to connect the two overhand loops to each other, and ultimately to the chain quick link on the long strap.

Triceps Press Down

Triceps Press Down

Give it a shot, and let me know how it works in the comments or over on the Facebook page!

Power Rack Safety Straps

Warning! What I am going to describe below is only what I have done myself. It is not a recommendation that you should do the same. In fact, most of the pieces I use below specifically include warnings that the pieces should not be used to hold weight overhead, be used for athletics, or used to support body weight. Anything you choose to copy from the following is done at your own risk.

Lifting safely by yourself has been a popular topic lately. This was brought to my attention quite directly under the weight of a 400 lbs squat attempt a couple weeks ago. It was further reinforced by a 70’s Big post and a video that has been making its way through social media recently:

While I typically pride myself on taking appropriate safety measures, the squat attempt a couple weeks ago revealed a flaw in my setup. When I missed the attempt, the bar dropped on my safety straps and bent open the quick links, catastrophically. While I frequently record my lifting attempts, unfortunately I did not record this one, and so I only have a picture of the aftermath. The good news is that the pin & pipe safety system survived with hardly a scratch.

broken saety straps

Failed Safety Straps due to…

broken link

Broken Quick Links

The pin & pipe safety system is likely the strongest, but when the barbell comes into contact with it, a couple things happen. First, the bar comes to an abrupt stop and/or bounces, particularly if one side hits before the other. This can be quite jarring. Second, when that impact occurs, if it is of sufficient force, it will mar the knurling on the barbell. I paid a decent price for my bar, and I’d like to keep it in the best shape I can.

I prefer straps because they take up slack more smoothly on a squat that goes a little deeper than planned, and because they do not mar the knurling on the barbell. I still believe my original strap system is safe and effective, with the exception of using master links in place of the quick links. The quick links were used in the mistaken belief that they were rated for enough loading force, and because they would allow for a fast transition from the bench position (lower) to the squat position (higher). This design is incredibly cost-effective, especially when compared to the commercially-available alternatives that start around $165.

original safety strap

The Original Safety Strap

The original strap system could have been corrected by simply replacing the quick links with threaded master links, but it still had one fundamental flaw for my garage gym: it was the wrong color. So, I set out to make a reasonably-priced strap system that would out-perform the first system, preferably in orange.

Here’s what I came up with. I started with four axle straps ($4 each, rated at 3,300 lbs). I used 3/8” clevises ($4 each, rated at 2,000 lbs) to connect to a master link ($2.50 each, rated at 1,980 lbs). The master link connects to one loop of a tree saver strap ($24 each or orange, as low as $14.50 each for yellow, rated at 20,000 lbs). The other end of the strap connects to 5/16” Grade 30 chain ($15 for 7 feet, rated at 1,900 lbs) using another 3/8” clevis.

safety straps labels

Safety Straps with Labels

Since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, that means my entire system is rated for 1,900 lbs per side, as limited by the chain. I don’t know about you, but it’ll be a while before I squat 3,800 lbs! And the price isn’t too bad at $110, total. If I was willing to settle for yellow straps, I could have knocked the price down to $90.

 

Strap Adjusted for Rack Pulls, Squats and Bench Press

Strap Adjusted for Rack Pulls, Squats and Bench Press

I replaced all of the clevis cotter pins with hair pin clips for easier adjustment. And because I’m crafty like that, I added paracord lanyards to the clevis that will adjust the strap position for rack pulls, bench pressing or squatting. The lanyards make the clips easier to see and easier to remove.

hair pin clip lanyard

Hair Pin Clip with Lanyard

In closing, I prefer straps as the primary safety method, but I recommend setting the pin or pin & pipe safeties as a redundant back-up, just in case. In the end, can you really put a price on the life or limb you risk in the gym?

Elements

The five Elements posts I’ve written were created together and in the order they were presented for a reason: they represent the common core pieces of any/all solid training systems. Whether you are training for strength, size, speed or athleticism, your program will call for heavy, compound barbell movements and bodyweight/calisthenic movements. These five Elements will allow you to perform these core exercises, and establish a foundation from which your gym can grow to meet your specialized equipment needs. Additionally, they lay out a plan for building a garage or home gym literally from the ground up.

The Barbell

The barbell and weights are one of the most tried-and-true methods for building strength and athleticism. Countless athletes have utilized these tools to build strength and size. The ability to progressively and precisely load the barbell means that it can be used for a variety of movements and resistances. Squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans, jerks and snatches develop strength, size and speed, all with a single tool that can be used over the entire lifespan of an athlete.

barbell

The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. – Henry Rollins

The Platform

A platform is vital for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the platform will protect your floor from the impact of falling weights. Second, it provides a foundation to attach a rack or stands to.  It also helps to define your gym space, which is nice for those of us who have a tendency to sprawl.

Firm Foundation

Firm Foundation

The Rack/Stands

Put simply, it’s hard to Squat or Bench Press without a rack or at least stands. For a garage gym, I recommend a rack because it adds a margin of safety that only a highly-competent set of spotters could rival.

11 Guage Steel - Garage Gym Dog Approved!

Everybody chill – I got this!

The Pull Up Bar

Pull ups and chin ups are an important ingredient in training the upper body. Many racks include such a bar, but this post is for those that chose not to use a rack or who want an additional pull up bar outside the rack.

The Bench

While some recent fitness trends have tried to downplay how essential it is to bench press, it remains an important part of a solid strength-based program. A flat bench, therefore, must be part of the garage gym.

bench after

How Much Ya Bench?

With the items above, you’re free to begin pursuit of the training path of your choice: Powerlifting, Strongman, Strength & Conditioning for Sports Performance, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, CrossFit, Military/Law Enforcement Fitness Tests, etc.

Post in the comments to let me know what training path you’re on, and what equipment you’d like to build for your garage gym!

Refurbish a Bench

“Since we all want big chesticles, we have to put some pec in it, ok? Chesticles are why we bench press, after all!”

-Mark Rippetoe

The first step in refurbishing a bench is to actually acquire one. Quite frequently, a bench could be picked up along with a barbell and some plates via Craigslist or a garage sale. I have one from each of those, and a third that I acquired when purchasing my current house.

bench before

Bench (Before)

You don’t need to worry about what condition the upholstery (typically vinyl, and often cracked or torn) is in. Check the structural parts of the bench, and understand that the bench will need to hold your weight, plus all the weight that you put on the bar. When benching properly, the vast majority of that weight will be focused on the area where your upper back comes in contact with the bench.

Step two is to tear everything apart. Pull off the upholstery and inspect the structure of the bench. My bench had a label stating the load limits, which I found to be quite helpful.

bench disassembly

Bench Disassembly

bench label

Bench Label

bench fully disassembled

Bench Fully Disassembled

If it needs it or you’d like to do it, this is a great time to prime and paint the bench. Wipe down all of the pieces so the primer doesn’t cause dirt or dust to stick. Apply the primer, and use a second coat if necessary. After the primer has dried (I waited a full day between coats of primer and coats of paint), spray on the paint color of your choice. I went with a matte black color to match my Rogue rack.

add primer

Add Primer

add paint

Add Paint

While I had everything disassembled, I gathered all the bolts and took them to the hardware store. The bolts that were on the bench were black, and I wanted to replace them with traditional hardware to match with the rack. Be sure to match threads where applicable.

bolts

Old Bolts and New Bolts

With the painted parts and the fresh bolts, begin reassembly of the bench. If the bench is made of particle board or if it’s not of sufficiently-sturdy construction, remove it. On a different bench, I replaced an old, worn out particle board bench with a new board, which significantly improved its strength and stability. Most quality benches are 12 inches wide, with some over-sized benches reaching as high as 14 inches.

bench reassembly

Bench Reassembly

Most benches have thin, feeble foam cushioning. Here is your opportunity to customize the compression of your bench. Some like a big plush cushion, while others prefer a firmer surface. Either way, make sure it’s stable and allows you to establish a solid base from which to bench. Most fabric and craft stores carry a variety of upholstery foams.

With the foam cut to shape, it’s time to add fabric. My favorite color is orange, so I got a couple yards of heavy weight (essentially denim) fabric from the fabric shop. Wrap the fabric over the bench, and cut it roughly to size. Start by stapling one of the long sides of the fabric to the underside of the bench. Pull the other side over the bench so it’s taught (not so tight that it compresses the cushion), and staple along the other side. Finish by stapling the ends of the fabric to the head and foot of the bench.

fabric stapled to bench

Fabric Stapled to Bench

To protect the knurling on the bar, I added some “grippers.” These grippers are a piece of rubber with an adhesive backing, meant for preventing furniture from sliding on smooth floors.

grippers

Grippers

grippers installed to protect knurling

Grippers Installed to Protect Knurling

Your bench is now complete. Load up the bar and get pressing!

bench after

Bench (After)

As usual, post comments, questions or feedback to the comments.

Get Your Pull!

If you chose to go the route of squat stands, or if you just want an additional chin/pull up station, then this post is for you! After the basic barbell exercises, the pull up & chin up are some of the most effective exercises for training the upper body.

In the last post, I strongly advised against a do-it-yourself option for the sake of safety. Today’s subject is in a gray area. If you’re not confident in your building abilities, there are some good options available. Don’t be one of these! However, if you’re secure enough in your building abilities to build something from which to suspend yourself against the ever-present pull of gravity, here’s some commentary from my experience.

Foresight tells us that we want a bar that’s mounted firmly enough to hold our bodyweight and then some – weighted chin-ups, muscle ups, kipping pull-ups. The bar needs to be secure, not just vertically, but laterally as well. To accomplish this, you’ll need triangular bracing.

Looking at the options available from Rogue, Again Faster and Christian’s Fitness Factory, I devised a way to mimic their offerings with commonly-available hardware. While I did not actually build what I will describe below, I did verify that it’s possible, and calculated the associated price of materials.

Steel Tube Pull Up Bar

Perforated Square Steel Tubing for a Pull-Up Bar

 

Ceiling Mount

Hardware List:

-(4) pieces of 1”x4’ Perforated Square Steel Tube ($18.99 each)

-(2) 1.5” U-Bolts ($1.14 each)

-(2) 5/16”x3.5” Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts

-(10) 5/16”x2.5” Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(4) 5/16”x3” Lag Bolts with flat washers

Pull Up Bar

Ceiling Mounted Pull-Up Bar

Bolts, washers and nuts are typically sold by weight, and would only cost a few dollars for this project. Total cost is approximately $95 plus tax.

Begin by cutting one of the 1” square steel tubes into two 24” lengths. These will be the horizontal pieces (“beams”) that get mounted to the ceiling. Next, take another piece of steel and cut two 18” lengths. These will be the vertical pieces (“risers”) that drop down and mount directly to the bar. From the third and fourth pieces of steel, cut four 16” lengths. These will be the angle braces. From the remaining cut-offs, cut two 6” lengths. These will be the mending braces that attach the vertical pieces to the horizontal pieces.

With the pieces cut, it’s time to start assembling. Using the mending braces, attach a beam to a riser, using the hole just past center. Put a 2.5” bolt through the beam, into the mending brace, then add the flat washer, lock washer and nut. Hand tighten the nut. Put two 2.5” bolts through two of the holes near the top of the riser, then into mending brace, followed by flat washers, lock washers and nuts. Hand tighten the nuts.

Now we need to add the angle braces. Put a 2.5” bolt through the beam, at the second hole from the front. Put the bolt through first hole of the angle brace, then add the flat washer, lock washer and nut. Hand tighten.

Flip the entire assembly over. Put a 2.5” bolt through the first hole of a second angle brace, then through the last hole in the beam. Add the flat washer, lock washer and nut, and hand tighten.

The free ends of the angle braces should now be rotated into place, and the last hole of the angle braces should intersect with the riser at the 10th hole down from the beam. Push a 3.5” bolt through all three pieces. Add a flat washer, lock washer and the nut, and hand tighten.

With all the pieces in place, use wrenches to tighten all of the nuts. They should be tightened enough to fully compress the lock washers. This completes one side. Assembly of the opposite side is exactly the same.

Pull Up Bar One Side

Ceiling Mounted Pull-Up Bar – One Side

When both sides are finished, they can be mounted to the ceiling. You can use lag screws to mount the rig directly to ceiling joists, however, I would recommend placing 2×6’s screwed to multiple joists to further distribute the load. The rig is then bolted or lag screwed to the 2×6’s.

Install the U-Bolts onto the risers loosely. Insert the black pipe by sliding it into one of the u-bolts, then into the other. Tighten the u-bolts until the pipe is held firmly in place.

 

Wall Mount

Hardware List:

-(3) pieces of 1”x4’ Perforated Square Steel Tube ($18.99 each)

-(2) 1.5” U-Bolts ($1.14 each)

-(10) 5/16”x2.5” Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(4) 5/16”x3” Lag Bolts with flat washers

 

Wall Mount Pull Up Bar

Wall Mounted Pull-Up Bar

Bolts, washers and nuts are typically sold by weight, and would only cost a few dollars for this project. Total cost is approximately $75 plus tax.

Begin by cutting two of the square steel tubes into four 18” lengths. Two of these lengths will be the risers (vertical pieces) that will attach to the wall; two of them will be the beams (horizontal pieces) that will hold the pull up bar. Cut the remaining 12” piece into two 6” pieces. These will be the mending braces that tie the risers to the beams. Cut the third steel tube piece into two 16” pieces, and set the remaining 16” piece to the side for some other DIY project.

With the pieces cut, it’s time to start assembling. Using the mending braces, attach a beam to a riser, using the fourth hole down from the top of riser. Place a 2.5” bolt through the fourth hole, then through the first hole of the mending brace. Add a flat washer, lock washer and nut, and hand tighten. Place a 2.5” bolt through the first and third holes in the beam, then put them through the second and fourth holes in the mending brace. Add flat washers, lock washers and nuts, and hand tighten.

Next, place a 2.5” bolt through the 11th hole in the beam, then through the first hole in the angle brace. Place a 2.5” bolt through the riser at the 11th hole down from the mending brace, and push it through the last hole of the angle brace. Add flat washers, lock washers and nuts, and hand tighten.

With all the pieces in place, use wrenches to tighten all of the nuts. They should be tightened enough to fully compress the lock washers. This completes one side. Assembly of the opposite side is exactly the same.

Wall Mount Pull Up Bar Side

Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar – One Side

When both sides are finished, they can be mounted to the wall. You can use lag screws to mount the rig directly to studs, however, I would recommend placing 2×6’s screwed to multiple studs to further distribute the load. The rig is then bolted or lag screwed to the 2×6’s.

Install the U-Bolts onto the beams loosely. Insert the black pipe by sliding it into one of the u-bolts, then into the other. Tighten the u-bolts until the pipe is held firmly in place.

 

Wood

Hardware List:

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(2) Flanges for Black Pipe

-A few pieces of 2×4

-Triangular piece of ½” plywood

-Wood glue and Screws

-(8) Lag Screws

It’s been a while since I built this, and much of it was constructed using materials I already had. I’d estimate the total cost to be somewhere around $35.

There is a third option for an even lower price: wood. While it costs less, gaining the same strength and stability takes a bit more experience with woodworking, and is more labor-intensive with a lower margin for error.

I went back to my residential construction days for the pull up bar I put in my first garage gym, since it seemed to fit better with the construction of the garage.

For my first chin up bar, I started with a threaded piece of 1” diameter black pipe and two flanges. I added a length of 2×4 to an existing stud to make a double stud. The double stud provided a solid mount for the wall-end of the bar. The other side got a little more complicated.

The other end of the bar did not land directly below a roof truss (in a basement, the same may be true for a floor joist). I framed in a “floating” 2×4 beam utilizing cross members reinforced by hurricane clips.

With the beam now in place, we need to tackle a triangulated mount for the other end of the bar. I measured (to ensure that the bar would be level) a vertically-mounted 2×4 to drop from the beam to the end of the bar. To brace it, I added another 2×4 on an angle up to the beam. I then pieced it all together with a gusset of ½” plywood, glued and screwed to the 2×4’s.

Plywood Gusset

Plywood Gusset

Plywood Gusset

Plywood Gusset

To finish it up, I held the bar, with the flanges threaded on, in place so I could mark the screw holes. I then drilled pilot holes and mounted the bar using eight lag screws.

Portable

Hardware List

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(1) 2-pack of Cinch Straps ($6.88)

-(2) U-Bolts ($2.28)

Total cost is $20.40.

Drill holes in the black pipe so that you can insert the two u-bolts, one on each end. Loop the cinch straps over a sturdy structure, then through the u-bolts. Adjust the straps to level the bar. Grab on, pull up!

 

So here you have four options, each a little different, and each with a different price tag. However, you’ll find that each is priced a little below the retail price of a pre-fabricated unit, and any of the do-it-yourself options come with the satisfaction of knowing you created it from the basic raw materials. It’s a very rewarding feeling!

As usual, post questions, feedback or suggestions to the comments! Come back soon to learn how to refurbish a bench!