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DIY Grip Equipment

With professor Urban.

Lower arm strength is just as valuable as lower back strength, and equally neglected by most people. But grip equipment is very specialized and can get costly for how specific it is. Luckily there are ways to build your own equipment for comparatively little money. Myself, I have scraps of pipe laying around, half empty bags of concrete or sand, some resourcefulness, and a hardware store to fill in the gaps. Some things you should know beforehand:

I use standard plates at home. This means they have a 1 hole in the center. Most people use Olympic plates with (I believe) a 2 hole in the center. Id like to use Olympic plates but I have little money (hence the creation of this page for people in my situation), and work with what I have. The reason Im mentioning this is that the instructions below are fitted to standard plates (hence the frequent use of pipe which has an outer diameter of around an inch). You can use adapt of these instructions for Olympic plates but as of right now, Im unsure what size pipe would be optimal. now without further delay, lets begin.

Thick Barbell

This is pretty simple. I started with a 36 piece of 2 steel pipe (threaded on each end), stuck a coupler on each end, put a converter to go from 2 pipe down to pipe (which fits 1 standard plates) then stuck about 1 foot of pipe into that to put the plates on. Ive included a close up on the end.

Pretty simple eh? Some notes: I filled the whole thing with sand and corked each end inside the pipe. This makes the whole thing weight around 35 lbs at least it did for me. You can epoxy the some balled up newspaper in pace inside to make a suitable cork (thats what I did). Also, in the picture there are end caps on the ends of the pipe that I used to use to keep the weight from slipping off, but now it really doesnt concern me it doesnt concern me since all I use my thickbar for is deadlifts. If you want to do cleans or something that has a higher chance of losing the plates, youre going to have to find something to keep them in place, cause the end caps dont really do shit.

Fat Handel Dumbell

Shown in the above picture is a DB with a 3.5 handle, but you could use this process with smaller or larger (!!!) pipe if you are so inclined. Again, pretty simple, take a couple of end caps and for your pip, and drill a hole in them big enough to slip your black pipe through. Now slip one end on your 9 length of Schedule 40 3 PVC, and shove your black pipe through, and fill the 3 pipe with concrete. Some will leak out around the black pipe, dont sweat it. Now slide your other end cap on, make sure there is equal lengths of black pipe sticking out each side (around 6.625) and let the concrete harden. Voila! Another masterpiece.

The concrete keeps the bar from rotating and from moving from side to side. In addition It puts less stress on the end caps themselves, but thats much less a concern than I thought it would be. I made the space for the plate too large I think. I used a 24 piece of black pipe, when a 18 piece might have worked ok (but would have only given me 3.625 to put weights on. All you have to do now is cover the handle in athletic tape stack some weight on and lift that sucker.

Loading Pin

Loading pins are cheap to buy. So why did I make this one? Well cause I didnt feel like ordering one from Ironmind and I had some scraps lying around. Its pretty simple, and self explanatory, you could use an end cap instead of a coupler, but that was already rusted onto the pipe so I figured why bother. The eye I got from the hardware store and is simply held into that converter with a single nut. The converter is, of course, never wrenched down otherwise you wouldnt be able to add any weight. Also this allows me to screw on the hub attachment to without having to use a caribeaner or another eye setup with it.

Hub Lift

This is very simple. Get a 2 end cap, screw it on a converter to go from 2 female down to female, and screw it on to your loading pin. You could potentially grind or sand it smoother and take out the nubs and such, but Im lazy and I just need something to practice on.

Wrist Roller


Ok, again very simple. All I did was get a piece of pipe and wrap a rope around it once and epoxy the fuck out of it to keep it from moving. The APC tape is on there because I was impatient waiting for the epoxy to dry and wanted to use the roller. Why do I have two ropes? I dont know, probably some anal notion that if I had two ropes as it coiled up it would be symmetrical. Its not necessary. What is important to note though is that by doing this without putting rope through the pipe you can now slide it onto a barbell or safety bar in a power rack to keep from having to hold it out in front of you as you roll it. Its a simple matter of drilling a hold through the pipe and tying it the rope off if you dont wish to do this. Attach it to your loading pin or weight with a caribeaner and have at it.

Block weights

Block weights are arguably the best way to develop your grip. But finding and affording a real blob or half a set of dumbbells to chop up is difficult. So this is what I did. Shown is a 40 lb block weight, I used a piece of pipe that would stick out around a inch past each side of the plates. I put the plates together smooth sides out and wrenched down the caps to pinch the plates together really well. Done, instant fake block weight. Im working on a way to give the outside the curve of a real blob, but I dont have anything yet.

To make block weights like this out of different plates (like a 35 lb plate with 3 10s and a 5) just make sure the same plates are on the outside. Simple right?

Ok, so thats all the grip stuff I have right now. If I think of anything else or create any more masterpieces, Ill update this page with it! Enjoy!


Last Updated 1/22/05