Build Your Own Gym

There is something really nice about getting out of bed, walking 20 feet out the door, putting on some music and picking up your own personal iron. Don’t get me wrong I love going to the local gym, the variety, and energy is hard to match. But for many people, there own personal gym is the way to go. I had always wanted my own gym equipment, so I started collecting. while it can be expensive, sometimes it is easier that you think. Here are a few examples.
Inexpensive Gym accessories and ideas
A few things you might want to add to your gym that will not break your wallet

clamp chain_col bench
Chains are a fundamental training tool for most Powerlifters as well as many other strength athletes. The idea is that as the chains are raised off the floor, the lifts become harder as each link is raised into the air. Here I have several chains cut into 4ft lengths. I bought them at a local hardware store for about $1.20 a foot. I used specialized collars made specifically to attach chains I bought online for around $20. I have used chains to add for my bench press, deadlifts, squats and even used them as makeshift dumbbells for side lateral raises or tricep extensions to add variety.

Something else that is relatively inexpensive are workout bands. By doubling them up, you can receive a nice light workout on something such as a side delt exercise. Running around $20-$30 they are a relatively inexpensive addition to you gym, and will provide you with an alternative to dumbbells on a light day if you don’t have cables and are great for warmups.
Finally I like to use hardware clamps for the ends of my barbells. These ran me less than $3 each, which is less than collars for most Olympic barbells, and these seem to secure the plates much better.
Building or acquiring a strongman gym
Strongman equipment has gained popularity in recent years as people become more interested in functional strength as opposed to simply larger biceps. The great thing about strongman gear is that it uses odd, and sometimes everyday items for strength. Some of these items are easily attainable
Strongman Log

Metal Stronman Log
One of my Steel strongman logs

The Strongman log is the staple for pressing in strongman, but many trainers are finding with its inverted grip and width, it is easier on the wrists and shoulders, and when used correctly can be safer to use than a standard barbell.
If you can get someone to build you one, make sure they are good welders, but the principle is the same with any log. They are
• Handles are commonly 24” apart
• Holes are typically 8”x8”
• The logs are normally 3′-6′ long
• Width is normally 9-14” with 12 being standard

But building a metal log can be a bit pricey especially if you have no knowledge of welding, and to buy one can be even more pricey (some on the net go for 4-$600) However for those of you like me, who are not a welder, a log can also be carved out of wood. (Just a note that wood may take time to dry and that a log that seems too heavy will lighten as times goes on)

My wood Strongman log I carved which fits standard plates.


Most strongmen have a tire or several of different sizes. Even gyms are beginning to utilize them at this time, although they use lighter variants then strongman typically use. Tires are relatively easy to obtain, although you will need a pickup truck to transport it. The best place to find a tire is any tire yard or heavy equipment facility. When large tires are worn, companies have to pay money to recycle them. So often they will give them to you very cheap or for free. We would normally see how many times we could flip a tire in 60 seconds.

850lb Tire we flipped up and down the back roads.

Farmers Walk

Farmers implements can be made of welded tanks, metal pipe, railroad ties, you name it. They are not that expensive to buy for basic plate loaded ones, so check around. For beginners though, grab yourself a few water jugs for office water coolers. Fill them with sand or pebbles, and do your walks with them. Try about 50ft and back to start. They are fairly cheap. If you want to build your own from wood, pipe handles, or whatever, just make sure they are solid, do not take chances when building strongman equipment

Strongman Axle

cc axle_big

Because an axel is thick, it utilizes a lot of grip work to do those movements. Axles are great for building strong hands and forearms, but do not over use as they can cause hand injuries. Axles are normal 1.5 to 2 inches thick, but can be thicker or thinner depending on what you want. Some places sell axles with Olympic ends for plates. The cheapest way to get an axel is just to use pipe that fits Olympic plates, then attach collars. The problem with hollow pipe is that for advanced lifters who utilize very heavy weights you may bend or break the pipe. Use your own judgement.

Bench Boards

Simple board setup I made from 2x8s

Exactly as it appears, Powerlifters use boards placed on the chest during bench press to help train lockouts or sticking points. It can be anywhere from one board to 5. Easy to make, insure you have 2 spotters, one for the bar and one to hold the board secure. Make sure the boards are securely nailed or screwed together.
Items such as Kegs, Stones, Sandbags, can all be used for carries, Loading or pressing exercises. River stones are free and the simplest item for those who do not have access to a stone mold.