Between stay-at-home orders and gym closures, keeping up your fitness this past year hasn’t been easy. After all, it’s difficult to simulate the same intensity as a gym workout without the proper equipment.
Adding a cable pulley system to your home gym is a great way to tone and challenge yourself. It’s easy to construct, will save you money, and give you that intense muscle-building burn you’ve been craving.
Here’s how to DIY your own pulley system.
Before you rush out to the hardware store and get all your supplies, you’ll need to consider where you’re putting your cable pulley system. The ideal location would be attaching it to an existing power rack in your workout room and garage.
If you don’t have one of these and don’t plan on investing in one, the next best place is a roof or ceiling stud in your garage. Just make sure to check the max load of the beam installing anything.
One final option is utilizing a door-hanging pull-up bar as the support for your pulley system. Keep in mind this method will limit the types of exercises available to you.
Below we have included a list of materials that you’ll need to build your own cable pulley system. Depending on where you live, most of these should be available at your local home center. You can also order the materials online, such as cable pulleys with bearings or clamp sets.
- 4 carabiners
- 2 swivel pulleys
- 1/4″ or 3/16″ coated cable
- 2 eyelet thimbles
- Cable clamps
- Rouge loading pin, chain, or strap for attaching weight
Your cable length will depend on where you’re attaching your pulley system but usually falls between three and twelve feet. If you’re not sure, you can always buy a longer length of cable and trim it with heavy-duty wire cutters at home.
Even though a coated cable might be more expensive, it is better for the longevity of your system. The coating will help prevent fraying and will also reduce resistance as it flows through the pulleys.
For a basic setup, you’ll need at least two cable clamps, one for each eyelet. However, you should consider adding more for additional support and heavier loads.
Keep in Mind
It is important to note that your home gym cable pulley system will only be as strong as its weakest link. If you get 460lb load-bearing pulleys but your carabiners are only rated for 150lbs, then your system will be limited to 150lbs. Make sure you are investing in materials that are suitable for your intended load.
Another thing to note is that all your workouts will be done on a single pulley system. Single pulleys require the body to apply the full force of the weight to lift it.
A lot of gym equipment uses a double pulley system. This provides you with a minor assist, allowing you to lift more weight with less effort. The good thing about this is that you’ll be able to keep your gains going at home without having to lift as much as you’re accustomed to at the gym.
Depending on your budget and commitment level, you may want to invest in some extra accessories to maximize your workout. You can make slight modifications to your cable pulley system to accommodate different exercises.
Multipurpose bar: If you’re looking for a most-in-one attachment, this is the choice for you. It can be used for a wide variety of different exercises, including rows, curls, extensions, and pushdowns.
Revolving curl bar: Use this accessory for low rows, lat pulldowns, or bicep curls.
Full-width lat bar: A bit longer than the revolving curl bar, this is great for wide grip pull-downs, but still functions for close grip exercises including curls and rows.
Palms parallel lat bar: This is a great piece for palms together pull exercises and palms facing lat pulldowns.
Tricep v bar: This is the perfect tool for tricep extensions, straight arm pulldowns, and close grip curls.
Chinning triangle: Use this for back, arms, and shoulder work.
Tricep rope: A versatile accessory for extensions, curls, straight arm pulldowns, and even rows if you’re in a pinch.
Single handle: This is the ideal attachment for isolating chest and shoulder muscles or single-arm exercises.
Keep in mind that you can always be creative with some of these attachments, to avoid having to buy all of them.
DIY Cable Pulley System
Now that you have all your materials and you know where you’re putting your at-home cable pulley system, it’s time to assemble it. If you are attaching to a ceiling beam you will need two attachment points for the setup described here.
1. Thread the coated cable through both swivel pulleys.
2. Create a loop at one end of the cable and inset thimble. Secure in place using the cable clamps, making sure to add extra for additional weight support.
3. Hang pulleys to attachment points via carabiners. Hook eyelet to weight using a carabiner and rouge loading pin or your attachment of choice. Measure the cable to determine where you want to attach your handle pull and cut if necessary.
4. Repeat step two to attach the remaining eyelet thimble and cable clamps at the other end of the coated cable.
5. Add weight and your favorite handle accessory and you’re all set.
With a cable rack pulley system, you can utilize different attachment points for different muscle groups. Use a lower attachment for a seated row or some bicep curls and a higher point for pull-downs and extensions.
Whether you’re exercising at home by choice or due to extenuating circumstances, such as a global pandemic, this easy DIY cable pulley system is sure to ramp up your routine. Add your favorite accessories or modify attachment points to get a full-body workout that builds muscle and leaves you aching for more.
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