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Home Made Power Cage

BY; JOHN OWEN

After having spent 10 months at the local gym, I decided it was time to build my own home gym. Although I was lucky that the gym was only 2 minutes from my house, and because my wife works there, I get a discount, it's really a aerobics/fitness gym. They have lots of machines, dumbells and a Smith machine, but no barbells.

With no training partner, or loads of space, I decided that safety had to come first. Being on a tight budget, I set about building my own "power cage" using builders scaffolding. I concluded that regular galvanised 48mm poles are strong enough to take the weight of several men and bricks etc, so it would be strong enough to support anything I'll ever lift. The brackets are made from thick steel with no welds.

The local scaffold merchant charges 48 pence per foot of pole, and couplings are 1 each. The total cost was under 50 (approx $75USD).

Here you can see the whole thing. There are 4 main exercises I need it for: Squat, Bench Press, Chins and Dips. The construction is a "n" shape, with a diagonal brace at the top to help strengthen it against sheering. There is a horizontal brace at the bottom to prevent the legs from spreading out. Each join is made using a "Double coupler" for right angle joints or "Swivel" coupler for the diagonal.

I also used "double couplers" for the hooks to hold the barbell. In the close up below you can see the bolt is held back with a rubber band, and some bike tyre inner tube is slipped over the hook to protect the bar.

The lower horizontal bars are safety bars for when I'm doing bench press.A big advantage here over conventional power cages is that the height of the safety bars can be continuously adjusted, were as a rack with pins has limited amount of height adjustment. The couplers grip the upright pole in such a way which means they won't slide down with weight on them.

 

This picture left shows the rack in Squat mode.

 

The top bar on the left is used for Chins. Note that the bar is fixed on the inside of the structure rather than the outside, this is to keep my body weight towards the middle of the structure when chinning.

 


Finally you can see I have added more hooks to that I can add a second barbell and perform Dips.

When I want to move the position of hooks I just get the spanner out!

If I ever need to reclaim the space, I can dismantle the frame.

It only took an afternoon to build.

FAQ's

  • What are the measurements of the rack? That depends on you and the space its going into. Height wise you want to have it tall enough for you to perform chin ups without smashing your head into the ceiling. Width wise, wide enough to not hit your elbows when benching and for it to rest your bar on the J Hooks with the rings outside the hooks. Depth wise, shoulder width plus about 6 inches for dips. So buy the poles/pipes a bit longer than needed, you can always move the couplers later to fine tune it. If your getting the poles 2nd hand, then its unlikely the supplier will cut them to length anyway.

  • How many couplers do you need? 20 fixed couplers and 2 swivel couplers

  • How much weight can the J Hooks hold? I have loaded 150 kg (330 lbs) onto the bar on the J Hooks and then sat on the bar and it felt ok. Although after a couple of years use and regularly putting 150kg on for squat overloads, one started to bend so I changed it round.

  • How much weight can the bars hold (if you missed a heavy squat)? Much more than the J Hooks!


Joe Skopec 2005

Exercise - injury prevention


There is a risk of injury with any type of physical activity. Injuries can occur if you do not have the skills and equipment necessary for the type of physical activity you plan to do. Generally the benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks. With preparation and common sense, you can reduce your risk of exercise injury and continue to gain health and fitness benefits.

Risk factors
Some types of physical activity involve specific injury risks, but general risk factors include:
  • Lack of fitness
  • Inexperience or poor technique (‘form’)
  • Failure to wear protective equipment
  • Certain manoeuvres, such as sudden movements or changing direction at speed
  • High-impact or high-risk activities
  • Contact between players
  • Overtraining.
General health and fitness
Suggestions include:
  • Have a medical check-up before you begin if you a medical condition, are overweight, are aged over 40 years or haven’t exercised regularly for a long time.
  • Exercise regularly to keep yourself in good physical condition.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritional diet.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after activity.
  • Avoid exercise when in pain or fatigued.
  • Don’t do high-risk activities if you’ve been drinking alcohol or have taken other drugs that may affect your physical or mental state.

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