Universal strength apparatus

If you build it, they will come...
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Re: Re:

Postby Sarcoplasmic » Thu May 21, 2009 4:31 pm

speedy wrote:
garythenuke wrote:I saw this thing on the bodyweight website. Does anyone have any opinions on the apparatus itself?? I'm not worried about where people live or if they can hang this thing up or not.

I think it's very over rated. I personally prefer rings, but that is just me.

There *are* certain advantages to the USA which is probably the cause for all the hype:

1. As the web site states, the USA can be climbed. Climbing this thing w/o using your feet (you can put your feet behind you or in front of you while climbing) is a really great exercise.

2. No adjustments necessary. Beginners can do exercises (IE:pushups) starting with higher rungs on the ladder. As strength builds you can start going to lower rungs to make the exercise harder. All positions (Easy/Moderate/Hard) are readily available w/o any need for adjustment. BIG plus.

3. When I train my female clients, most are unable to do chinups or a pullups. The USA allows them to utilize leg assistance while pulling up on the higher rungs or a bar the USA is attached to. They can control how much leg assistance they want (of course I make sure they don't cheat too much :mozilla_tongue: ).

4. The PVC rungs are nice on the hands. When I do pullups etc. on standard bars, i have to use performance grips (I use THESE) since the calluses in my hands have gotten a bit on the painful side (yeah yeah...I'm being a pansy).

5. Like rings, the USA is portable and anything that can be done on rings can be done using the USA. Pretty cool in my humble opinion.

Rex Banner
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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby Rex Banner » Tue May 26, 2009 11:05 pm

Ross Enamait wrote:
If you have pictures, post them to the forum. We can add this to the homemade equipment sticky. I'm sure others would find this useful.


Here it is:


The way I made it, the bottom is the center of one long piece of rope. I think each ladder uses about 30' of rope. I got a spool of 100' at Home Depot pretty cheap, cut that in half, found the centers, and worked from there. I had something like 40' total of extra (~10' x 4 ends across the two ladders), so you definitely don't need 100' unless you want to make it really long.

Each handle is made from 1/2" PVC pipe on the inside, connected to a T connector on either side, with a 1" PVC sleeve that goes over the inner pipe (this way the handles rotate, which is very helpful for bicep curls and flys and things like that).

So find the middle (this is so there's a foot loop at the bottom, I tied another loop into that to use as a toe loop, but that isn't really necessary), tie some knots where you want the bottom of the handle to go, (I used double overhand stopper knots) and thread a handle over both ends of the rope until it hits the knots. I thought my rope was thick enough to not go through the holes in the T connectors with a knot, but I was wrong, so I also looped the rope through each T once to make sure it stayed in place. So the idea was for the knot to hold each handle in place, but instead it just stops the loop around the handle from sliding down.

Continue until you have as many handles as you want. On mine there's a handle about every 6".

I don't really recommend copying this idea directly though, it can be done a lot more easily than this. On mine, I had the idea that I might not want rotating handles sometimes, or maybe I could make some thick handles or something and wouldn't want to always use them, so I made it possible to take apart and change the handles. Well, I never did any of that, ever, so the the T connectors are completely unnecessary if you don't want to be able to take it apart. With the T connectors it gets kind of wide and bulky too.

So with that in mind it would be a whole lot easier to just cut lengths of the 1/2" pipe an inch or two longer than the 1" pipe and drill holes in the ends, and thread the rope through the holes. This would also eliminate the loop around the T connectors and save a lot of rope since you can make a hole small enough to keep the rope from slipping through with just a knot. You also don't really need rotating handles everywhere, such as the upper handles you're probably only using for pullups, so you might want to just go with a single pipe with no outer sleeve on those.

Sarcoplasmic wrote:This sounds like no sewing was necessary (i presume)?

Nope, but I'm using a new set of handles now, which are adjustable, and required sewing some webbing. (http://i44.tinypic.com/43ij8.jpg) Get a sewing awl for under $10 somewhere and it's not that hard. It's a pain in the ass and takes too long, but it's no worse than tying all those knots.

The downside of the ladders is that they're big and clunky (but if you made them without T connectors like I suggested you could make them a lot "slimmer") and at least on my setup, they were in the way a lot, but I have mine on a power tower, not out in the open, which would be a lot better.

The rope is also a pain to work with, placing the knots properly and figuring out how much the rope will stretch when your weight is on it (not much, but it does stretch a little). A webbing solution would probably be better. I didn't want to deal with sewing webbing at the time. Now that I've done it though, sewing webbing isn't a big deal.

Another downside to making them with the T's is that while the whole point was to make it possible to take the handles apart, that means it's possible for the handles to COME apart... That hasn't happened to me, they're pretty tight, but be careful with that. Better to just not use the T's in the first place.

The handles I use now are just a strip of webbing and some cam buckles for quick adjustments. These stay out of my way a lot better, but having to adjust the height is a pain compared to the ladders, even though they adjust easily enough. I think I'd stick with the ladder idea if I had a good place to hang them that was free from power tower dip handles getting in the way.

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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby Sarcoplasmic » Tue May 26, 2009 11:29 pm

Fucking impressive. The patience and effort you put into this is great. I have to admit, i have yet to grasp the full gist of making the whole thing but at face value, this thing looks cool. I was really waiting for pix so thanks for posting this.

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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby mattscarm » Wed May 27, 2009 7:50 am

Thanks from me, too.

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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby Beev » Wed May 27, 2009 9:46 am

Nice job Rex!

I was thinking about using making a pair of ladders too. It will be a while, as im still enjoying all the benefits of the TRX style device I made.

To build my ladders, Im thinking of the following:

Equipment needed

-length of 1 inch PVC pipe
-thin rope
-Box to measure (my best idea is to build a box out of wood, taking multiple planks about 5 inches wide and fixing them together until the depth is almost the same as the width, it depends on how much distance you need between each "rung")

Once this is done, I was thinking of cutting the lengths of 1 inch PVC into 5 inch lengths, then getting some lengths of rope about 2 feet in length, maybe a little longer, with the box separating the rungs, then threading the rope through both rungs tighten up the rope around the box and knot it, this in theory will give you a loop that will connect the rungs together and also have them all the exact distance apart, for example, if your box is 5 inches wide and 6 inches deep, you are theoretically going to have all rungs on your ladders 5 inches wide and 6 inches distance between all rungs. Then thread the rope though one of the rungs on your last loop made and then through a new rung, tie it up around the box and then remove the box, your next run should be the exact same width and height as the last one!

Hope this makes sense. It will be a long time before I get the money spare to put this project into practice, but when I do I will take pics as I do it so you people can get the gist of what im talking about.


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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby Rex Banner » Wed May 27, 2009 2:34 pm

Keep in mind when you're using rope and knots, it'll all look perfect until you put weight on it the first time, and all the knots tighten farther than you were able to pull them by hand and the rope stretches a bit, and everything is not quite as exact anymore... So go a little too short on everything so it ends up where you want it to be.

For spacing I measured the amount of rope that needed to be between rungs (I think it came out to be like 3-4 inches per rung on mine), and marked where the bottom of the next knot needed to be. Then I tied the knot to line up with that mark.

My rungs aren't completely perfectly spaced, but they came out pretty close.

Webbing would be a lot more accurate.

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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby Yogaboxer » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:32 am


How does it hold up under pressure? The two parts of the handles stay together?

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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby CTAC » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:29 am

thats pretty cool
i just have 2 chains that are hung from hooks and each chain has 4 chain loops of about 2 feet long with 8 inch pvc handles, the loops are attached with carabiners.
the highest loop is for pullups, next is for dips, next is for body rows and last one is for pushups.
i got a circuit i do on the chain that goes like this
bw squats, pushups, body rows, pistols, dips, pullups, rest, repeat as needed

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Re: Universal strength apparatus

Postby Rex Banner » Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:37 pm

Yogaboxer wrote:Rex,

How does it hold up under pressure? The two parts of the handles stay together?

One time while doing some rows a handle came apart on me, but that's the only time I've ever had any issue with that. Just make sure they're pushed in tight. Or better yet, just don't use the T connectors and drill a hole through the inner handle instead, then there's no chance of it coming apart. If I made them again I wouldn't bother with the T's.

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