Monday, June 11, 2012

Build something better

Morihei Ueshiba (The founder of Aikido) said do not abandon the warrior arts of the past. Absorb venerable traditions of the old ways into this Art by clothing them with fresh garments, and building on the classic styles to create better forms.

On the logo of the training company is the Latin phrase - AUT VIAM INVENIAM AUT FACIAM
Meaning “I will find a way or I will make a way”

The phrase has been attributed to Hannibal; when his generals told him it was impossible to cross the Alps by elephant

I chose that motto because I searched for a way for a long time but nothing fit my needs so I made my own way.

Recently I have found that same philosophy can be used for for lots of things.  Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.

So what inspired this blog?

For a long time I looked for the best strength training program.  I have come to find body weight strength training – specifically suspension training works best for me.  I described this program recently on this blog.

The equipment I use for this training is the USA by Body Weight Culture.  I have had great success with this product.  However, I have also cracked two of the handles.  There is really no good way to repair the handles that I have found.  At least not a good way to repair them to be able to handle my body weight at the intensity I like training at, and Body Weight Culture no longer sells this product.

So again I am faced with finding a way or making a way.  Suspension training works best for me, so I decided to make my own suspension body weight strength training apparatus.

I call it the Gorilla Ladder

First some guidelines:
  • Must be made of high quality materials
  • Must be able to withstand heavy guys beating the hell out of it
  • Must be easy to transport
  • Must be easy to use anywhere
  • Must be able to be built, repaired, or replaced by easily obtainable materials
  • Must be economical
  • Must work

Just like martial arts respect your roots keep what is useful modify it for your purposes disregard the rest

So taking things I liked from the Body Weight Culture Protégé and USA
  • Both are portable, both can be hung over head, and both can be attached to a door for indoor use.
  • I liked the multiple handles of the USA, and the adjustable handles of the Protégé
Modifying for my specific needs:
Thicker / Fatter handles for grip training – diameter
Thicker sturdier handle materials – PVC
More space between handles
Adjustable handles

How I built mine –
  • 50’ of ½ inch nylon / poly blend rope (high weight capacity)
  • 10’ of 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe
  • 4 high weight capacity (300 lbs or more) spring links (carabineer)
You can get all of that stuff for $35-$40

How to build:
  • Cut the rope into 2 – 25’ lengths
  • Burn the ends of the ropes and tape them into what will be for all intents and purposes 4- 2” “needles
  • Fold the ropes into 2 – 12 ½ ‘ lengths
  • Measure 3” from either side of the center and tie your first knots there.  That builds the 6" foot straps
  • Cut the PVC into 12 – 6” lengths
  • Drill at least ½ “to 9/16 “holes 1” in from either side.  That gives you 4” of usable grip area
  • Thread the “needles” through the holes in the PVC all the way down to the 1st knots
  • Tie knots on top of the PVC
  • Measure 9” on the ropes and tie your next set of knots
  • Repeat this process 5 more times for a total of 6 handles
  • Measure 18” on the ropes and tie on the carabineers.  I used a fancy knot shown on the package the rope came in.
Here is a link to show you how to tie knots

I did a test run working out with it today.  It worked great.  It met my specific needs because I built it for me.  Case in point the USA handles are 6” apart.  It is tough for me to fit me feet into that when I’m wearing shoes.  With a 9” space that was easy and I didn’t waste time flopping on the ground trying to get my feet in and out so I kept my heart rate up.  When I needed the handles to be closer together I just looped them through shrinking the gap to about 6” just like the USA.

So no one knows you like you know you.  You are your own best teacher.  Go make your own way.  Build something better.

If you want to try out Suspension Body Weight Training follow that plan and make your own gear.  If you have more money than time and you want me to build you one let me know in the comments bellow.  I figure $60 plus shipping is a fair price

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe


  1. Important safety tip:
    Apparently you are not supposed to grab a 1/2" drill bit while it is spinning if you enjoy using your hand.

  2. This is totally awesome. You made a great workout equipment, one that is finally "Kasey" proof. I am so totally getting one of those. You certainly are a walking advertisement for its effectiveness.

  3. I was motivated to make my own adjustable suspension trainer like the TRX, out of cargo straps, pvc and carabineers. All from home depot/meynards for $50.

  4. Awesome, my original design required 2 carabineers for each handle. But they cost like $3-4 each so I went with knots instead

  5. Thanks for sharing this.....Loved your concept and interiors!!!!!Keep sharing!!!

    best weight training program