Making Your Own Gym Equipment : DIY Grip Tools

There's nothing quite like building your own.

Wide Plate Pinch
Wide Plate Pinch.
This month, Run To Win and Straight to the Bar will be looking at the many possibilities when it comes to home-made training equipment. To kick things off, I'll be investigating several ways to keep your hands and forearms in great condition - DIY Grip Tools.

As you may have gathered, I love home-made exercise equipment. This is perhaps most evident when it comes to grip training - definitely a passion. Here, then, are instructions for making your own hand, wrist and grip tools.

Hands and fingers

If you've ever watched a rock climber at work - or performed a bit of climbing yourself - you'll appreciate just how strong the hands and fingers need to be. Accordingly, several items from climbers' training routines are featured here. Enjoy.

Campus board

Invented by Wolfgang Güllich, the Campus board is a superb piece of training equipment. The video shows it in action; Metolius is definitely the place to go when it comes to making one. Full instructions on construction and use - and they'll even sell you the stuff if needed.

Rice and a bowl

This is about as simple as it gets. Rice digs are a great way to toughen up your fingers and hands, and make use of equipment you've already got in the kitchen. Grab a large bowl, half fill it with rice; plunge your hands in. Repeat.

Note : if the rice doesn't present enough of a challenge, try using sand, lead shot or any other cheap, granular material. Oh, and don't be tempted to eat the stuff afterwards.

Grip strength

Softball Implement

Recently Jedd showed how to make a softball grip implement. Cheap, simple and quick to make. Perfect.


Ever tried holding a pile of bricks by pinch-gripping the bottom one? Ironmind's Stacker performs the same task; letting you adjust the weight easily in small increments. If your welding skills are OK, knock up your own. This video shows a home-made version in action.

Horizontal Pinch Device

In last year's home-made equipment competition, Chris Rice came up with a brilliantly simple way of training the pinch grip. Superb idea.

Loadable plates

Wide pinch plates
Wide pinch plates.
This surely rates as the simplest piece of grip equipment I've ever constructed; consisting solely of two nuts, two bolts and a length of chain (perhaps 2' or 3').

One end of the chain is looped through a plate, and 'tied off' using one of the nut+bolt pairs. The other end of the chain is passed through another plate, and held there using the second nut+bolt. The picture at the top of this article show it in use.

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Brilliant device. If your shoulders aren't quite as flexible as you'd like, grab The Rotater. Love it.
Already got one? Looking for something specific? Swing by the Straight to the Bar Store. It's all in there.


Wrist Roller

Wrist Roller
Wrist Roller.
This was one of the first pieces of equipment I made when I started working out. Although there are several variations possible, the rack-mounted version over on Dave Draper's site is perhaps my favourite.


Clubs are great things. Although they're one of the few items I tend to buy rather than make, there have been several attempts at constructing the perfect home-made equivalent.

Top of the list is Fightraining's sand-filled approach. Details here. An alternative is demonstrated in the video below.


Although it isn't always regarded as a piece of grip equipment, there's no doubt that a dose of sandbag training will put your fingers, hands and forearms to the test. Of course there are several ways to construct these; here's how I make mine.


If you happen to have a fitness ball lying around, here's a great use for it. Over to Ross Enamait.

Altering existing equipment

Fattened Bar
Fattened Bar.
One of the quickest ways to alter your existing equipment - so as to increase the level of grip work involved - is to fatten up the handles. This has an instant impact, and applies to dumbbell and barbell handles, and chinning bars.

To see just one way to do this, take a look at my own fattened-up chinning bar. Good fun.

Of course there are many, many other ways to enhance your grip training. What are some of your favourite pieces of home-made grip equipment?

Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 37) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

Find out what he's up to via Twitter, Facebook, the Daily 'Paper'; and of course his online home. Enjoy.

Like this? Check out :

DIY Equipment Ideas.

Stuck for ideas? Try these.

DIY: Home-Made Gym Equipment.

Have you ever considered building your own lifting platform? Climbing wall? Stones for Strongman training?

The Bodyweight Aficionado's Guide to Gear.

A few extras that can add a whole lot of possibilities.

70 of the Best : 7 Years of Straight to the Bar.

This site - Straight to the Bar - has been around for an incredible 7 years (the first post was on Jan 17th, 2004), and to say I'm grateful is a gross understatement.

Thank you.

From the Archives : DIY Gym Equipment.

There's something inherently satisfying about building things yourself.

Of course, if you enjoyed these, I'd highly recommend grabbing the Strength & Fitness Newsletter. Delivered weekly, and absolutely free.

(there's also a Daily Update, if you're looking for an even larger dose of training-related goodness.)

NB : If you'd like to write a guest post for Straight to the Bar, or if you'd like to join the team of Moderators here (I love hearing about everyone's training approaches) - get in touch. And if you've got a fitness competition or seminar coming up, add it to the calendar.

Look forward to hearing from you.

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