Updated: Jan 26
There is no getting around the fact that in writing this I am in some say trying to convince you, the reader, to go buy some pipe and pipe fittings. But wait, believe it or not, there is actually some very compelling reasons to go buy pipe fittings. No I do not have stock in the pipe fititng industry.
Instead what I am getting at here is what is most often called a T-Bar. It is a very simple piece of training kit. It is exactly what it sounds like: a bar with a T added. The outlay for this piece of training kit is small, but it can be a very nice addition to a small garage gym. And it can add some effective and unique movements to your arsenal.
A beauty of this project is that it doesn’t require any tools – just screw the parts together by hand and its done. A gentle introduction to the joy of do-it-yourself life if you will.
To get a clearer idea of how to make it, have a look at the following video:
The T-bar is loaded with standard or olympic sized weight plates – just take care that the diameter of the bar doesn’t exceede the diameter of the weight plate. It is also feasible to load the T-bar with more non traditional weights: I have utilized used brake pads in the past. They do not stack as neatly as standard weight plates, but they are free, and you do not have to worry about them rusting (they will already be throughly rusted when you get to them.)
You can certainly upgrade the T-bar beyond it is basic shape. A clamp is a nice option for locking the plates into place. I typically do not bother with it. Some sort of grip tape can be added as a bit of luxury.
The exercises that can be done with a T-bar are mostly for the lower body. The most obvious choice is to utilize the T-bar for swings. The swings can be loaded beyond the normal kettlebell sizes, and you don’t need to buy a new kettlebell to do heavier swings. Stronger humans often run out of utility with smallish kettlebells. Now it does not have to be so. With the T-bar it is possible to do swings in excess of 50kg. Obviously work into that kind of thing slowly.
Another option is deadlifts. The grip will be slightly narrower than normal – but for smaller humans, not excessively so. The length of the pin will limit the load, but for some beginning trainees it can go a long way.
In the more obscure department the T-bar allows for pancake style jefferson curls, standing between two equally sized boxes. A potent strength flexibility drill.
It is also possible to use the T-bar as a way to load belt squats: a dip belt is fed through the T pipe fitting, the adjacent pieces of pipe that make up the “handles” are removed. By standing on two boxes of similar height you can squat to an adequate depth. Seeing as belt squats is a terribly underrated exercise, but next to no-one has access to a belt squat machine this is a very useful workaround.
There is bound to be many other uses for the T-bar, you are welcome to leave a comment with your favourite t-bar movements. Even with this short list of exercises the T-bar represents a useful addition to the small garage gym. Give it a go.