Assembly details for a curling bench, a calf block, seated and standing calf machines, a “lat” worker and a hyperextension bench.
In Build Home Fitness Equipment With Wood, Virginia bodybuilder Carlos DeJesus described two workout machines that he and his training partner developed in the process of constructing—believe it or not—a home gym made entirely of wood ... a setup that eventually helped them both win national championships a couple of years ago.
Now, we didn't expect our readers to take up bodybuilding with the ardor of these athletes, but we did figure that for about $200 (Carlos's estimate of his expenses for his eight-piece gym, excluding weights), a health conscious person with few carpentry skills could enjoy the benefits of a real fitness center with out having to deal with crowded facilities or monthly fees.
At first, we thought we'd detail just two pieces of home fitness equipment from Carlos's wooden gym: the incline/flat pressing bench and the leg curl/extension machine shown in Build Home Fitness Equipment With Wood. But, after constructing and using these two bodybuilding implements, our staffers were impressed enough with each one's simplicity and function to give the remaining six a try. So in this article you'll find assembly details for a curling bench, a calf block, seated and standing calf machines, a "lat" worker, and a hyperextension bench.
If you've worked on simple wood-framing projects before, this undertaking shouldn't tax your time or patience ... but even if you haven't, you'll find that construction of these machines is essentially a cut-and-paste operation, requiring only a handsaw, a drill (with 5/64", 1/8", 3/16", and 3/8" bits, and 1/2" and 1 1/8" hole saws), a countersink, a screwdriver, a wrench set, a tape measure, and some carpenter's glue.
The list of materials given for each machine itemizes the quantity and dimensions of the parts needed to build it, and the illustrations (see Image Gallery) indicate how the pieces fit together. When selecting lumber for the various implements, look for sound, knot-free, and relatively straight construction-grade pieces. Also, to save yourself some unnecessary aggravation, trial fit the parts together before drilling the screw holes and ultimately gluing and fastening the joints.
The manner in which you finish the wood will be up to you, but it'd be a good idea to sand any rough spots and edges before applying the paint or varnish. And, of course, you'll want to pad—using foam sheeting or carpet scraps—any points at which the equipment will come in contact with your body, since bare 2 X 4's could raise some pretty mean bruises in short order!
Once everything's completed, you'll be able to "exercise" the same freedom that Mr. DeJesus enjoys in his own home gym. But don't overdo it: Start with moderate weight levels to get a feel for your own physical limits and the capabilities of your equipment, then gradually increase your working load.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Carlos DeJesus has written a booklet How To Build Your Own Wooden Gym, which illustrates the assembly of all eight pieces of workout equipment. Information on this publication, plus another dealing with his Natural Instinctive Training program, is available from him through The School of Natural Bodybuilding.
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