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The best piece of home exercise equipment you could ever have?  The basic kettlebell.

But I can do you one better.  How?

You’re looking at it.

When it comes to exercise equipment, you can have cheap, effective or eye-catching: pick two.

In this case, what we have here is cheap and effective.  You’ll have to reserve eye-catching for the body comp changes you’ll see after putting this bad-boy to work.

Do yourself a BIG favor.  Go to your local hardware store today, and grab the following:

  • 2 x 4-inch threaded pipe “nipples”.  Get the 1-¼” size, unless your hands are small.  In that case 1” might suffice.
  • 1 x 1-¼” “tee”
  • 1 x 1-¼” x 10” “riser”.  This serves as the plate “tree”.  The unit you see here is made with a 10” piece of threaded pipe.  8” doesn’t provide enough plate loading room.  12” make for (in my opinion) an unwieldy swing.
  • The bottom piece (which is hidden by plates in the top photo, and which is still attached to the riser in the bottom photo) is a 1-¼” end cap.
  • An assortment of garage sale plates.  25 and 35 lbs work great.  45s are too wide to allow for a proper stance. Then flesh out the assortment with 10s, 5s and 2-1/2s if you like.

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You don’t have to use the 1-1/4  sized threaded pipe, either.  That’s just what works for me.  You can go larger or smaller depending on how it feels in your hand.

Oh, and grab some thread tape while you’re at the hardware store.  Helps keep all the connections snug.  And a couple of small or medium pipe wrenches to put it all together.  Vise Grips or Channel Locks would work in a pinch as well.

Yeah, you could collect an expensive assortment of real kettlebells.  Even some stamped with snarling gorilla mugs and super-hero logos and whatnot.  And while that’s cool and all (they do make awesome doorstops!), at the end of the day we’re just looking for a device that we can effectively swing.  And even better,  one that we can, with relative ease, change the loading of.

The top photo shows my ghettobell loaded to 110 lbs.  I’ve had it loaded to 160 lbs+.  That’s more than enough for even the most beastly of swing sessions.  Need more load?  Just opt for a longer riser.  Though I’ve done that and, yeah, the swing arc does become a bit wonky.

What to do with the Ghettobell once it’s assembled

Ahhhhh yeah, here’s where the fun starts!

In the video below, you see we’ve simply paired swings with decline pushups.  You can’t get any more basic than that.  The world is your oyster, though — get creative as you want to!

I generally pair swings with an upper body pushing movement: push-ups, dips, overhead presses, handstand pushups, etc.

But you can get extra cruel to the lower body and use the swings in a superset with squats, lunges (a for sure puke inducer), or sprints.

Hell, I’ve even paired swings with car pushes.  That REALLY makes the neighbors think your bat-shit crazy.  They’ll only come around (sheepishly) when they need help moving.  Both a blessing and a curse.

Some days, when I’m in an especially long working grind at the home office, I’ll just do swings on the hour.  2 or 3 quick sets of 20 or so.  Then, back to the grind.  You can rack up some serious daily volume that way.

The point is, there really is no limit to what you can put together.  And it’s all there waiting quietly for you — in one nice, neat, little package — in your garage.

I’ve been utilizing the ghettobell quite a bit in the #chainstogains transformation of the Big Cat, Kleat Norris. Because there are those days where hitting the gym is simply not practical, for whatever reason.  The body, though, doesn’t give a single gawt-damn about practicality.  It only knows if it was put to use or not; if it has to perform or not.  And it adjusts accordingly.

Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world ~

Keith

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