$42 Static Lift Exercise Gym




Introduction: $42 Static Lift Exercise Gym

About: I love making things just to prove that I could.

Weight equipment can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. It takes up tons of space and there is more than ample opportunity to injure yourself.

For $42 I've designed a device that can get you the same level of workout. It rolls up and can be tucked away in the space between your dresser and the wall. AND the chances of hurting yourself are practically nill because there is no actual weight involved.

PLEASE NOTE!! I am currently in the process of applying for a patent on a slightly more complex version of this device. But I figured instructables was the perfect place to share my prototype.

It works the same way as a static lift, or basically a lift where you just hold massive amounts of weights without moving it. I will go more into the science of how it works in the next step.

I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Justin. One day he discovered the method of training that inspired me to design this. I figured why use hundreds of pounds of weight when we could simply use our bodies?

Step 1: How It Works

The idea is fairly simple. You have a bar with two chains that attach it to a base plate. You stand on the base plate and lift against the bar. No matter how hard you lift that bar will not budge, but believe me you will feel it in your muscles!

Resistance training has been around for ages. For an example press your hands together in from of your chest and press as hard as you can. You will feel your chest muscles flare up. THAT is how this things works.

The chain adjusts in length at the base plate so that you can do different lifts with different lengths of chain. Simply determine the height it needs to be and lock it in. Then lift like you were trying to rip the entire thing to pieces.

This kind of lift is called a Static lift, in that it does not move. Normally you would do a static lift on a traditional weight bar by stacking up as much weight as you can physically handle and then holding it up for 5-10 seconds. This engages more types of muscle (fast twitch and slow twitch) than regular repetition. With this device you don't need to guess what you max is, simply give it your all. .

One thing to keep in mind is that each lift is held at the Strongest Point of a lift. For instance in bench press if your arms are bent at 45 degree angles you have very little power, the closer to being strait they are the more power you can generate. It's an issue of leverage. The straighter your body the more power. In all my examples we demonstrate the strongest point of that lift.

So how do you work out exactly?

I will describe one of many ways this can be used. This method is loosely based off the Static Contraction Lifting system designed by a weight lifting genius Pete Sisco (Look him up, you wont regret it). He used biology and mathematics to work up a system with the least amount of work for the greatest amount of gains. I wont go into details but do yourself a favor and look him up, he has several books published.

NOTE: due to the unbelievably amazing claims people tend to disbelieve his system actually works. But if you do some research there is tons of evidence it does. I myself use it and it seems to be working great. Regardless if you believe or not this device can still give you a great workout.

For each lift described later in this instructable only do the lift ONCE. I know, too easy, right? If you feel must, you can do more but science shows once is all you need. Simply enter the lift and hold it for 5-10 seconds lifting with all your might. Try to break the chain!. After 5-10 seconds exit the lift, shake your limbs a bit and then set up the next lift.

It's recommended to only do each lift once a week. This gives your muscles enough time to fully repair. When you use them (heavy loads, not day to day stuff) twice a week or more you are actually slowing the recovery time and making it harder to grow muscle.

SO: if you want you can do all the lifts in one sitting once a week. Or to gain even more benefit split them up into two separate workouts. Do one one day, wait a few days and then do the other. For Example:


Overhead Press
Dead Lift
Wide grip bench press


Calf Raises
Close Grip bench press

Again this is but one example. Do some research and decide on a workout that works for you.

Now, to the fun part!

Step 2: Supplies

Supplies you will need.
The cost of each item was recorded from my local hardware store, it may vary where you are.

1pc - 2"x8" piece of Hardwood eight foot long. Cut in half. --------------- Price: $6.24

1pc - 1" conduit pipe found in the electrical section Cut to 4 foot long. Price: $6.89

15' -  Welded strait link chain weight capacity of 545 lbs. $1.10/foot -- Price: $16.50

4pc - Eye Bolts. Zinc plated 5/16" by 4"   -    $0.67 each  ------------------  Price: $2.68

8pc - 5/16" Nuts  at $0.10 each --------------------------------------------------  Price: $0.80

6pc - 5/16" washers at $0.10 each ---------------------------------------------  Price: $0.60

2pc - 5/16" Fender Washers at $0.15 each ----------------------------------  Price: $0.30

4pc - Quick Links (660 lb load) at $1.99 each -------------------------------  Price: $7.96

TOTAL COST ------------ $41.97

Other things you will need

-Something to cut the wood, chain and pipe (all of which can be done at time of purchase at most hardware stores)

-Electric drill or drill press
               - 5/16" drill bit
               - 1-1/2" spade bit

-JB weld or someone who can weld

Step 3: Sealing the Eye Bolts

When you purchase the eye bolts they will most likely not be a solid ring on the end as you see in my picture. If you have access to someone who can weld have them close it. If not slap on a glob of JB weld epoxy.

IF YOU DO NOT.... then the weight rating is not enough to hold up to extended use.

do not skip this step!

Step 4: Making the Bar

Using 1 inch conduit cut a 4 foot length. You can ask the guys at the hardware store to do this. If they say they don't know how go over to plumbing and ask them.

Once you have your 4 foot section measure in and mark 3 inches from both ends. On these marks drill a hole strait through with your 5/16" bit.
NOTE!! Make sure that both your holes are parallel

Now take one of your eye bolts and attach them like in the picture.
For those who can't see the picture you have threaded onto the bolt :  nut - washer- pipe - washer - nut

Set up both sides like this.

This here will be the bar that you hold onto for all your lifts.

Tip: After you have made the entire thing and made sure it works go back and use either super glue or thread lock on all the bolts. You don't want them coming undone during a lift

Step 5: Drilling the Board

A note about the wood. You MUST use hardwood. The hardwood will be plenty strong unless you are an Olympic class lifter. Softer woods however will be too weak and rip through. Also the board in my pictures was only a 2x6. After making it I realized a slightly wider base would be much easier to stand on. If all you have is a 2x6 though it will work just fine.


3 inches from both ends of the board drill a hole with your 5/16" bit.

Then using your 1-1/2 inch spade bit recess a small hole just barely deep enough to fit the fender washer and a nut. Try not to go any further than this as it weakens the wood
NOTE!! Only recess one side of the board, this will be the bottom.

Step 6: Bolting the Board

Now attach your eye bolts to the bottom On the top of the wood use a nut and a regular cut washer. On the bottom use a fender washer and a nut. Try to thread it perfectly flush on the bottom since this is facing the floor. Too long and it will make your base plate rock back and forth.

After that attach a quick link to each of the 2 eye bolts.

This is the base plate uppon which you will be standing.

 After you have made the entire thing and made sure it works go back and use either super glue or thread lock on all the bolts. You don't want them coming undone during a lift

Step 7: Choosing the Chain

When picking out your chain look closely at the load limit. Go for at least 500 lbs. I got 545 lb chain.

The reason you need so much is that this equipment is used to train at the strongest point of a lift. If a person can bench press 135 lbs than at the strongest point of their lift they could probably lift 300 lbs. The reason the full lift is so much less is because at a certain point your joints are at a weak leverage point. In general the straighter your body and limbs are the stronger they are.

For an example me and my body builder friend stacked 625 lbs on his leg press (that's all the weight we had) and were easily able to do mini 6" reps with it.

Now with this project there are 2 chains so your weight limit doubles from 545 to 1090 lbs.

ALSO it helps if you put a piece of tape or zip tie every 5-10 links. This make it much easier to line up the two sides later when you are adjusting the length of the chain.

Step 8: Attaching the Chain

Using the quick links attach a chain to each side of the bar. The chain will never have to be adjusted near the bar so simply attach and leave it there.

On your base plate (the board) the chain will be constantly adjusted in length for different lifts. Once you determine how long you need your chain to be use the quick link to attach the chain at that point.

Congratulations!! You are now done!!

NOTE!! Make sure your quick links are always tightened before a lift. A loose quick link looses it's load limit and can be bent out of shape with enough strain.

Step 9: Odds and Ends

Fist thing in this step you need to make a cushion for your shoulders for lifting Squats and calf raises. Without it the bar will dig painfully (but not dangerously) into your shoulders and neck.

To make this take you pipe insulation and cut two pieces. One piece 18 inches and the other 17. Wrap the 17 incher around the outside of the 18 incher and wrap the entire thing around the bar.

The Next thing to address is the back board for the bench press. No work required here. You remember how we cut the 2x8 into two 4 foot sections? Place the second section against your base plate like a T and place a pillow or couch cushion above it all for a head rest. (see the picture) You only need these parts for the bench press.

Step 10: Lift 1: Overhead Press

Lift # 1 - The Overhead press.

This exercise works out your shoulder muscles.

Stand perfectly straight with feel shoulder width apart. Your elbows should be just slightly bent. Press strait up at hard as you can. Make sure your wrists stay straight and don't roll back at all.

Step 11: Lift 2: Calf Raise

Lift #2 the Calf Raise

This exercise works out your calves, the small round muscle on the back of your lower leg.

To do the lift place the bar across the back of your neck and shoulders. Stand perfectly strait with your feet shoulder width apart. Press down with the ball of your foot to raise your heel slightly.

NOTE: This lift may take some practice if you find it difficult to balance on the balls of your feet. Keep at it though, it's well worth it!

Step 12: Lift 3: Squat

Lift #3: The Squat

Considered by many to be one of the most beneficial lifts ever. The main muscle you should be feeling the burn in is your quads (front of your thighs)

NOTE: if you want it is recommended to wear a weight belt with this lift. Since we have taken out the actual weight issue I don't know if it's still required. I'll have to ask my friend next time I see him

To do this lift you will have the bar lying across your neck and shoulders. Hold the bar just to help steady it. Your butt will be back slightly and your knees bent.  Lift with your legs, not your back.

Step 13: Lift 4: Shrug

Lift #4 the Shrug

This workout hits your Trapezius muscles, the muscles between your neck and shoulders. Very important for fortifying the neck and they make you look like a bad ass (among other benefits).

To do this stand strait, feet shoulder width and hold the bar with your arms all the way down. Lift with your shoulders ONLY. Shrug them like when you don't know the answer to a question.

Step 14: Lift 5: Dead Lift

Lift #5 the Dead Lift

This lift works out your back. That part of you that always loves to go out once you hit your mid twenties. A strong back is an essential for a healthy pain free body.

NOTE: This lift it is recommended to use a weight belt. Again I'm not certain if it's necessary but hey, why gamble with your back? Even one of the elastic ones would help.

To do this lift stand with legs shoulder width or slightly over, bend your knees and lean your back forward just a tad. Grab the bar with arms strait down and lift with your back.

I'll say again lift with your back, not your legs or arms. Keep your back strait the entire time (lean forward but keep your back strait)

Be careful with this lift, don't press yourself too hard. The back is a fickle thing and easy to throw out. Still I would highly recommend this lift, the stronger your back the less likely it will go out on day to day tasks

Step 15: Lift 6: Seated Curl

Lift #6 The Seated Curl

The Curl works out your biceps, the muscle on the front of your upper arm.

We found you get a better curl when seated. To do this get a chair with 4 legs. Place the first two legs on top of the base plate as illustrated. This allows the downward force to travel through the chair legs rather than your feet and holds the base plate in place.

Now sit in the chair. Your upper arms should be perfectly aligned with your torso and your forearms at about a 45 degree angle. Your grip should be at shoulder width. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body and lift as if trying to touch the bar to your collar bone.

Step 16: Lift 7: Bench Press

Lift #7 The bench press

There are two variations of the bench press that we will go into here.

1. Wide grip bench press. By gripping as wide as you can you work out your chest muscles.

2. Tight grip bench press. By gripping about 10 inches apart you work out your tricep muscles. The muscle on the back of your upper arm.

Regardless of which grip style you use the lift is basically the same.

First place the 2nd board and pillow in place as describes in step 8. Now lay down ontop of it all, the base plate should rest at the bottom to slightly under your shoulder blades. Try lifting gently to get a feel of where it's most comfortable. Your head should rest on the pillow. Now press strait up from your chest, Your elbows should be slightly bent.

If you are using wide grip try to focus on you chest muscles working. If you are using tight grip focus on your triceps.

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    This exercise technique is not particularly new. It was called isometrics many years ago. Measure your blood pressure while you're straining. It can shoot sky high, far more dangerously than a person lifting weights with range of motion. A young, healthy person can do this without showing overt immediate damage. Better make sure your system has plenty of warnings about this.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey there. This is fantastic....I was looking at the 1rep gym for $3500!! This is obviously better :)

    If I wanted to do the leg press rather than the squat, would there be a way to lie on an angled board (not sure how that would work) and press up on the bar (or something else that would keep the feet securely in place - like a platform)?

    Also, had you given any thought to something that would allow for a lat pull down? I was thinking of maybe a post and the chain coming down from that...but wasn't sure how to do that.

    Just thought I'd ask if you (or someone) has thought of that....not great with coming up with the ideas myself...



    11 years ago on Introduction

    I have thought about this quite awhile ago. The concept seems to have valid points.
    I never did get to the point of really designing and fabricating any sort of apparatus for those purposes.
    My ideal would have been to utilize "max contraction" exercises in a "full-range of exercise motion".
    I know that you have mentioned changing the lengths (links) of chain to vary the effect - but I would have attempted to perform an exercise motion - say, the squat - through a series of segmented max contraction instances (Start at bottom - or top - of exercise motion, max-contrract, move constraints to the next interval, max-contract, move again, - so on and so forth until the complete range of the squat is completed).

    From what I have read about the main proponent of this type of training is very much considered a fraud by many.
    I do not buy into that thinking. I am willing to try this for a reasonable amount of time and then draw my own conclusion. I do not believe that this is the one answer for everything. So I would still incorporate the other conventional exercise techniques.
    Great job! In the least, you have re-newed my interest in this theory of training.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Glad you liked it! I can tell you from experience that it does increase muscle mass. Whether it's to the extent they claim I can't say, I'm kinda lazy :) but you definitely get a pump.

    charles ervin
    charles ervin

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I had something like this when I was a kid, but the top and bottom were made of round wooden dowels (maybe 1 " dia.) and were connected with heavy duty springs instead of chains. This gave good resistance and even more with height. I guess you could put some springs in with the chains so you could adjust them. I was thinking of using garage door springs. Maybe someone can come up with some other type of spring. Just a thought. Good luck. Brook


    11 years ago on Introduction

    To make the static chain version all you have to do is buy the black pipe with the screw ends in the plumbing else of home depot, then screw in a T fitting, I used the monkey wrench off the home depot shelf to screw mine in... Then put it back of course...then you can run a chain through it and use a 500lbs quick release clip to secure it (like the rock climbers use)...completely adjustable on the fly. For the bottom just buy hardwood you can cut it in the store too and screw in some circle bolts attach the chain to the bold with some strong screw joint things (you will see what I'm talking about when you're at the store) and you are good to go....it took 20mins and works like a champ...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Nice set up. One thing I would change is to use a U-bolt instead of eyebots.


    Nice Ible- The issue of static vs range of motion is moot. The two are very different, while both are important they work different things. This a good, easy to use, effective device to train muscle fiber recruitment but not work range of motion. Range of motion devices (such as free weights) work range of motion effectively but don't recruit as fully as this. I don't think there is one thing that does it all. I could see this as part of a strengthening program but it might not be part of a rehab program that is geared towards ROM (physical therapy for example). Over all - well done!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Very true I'm not sure how effective it would be for therapy. One point though is that one of my friends has fibromyalgia and can't lift normal weights because it hurts too much. She wants to use this device to see if it works better since it is self paced and virtually weightless. I will update when she has some results, I should have one made for her by the end of this weekend. Thanks again!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    nice idea, but I thought I saw something similar a few months ago in a store

    not really my cup of tea though, rather use dumb/kettlebells over static exercises.
    you'd have to do the same exercise in almost all of the ranges of motion to apply the increase in strength in regular weight lifting

    it's great though if you've found a sticking point in say your squat, halfway up you can't get farther, then this can help you get through.

    nonetheless I can see myself pulling that chain out of the piece of wood, especially in the deadlift

    you could change the rigid chains to some very strong rubber cords and then you can use it to do regular exercises.

    would make it "dual purpose" if you'd embed that into the original design or product package

    great work rabidiga


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks :) I have an attachment on the complex version which allows for a range of motion so I Kind of include that. For the cheap version though I'm not sure how you would do that short of using a ton of bungee cords. Good idea to think about though.

    As far as the range of motion that is one of the things that is being debated, some people scream you need the full range, others claim the range doesn't matter it's all about muscle fiber recruitment. Personally I don't know, I just know I can get a pump with this just as much as a tradition workout (other than 100+ that is still the best pump I've ever had)

    But you said you saw something like this? I hate to be a botheer but could you remember the name or describe it? I spent 2 hours searching google patent and found nothing  >_<  I'd hate to get all the way through the process and get sued for infringement.

    Thanks a ton!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    On the product name and patent:

    I just saw it (or something similar) in a fitness store here in europe lol but you know that store doesn't even "look" legit hah I think the owner of that store just builds stuff himself to sell

    I've seen crappy remakes of products that were on tv for like half the price the tv commercials are sellling it for in that shop
    It's a fun shop to look around but I've never actually bought anything there, since it looks ... well :D shady :D

    so I think it's safe to say that it isn't patented (I don't think the owner is smart enough for that)

    On static training:
    It's true that you can get a great pump from static training and you can increase your strength, but that strength is increased only in the specific range of motion you trained in static training. Yes it does "bleed out" a bit, meaning that a few inches below and above that spot you'll get a bit stronger too.

    And you could maybe use a sturdy plastic board with a piece of rubber padding on the bottom to protect the floor of whoever is using it.
    You could use strong rope as well that "stretches" only just a tiny bit instead of chain and you could find a way to shorten that rope at the bottom of the board somehow then you've got an adjustable-lightweight-static-training dream come true

    for the ropes to be stretchable like bungee cords, you can use "stretch cords" or "body tubes"

    stretch cords: www.swimshop.co.uk/Stretch-Cords-CSTRETCHCORDS/

    body tubes are basically the same thing

    there's this gymnast named "yuri van gelder" he's a dutch gymnast and he works out using cords like that he "made himself". for most strength enthusiasts those stretch cords or body tubes are waaay to weak to build strength with, but yuri van gelder used to offer his "cords of the rings" for sale on his website in varying degrees of strongness

    I'm sure you can find some really tough elastic rope in a proper hardware store near where you live and otherwise you can use the almighty internet to help you out

    have a nice one,


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tips! I will definitely look into that. Also I had just noticed another concern you had in your first comment about ripping up the board. You have to use hard wood. Pine or some other soft wood isn't nearly strong enough but the hardwood will actually outlast the bar. I have a friend who is a body builder and he had no issues with the wood.

    Thanks again for all the tips, I really appreciate it!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    For all the talk about hardwood boards, from the price and the pictures it is clear that you have used a pine board for your prototype. It appears to have held up. Also, I would think that the electrical conduit would also break over time. These conduits are fairly thin wall and really cheap metal. In a squat, with all the pressure localized on your neck, you could buckle the bar. I'd use a 1" black iron gas line or a galvanized water line which are also available for low cost at your local hardware store and has much thicker walls. They are also threaded on the ends and you might be able to find a nice thread on fitting that you can attach the eye bolts to without drilling a hole in the pipe which weakens it. Interesting exercises though, I'll have to read up on it some more. Thanks for sharing this and good luck with the patent. -Jon


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    thanks for the comment! The plank I used is hardwood but the lighting in my shop and the camera caused the colors to all go funky. I have tried pine with a newer version just to test a design idea and it held up fine so far but I'm not sure I'd trust it. And ye I agree a black pipe or even heavy conduit would work much better but I used regular for two reasons 1. A lot of people don't have a drill press and drilling through black pipe with an electric drill would be tricky at best. 2. If you're strong enough to break the bar chances are you already have the expensive equipment. But it is a very good point and my prototype for show will have black pipe. I guess that would have been worth putting in the instructable :) Thanks!