I really, really, REALLY wanted to be able to do a lat pulldown.
I started working out in gyms after college when I moved out to California to start my career. I was never taught how to lift weights, and so had quite a terrible time lifting with poor form and without real goals aside from “look good naked.” By the time I was 30 I’d started working with a personal trainer to help with my poor form, and to focus on targeted goals, whether it was weight loss, strength, etc.
Eventually I felt very comfortable in a commerical gym environment. I knew exactly which free weight lifts and cable exercises I felt were most effective, and I played around with new ones from time to time to see if they fit into my routines.
Then I started building my home gym.
When my son was born it became very difficult to get to the gym five days a week, and our car wouldn’t fit in the one-car garage located in the basement of our house so I was determined to use the space effectively. I started by going to Dick’s Sporting Goods and buying a cheap barbell and weights. I gradually added more weights, and in particular got lucky when Capitol Fitness was getting rid of a bunch of older 5/10/25 plates and I bought them for real cheap. Then my personal trainer introduced me to Rogue Fitness. And that was the end for me.
Fast-forward to the new house and with our larger basement I had the opportunity to expand the home gym setup even more. I built an 8’x8’ deadlift platform, and had a good place for my squat rack. I lifted on and off at home for years, usually getting more and more into it until I strained a muscle or just got too sore. Then 1 week off would turn 3 months and I’d go awhile without working out.
In November 2019, in conjunction with starting a new job, I went back onto the keto diet along with my wife, and I was determined to start working out again as well. Started doing some olympic lifting, then transitioned to a more traditional lifting program once the strain got too much on my right shoulder.
The home gym works really well just with the free weights I have, but I’ve always wanted to be able to lat pulldowns at home, and I don’t fancy dropping anywhere from $500 to $2,000 on a cable station for our basement. Then I saw this in my YouTube feed:
Here was the key to my desire, all for $25 (ed note: it was more than $25).
The primary challenge here was that we are currently in the middle of a pandemic (shout-out to future me if you get through this- it seems very far away from where I’m sitting typing this.) It’s not easy to go to your local big box home centers right now to buy cable and cabling accessories. Instead I sourced a lot of the pieces from Amazon, along with some additional items I had home-delivered from Menards here in town.
- 1/4” thimbles (2) and rope clips (6) $8
- 1/4” Coated Rope $11
- Pulleys $17
- Loading Pin $24
- Tricep Rope $22
- Lat Pull Machine Bar $29
Yes, you can make the rope and pulley system for under $25, if you happen to have the attachments and loading pin sitting around. But I hunted for some inexpensive accessories, and I was off and running!
First step was to secure the D-rings in the ceiling joists.
Next I needed to size and cut the coated wire rope to the desired length, and then since my pulley didn’t have a pin I needed to thread the rope through before looping it around the thimbles and securing it with clips. So I hung the pulleys and then threaded the rope.
Finally I attached the loading pin and pulldown bar with carabiner clips and loaded up some test weight.
And just like that, I can now do lat pulldowns in my home gym, as well as any other vertically-oriented cable movedment such as rope or bar pushdowns. A potential next step would be to orient some pulleys along the wall so I can do the equivalent of a seated row.