EliteFTS: A Thank You Letter

TAGS: strength equipment, racks, professional racks, power equipment, power cage, squat rack, power rack

Dear EliteFTS,

I am honored to say that I own one of your “build your own 3 X 3 professional racks.” I purchased it at the beginning of October 2007 and received the delivery toward the end of November 2007. I have been using the rack for almost six months now and wanted to offer my sincerest level of gratitude for making the most outstanding piece of equipment I have ever used.

When conducting my initial research, I quickly found all of the power racks widely available to be either lacking in workmanship and/or functionality. After further investigation, I finally discovered EliteFTS. I was stunned by the level of detail and thought put forth in the final design of the professional rack. I put money away for an entire year to get the power rack of my dreams (band pegs top and bottom, monkey bar chin-up bar, bar holders, chain holders, and quick adjust spotters). Not once have I had an ounce of regret getting the full package. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time around.

For an entire year, I was obsessed with the professional rack. I looked at the EliteFTS website at least twenty times a day, studying specifications and planning my dream home gym set up. I built a lifting platform out of 0.75-inch X 4-ft X 8-ft sheets of plywood and rubber matting to serve as the base for my new power rack. I used masking tape to mark the rough dimensions of the power rack on the lifting platform to make sure everything was going to function in my 11 x 17-ft space as planned. (There is nothing like realizing there is only one foot of space between the end of the barbell and the wall after everything is installed making a set up unusable.) After making sure everything was going to work out and fit as planned (thank you, Jim, for many telephone conversations, which provided me with the details I was looking for) I hit the “Add To Cart” button and pulled the trigger on the best purchase of my life.

After days of daydreaming, the image I had created in my mind of the power rack was one of simple construction and high strength design. It wasn’t until delivery day that I realized my dreams had been far surpassed in every way. The shear mass of every component was shocking to say the least. The J-cups alone weighed 5–6 pounds each. The construction materials and build quality stunned me. I had a permanent grin on my face for an entire month. Every time I walk into my home gym, I smile and quietly thank EliteFTS for such a badass piece of equipment.

After about three months of getting used to my new monument to progress and pain, I realized there might be an opportunity for added functionality. I’m an engineer by trade and can’t leave anything alone for very long without trying to make modifications. The one thing I was greatly missing in my home gym was some way of doing lat work with a weighted load. (I had previously been using bands for loading but felt their progressive loading was not as natural as a weighted load.) There was no way for me to fit another piece of equipment into my workout area so I had to figure out a way to use the space as efficiently as possible. I decided to fabricate an upper pulley system, which could be easily placed on top of the power rack to act as a lat pull-down machine (figure 1). I drew everything up using an open-source CAD system (free2design from think3) and made sure everything would fit and operate as needed. I also designed a lower pulley attachment that can be adjusted vertically by placing it into any of the middle upright adjustment holes.

My welding skills are highly lacking so one of my colleagues was kind enough to do the fabrication. With the pulleys purchased from an on-line fitness parts supply center and some high tension cable, the lat pull-down system was ready for use. The only other thing missing was some way of easily loading the system. I purchased a 15-inch loading pin from IronMind (figure 2). The weight plates are loaded onto the loading pin and attached to the cable with a steel carabineer. There are no stabilizing rods to keep the weights from moving. In order to keep swinging to a minimum, the load must start out from the floor at the same centered location each time so that there is no initial pendulum motion (figure 2). The good thing about the professional rack is that it is so sturdy. There is little to no induced movement of the weight load when using the lat pull-down.

The second component of the system is the lower pulley. It is simply a piece of square tubing with a pulley mounted in the center and two, seven-inch bolts welded in place at each end to secure it to the middle upright of the power rack (figure 3).

To do seated cable movements, the unit is placed in the lowest adjustment hole on the upright. A second cable is attached to the main cable to route around the lower pulley. Foot placement was somewhat of a problem when doing seated cable work because there is nothing that can easily be used as a foot platform. The problem was solved when I realized that the lower band pegs could be faced inward to provide a solid foot stop (figure 4).

Another important function that the second component (lower pulley assembly) provides is to act as an adjustable hold down when doing lat pull-downs. The only thing necessary is a removable seat to sit on. The lower pulley assembly locks you down for your lat workout. The lower pulley assembly simply has to be placed on the front side of the middle upright with the pulley facing toward the rear of the power rack (no one likes a pulley in the crotch) at thigh height when seated. Fasten it to the rack with washers and nuts (figure 5). In this configuration, the user has to sit with his knees apart so that the weight load will not fall directly on the toes. This is slightly different than a standard lat pull-down machine but not different in the overall body mechanics, just in the leg position (figure 5).

The best thing about both components is the fact that neither one requires any level of modification to the power rack to work properly. The upper pulley component simply occupies the space above the power rack. There are small rubber strips attached to the inner channels of the upper pulley frame to keep it from sliding on top of the power rack. There is still room between the monkey bar chin-up bar and the upper pulley frame to do a chin-up without hitting your head (figure 6). The lower pulley unit can easily be attached to any of the upright adjustment holes with a washer and nut. This is really the only part that I’ve had to adjust or remove during or before my workout.

About half-way through my design effort, I saw the new “EFS multi high/low pulley rack” on your website. I was happy to see a demand for this type of equipment being met by EliteFTS. I realized there still might be a need for my design for people who own a standard 3 X 3 professional rack and want the functionality of a built-in lat pull-down machine. The design specifications and schematics are included in this document so others may benefit from this simple addition to such a wonderful piece of equipment. The only detail omitted from the schematics is the lat pull-down bar holders on the front of the frame (they were added while being built and final dimensions depend on personal preference).

Please keep in mind, I did not go through any rigorous component stress analysis or failure mode analysis to deem this a consumer-safe item. I simply used simple engineering knowledge and materials as well as my rules of thumb to create the first prototype. Use of this system/design is at your own risk. I take no responsibility for any incident/accident involving this design.

Once again, I’d like to say thank you for offering such excellent equipment and customer service. You are helping one skinny nerd shed his glasses and calculator for muscle and sweat. Next step—ditch the wife’s elliptical for a glute ham raise.

Your loyal customer,

Chad Stovell

P.S. I fully apologize for being on the highly underweight side of the scale. I am working my hardest to remedy this fact. I have gained 12 lbs of muscle since being able to use a challenging weight without the fear of killing myself with a missed lift.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

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