Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dip Belt

I'm sure you've seen this on the net before. I did not create this design. This is going to be a bit of a hybrid post. Part DIY project, part review of a DIY project. I'll show you how to make this popular internet design, as well as review it so you can decide if it's right for you before you go through the (minimal) hassle of making it.

Cost: less than $10 (hopefully)
Time: a few minutes
Difficulty: It gets no easier than this

Tools Needed:
Scissors to cut tape

Materials Needed:
Chain - 6 or 7 foot length (183 to 213 cm)
2 Carabiner clips - rated for a few hundred lbs. should be okay
Pipe insulation foam - you probably need about 3 feet (91 cm) length or so
Duct Tape

Mine is a bit fancier than the original design but I don't recommend that.

The design and construction is simple. Essentially you take a length of chain. 6 to 7 feet (183 to 213 cm) should be enough though you may need a bit more if you are particularly large around the midsection. In this project, too much is okay, you can just let it hang. Too little is no good.

Take your length of pipe insulation foam (sold in 6 foot lengths). Wrap it around your waist to measure how much you need. Cut it off at the appropriate length.

Put the foam around your chain. I prefer to put the foam so that it is near one end of the chain, a few links from the end. Now take duct tape and wrap the whole length of foam in the tape to seal it up (insulation foam usually comes with a slit down it so you can fit it easily over the pipe or in this case chain.

Clip a carabiner to the end of the chain. The end with the foam near it. This is basically your completed belt. You can add more layers of foam if you wish and tape them on as well but it doesn't really make a big difference in my experience. Heavy weights are uncomfortable even with many layers of foam and light weights are fine even with one layer of foam.

There are two ways to wear this thing (both shown above). One is like a hip belt where you simply use one carabiner and let the weight hang as it naturally wants to. To do this you simply put the chain through the center hole of your weight and then clip it into your one carabiner.

The other way to wear it is to use your first carabiner to clip to the other part of the chain on the other side of your foam. This creates a belt around your waist. Then you put the rest of the chain through the weight plates and back up, and use a second carabiner to clip the weighted loop of chain to your waist belt. The choice is yours. Now, here are my additional thoughts on this popular project.

Great with light weights, no so comfortable when it's heavy.

First, it works brilliantly well if the weight is lighter (less than 90 lbs.), but when you start getting heavier it goes from brilliant to uncomfortable to painful. Now, one could argue that perhaps it's a conditioning thing, and that in time you would get used to it. Maybe that's true, but I still have to mention it. Because perhaps the real reason is that the design of this thing is not ideal.

Insulation foam helps, but there's only so much it can do. Even doubling or tripling the layers of foam doesn't solve the initial problem of the design. The problem is that a chain has a small surface area. So all the pressure of the weight is being distributed over a small area of your body. As I said, the foam helps increase this but the chain is the load bearing structure and it can and will make its presence known despite the foam.

A commercial dip belt, on the other hand, distributes the weight over the larger surface area of the wide belt, made of leather or fabric, itself.

You can see in the pictures above that I used higher quality materials rated for thousands of lbs. I don't recommend this. All you do is drive the price up (albeit not much). The fact remains this design is likely far too uncomfortable to load heavier amounts of weight on. If you get materials rated for a few hundred lbs. you should be okay because this belt will likely become hard to use (unbearably uncomfortable) at heavy poundages anyway. I also didn't use carabiners because I opted for stronger clips. But carabiners are faster and easier to use and like I said, you probably won't be able to tolerate loading a lot of weight onto this belt anyway.

Of course, it all depends on your goals and what you intend to do, but if you intend to dip as much as you possibly can, then in time you may need a properly designed commercial belt as apposed to a slightly padded chain digging into your hips.

But if you don't intend to dip very heavy then this design should suit you well. Since I have already made it, I will use this DIY belt until I am dipping heavy enough to need something better. We are all about saving money here at Homemade Strength, but we're most certainly  not about using inferior equipment because we're stingy.

Most of the time you can make something that functions just as well as commercial products but when that is not the case, if a DIY option doesn't fulfill your needs, do not hesitate to buy something that does. Not everything can be easily made at home by the average person and a high quality commercial style leather or fabric dip belt is one of those things.

But I'll say again in the interest of fairness, it could be that in time you get used to it and maybe it's not so uncomfortable then.

- Carl


  1. Great approach. I fashioned mine out of bits I had lying about the house.

    I found the nylon shoulder strap (with padding) from a cheap holdall in the back of the wardrobe, and one of the nylon ribbons used for tightening my sleeping bag to create this:

    Free, and stong enough for any mass I could ever hope to dip.

  2. Oh, and it's comfortable. I've had 32kg on it in kettlebells and if you position it right the weight is distributed as well as a bought belt (if you position it wrong it can dig a little).

  3. I've thought about buying a dip belt but I keep reading reviews online that the chains aren't long enough or I am concerned about the durability.

    I will give making mine a go. Just a suggestion. My old guym used rubbing tubing to encase the chain. I found it quite comfortable.

  4. If I was going to buy a commercial dip belt I would make sure it's of the highest quality. I know Ironmind makes some supposedly incredibly strong stuff. Sure it's more expensive but it's usually better to just buy a good one the first time rather than buy a cheap one (unless it's really really inexpensive) and a few years later have to buy a good one.

    Assuming the rubber tubing was thick enough that could be a good idea. I'll check that out next time I'm at the hardware store.

  5. just made this dip/pull up belt and works cost $10.39 and took less than 5 minutes..instead of using 2 carabiner clips I used a spring clip and 1 carabiner..