A few months ago I picked up what is easily one of the greatest and most reasonably priced garage gym accessories available; the Spud Inc Economy Lat & Tricep Pulley. I believe that this cable system is hands down the best $85 (it is now at $99) that I’ve spent on a piece of equipment in a long time and I felt that it deserved to be praised for a few minutes.
Let me start out by saying that I’ve pretty much always wanted a pin-select pulley machine in my garage gym; a station for doing tricep pushdowns, weighted crunches, and face-pulls. Actually truth be told what I really wanted was a full cable crossover, but there’s just no way I could fit that in my garage, so a single-stack unit would have to do.
Anyway, about a year ago I priced a number of these units out, but the asking prices for the equipment along with the freight was just a bit more (a lot more) than I was willing to spend for what basically amounts to an accessory. Couple the high price with the amount of floor space required for a commercial station like that and I just let go of that dream.
Well not all that long ago; maybe four or five months ago; I saw the Spud Inc. Lat & Tricep Pulley added to Rogue’s “new releases” category, so I took a gander. Spud’s pulley system appeared to be a fairly basic yet reliable way to replicate all of the exercises that I wanted the full selectorized station for (tricep pushdowns, overhead extensions, full ROM weighted crunches, lat pulldowns, face-pulls, etc), but for what seemed super cheap by comparison.
I didn’t buy it straight away, but I eventually figured that since the whole system is only $85 I really couldn’t go wrong by giving it a shot. Also I’d be ordering from Rogue, so I knew that I could return it if I hated it.
Turns out that I don’t hate it. Actually it’s fantastic. It takes seconds to attach to the rack and seconds to take back down. It holds more weight than would even be reasonable for pulls (500+ pounds), and it uses standard caribiners so any attachment you can think of works; an EZ bar, tricep bar, wide lat bar, parallel bar, tricep rope, whatever. So yeah, no regrets.
Now it’s no secret that a lot of these cable movements can be replicated to a certain degree with resistance bands. Matter of fact, prior to picking up this pulley system, I was doing just that. Bands are fine and all, and they can be used effectively for many movements, but they are not always ideal. The nature of how bands work means that there is always going to be a varying amount of resistance; they start out “light” and become “heavy” as stretched. That can be used to your benefit to mix things up, but not if it’s the only way that you can ever perform a given movement. The consistent resistance that you get from a weighted cable is just hands-down a better feeling in my opinion.
Another thing about using resistance bands for so many different accessory movements is that in order to have a nice variety of thicknesses and lengths so that resistance can be gradually added over time, you need a fairly hefty collection of bands. My own collection of resistance bands has cost more than twice what the pulley cost, yet the pulley is far better in many ways.
Any Negatives for the Spud Pulley?
I have not found anything wrong with the Spud Inc. Pulley. It’s easy to use, it functions as intended, and it is stronger than it needs to be. I don’t worry about it breaking or failing, and I find it to be a great value. (see update at end of article)
That said, there are a couple things that take a little getting used to since this pulley system is not part of a stand-alone station with its own weight stack.
For starters, you’ll be loading your own weight plates, and typical plates are 450 mm in diameter; quite wide. You will need to position yourself a little further away from whatever you attach this to in order to keep your body clear of the weight plates moving up and down. This isn’t even a negative or a problem btw, I’m just making you aware in case you want this for some special movement I’ve not thought of; something that puts you awfully close to the weights.
Also, the cable is a fixed length; about 6’3″. It’s the length that will work for most people (based on the norm in rack heights), but you may find that you want a shorter or longer cable for some reason. Good news is that you can order cables direct from Spud Inc (at least that’s what I hear.)
End of the day I have no apprehension about recommending this product. If you’re currently using resistance bands, or just ignoring these types of accessory movements altogether, you might consider checking this out. It’s really a small price to pay for access to so many useful accessory movements. It doesn’t help with the delt flyes or cable crossovers unless you can manage to install two of them, but you still get a lot for the price.
- Super affordable; only $85 ($99 direct from Spud… go figure.) Assuming you have a rack to attach it to and some weights to load on, you’re good to go about 60-seconds after UPS drops it off.
- Yes, it literally installs in a few seconds. You just throw the cable over, run the other end through the hoop, and pull down. Boom, secure.
- Compatible with all cable attachments. Use the ones you have, the one it comes with, or buy more.
- The included nylon handle is a nice and somewhat unique attachment. Its like a cross between the tricep rope and a parallel grip. It’s a little stiff new and needs to be broken in, but it’s solid.
- Far superior to resistance band variations, at least in my opinion.
- Stronger than it needs to be. You may be able to pull 300 pounds, but you better weigh more than that or you’ll find the only thing that comes off the ground is you.
- Takes up no space in your gym when not in use; it’s just a cable and nylon. Heck you can store it in a small bag or box.
- Spud Inc. has their own accessories for this. You can make it a low row station with an additional pulley, or you can buy varying lengths of cable. It’s versatile, and no component costs more than the original package (though like I mentioned, Spud Inc charges more than Rogue does for the same product, so I suggest getting the basic package from Rogue.)
- It works. I’ve had killer tricep and rear delt progress since getting this. I don’t lat pulldown because I can do weighted pulls and chins, but I’ve had great success with the movements that I do use it for.
So there you go. Let me add that I don’t work for Spud, I’ve never even spoken to Spud, and I paid for this out of my own pocket. I simply think that this is one of the best garage gym products under $100 on the market, and I will definitely try and review another Spud product after having used this one. Happy lifting!
Update 2017/2018: I did ultimately have wear and tear issues with the Spud Pulley System. See these two articles below:
- How to Repair your Spud Inc. Lat/Tricep Pulley March 2017
- Garage Gym Equipment Review Revisited Dec 2017