Building a Slosh Pipe
If you haven’t heard of the slosh pipe before, you are probably wondering what on earth it is. The basic design, and that’s the beauty of it, there is NO complex design, is a 10′ PVC pipe, 4″ diameter (3″ for women, or men with smaller sized hands), filled part way with water, and fitted with 2 end caps. You can use either the glue on, hard plastic style caps, or removable rubber caps that come with plumbers tape- the screw on, adjustable kind. Fill it so the whole thing weighs around 42 lbs (or 28 lbs for the 3″ version) and you want to mark the center with some tape. That’s it. The entire project, once you get all of the materials takes under 15 minutes to make. It can certainly weather the elements living outside, however, if you live in an area where it falls below zero you should add anti-freeze wiper fluid. If it lives indoors then you should have no problems. Wherever you use it make sure you have a clear space of at least a 12′ diameter. If you truly don’t have that much space then feel free to cut it down to the length your space can accommodate.
Training with a Slosh Pipe
What is so great about the slosh pipe? It is a simple tool that is incredibly effective at training the whole kinetic chain with every exercise. It falls into the realm of what is known as odd-object lifting, along with sledgehammers, tractor tires, and sandbags. Because it is only partially full, the water is able to slosh back and forth with every minor movement you make, continually changing where the weight of the water is inside the pipe. Now what you have to remember is that because you have a 10′ long pipe, when you are holding it in the middle, you now have about 20lbs of water that is moving around to the end of the pipe, about 4-5′ away from your center of balance. As the water moves toward the end of the pipe, it creates a larger moment of torque. This creates an extremely variable load on the entire muscular system as the water never stays in place. Continual load shifting requires micro-adjustments from every muscle in your body, which puts more demand on your system, and recruits far more muscles than any traditional version of the same exercise would. The slosh pipe is to the barbell what the stability ball is to a bench.
What does all this mean?
Imagine the pipe is on your shoulders crucifix style and you are standing up, and you are not maintaining perfect balance with the pipe- all of the water moves toward whichever end of the pipe is lower. If it all flows to the right side, you now have your right arm working to elevate the pipe, your left arm pushing down to lower the pipe, your back trying to keep your spine upright, your core muscles trying to maintain complete body stability, and your legs shifting back and forth to keep you from walking around. Every muscle is working synergistically to coordinate this balancing act- all of your stabilizers are working non-stop; all of your muscles are working non-stop. The first time you pick up a slosh pipe YOU WILL NOTICE EVERY muscle in your body activating at the same time. In the long run this means you do more work in less time!
Adaptability of Other Exercises
There are numerous exercises that are adaptable to slosh pipe training- squats, good mornings, lunges, calf raises, chest press, shoulder press, side bends, 180′ trunk rotation just to name a few. You can do crunches, isometric back extensions, “kayak” rows, bicep curls, just about anything you can do with a barbell or Bodybar®, a Bosu® or stability ball. Have fun and experiment.
As the saying goes with cooking- “variety is the spice of life.” The same is true in working out. Muscle confusion is the principle that in order to continue achieving results you must change up your routine regularly. Currently the belief is that your body adapts to what it is doing after 4-6 weeks, this is why you typically plateau after performing the same routine for months on end. All it takes is one variable to make it a different exercise. If you think about it another way, what does your bicep do? It brings your wrist closer to the shoulder under a load. So how does an exercise “confuse” the body? Simple changes are all that are required. Using your biceps as an example, you can change the angle your arm is in relation to your body, you can sit or stand, use a dumbbell or a barbell, change the tempo you perform the exercise, the number of reps or sets you perform; but your bicep is still bringing your wrist closer to your shoulder. This is the reason you will see so many different types of equipment in a gym. Any adjustment will challenge your brain to think about the exercise you are performing. By constantly adding new exercise methods to your routine you can ensure you will not plateau and you will break through those walls you may have already hit.
Aside from all of this, did I mention it’s fun to play with? The look of determination on peoples faces, or pain as some might describe it, is priceless. I have seen big guys who can bench press twice what I weigh that can’t keep a slosh pipe from tipping back and forth uncontrollably. This thing is unlike any other tool you will ever use in your workout and best of all, it’s cheap and it’s easy to make! So get out there and start sloshing around.