How to build an inexpensive shoulder/rotator cuff exerciser

As you probably know by know PaleoPathologist is into high intensity, superslow style weightlifting. My internet buddy Drew Baye asked me about a piece of equipment I made called an Infimetric Bar. PaleoPathologist cobbled together two of them, one for deltoid work and one for rotator cuff work.


The rotator cuff bar is on the left and the longer delt bar on the right. Delt bar could also be used overhead for tricep or bicep work. Basically to do the delt bar, pull outward and slowly raise one arm while resisting with the other. You’ll feel it in the delts. You can hit various parts of the delts by leaning forward and back. To do the medial/anterior rotators, try to compress the bar between your hands and slowly move the bar back and forth, rotating at the shoulder (not the waist.) For the posterior/lateral cuff, try to pull the bar apart and do the same movement.

I’ve tried doing 30 seconds at perceived 50%, then 30 at 75%, then 30 at 100%, and also have done 45 sec at 50%, 30 at 75%, and the final 15 sec at 100%. I seem to like the 45/30/15 a bit more, since doing 100% effort for 30 seconds kind of sucks actually.

To build these, get some 1/2″ PVC pipe at your local hardware store. Try to get the thicker walled pipe. Get two 90 degree elbow joints for each bar you want to build.


I cut four inch-long handles but I’m not a huge dude so you could add half an inch or so. I wouldn’t suggest too much more; the leverage if you hold at the end MIGHT be a problem.

The center bar for my rotator is 17″. I just held a ruler up and held my arms out in front of me in a neutral position to figure out the measurement. The delt bar is 36″ long.

You’ll need some PVC cement and a file or sandpaper, as well as a saw to cut the pipe. It’s soft and easy to cut.

Cut out your 2 handles per bar and your center bars. Follow the directions on the PVC glue. I suggest putting the handles into the L joint first; when the glue seizes it happens fast and that’s it. Then glue one of the handles to one end of bar. The only trick is aligning the two handles which I did by resting the whole assembly on a table.

Cost is about, oh five bucks.

What exercise equipment have you put togetber?

What would you call Super High Intensity Training? Yeah. Me too.

Today PaleoPathologist visited his “friends” at Trufit in Denver, and was introduced to the ARX machines they just got. I suspect this just may be the next step in exercise evolution, intensity, effectiveness, and safety. The machine is designed to give you the perfect amount of resistance on the positive (concentric) AND negative (eccentric) phase of the repetitions, with multiple different exercises. PaleoPathologist thought he basically had the HIT (High Intensity Training) thing down, going to momentary muscle failure. PaleoPathologist was wrong. Welcome to Super High Intensity Training.


What one exercise modality gives you bone and muscle strength AND cardio conditioning?

Drew Baye has been doing a great job of training athletes and ordinary folk for many years.  His blog is full of information (mostly for bodybuilding but many other posts as well). I enjoy his writing.  This newest one just re-emphasizes how efficient a good high intensity weight program (like the Body by Science Superslow style workout PaleoPathologist does every ten days or so at TruFit Health in Denver) really can be. TEN DAYS?? Yes. Properly done weight training ALSO gives you an excellent Cardio workout!  How long has this been known? Would you believe 1975?

weight lifting

In short, maximal stimulation of muscles releases growth signals. This makes muscles grow, sure, but ALSO appears to help other tissues grow and repair. There is a correlation between muscle/lean mass and organ function, including heart function. PaleoPathologist is interested, and PaleoPathologist’s Pater, 86, still is going strong with HIS weightlifting. He is my inspiration.

PaleoPathologist is huffing like a racehorse at the end of the Leg Press. I was a breaststroke swimmer in high school and college and left it all in the pool when I raced, so I know what lactic acidosis feels like and this really does it. I’m up to 330 pounds (well, Nautilus pounds; who knows what that really translates to) for two minutes.

PaleoPathologist thinks that machines are just as good as free weights, and have a lower potential for injury. Other than aggravating a pre-existing shoulder problem if chest press form deteriorates, and one back spasm from overdoing the low back machine, NO injuries in over a year.

TruFit has a brand new toy, also, called an ARX machine. It is supposed to electronically adapt to your strength at every point during the repetition and meter out exactly the resistance you need. Yeah, PaleoPathologist is pretty sure that he has to try this new toy, as soon as possible!

So have you ever tried high intensity weight training? What has your experience been?

Tip: How to run efficiently and with fewer injuries

Here is a site that goes through an entire running course, teaching stride, form, pace, etc. PaleoPathologist has never really been much of a runner but still secretly harbors a “bucket list” idea of doing…a marathon.  Yes, you who know me can stop laughing now. I did a 100 mile bike ride a few years back from Glenwood Springs to Aspen and back along a railroad trail that hugs the Roaring Fork, beautiful ride.

So what do you think of this site? Does it do a good job of presenting good running form?


Have you ever seen a super slow/slow burn/bodybyscience workout?

PaleoPathologist sat down with his trainer this weekend to do a four exercise, slow movement to momentary muscle failure workout.  It was captured on tape. Warning to small children and squeamish adults: PaleoPathologist shows his pain-face a few times toward the end of each set.

The Workout Video

The slow, single set to failure method has worked very well for PaleoPathologist who, except for one cramp in lower back muscles, once, has had NO INJURIES in a year and has gone from 90 to 305 lbs on the leg press. BP today at physical was 110/70. Resting heart rate at the physical was…63.  And remember this is doing the routine at most once every seven days, sometimes it’s 10, 14 days between workouts.

This protocol sends a very powerful adaptation signal to the body. PaleoPathologist did the 200 breaststroke in College which is a fairly brutal race, and felt about the same amount of lactic acid at the end (about 2:30 in the water) as he does after the 10 minute routine these days. Take a look at the papers referenced in the links above, or take a look at Body by Science website,

or the book. Another site I follow is Drew Baye’s site.

Any questions about how this works? Anyone with alternative experiences? We’d love to hear from you.

How to live longer in 8 “Blue Zone” steps.

When PaleoPathologist was a kid he remembers seeing a skit on a variety show, might have been Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, where a frumpy woman said, “I hear that scientists think they can help us live to 140.  Big deal.  Who wants to be a little old lady for 70 years?”  Good question!  But what if we can extend middle age 20, 30, 40 more years? Ah, sounds better.  According to The Blue Zones, one of the longest living groups in the world is the 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.  Since PaleoPathologist is the head of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver and is on the Mission Advisory Committee, he has a copy of the handbook, Creation Health Discovery, and is about to share the 8 steps.

Previous Posts on old blog

These posts come from the predecessor to and are here for your interest and reference.

Low carb, super low carb, ultra low carb, what does it all MEAN?

What other than weight loss has eating low carb done for people?

Cholesterol, courage, and normal human biases

What? Calcium supplements might do more harm than good?

Another tribe to add to the list of lowcarbers

Forgiveness and reconciliation will be needed.

How you react to stress is more important than how much

Jimmy Moore blog post about “cognitive dissonance” in Low Carb

Judge not, lest ye be judged…

Who is Phat Phobic out there?

A perfect, natural squat

BroScience. What a great term.

Made another great frittata today.

Low Carb for native peoples in Canada

Something to think about. Drug companies, “Big Pharma”, and Big Government

Eat like a predator, not like prey

But what do you eat? My breakfast frittata.

High intensity weight training for beginners

Welcome to the PaleoPathologist Blog


Exercise, article on how to add muscle

There is so much broscience in exercise that it is refreshing to find something based on whatever evidence there might be.  Here is such an article, that busts several myths about exercise.  (Their previous article, here, has some additional information.) There is yet another article that shows that doing high intensity weightlifting improves cardiovascular fitness.  Thanks to CaveManDoctor for the most recent link.