View Full Version : HomeMade/Improvised equipment

Frank C Ollis
10-07-2002, 10:33 AM
You guys will either laugh, or totally sympathize with what I am about to say. I am a married + 2 kids guy, and buying new "toys-equipment" means justifying it to the wife. Ouch! So I end up making most of it myself. My home gym is pretty complete, I am missing a Concept II rower, and at $800-900, it will be missing for a while! Here is a short list of the stuff I have actually made up to this point.
Rings: 1" Marine plywood, cut, sanded, epoxied.
Got the plywood as a remnant, total cost
$3.25. They hold my 210lbs just fine.

Parralettes: Followed the linked directions,
Awesome set, total cost $13.50

Kettlebell: Improvised out of black iron pipe
and fittings, use a spinlock DB
Handle from Walmart. Weight is
variable from 25-100lbs.
Total cost w/out weights $22.45

C&J and Snatch pit: In my back yard. Built
platform 4'x6' first. Out
of 2x6 & 4x4. Filled in with
"acquired" beach sand. Works
Great! total cost $21.00

Cheap concrete weights: I used an old flat round
pan with a 2 1/4" piece
pvc super glued in the
middle. I cut up some old
metal 1/8" wire and laid
it in for strength. Cost
per weight: $ not much

200 Meter long hill: Came with the house
Cost: $free

Lauren Glassman
10-07-2002, 06:09 PM
Frank, very impressive. A limited budget shouldn't be an excuse to not workout. Here you have proved it need not be. We are wondering how long it will take you to figure out how to make a rower for under 100 bucks!:lame:

brian perlis
10-07-2002, 06:19 PM
I just made a pair of the parallettes this weekend following the linked instructions - it cost me 8$ Very cool!
And if you are really cheap - dont purchase the end caps and you can save 2$. Pretty nifty piece of equipment for 6-8$
I purchased everything at Home depot.

10-07-2002, 08:08 PM
Frank's dedication and resourcefullness is as inspiring as anything that I've seen this year. Awesome!!

On the subject of parallettes, here is how you keep yourself challenged on these things for years. http://www.american-gymnast.com/technically_correct/paralletteguide/titlepage.html

Frank and Brian are pushing the envelope for cost utility efficiency.

Frank C Ollis
10-08-2002, 09:49 AM
I have been thinking about the rowing machine, but short of renting a U-haul for $39.00 and stealing the one in the local gym, it just is not going to happen!
A couple of things that I did not mention:
1. Always check the odds and ends boxes at Home Depot first.
2. Make friends with a construction worker/machinist/carpenter.
3. Go to scrap metal/junk yard. They usually sell you pipe/fitting/etc for pennies on the pound. You should see the four man-hole covers I picked up for $11.50. Had a machine ship drill a 2 1/4 inch hole in each one, and voila, 4 70+ pound plates.

Steve Kreis
10-08-2002, 10:30 AM


I liked your ideas for the homemade equipment and was also in need of a rower.

Basically, took two huge rubber bands (therabands from a physical therapist) and attached them to a kayak paddle and then attached the other ends to posts (I use the posts from my squat rack), then I place a seat far enough from the post to put tension on the therabands and row/paddle my kayak and then I turn the chair around and paddle in the other direction. To increase the tension shorten the therabands or use the ones that are less pliable (therabands come in several different thicknesses).

To incorporate the legs as in a standard rower, sit on a skateboard and push back with the legs. Put the skate board on carpet to increase control and resistance. You could also use a broom stick or pole instead of the kayak paddle.

Not quite the same, but a cheap alternative.

Frank C Ollis
10-08-2002, 11:46 AM
Interestingly enough, I bought one of those really crappy rowers at a yard sale, but it has a good sliding seat and foot pads. I got it for $5.00. 2 cheap pulleys and a loading pin later.... I put about 25lbs on it and row away, it forces strict form to keep it from swaying to much. I let you break the ice on the idea though(they're all gonna laugh at me) I like the exer-band idea though, I will give it a try.
I also train grip alot, and I have made about every device for that that you can imagine. If anyone is interested, I will post descriptions and instructions.

Brian Mulvaney
10-10-2002, 09:13 AM
Coach: Thanks for the Parallete link. There are some great exercises there. But I cringed looking at the photo of the guy doing a hand stand on a Parallete made of PVC pipe. PVC pipe isn't meant to handle that kind of load. And it doesn't fail gracefully--it just explodes. Yikes!

Frank C Ollis
10-10-2002, 10:00 AM
Actually the pvc has a fairly thick wall. Combine that with the tubular construction, and a relatively short linear distance, and you get a very stable piece of equipment. I used a fairly thick piece of pipe, and mine are 22" long. I am about 205, my buddy is 230, and we both stood, and bounced on one of mine. No problems at all. You have to remember that they are not subjected to the dynamic movements that a set of competition bars would be.
The design of pipe, a cylinder, is basically a continuously convex surface, and is actually better at resisting external pressure than internal.
Mine are glued everywhere but the top of the T's that make the base, to make them more portable, and they never move at all.
There is always the option of using black iron pipe. Slightly more expensive, and very unforgiving on the body. Not to mention heavy!

Patrick Johnston
10-10-2002, 11:41 AM
Can someone post the link that leads to instructions on how to build the parallettes. Thanks.

10-10-2002, 01:05 PM

Hmmmm....we've linked to the site several times in the WOD and in each of the two CrossFit Journals....

Here it is, sir, again: http://www.drillsandskills.com/skills/cond/

How're things Patrick? Say "hi" to Stacey for us.

10-10-2002, 01:43 PM
http://www.drillsandskills.com/skills/cond/#plltts http://www.drillsandskills.com/pics/paralettes.gif

The first link will take you right to the section with the instructions and the second link will take you to a drawing and layout of the assembly.

Patrick Johnston
10-10-2002, 03:42 PM

Everything is great. I want to come out to have my a@# thrashed during Christmas. Stacey is going to be having our first mini-CrossFit trainee in April.

10-10-2002, 04:02 PM
... that paralettes let you know just how poor your strength-to-weight ratio really is.

I started playing around with a pair of them earlier this week and was immediately humbled.

The L-sit and tuck weren't so bad but the tuck planche was surprisingly difficult. Less surprising but still really tough are handstand push-ups on the paralettes. Still, they're a great addition to regular Crossfit workouts, especially since I have only occasional access to a gym and heavy weights.

On the upside, I installed a pull-up bar and have made grear progress in that arena. Also, tabata squats never let me down.

10-10-2002, 06:24 PM

Nearly everything that can be done on the parallettes can also be done on the rings but is much, much harder.

Keep it up, sir.

Frank C Ollis
10-10-2002, 08:27 PM
Good point about the rings, but my parallettes can go anywhere, and that handstand pushup blows peoples minds. It is a good "point maker" when I am selling CrossFit to people. When they see my big *** doing it, it makes an impression!

Roger Harrell
10-15-2002, 12:02 PM
Just want to comment on the paralletts. I've used PVC and ABS paralletes for many years and never had them fail. We had a set that survived 5 years of a mens gymnastics team using them without a hitch, and these were scratched up real good to hold chalk. I've had mine at home for about 10 years now without a problem.

BTW if you wrap the handles in athletic tape they won't get as slick with sweat. Though you'll probably want to use a dark color otherwise they begin to look pretty gross over time. Sweat, glue and dust don't make a pretty sight.

Jim Schubert
10-24-2002, 01:03 PM
How did you put together the improvised kettlebell? I have the Walmart spin-lock DB handles, what else do I need?

And thanks for all the info, all of you. I had parallets attached to my "tower of strength" (as my wife calls our chinning/dipping/etc apparatus) without knowing what they were. Now I'm having fun working on my handstand push-ups on it too.

Ron McCord
12-05-2002, 05:33 AM
Can someone give me a tried and true layout for making a pair of parallettes. I made a pair last night using 1" PVC 8"H 16"L with an 11.5 inch base.
I am 5'9 175lbs.

12-10-2002, 04:45 PM
If you are worried about the pvc, you could always put cement in the crossbars. This would add to the strength. I have to make a pair soon.

I have a lot of ideas on my site. I'm too lazy to list them all here.


01-04-2003, 08:11 PM
anyone have any ideas for homemade dip bars?

The park in my town has a set of parallel bars in the playground section, but I'd really like to have a set at home and not have to throw some kids out of the way to work out.

Robert Wolf
01-05-2003, 09:49 AM
Hi chris-
Dave werner and I have been using gymnastics rings for dips. it just knocks the hell out of your numbers but after these things bar dips look almost trivial. You can do this on the cheap by just getting some playground rings and for an even more cost effective alternative find Tyler (www.girevikmagazine.com (http://www.girevikmagazine.com))...he made some gread "rings" for next to nothing...I even did a muscleup on them!
Hope this helps

Tyler Hass
01-06-2003, 01:44 AM
I'll post a picture tomorrow, if I remember.
PVC Pipe- about 8 inches x2, schudle 80, 3/4 in. approx
Hose- Any type of thick hose will work. I'm using some type of boat hose, but a thick section of gardend hose would probably work even better.
I'll put up the pics, that will explain it better than I can.