Fitness aficionados across the country are figuring out how to make their own gym equipment, saving money and boosting self-sufficiency in the process. These projects are fairly easy and are a great addition to your fitness training. I use many of these as I travel and I hope you find them as useful as I do.
Suspension Training Straps
As the TRX training system has gained popularity for its minimalist approach to resistance training, so has the use of suspension (or “blast”) straps—and their price has risen with their recognition. But for about $15 – $25 at a hardware store and very little time investment, it’s possible to make your own suspension straps. I travel the world with them. Hang them over a door jam, a sturdy tree branch, monkey Bars or a Smith machine, and get suspended! Materials Needed:
- 3 x lashing straps with cam buckles (I prefer to use 600lbs tested ones or more and 10ft long)
- 2 x 5.5 inch x 1 inch PVC Pipes(I like to use thicker than 1 inch for grip strength)
- 1 lx Large Snap Hook Carabiner
- 2 x Small Click Carabiners
- 2 x Large Paper Clips ( As long as the lashing straps are wide)
- Grip Tape for Handles ( Option to just buy handles)
Since I am traveling and can’t show you how I made mine, here is a great tutorial on how to put these all together. Part 1 Suspension Straps Part 2 Suspension Straps Cheap Suspension Strap Door Anchor
Fitness Training Sled
- Go get an old, used tire. A worn down tire with holes is fine. These are usually free at tire stores and a slightly oversized SUV tire works very well.
- You can put some wood in the bottom of the tire to prevent the tire from filling up with debris or dirt or to add extra weight to drag.
- Buy a large screw eye (a screw with a loop in it) and screw it into the tire. This should be the only hard part of this process. Put a washer and a bolt on the other end so you don’t drag the screw eye out over time.
- Get about 25 to 30 feet of rope, the same kind of rope you’d use for boating. A half-inch thick rope works well. Make sure the screw eye is big enough to thread the rope through.
- Thread the rope through and pull it halfway. At the end of each side of the rope, loop it over to create the straps that you want – bigger is generally better.
- Use a generous amount of duct tape to secure the loop. You may want to use a towel or small pad if you place the straps on your shoulders and pull heavy weights as the rope can dig in.
- As an alternative, If you have created home-made suspension straps from above, you can also attach those to the tire screw and use the handles to drag the tire. You could also attached the straps to Your DIY Sandbag to drags as well. Or you can buy a full sled harness here.
DIY Medicine Ball
Make your own medicine ball with a little help from a power tool. Use an awl or a drill to put a small hole in one of the black stripes on a basketball. Make sure it’s big enough for the hole of a funnel. Funnel in some sand, fill it up to your desired amount, and then patch it with a tire-patch kit or, if you don’t have those resources, cover with a few layers of heavy-duty duct tape. Voilà!
The benefit of using a tire patch kit is then you can refill the ball with air after you have the desired weight and this enable you to slam the ball and it keeps its ball shape. I also like to wrap the entire ball in some duct tape (minus the air valve) after all is said and done for extra support and write the weight on the side of the ball. Now you have a slamming medicine ball at a fraction of the price.
I will usually find a cheap used basketball at Goodwill. If you are traveling and are in a place for a couple months it can be pretty cheap fitness tool to make and leave when you move on. Buy pre-made ones here.
Bulgarian Training Bag
Originally developed for wrestlers, Bulgarian training bags are used around the world to target the legs, arms, back, and core. Think of them as the softer, more malleable cousin of kettlebells. Commercial bags cost a pretty penny—they can run upwards of $250. Instead, try this cheaper solution: Simply fill an old truck or tractor tire’s inner tube with wood pellets or rubber mulch, tie up the tube securely, and voila! It’s time to start swinging, squatting, and curling your way to better fitness. Update: Bulgarian training bags are coming down in price. Check them out here!
DIY Kettle Bell
Build your own Kettle bell with only $10-15 worth of supplies you can get from any hardware store!
Head to any hardware store and go to the plumbing aisle and find:
- One 3/4″ diameter X 12″ long pipe nipple for the vertical shaft. A “pipe nipple” is a short pipe threaded on both ends with male pipe thread
- Two 3/4″ diameter X 4″ long pipe nipples for handles
- One 3/4″ diameter pipe “T” fitting
- One 3/4″ floor flange
- Optional But Suggested: One spring clamp (suggestion – Irwin Quick-Grip 1″) to keep plates from drifting up at the top of the swing.
- Connect the two 4″ pipe nipples into the handles of the T pipe. You are basically extending these handles so you can hold them.
- Connect the 12″ long pipe nipple into the single shaft of the T pipe. You are basically extending the vertical shaft of the T pipe to make a holding pipe for the weights.
- Slide weighted plates onto the body of the T handle.
- Attach the floor flange to keep the plates from falling off as you swing.
- Optional: attach the clamp to the pipe just above where the weight sits to keep the weights in place.
DIY Battle Ropes
This one is bound to delight the neighbors. Instead of using old garden hoses to, say, water the garden, turn them into battle ropes. If new to this multi-functional exercise, start out with empty hoses. As you advance, fill the hoses with sand (don’t forget to plug up both ends) for a more challenging full-body workout.
Another option is to check with your local fire department and see if they have any old fire hoses for free.
You may be able to find some rope at a marine supply store or you can ask around at a local marina. Remember depending on your fitness level you will want rope from 1.5 to 2 inches thick and 25- 50 ft long.
Sandbags are another great way to enhance strength and endurance exercises. They’re used similarly to kettle bells, only their insides (i.e. the sand) shift around during movements, adding an extra challenge. Making a sandbag requires delightfully cheap resources:
Just pick up some contractor trash bags, duct tape, filler (such as sand), rope or zip ties, and a canvas laundry bag (surplus military laundry bags also work well), and you’re halfway to having your very own sandbag to toss, swing, and slam around. Another travel idea is to create one of these and travel with it empty, then head to the beach or woods and fill with sands or dirt and your set.
For mobility. I like to use an old canvas duffel bag as a main bag. Then I will put small bags of sand or dirt from nature to add weight to the main bag and prevent it from tearing and getting too dirty. The duffel can be used for laundry or other uses as well when not training. If you want the full sandbag training set like I use. Click Here!