Introduction: Parallel Bars for Calisthenics and Body Weight Exercise

I've been involved in weight lifting for quite some time now, and decided to incorporate calisthenics into my workout plans to increase strength functionality. These parallel bars are simple to make and are fairly inexpensive, costing around $50 to make. They are light enough to move around easily, and sturdy enough to do basic exercises. I will be adding stabilization later on as I learn to do more complex exercises that require the added support for the parallel bars. The cost can be brought down quite a bit depending on what materials and tools you have available.

Materials:

  • (2) 4"x4" - 10ft Square wooden posts - $22.94
  • (2) 1-5/8" - 6ft 16ga Line Post (Metal poles) - $20.00
  • (1) 2"x4" - 8ft Lumber (standard two by four) - $2.90
  • (1) Box of 3" Wood screws - $5

Tools: (can be substituted for others, but this is what I had available)

  • Table Saw
  • Drill Press
  • Power Drill/Driver
  • 1-5/8" Hole Saw
  • 1-1/2" Spade Bit

Step 1: Cut the Wood to Length

In this step you'll want to determine how tall you want your parallel bars, and also how wide apart you want the bars to be. The best way to figure this out is measure your shoulder width. The ones seen in this instructable are 21" apart, and 4' tall (give or take because of bar placement).

Cut four lengths of the wooden posts at 4 feet long.

Since these bars will be 21" apart we'll subtract the width of each vertical post (3.5" because the 4x4 dimension is not truly 4x4).

21 - 3.5 = 17.5"

Cut two lengths of the wooden posts at 17.5 inches long.

Now take the 2x4 lumber you have and cut it into two equal lengths of 24.5". These will be used to add support to the wooden frame.

Step 2: Cut the Holes

Now we'll want to drill the holes for the bars to go into.

  1. Measure 2" from the end of each 4' long wooden post. Mark the exact center of the post at that point.
  2. Drill 1.75" into the post at that mark using the 1-1/2" spade bit (you can drill all the way through if you want, but I opted to just stick with half way through the post)
  3. Drill the same distance into the post at the same point, but this time use the 1-5/8" hole saw.
  4. Clear out the hole using your finger or a screw driver to remove any debris.

Step 3: Assemble the Wooden Frame

Once we have the holes drilled, we will assemble the frame as seen in the picture above. I used clamps to position the wood in a U-shape with the 2x4 wood along the bottom of the U. Insert about 7-10 wood screws through the 2x4 into the wooden posts. Be sure that there are at least two going into the vertical posts and five going into the horizontal post.

You'll make two of these "U" shapes, and make sure that the holes are facing away from the same side of each U, so that when placed across from each other the bars can connect to each of the sets of holes.

You can see in the picture that there is a small "L" bracket, which I realized was unnecessary after adding the 2x4 underneath each "U" shape. It doesn't hurt to have it there, but if you're going to use the optional step below, there is no need to add the metal brackets.

(optional)

If you would like to add extra support at this time you can place a 2x4 on each corner of the frame and screw it in so that there is more stability. I don't have pictures because I did not use those supports at this time. I'll add them when I need the extra strength.

Step 4: Insert the Bars

The bars will fit tightly into the holes drilled with the 1-5/8" hole saw. Hold firmly to the steel bar while pounding on the other side of the wood post with a mallet or hammer to get the bar to slide in all the way. Repeat this step for each end of the bars until you have assembled the parallel bars as seen in the picture above.

For a quick video of the build, check out the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIOdqR1Lr1Q

Comments

author
DavidV81 (author)2017-01-08

Personally I wouldn't trust that when doing bodyweight pushups from those bars. the pressure to the sides might just break the connection at the bottom. I made a dipstation myself with 2" pvc pipes based on this DIY project here: http://theleanberets.com/approved-resources/bars-...

author
adametrnal made it! (author)2016-10-22

Thanks for the great article! I searched all over for some ideas on how to build solid parallel bars that didn't require digging and concrete. I used some metal angle brackets to reinforce instead of the extra plywood and it worked really well! I also couldn't find a 1 5/8" hole saw anywhere so I bought a forstner bit and it worked great!

stallbars.JPG
author
abacoian (author)2016-01-22

These look great! How sturdy are they? I'm disabled and want to practice walking, I'm tall and would use my arms to lean on. They wouldn't be tippy would they? I would like them to be a longer length

author
CityGirl70 (author)2014-11-13

This would be great for outdoors, using treated wood of course, and concrete to set it. I would like to make some bars for our kids like similar to the old playground style. Thanks for the idea!

playground bars.jpg
author
peppypickle (author)2014-11-11

awesome project! thanks for sharing! how long did this entire project take you to make?

author
JBarker09 (author)peppypickle2014-11-11

Thanks peppypickle! I finished over the course of two days, mostly because I realized I needed the hole saw after the store had closed. This being the first time it took about 3 hours, but having everything planned it could probably be done in about 2 hours.

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