I recently happened to hear about the TRX Training system by Fitness Anywhere (http://www.trxtraining.com/)and got curious about it.
It took about 20 minutes to go crazy about it and wanting one, but the idea of spending between 200 and 250 U$D was not so appealing.
But TRX, like all great ideas (like Chess rules or Unix design...) has the special feature of being an extremely simple concept with a simple design that give a lot of freedom an different possibilities of use.
Being simple makes it easy to replicate.
This is how I made my "almost professional looking" TRX system with 20 euros during three episodes of "the walking dead" ;-)
TRX is a commercial product so all credits for the concept are due to Fitness Anywhere. This is a just replica, or knockoff if you prefer, of their product but cannot stand the comparison to the original one.
Using your homemade TRX might result in damaging the equipment, you or your house, specially if you make it out of poor materials or don't do it properly. Don't blame me if you break something.
As for every fitness equipment consult your physical first and see if it fits for your general body conditions.
With all that said... let's dive in.
Step 1: Materials
When choosing the strap make sure it's not to silky and smooth : we need it to provide friction and not being slippery
- A heavy duty carabiner
- 8 iron rings "small" diameter
- 4 iron ring "big" diameter
- Aluminum pipe we (need about 15cm of that)
- PVC pipe (need about 15cm of that)
- some pins or binder clips
- Epoxy glue
NOTES ON MATERIALS
As for the straps, rings, carabiner:
- get those materials wisely: make sure that each of them can carry twice the weight of your body or more. You'll be hanging from those and if they fail you might fall and get hurt.
- A carabiner used for climbing is a good choice but might cost you 10 bucks-up.
- Whenever you cut the strap remember to burn the ends to prevent it from unraveling
As for the rings:
- the "small" rings must have an internal diameter that is larger than the width of the strap you will use so that you can loop the strap in them (see pictures)
- the "BIG" ring must have an internal diameter that allows the "small" ring to pass through it (more on this later)
As for the pipes that will make the handle bars:
- you want a PVC pipe that allows the strap go pass through it
- you want an aluminum pipe larger than the PVC one so that it can fit inside, turn around but not too loose. (more on this later)
Step 2: Tools
- Sawing machine capable of Zig-Zag stitches. (if you work with metal you might need a welder, but if it's fabric we are talking about, than you need a sawing machine)
- You might find pins or binder clips helpful in keeping the strap together while you saw
Step 3: Notes on Sawing
While sawing the strap remember always to use a WHIDE Zig-Zag stitch.
When you are sawing ALONG the strap use a "longer" stitch that will allow you to see the actual zig-zag pattern.
When sawing ACROSS the strap use a very short stitch step, so that every stitch is almost next to the previous one.
You might find pins or binder clips helpful in keeping the strap together while you saw
Also you might use some epoxy between the parts you are sawing for extra security but that should not be necessary.
Step 4: The General Idea
In the drawing you can see the idea I have in mind.
The red parts are the metal one and are the rings and the carabiner
The blue lines are where I'm going to sew and the green part is the handle.
The handle parts will link to the long straps like the old book belts: passing the strap inside both rings and then coming back passing over one and under the other. It's safe, easy and allows fast regulation of the length. The long straps will connect and stay hooked to the suspension part (the one with the carabiner) to your tree, pole, suspension bar, door... what have you.
Pretty simple, right?
Step 5: The Suspension Part
I choose to make my suspension/anchoring strap about 75cm long
Pick your length then cut a length of strap that is twice that length.
Burn the ends of the strap.
Find the middle point, bring the end of the strap to the center and make it flat. You want the two layers flat and overlapping leaving two loops at the ends of it.
Get two "small" rings and put them at one end of the strap between the two layers.
Start sawing at near the rings, leave about 3cm from the very end to allow the ring to move loose. Start sawing across with the wide-short stitch, then turn 90° and go along the strap close to the side with a wide-long stitch.
When you are about to reach the middle point bring the other end next to the one you are sawing and continue.
Stop at about 5cm from the loop end and turn 90°.
Saw across the straps with the wide-short stitch again, turn 90° again an go back to the starting point.
Insert the carabiner on the opposite side of the ring.
You can use the wide-short stitch over both end in the middle to "close and hide them" if you like.
Step 6: The Long Straps
I chose my straps to be about 1.5m. Add to that 15cm, so cut 1.65cm and burn the ends.
Pick one strap, fold those extra 15cm over and insert two "big" rings in it.
Start sawing like you did before for the suspension part.
In this case, since the sewn part is smaller you might feel more comfortable passing over it twice or adding different sawing paths.
In my case I went all around the borders and added an "X" up&down path to it, always using the wide-long zig-zag stitch.
Repeat another time, since you want 2 Long straps.
Step 7: Handle Bars
We'll be using 2 pipes for each handle. We'll be doing this since we don't want to damage the strap where it meets the pipe lip due to the heavy friction it will produce.
A good length for the handle is about 14cm.
Cut a 14.5 cm length of the PVC pipe and 14cm of the aluminum one That's right: the PVC one is little longer. Make sure to sand down
the lips of the pipes and to round them out a bit.
Place the PVC pipe inside the aluminum one. You need to have the PVC pipe to peep out a little bit so that when the strap will be inside it will never touch the aluminum.
Check that the PVC pipe can rotate freely inside the aluminum one.
It does not need to feel like a ball-bearing, but you should be able to rotate it easily with no effort.
Step 8: Handles
This is the trickier part, but still it's harder to describe than actually do it.
As you can see from the picture the handle strap part consists of two loops: a smaller loop inside that passes in the handle pipes and an outer one that forms the foot rest.
Start shaping the handle strap with the 10cm part that run from the rings to the triangular part, form the triangle with the pipes inside and come back. Fold over the beginning of the 10cm part and insert 2 small rings. Come back to the start of the triangle and fix all with pins to keep things in place.
Saw the three layers that run from the rings to the triangle using the same path and patters used before (you should be a pro by now).
Run the strap down one side of the triangle and saw it.
Don't get too close to the handle pipes and be sure not to make triangle get asymmetric.
Now leave space for you feet to rest under the pipe, come over the other side of the triangle and saw it the same way
Of course you need two handles, so start over
There is a reason why I don't make a simple handle first and then make the foot rest by adding a circular strap inside the pipe: don't want the weight to be sustained by the handle! The straps are made to support you, the pipe is not.
Step 9: Assemble and Test
Find your tree branch, pole, suspension bar.
Check that it can actually support you weight. Take the suspension part, with the carabiner, around it and over it. You could also use a door by making a couple knots near the carabiner and passing it over the door and closing it so that the knot stays outside and the carabiner inside.
You may close the suspension part on itself after passing its small rings inside the big rings of the long strap.
Attach the handles to the long straps like you would do for a "two rings belt". Adjust the length of the straps, leave the rest out or make a knot.
Try some exercises, slowly, adding more tension to the TRX until you feel comfortable with it.
Step 10: What's Next
One of the advantages of TRX is that it's portable, so while your sawing machine is still there you cold make a nice bag for your TRX out of the old jeasn that you have around.
Go to youtube, or search the net for exercises you can do. Check how you can make them harder as you progress by simply making a step closer or further from you pole and changing the angles
Make a nice packet of all the excuses you have not to train and ship them to "nowhereland":
commit, train, get results ;-)