Build a fully functional version of Fitness Anywhere's TRX Suspension Trainer
Update: Better, Stronger, Faster! See the video version of the 5-minute DIY Suspension Trainer
At $150, the TRX Suspension Trainer is cheaper than most gym equipment. Its body weight resistance exercises are challenging enough for elite athletes yet can be regressed to suit even the most deconditioned individuals (See examples at the ACE exercise library).
There are lots of TRX clones but this design is uniquely inexpensive, strong, and easy to make and use. Best of all, if a component is damaged or wears out, it's a cinch to replace the part instead of the whole device.
I've included simple instructions for an attachment that makes hanging your suspension trainer easy, even for anchor points higher than 9 feet.
1) Two .5" by 4" PVC pipes or sprinkler risers (pre-cut PVC pipe for sprinkler systems) - $0.56 each OR...
upgrade to the "Perfect Fitness Handles" for better comfort and durability (available online for $12 or less)
2) Two 12' x 1" Lashing straps with cambuckles (available online or at most hardware stores for about $6)
3) One 15' or longer x 1" lashing strap - $3.47
5) (Optional - see last step) Tennis Ball
6) (Optional - see last step) Clip / Carabiner
Step 1: Prepare Long Lashing Strap
Trim any attachments from the ends of the long strap (hooks, buckles, etc.).
Step 2: Create or Buy a Handle (A)
Place one of the PVC pipes onto an 8 foot strap.
UPDATE: you can skip steps 2-4 if you're willing to spend just a little more for the "Perfect Fitness Handles" (available online). Just cut all the material off of the metal lashing strap cambuckles and loop the handles onto them with a cow hitch knot (loop the webbing through the cambuckle and then through itself). As a bonus, they come with a bag and a door anchor! If you use the door anchor, try to put it on the side of the door that pulls open so that the door's frame provides reinforcement.
Step 3: Create a Handle (B)
Tie a simple overhand knot to form a handle (video).
NOTE: This is a permanent knot that won’t slip. However, it will reduce the strength of the lashing strap by up to 50 percent! This is why it’s important to choose straps that can hold your weight several times over.
Step 4: Create a Handle (C)
Cut off the excess material from the handle and save it for the next step.
NOTE: You can use a lighter to seal the cut edge of the lashing strap and prevent it from unraveling.
Step 5: Make a Foot Cradle
Slip the excess strap from the last step through the PVC pipe. Secure the strap to itself with a square knot to create a foot cradle (video).
Step 6: Make a Foot Cradle (2)
Cut off the excess material from the foot cradle.
NOTE: Square knots slip over time. Leave 1 inch ends on the knot and check them before use. Alternatively, you can sew down the ends or tie overhand stopper knots to keep the square knot from coming undone.
Step 7: Attach the Handle to the Long Strap
Depress the button on the cambuckle and slide the fifteen foot lashing strap through it. If you've attached the handle correctly, the cambuckle won't slide down the longer strap no matter how hard you pull on the handle.
Note: Tie an overhand knot into the very end of the long lashing strap to keep the handle from sliding all the way off.
Step 8: Complete the Second Handle
Repeat step 2 through 7 to finish your suspension device!
Step 9: Hang Your Suspension Device
Sling the center of the device around a horizontal or vertical beam with a cow hitch knot (loop it through itself) and pull hard to cinch it in place.
Make sure to pull firmly on both handles before each use to ensure that you'e configured it correctly. Hold the end of the long strap, depress a cambuckle, and pull it up to shorten the device one side at a time. Alternatively, you can depress both cambuckles and pull them down simultaneously to lengthen it.
To attach the device to high anchor points (7 feet or higher from the ground), see the final step.
NOTE: Avoid anchor points with sharp corners as they might damage the lashing straps. Check your suspension device for damage or loose knots before each use.
Step 10: Optional Step: Make High Anchor Points Easier to Reach With a Simple Attachment
Clip an old tennis ball to the middle of the device to make it easier to sling over and remove from high anchor points.
First, poke a hole through the ball and use a wire or popsicle stick to pull a piece of leftover lashing strap through it. Attach a lightweight carabiner to the ball and clip it to the middle of the device. Sling the ball around the anchor and use the dangling strap to pull it down (video).