How to Make PVC Gymnastic/ Fitness Rings




Introduction: How to Make PVC Gymnastic/ Fitness Rings

For the past 10 to 20 years functional fitness training has become a mainstay. By functional I mean that the movements mimic movements of daily or sport activities and don't isolate muscle but rather integrate. Tell me when you have only lifted something with your biceps in daily life. You just don't; you use multiple joints and multiple muscles. Also, increasing the stability requirements of an activity make it harder because more muscle fibers need to be recruited to perform the exercise. (Exercise balls are unstable surfaces and therefore require you the use more "core" muscles to perform the exercise)

Anyways, I have wanted some gymnastic rings for different kinds of pullups, pushups and reverse rows. They are a great piece of fitness equipment. You can buy them from Elite rings for $80 or make them for a fraction of the price. Here's how I did it.

Step 1: What You Need & Prices

You will need:
2 x 12 feet lashing straps (Harbor Freight Tools: $3.99)
20 feet of 244 lb capacity nylon rope (Harbor Freight Tools: $1.47)
2x 1" x 24" pvc pipe (Home Depot: $1.43 each)
Duct tape
An oven
A 1 gallon paint can

Step 2: Get Started

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take two 3-4' lengths of the twine and get it wet so it won't burn in the oven. Put each length through the pipe and cap one end with duct tape.
I used cloth athletic tape which didn't work so well. Twine will work much better.

Step 3: Fill 'er Up

Fill each pipe with sand, tapping it on the ground so the sand gets compacted.
We are filling it with sand so as the piping is bent it won't kink.

Step 4: Close It Up

Cap the open end with more duct tape so it is sealed. There should be about 6" of twine sticking out of each end.

Step 5: Cook 'em

Put one completed pipe in the oven and let it heat up for 8 - 10 minutes. Put it on a large old baking sheet with aluminum foil on it. You may get groove marks in the pipe if you just lay it directly on the rack.

Step 6: Bend Them

Take them out wearing oven mits or ove gloves because they are hot! Wrap one around the paint can and tie the string so you don't have to hold it. The tape I used got too hot and broke so I had to hold it with my gloved hands. Let it cool for 3-5 minutes while you put the other pipe in the oven to heat up.

Step 7: Put in the Rope

Remove the duct tape caps once the pipe is cooled. Clean of any residue and dump out the sand.
Put in the rope and loop it around twice. Tie a square knot and put the loose ends back into the pipe so they are not flopping around.

Step 8: Finished

Put the straps through the ring so the weight is supported by the rope. Attach it to the structure of you choice to perform your exercises. You can wrap tennis handle grip tape and hockey grip tape around the rings for some better gripping surface.


Here are some links for exercises:



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    21 Discussions

    It really depends on the type of rope and fasteners you use. I don't think the PVC would be a problem, but if you use light duty rope or tie downs then it'd be a problem.

    Instead of using twine, you could use 100% cotton yarn or the type of string that is used to tie up turkey legs and other meats and is designed to withstand high temperature.

    Hi, great guide. I'd really like to do this but in the UK the only PVC piping I can find is 20mm in diameter and feels a bit flimsy for this. All plumbing pipe of a decent diameter is either polypropylene or ABS.

    I've tried it with some polypropylene pipe at 200C (~390F) for 10 minutes, when I took it out of the oven I couldn't get more than a very slight bend in it, it was very soft though, as the ends I was holding basically ended up crushed, so it was very easy to deform the circular shape but not to bend it around anythng.

    Does anyone know if I need to leave it in longer, at a higher temp or if polypropylene is just not suitable?


    Excellent guide! It worked perfectly. I would recommand two modifications :

    To avoid melting the PVC, I heated the oven to 200­F instead of 350F. Since the melting point of PVC is approximatly 210 degrees F and the vicat softening point is 185 degrees F, the PVC is in a state between solid and liquid at 200F where it become flexible as rubber.

    I think there is a little problem in the design. The friction between the forearm and the edge of the tube is painful.  I think the best would be to do a full circle with the tube (like in the other instructable about gymnastic PVC ring) and put some tape between the two extremities of the tube to mask the cutting edge and to make a full ring. Then I would drill two holes in the full ring to pass the rope inside the ring.

    Just got finished with mine, and I am quite impressed. They are just as effective as the elite rings which I have used plenty, and cost less than half the price. I was lucky enough to have a pot that fit the 24" length perfectly inside it (it was about 9 1/2" inside diameter), and used 6mm climbers accessory cord to string the inside of the rings. I bought some cam buckle straps that were not what I thought they were, so I just cut the buckles off and will attach some mil-spec 1" flat webbing to them so that they are instantly adjustable, again making them just as versatile as the elite rings. I wrapped them in hockey tape for grip and aesthetics, but this is just personal preference.

    These came out great! The first store I went to didn't have 1" PVC so I had to get 3/4" but the grip feels fine even with my big paws. Also, I used the inside of a wire trashbin that I lined with a bit of cardboard so I wouldn't get the wire grid imprinted on the rings. I was surprised at how flexible the PVC got so quickly, and how easy it was to shape. They are hanging on the back deck and it's interesting playing with rings for the first time, I guess the shakes and wobbles will go away at least I hope.

    Second one's in the oven now. I didn't have a cylinder / paint can the right size, so I bent it into shape myself and held it for approx 90 seconds before setting it down on a towel - not quite perfectly circular but definitely close enough for a AUD$20 job. Bunnings for the win!<br/><br/>(brb)<br/><br/>My next step is to build my own pvc mount for these rings. In the meantime, I found a good reference for using these: <br/><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a><br/><br/>Enjoy!<br/><br/>Oh, gotta go, it might be burning!<br/><br/>

    These worked out pretty well, but I modified the steps a bit. Instead of putting twine through the pipe, I just used the sand and some Duct tape, then bent the pipe into a circle and shoved it into the bottom of an old metal fishing pail, both duct taped ends being smashed up against each other. When they cooled, they were practically a perfect circle. I then used a hacksaw to cut about an inch inwards on each end of pipe to give some room to tie the rope. Ended up doing two snake rolls (type of twisting of rope - one piece wraps around the rope one way, the other piece goes the other direction til they meet in the middle) and followed up with two overhand knots. Man, after 5 minutes on these bad boys, my shoulders were thrashed! Home Made, Home Trained, Home Schooled, Home Ruled, -Eagle Scout 3:16

    These are a great, easy home project. Super bomber construction makes them stable for any weight. The square knot however looked a little funky so i replaced it with two overhand knots on each end of rope and connected them with a carabiner(or the hooked end if your using tow straps) for extra safety and symmetry. Great for crossfit workouts

    Thanks im a gymnast and i cant pratice my ring routine at my house untill now. mine wasent as circular as yours

    never use a square knot on a live load (or any load for that matter) it's far too easy to turn it and fall. square knots are great for binding newspapers for recycling or other tasks where you're not going to stress it at all, otherwise they're a serious hazard. for practical purposes you'd probably do better with just running your webbing through the pvc, although that webbing is not rated for a dynamic load either.

    1 reply

    great on the bending bit though! i'm definately using the string inside to bind method of clamping next time i'm bending pvc.

    instead of putting the PVC pipes directly in the oven, you could also just warm up the sand itself, in the oven or in an old pan on the stove, and pour the hot sand in the PVC tube. Should also make it easier to shape the pipes without burning yourself. (Watch out when puring the hot sand though - a metal funnel made from thick aluminum foil or a throwaway pie tine might help.)

    1 reply

    I think the method described in the 'ible is less likely to cause burnination. Good thought though.

    very cool, those are great for pullups and pushups. I'm still trying to figure out the picture though...