PVC pipe is comfortable in the hand. It never rusts. It makes an excellent handle for ropes used in exercise. I have this rope exercise equipment in my home. It is cheap to make, and can provide an all-body workout.
The single rope hanging from the ceiling is for stretching and loosening up the spine. I have it hanging near some steps. I mostly just hang with my feet touching the ground and swing around in circles under it.
The two ropes with handles can be attached to a wall, or something else at about shoulder height. Mine are tied to some pipes. With these ropes you can get a good upper body workout, and also use them in therapeutic exercises after injuries. You can also use them for dance-like exercises that strengthen the lower body.
Step 1: Hanging Exercise Handle
The hanging exercise handle is simply a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe, 12 1/2" long, with 3/4" rope running through it. The other end of the rope is tied to a strong hook, which hooks onto an iron ring in the ceiling.
I have the height set so that I can stand on the floor underneath while holding the handle. Bending my knees, or moving my hips outward causes me to hang by my arms.
The idea is to focus strength in the hands and relax the rest of the body, so it can stretch. By swinging the hips one can arch the spine in all directions while it is under traction.
This exercise helps me work the kinks out whenever I feel stiff. It might be of help to some people with back injuries.
Step 2: Wall Exercise Handles
These handles are a little more complicated than the simple piece of pipe used in the hanging exercise handle.
Each of these handles has four parts. A section of 1/2" CPVC pipe (used for hot water) is the center pipe. Fitting loosely over it is a section of thin wall, 1/2" schedule 120 PVC pipe. At either end is a tight-fitting ring of thicker walled 1/2" schedule 40 PVC pipe which holds the loose hand grip section in place. The loose section, that sometimes turns with hand rotations, wears on the inner pipe, not the rope. The rope is protected from wear.
1/4" rope runs through the handle.
If one stands close to the wall and leans back, the amount of strength needed to pull one's self toward the wall is fairly great. Standing more vertically, farther from the wall reduces the amount of strength needed. This can be good for warming up, and also for graduated strengthening exercises in therapy after injuries.
Facing the wall, one strengthens back muscles. Facing away from the wall, chest muscles are exercised.
By dipping the legs and moving from side to side, one can practice dance-like routines that exercise the whole body.
With weight lifting exercises, the weights normally move, not the body. It is much more interesting when the body moves.
Step 3: Making the Wall Exercise Handles
These handles take advantage of different sizes of PVC pipe. 1/2" CPVC, used for hot water plumbing, is the smallest diameter pipe. It serves as the channel for the rope, and also as an axle for the hand grip section of pipe to rotate around.
PVC pipe comes in different wall thicknesses. 1/2" Schedule 40 is thick-walled and is used for the end rings that hold the loose-fitting hand grip section in place. Schedule 40 pipe fits tightly on the CPVC pipe ends. Just hammer the rings onto the ends of the inner pipe. It's a tight fit. Make sure the end rings don't rub the hand grip section and prevent it from turning.
The hand grip section is made of 1'2" Schedule 120 pipe. Because of the thinner walls, the opening in the middle is larger and it slides easily over the CPVC center. Because the hand grip section slides over the center pipe, instead of grinding away at the rope, the rope is spared and lasts a lot longer.
Step 4: Exercises
Using this simple exercise equipment you can stretch and strengthen the whole body. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars on fancy equipment, nor to dedicate valuable floor space for storing it.
Tie the ropes to something solid and start having fun. We all seem to need more exercise these days than we are getting.