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)
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: