Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Homemade Gymnastic Rings.

Gymnasts are incredibly strong, and this is due in no small part to their use of gymnastic rings. The rings bring a new level of intensity to all exercises such as press ups, pull ups, dips etc. Since one has to stabilise the forward/backward and side to side movement of the rings, all exercises require and develop much more strength and stabilisation than if they were performed on a straight bar alone. It is for this reason I decided I would get a set of gymnastic rings. But when I looked into it they often cost the better part of $100, money I just don’t have right now.

Luckily for me I stumbled upon a blog where someone had made their own set of gymnastic rings and that reawakened the desire to have a set for myself.  The blog I saw these on first was The Crucible Gym, who got the idea from Ross Training.

These rings were made with PVC pipe softened in an oven then formed into an arc to stand as the bottom half of a gymnastic ring. I was able to get a metre of 25mm PVC pipe for free but it would have only cost $10 NZ to buy. I cut these down to 50cm so that I had two pieces which would give me rings of approximately 18cm in diameter (18cm X 3.14 = 56cm) which is the standard size of a gymnastic ring. The rings were formed around a pair of dumbbell plates I borrowed off a friend, these plates were just the right size for rings, but others have used pots to form their rings.

To prep the pipe for forming I put a length of rope through the pipe, with enough rope to tie up tightly to form the rings (see pictures down the page). This rope must be cotton or some other material which will not melt in the oven, I used plumber’s hemp. Next I taped one end of the pipe and filled it tightly with sand then taped up the other end. The sand prevents the pipe from collapsing when bent into a circle. It is important that the sand be packed in hard so that if the ring isn’t formed right, you can put it back in the oven and try again. If the sand is too loose it will shift on the first attempt and on the second attempt the pipe may collapse or fold in places, giving you a warped ring.

While I prepared the pipe I pre heated the oven to 150˚C. I didn’t have any baking paper to put down on the tray I was using which meant I had to scrub melted duct tape off the tray, which was a pain. The pipes take about 10 minutes each in the oven to soften up, in which time the duct tape melts so if you have a more heat resistant tape I suggest using it. While it softened I set up my dumbbell overhanging the kitchen bench, DO NOT copy my dodgy set up, the dumbbell fell off the bench, but luckily missed mine and my photographers toes. Find a more stable way to set up your dumbbell if you use one.

After 10 minutes I took the pipe out with leather work gloves and gently bent and stretched the pipe around the dumbbell then tied the rope tight around the top to let it cool down. While the first piped cooled I put the second pipe in the oven. After the pipe had hardened up sufficiently I removed it from the dumbbell and placed it in the sink to cool further. Once both rings were cool I took out the rope and sand. To complete the ring I put a piece of rope through the pipe twice and tied off.  

In the back yard I have a big old frame that I think used to be a kids swing frame, it’s now the frame for my gymnastic rings. To hang the rings I bought a pack of four tie downs for $25 NZ (the two pack was only $15 NZ). Hanging the rings was easy, and I can also use the second pair of tie downs to lower the rings for dips, or lower them down to just above the ground for press ups. Or I can swap the rings out for a straight bar if I like.

So for $25 NZ I made a set of gymnastic rings in under an hour, instead of giving up the better part of $100.

Enjoy, and work hard.

Edit: Since building these I made some changes to the set up. Here are the updates.


  1. hey great idea with the sand, i actually poured boiling water through mine to make them maluable. i also used spring loaded buckle tie downs instead of the crank ones. they were cheaper and came in 15 ft sections, rated for 650 lbs. i just roped them through the pvc for simple easy to transport rings. had them for 2 years and they work great.

  2. You can buy wood rings for about $25 on Ebay if you're patient. Then look for 2" wide straps and a really good buckle. Or maybe 2 buckles to minimize any possibility of slippage. Then stitch with fishing lines (many times!).

  3. Soccer goal posts make a good hanging frame for rings though often they are too low. Look for a tall swing set in a park. Also under low bridges there is often a framework you can use. There you're out of the strong sun or rain as well. But there may be air pollution from the cars if its busy or not windy. Also a basketball hoop frame works sometimes. That's usually quite high.