I first saw the TRX Suspension Trainer on an episode of The Biggest Loser, and it looked like a pretty cool piece of equipment. Versatile and portable, it was something I wanted because I hate going on vacation and not having equipment. I have a tendency to not do bodyweight only exercises when I'm out of town, so I figured if I had one of these, there would be no excuse. Suspension training is something I could get into, but I really didn't want spend $200 for the equipment. A quick Google search for "suspension training" led me to some great, great reviews and resources. YouTube has a lot of videos of exercises.
I got it in my head the other day that I absolutely had to have a TRX. I talked to a few people who use it and love it, and I was sold. But part of me still couldn't part with the Double Benjamins, especially with Turbo Fire being released very soon. I remembered seeing a guide online for making your own suspension trainer, and I recalled it being pretty simple. So I found the guide again and watched it a couple times. The more I watched it, the more I was convinced I could make my own. So I took my list of equipment needed and headed to The Home Depot.
To give you an idea, here is what you need:
3 8-foot lashing straps - I bought 2 packs of 2 for $6.97 each
quick link with screw lock - $2.89
2 5-inch pices of 1-inch diameter PVC pipe - I got a 2-foot section for $1.60
good tape for covering knots and stuff - I bought some Gorilla tape for $2.97
rope for foot straps - I did not buy this. Instead, I used that extra lashing strap to make foot straps
Grand total: $23.05 with tax. Just over 1/10 of what it would cost me from TRX (though I did see them cheaper on Amazon, and there are other brands available).
I should note that the lashing straps I bought have a 600 pound break limit and hold up to 200 pounds. I don't remember what the next step up for weight was, but the straps were 16-footers, and I didn't want to have to mess with cutting too much, especially since I've never really seen a strap before. I'm not quite sure what the weight limits mean. My husband weighs about 230 pounds - I don't know if he will be able to use the system or not, or whether it will depend on the exercise. He assures me that he will be able to do everything I can do. Not that he will...
The first task was to cut the PVC pipe to make two handles. We made 2 5-inch handles (which the video calls for) and 2 6-inch handles to start off, because I wasn't quite sure what I wanted. And I say "we" because I could not grip the cutters to cut the pipe. My hands were too small and my grip strength is, well, lacking. So even though I swore I was going to do this project all by my little self, I had to suck up my pride and ask my strapping husband for help right off the bat.
Next, I had to figure out how to even set up the lashing straps - I had no idea how they "buckled" but I finally figured it out.
The biggest thing I was worried about was getting the handle loops tied correctly. The video suggests using a bowline knot. I practiced it with a different rope before putting my handles on. It was terribly frustrating, and at first, the knot with the rope was different from the rope with the straps. It took me a while to actually get it. I am not two-dimensional person when it comes to learning, and I need hands on live demonstration for anything to do with making things like this.
Then I put all three of my straps (the one without the handle is the one that loops over whatever anchor you're using - tree limb, pipe, pull up bar) into the carabiner.
I cut the buckle off my fourth strap, then cut the strap in half. I put each half through one of the handles on the suspension system and used a bowline knot again to secure it - foot straps!
I think you're supposed to trim the leftover strap and/or tape it up. I think I'm going to leave it alone for a while, until I get a feel for the contraption and make sure I don't need to untie it to make adjustments.
For the first time, it took me about an hour to make, from start to finish, only because I spent so much time pissing around with the knots. If I needed to make it again, I could probably do it in 10 minutes.
A video of the suspension trainer in action: