Parallel bars are a staple of any gymnastics gym and offer a wide range of exercises. Gym-grade parallel bars require a large amount of space and training to use safely, and require professional design and installation. A simple substitute can be made at home using PVC pipe to make what are known as parallettes. These small, elevated bars can be used to replicate many exercises typically done on full-size bars at a fraction of the cost and space. Building parallettes requires some basic tools and practical knowledge.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 10 feet of 1 1/2-inch diameter PVC pipe
- Measuring tape
- PVC primer and glue
- 4 PVC elbow joints
- 4 PVC T joints
- 8 PVC end caps
Use the tape measure and pencil to mark two 24-inch, four eight-inch and eight five-inch sections of PVC. Cut the sections with the hacksaw. Remove any loose shards of PVC from the newly cut edges.
Apply PVC glue and primer to both ends of a 24-inch section, carefully following the directions on the glue. Attach an elbow joint to each end of the section. Orient the openings to face the same direction.
Glue and primer both ends of two eight-inch sections. Insert each section into the open end of the elbow joints. Attach a T joint to each section so that the openings in the joint run perpendicular to the bar.
Apply glue and primer to both ends of four five-inch sections. Insert an end of each section into each open hole of the T joints. Fit an end cap over each exposed end. Allow 24 hours for the glue to fully cure. Repeat the process from Step 2 to create another parallette.
Test the set of parallettes by placing them shoulder-width apart on a flat, level surface. Grip each middle section and slowly shift body weight to the bars. The parallettes should be able to support full body weight with no indication of weakness or slippage.
Tips and warnings
- Sandpaper can be used to rough up the middle surface of each parallette to improve grip.
- Only use the parallettes on stable, level surfaces. If unsure of your ability, only use parellettes on a forgiving surface or lay down a mat.
- Only attempt advanced exercises under the supervision of a trained professional, and check with a doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
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