A PVC pipe might seem like an unlikely exercise tool, but this light and cheap piece of hardware can actually make a useful addition to your workout arsenal if you know what to do with it. If you have a limited budget for equipment, need multiple bars for a large group of exercisers or are simply looking for an unusual exercise tool, try working out with a PVC pipe.
Overhead squats develop mobility and flexibility, which are two important aspects of muscle and joint health. To perform the overhead squat, hold your pipe using a grip that is wider than shoulder-width and raise it above your head. Keep your arms extended over your head for the duration of the exercise. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward. Push your butt back, bend your knees and squat down as low as you can while keeping the pipe over your head and directly over your feet. If you find this exercise difficult, you probably need to work on your flexibility.
Olympic weightlifting involves lifting heavy weights from the floor to over your head using the clean and jerk and the snatch techniques. Each lift is complex and could be dangerous if performed using poor exercise form. A novice would benefit from learning the proper way to do these lifts by first using a PVC pipe so they can develop good form before attempting heavier weights -- even an empty Olympic bar weighs 45-lbs. If you have to teach Olympic lifting to a class, PVC pipes are a cost effective option.
The Slosh Tube
A slosh tube is a capped and sealed length of PVC pipe that is partially filled with water. It usually has a length of six to ten feet and a diameter of three to six inches. The longer the pipe and the larger the diameter, the harder the pipe is to handle. Once you have your slosh tube, you can use it for numerous strength training exercises including squats and overhead presses. You may even train with it by simply carrying it over a distance. As the water sloshes from one end of the pipe to the other, you will have to work hard to maintain your stability and balance. Thus, it is harder to do exercises with a slosh tube than it is to do them with a regular barbell.
Thick Bar Training
Thick bar training is used by bodybuilders and weightlifters to make traditional barbell exercises more demanding. You can buy specially designed thick bars, but these are often expensive. For a low-cost alternative, slide a PVC pipe over a regular barbell. This will significantly increase the diameter of the bar and make it harder to hold. Use your homemade thick bar for bench presses, overhead presses, rows and deadlifts and when you return to using a regular diameter barbell, you should find them considerably easier to lift.