I love me some pool noodles! I'm not even being sarcastic. They have limitless uses. 

Besides being great for playing Whack-A-Mole with kids in a pool and using as the most underrated packing/shipping material ever (especially for glass and bottles), I've also discovered 5 DIY pool noodle home gym hacks under $5.

pool noodle gym hack items

So if you're in the market for some cool hacks to upgrade your home or garage gym read on. 

The only things you need are a couple of standard pool noodles (around 2 1/4" diameter more or less) and a length of 1" diameter PVC pipe. 

pool noodle diameter
If you're lucky you might have a Dollar Tree by you, and you can buy a pool noodle for $1. Other dollar stores have them, but they're not always $1.

If you have problems finding pool noodles off-season, try looking at Lowe's or Home Depot. Sometimes they will have them. Don't buy them off Amazon unless you have to, as they can be pricey.

Go to your local hardware store, or if you're at Lowe's or Home Depot, pick up a nice length of PVC pipe too. This usually costs a couple bucks or so. 

Done right, between the pipe and pool noodle(s) you can do these 5 pool noodle home gym hacks under $5 total.

DIY Foam Roller

Here's my PVC pipe and pool noodle I started with.

pool noodle and PVC pipe

I already cut the pool noodle in half to make it easier to measure. I measured the length of some of our foam rollers. They vary in length from 15" and up. I decided to make this one 16".

measuring pool noodle

Use a knife, pocket or kitchen, to cut the pool noodle. A saw will work too. Then measure off the same length on the PVC pipe as the pool noodle. So I measured off 16" on the PVC pipe and cut it. 
cutting PVC pipeWhen you're done cutting the PVC pipe, take it and simply push it into the pool noodle. The PVC pipe will fit nice and snug.
pvc pipe in pool noodleDIY foam roller

Voila! You have a homemade, DIY foam roller. It works great and quite similar to a store-bought foam roller. You might want to cut the PVC pipe a little bit short to not leave any sharp ends exposed. Or you can simply put some duct tape over the ends.

DIY Axle Bar/Fat Bar

Turning a standard barbell into an axle bar is super simple. For this one, I used a thicker/bigger than normal pool noodle, that looks like an industrial version. This one is about 3" in diameter, as opposed to 2" diameter normal noodles. 

Take note that a standard axle/fat bar is 2" in diameter. So you can duplicate that exactly with a regular pool noodle. Since this pool noodle is 3" in diameter, it turns out to be a SUPER fat bar.

The distance on a standard men's 25 kg barbell between the collars should be right around 51 1/2", give or take. Measure close to 51" on the noodle and cut it.
cutting pool noodle

Then take a knife, and cut the noodle, lengthwise, until you cut through the hole, all the way from end to end. Make sure not to cut through to the other side of the noodle.

cutting pool noodle

Don't worry about cutting it straight down the noodle. It's hard to do and you'll see I wasn't even close. But it doesn't matter. If you want a straight line cut, use a yardstick or a length of wood as a guide. Once the noodle is cut, simply squeeze your barbell into it.

DIY fat bar

Once you have it on all the way, it looks like this:
DIY axle barTAH-DAH! DIY axle bar/fat bar complete. I measured perfectly and it fits nice and flush up against the collars.

holding fat bar

This thing is a beast to grip. Surprisingly you get very little movement on it while lifting and there's not much give for your fingers either. This is a great option for anyone thinking about getting an axle bar or dabbling in strongman lifts, before making the investment in a real axle bar.

DIY Glute Ham Raise & Bridge Cushion

Not so quick! Leave that pool noodle on your barbell. If you do glute ham raises and bridges, you have a perfect cushion for hips. No more roughing up your pelvis. 

glute ham raise

DIY Barbell Insulator and Protector

Not so fast! I didn't say you could take that pool noodle off yet. There are another great couple of uses for it, aside from lifting.

If you have a garage gym up north or anywhere that gets cold, leave that pool noodle on your barbell whenever you're not lifting. 

And if you live in a humid climate, say Florida, you're advised to leave the noodle on your barbell as well. Here's why...

Pool noodles are made out of polyethylene foam. Polyethylene foam is awesome stuff and has a number of great characteristics

A roof over your head is to a pool noodle on a barbell. Pool noodles boast these traits:

  • Excellent thermal insulation properties
  • Impervious to mildew, mold, rot, and bacteria
  • Resistant to water, chemicals, solvents & grease

The pool noodle may not warm a freezing cold barbell sitting in a garage, but it will definitely insulate it and prevent it from getting colder than it has too. You don't have polyethylene foam in homes and buildings for nothing.

Also, with water and mildew/mold resistant qualities, the pool noodle acts as a stout line of defense against rust, cooties, and god forbid, any accidental chemical spills in the garage or nearby. 

If you have a garage for a car, you always park it inside, right? Why wouldn't you do the same for your barbell?

DIY Water Dumbbell

If you don't care how silly you might look, and have a desire to strength train in your pool, then you might want to make some DIY water dumbbells. 

measuring noodle

Measure out a couple of 8" lengths of pool noodle and cut them. 

measuring PVC pipe

The two pool noodle pieces total up to 16" total. Give yourself 6-8" extra for the length of the PVC pipe. I went with 8" extra for the shaft on the dumbbell. Before you slide the pool noodle pieces over each end of the PVC pipe, use the end of the pipe to punch out a plug.

pvc plug

pool noodle punch out

Just take a bit of pool noodle and punch that PVC pipe into it, sharp and hard. You'll pop out a plug with ease. Repeat with the same end to have plugs for both ends. Then use something long to slide down the pipe to push out one plug. Don't push out both!

If you prefer to use a real plug or cap, you can check them out here.

Now that you have one end of the pipe plugged, fill it with the filler of your choice to give it some weight. You can use steel pellets, sand or anything else you can think of. I used sand.

pipe with sand

The pool noodle plug works great and holds the sand without leaking a single grain.

pvc pipe holding sand

pvc pipe end with sand

When you're done filling and plugging, put the pieces of pool noodle over the ends and you're done.

pvc pipe pool noodle dumbbell

You're all set to hit the pool or the beach and get your lift on. 

Have you used DIY pool noodle home gym hacks? Please share and let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear all about them.

Thanks for reading Fringe Nation. Have a great weekend, stay awesome and gift life a lift!


Adam Miezio
Adam Miezio

Author