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The Ultimate Guide to Pull Up Bars (A 2019 Review)

The Ultimate Guide to Pull Up Bars (A 2019 Review)

When you think of a pull up bar, then you may remember the pull up bar physical fitness tests that you did in grade school. Or, perhaps you think of a pull up contest that you did amongst or friends. Regardless of how you think of a pull up bar, consider purchasing one for your home. Pull up bars offer complex exercises that can really create a burn and shred our muscles so that they can get bigger. Furthermore, exercises done on a pull up bar can improve our strength, coordination, and stability, especially in the core.

If you already have a solid upper body workout routine, then you may think that you can go without a pull up bar. However, you actually may be missing out! Take your full body strength to the next level with a home pull up bar.

But how? Keep reading to find out more (and to find out what you’ve been missing).

The Best Pull Up Bars: What You’ve Been Missing

Man Using Pull Up BarsIn this article, we will review the science behind pull up bars and why everyone who is serious about their muscle strength should have one in their home. To help get your perfect pull up bar quickly, we’ve reviewed Fitnessator’s top picks in the best pull up bars. We scraped through lots of available pull up bars, compared them, and picked out only the best (you can thank us later). Also, we’ve included information on how to create a DIY pull up bar, but that’s not suitable for everyone.

Understanding Pull Up Bars to Get Mega Gains

When you do a quick Internet search for the best pull up bars or DIY pull up bars, you may feel overwhelmed with all the types, brands, models, and styles that are available. How do you know which is the best to choose? Have no fear! We will breakdown all the different types of pull up bars and how you can best use them, so that you can figure out which is the best pull up bar to choose.

Types of Pull Up Bars

There are several types of pull up bars, so let’s lay out some general descriptions so that you can better understand how each pull up bar can benefit you. Pull up bars are not a one-size-fits-all product, so picking the best pull up bar for your needs can help you make the right gains.

Free Standing Pull Up Bar

As the name suggests, a free standing pull up bar is one that stands alone in the round. Free standing pull up bars are mounted onto their own stand. These stands can vary as a somewhat portable pull up bar, or they can be drilled into the floor or ground. On a playground, you may see free standing pull up bars for kids (and adult who like to use them). Also, some DIY pull up bars mimic free standing pull up bar models (see more in our DIY pull up bar section).

Door Frame Pull Up Bar

Perhaps due to their low cost and ability to be easily installed, door frame pull up bars are extremely common. These are portable pull up bars that can be dismantled from a doorframe within seconds. Also, you may find other “door” pull up bars that can actually fit on doors and ceiling beams, but make sure you confirm that this is true with the manufacturer before purchasing. Not all door pull up bars are capable of being installed on something other than a door.

Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar

These types of pull up bars are secured to the wall or ceiling. While there are numerous commercial wall mounted pull up bars, you may also see DIY pull up bars with a similar construction (see more in our DIY pull up bar section).

Power Rack Pull Up Bar

Whether it’s on a power rack or a power tower, some pull up bars are built in to other fitness equipment. Depending on the brand, you may also find pull up bars on total home gyms.

Exercises You Can Do on a Pull Up Bar

Man Working Out Using Pull Up BarsWhile it ultimately depends on the exact pull up bar you choose, here’s a list of exercises you can do on a pull up bar to get you thinking about all the exercise possibilities you can do by having one in your home:

  • Classic and weighted pull ups (i.e. with a weight belt and weight plates or a weight vest)
  • Abdominal exercises (see our sample workout for specific workouts)
  • Multi-grip pull ups
  • Flex hang
  • Back, arm, and shoulder stretches when you hang from the bar (similar stretches you would experience on an inversion table)
  • Gymnastics-based exercises and calisthenics
  • Stability and/or isometric strength exercises

Pull Up Bar Analysis to Help You Choose

Go through the chart below to find out the different types of pull up bars available, the pros and cons for each, and what the research has to say about them.

Type of Pull Up Bar

Pros

Cons

The Research

Free standing pull up bar
·      Can be placed indoors or outdoors

·      Stand can be moveable or can be drilled into the ground for added stability

·      Tend to be large and take up a large foot print Compared to the other types of pull up bars, free standing bars are perhaps the only ones that can be installed outside. Outdoor exercise can be beneficial since it provides stress relief and improved overall well-being.
Door frame pull up bar
·      Easily portable pull up bar

·      Generally inexpensive

·      Requires a sturdy door frame or other structure (i.e. floating beam)

·      May cause minor or major damage to a doorframe/structure

With so many door frame pull up bars on the market, you may be wondering how different types of handles and grips affect muscle growth. According to one 2017 study, doing pull ups with various grips has a minimal effect on overall muscle gain (1).
Wall mounted pull up bar
·      Saves floor space since it is mounted off of the ground

·      Models can be mounted on the wall and/or to the ceiling

·      Installation can be complex

·      Walls must be able to support the base and pull up bar itself

·      May cause minor or major damage to a wall or ceiling

Wall mounted pull up bars are very common in commercial gyms and at home. If you want to modify a standard pull up to activate other muscles, consider doing kipping pull ups on a wall mounted pull up bar. According to one study, kipping pull ups utilize the total body, therefore reducing overall upper body fatigue.
Power rack pull up bar
·      Power racks often allow for several other exercises

·      Other equipment can be used and/or stored on the power rack

·      Often requires additional purchase of a power rack

·      Takes up a lot of floor space and vertical space

Multimodal exercise touches on several exercise types and workouts. If you have a power rack at home that includes a pull up bar, having a multi-exercise piece may help some people be more likely to exercise. By having several exercises in one structure, you have a variety of exercises to do right in one spot.

 

Keep these concepts in mind as you read through our review of the best pull up bars on the market.

Fitnessator’s Top Picks in the Best Pull Up Bars

Now that you have an idea of what you can do on a pull up bar and what types are available, keep reading for our list of Fitnessator’s Top Picks in pull up bars. If you don’t have time to read the full product reviews, then jump down to “The Rundown” section for side-by-side comparisons of these products.

Fitnessator’s Top Pick

Rogue Pull Up Bar Attachment – The Best Pull Up Bar for Starter Home Gyms

Rogue Pull Up Bar AttachmentWhy We Love It:

Not only is the Rogue pull up bar a great heavy duty product, but this type of bar is backed by science. If you’re looking to really make your home fitness space one to compete with your local gym, then the Rogue pull up bar and other Rogue products should be at the top of your list.

The Research:

According to one 2017 study, the diameter of the pull up bar has an effect on how many pull up repetitions you can do. In this study, which used physically trained military personnel, participants were able to do more pull ups on bars that had a diameter of 1.25 inches or less. With a bar diameter of 1.12 inches, the Rogue bar can help you do more pull ups than those with thicker bars.

Details:
  • This bar is compatible with several Rogue racks, however, keep in mind the pull up bar stand is an additional cost
  • Bar knurling option available (or you can choose a smooth finish)
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns (i.e. pink, Army camouflage, red, chrome and more)
  • Rogue Fitness Website Price: $115 (for the bar only)
Things to Consider:

This bar is not complete on its own. Make sure you purchase the correct Rogue rack that is compatible for this product. Per the Rogue website, such racks can range from $230 to nearly $1500. Also, if you have a small home fitness space, then make sure you have room for the whole rack! 

Customer Reviews:

Not surprisingly, customers like that this bar is thinner than other types of bars on the market. Per the research, thinner bars can help you do more pull ups, so no wonder people like this model!

According to some customers the knurling on the bar is rather abrasive and causes callouses. However, remember that the knurling is optional, otherwise you can purchase a smooth bar.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re just starting to create your home gym, then make the Rogue pull up bar and Rogue rack the first item installed. Rogue products are well known and highly rated among various types of equipment. Likewise, this pull up bar would be good for someone who already has a compatible Rogue rack, as adding the Rogue pull up bar can be easily implemented.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Weider Power Tower – The Best Pull Up Bar Stand

Weider Power Tower Pull Up BarsWhy We Love It:

Similarly to purchasing a multi-use piece of exercise equipment like a power rack, the Weider Power Tower gives you way more than just a free standing pull up bar. On this one power tower, you can do pull ups, triceps dips, elevated push-ups, and abdominal exercises.

Details:
  • Max user weight capacity is 300 lbs
  • Lightweight frame (product weight is 86 lbs)
  • Includes a pull up bar, pull up handles (for a wide pull up), triceps dip, abdominal knee raise mount, and elevated pushup handles
  • Weider Website Price: $149
Things to Consider:

Unlike the Fitnessator’s Top Pick pull up bar, the Weider Power Tower comes equipped with the pull up bar, pull up bar stand, and other exercise mounts.

Customer Reviews:

According to many customers, assembly of this product is easy and often takes less than an hour. Also, people like that this machine offers several exercises yet takes up less space than total body gyms or power racks. 

Since this is a free standing pull up bar, customers complain that they experience some wobbling during use. If you are concerned about instability during use, then consider adding sandbags to the base or bolting it to the floor.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If the arm exercise equipment is lacking in your home fitness space, then the Weider Power Tower should be your top choice. Aside from pull ups, you get a variety of body weight exercises all in one structure. With the Weider Power Tower, arm workouts can be the major highlight in your home gym.

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention 

XMark Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar – The Best Pull Up Bar for Small Spaces

XMark Wall Mounted Pull Up BarWhy We Love It:

This wall mounted pull up bar can save tons of space, as long as you have the right walls to do it. That being said, however, this well-made and multi-grip pull up bar can give you several pull up bar exercises.

Details:
  • Constructed with horizontal and angled bars for added pull up workouts
  • Pull up bar contains both knurled and smooth bar sections for variety
  • Mount and pull up bar are welded together for extra stability
  • XMark Website Price: $147
Things to Consider:

While wall mounted pull up bars may sound great, make sure your walls can tolerate it. Furthermore, make sure your wall can hold the base, the pull up bar itself, you, and any extra weight you may want to add. You don’t want your pull up bar to rip off the wall! Another thing to keep in mind is that you should make sure you have the ability to install such equipment on your walls, especially if you are living in a rental property.

Customer Reviews:

Customers like that the mount and bar are welded together by the factory, making this wall mounted pull up bar more stable and solid than other models.

As with some of the other knurled pull up bars on the list, customers complain that the knurling is quite abrasive. To remedy this, consider purchasing exercise gloves.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

Since wall mounted pull up bars save on space, consider this one if you need to save on floor space for other equipment and exercises. As long as your walls can be modified and are strong enough for heavy duty equipment, then you should be able to make mega gains with this wall mounted pull up bar.

The Best Doorway Pull Up Bar for Heavy Weight Exercise

FirstLaw Doorway Pull Up Bar

FirstLaw Doorway Pull Up BarWhy We Love It:

If you’re in need of a portable pull up bar that you can set up and tear down in seconds, then choose one of the best doorway pull up bars on the market. Furthermore, the FirstLaw door pull up bar can hold hundreds of pounds, so you can add substantial weight during your pull up workout.

Details:
  • Total weight capacity on the bar is 600 lbs
  • Bar diameter is 1.25 inches, which is backed by research to allow you to do more pull ups
  • Constructed with bar padding for comfort
  • FirstLaw Fitness Website Price: $179.99
Things to Consider:

Even though this is a “doorway” pull up bar, you can also attach this piece to a ceiling raft or beam. The sky’s the limit with this door pull up bar! 

Customer Reviews:

As you may imagine, people love how solid this pull up bar is. Even someone who weighs over 200 lbs can confidently exercise on this equipment.

Since this piece can be mounted to several different types of structures, one would think the company would want to provide clear instructions to their customers. However, customers complain that the assembly guide is rather vague.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

While it may be obvious, consider this door pull up bar if you need to do heavy weight pull up exercises. Also, consider trying TRX training on this bar since it can hold up to lots of resistance. Those looking to increase muscle size via heavy lifting will enjoy and can make gains from this product.

The Best DIY Pull Up Bars

Do It Yourself Pull Up Bar For FitnessIf you’re handy and want to fully customize your pull up bar, then consider making a homemade pull up bar. Use caution, however, since you want to make sure that your model can withhold lots of weight and remains stable during use. Safety is important with home pull up bars!

Regardless, if you are thinking about creating a homemade pull up bar, we’ve included two models to consider. Please note that the materials required and instructions are generalized. Therefore, it is up to you to find the exact suitable products for these models.

DIY Pull Up Bar #1: Simple Construction

As the name suggests, this pull up bar has a very simple design, however, you need to already have certain things in place to make this model work. If you already have floating ceiling beams in your home (and they’re sturdy), then you can use heavy duty rope to wrap around the beam and suspend a pull up bar.

Materials Required:
  • Suspending/floating beam
  • Rope
  • Bar (wood or metal) 
General Assembly Instructions: 
  1. Once finding a floating beam and checking it for support, you can begin creating your home pull up bar.
  2. Using the rope, take two long pieces of rope and drape them over the beam (about 3 feet apart).
  3. With a secure knot and loop in each rope, suspend the bar within the two pieces of rope. Add any additional safety features to secure the beam.

Things to Consider with this DIY Pull Up Bar:

As you can image with this simple pull up bar, it may not be perfect. This particular model lacks stability, however, you can do simple body weight pull ups. If you are interested in really intense, heavy weight pull up bars, then reconsider building this pull up bar for your home. There is more than likely a commercial product that can fit your needs.

DIY Pull Up Bar #2: Triangular Wooden Construction

Get your tool belt out along with some sturdy wood, because this homemade pull up bar will need some handy work. Above all, this DIY pull up bar has a wooden base that resembles that of a swing set. Ensure you create a good four-sided base and use a triangular construction for the vertical posts that hold the bar. Triangular construction tends to withhold substantial weight.

Materials Required
  • Wood (preferably 2in x 4in or 4in x 4in)
  • Wood glue
  • Nails or screws with associated equipment (i.e. drill)
  • Saw
  • Bar (metal is preferred)
  • Metal or wood connectors (in general, a means to connect the bar to the structure)
General Assembly Instructions:
  1. Consider creating the four-sided base and vertical isosceles triangular posts separately before you begin assembling the three dimensional structure. Always add additional support (metal or wood) to increase the stability of the pull up bar frame.
  2. Once creating the base, the triangular sides should be secured in the upright position, with the isosceles point of the triangle pointing upward.
  3. After the entire frame is assembled, consider how to secure the bar to the structure. Try out wood or metal connectors.

Things to Consider with this DIY Pull Up Bar:

Depending on your work space and the weight of this large DIY pull up bar, you may need to construct this piece right in your home fitness space, otherwise it may be too big to get through the door! Also, there are several ways to construct a wooden home pull up bar, so do your research to find the best model that will work for your fitness space and that fits with your construction abilities.

The Rundown on Pull Up Bars 

Here is a quick way to compare all the pull up bars we reviewed in this article. Hopefully by using this list, you can find the best pull up bars for your needs. 

Product

Less than $150

Complete pull up set for the price?

Wall mounted

Free standing

Doorframe mount

 Rogue Pull Up Bar (Top Pick) X No, rack sold separately X
Weider Power Tower (Runner Up) X Yes X
XMark Pull Up Bar (Honorable Mention) X Yes, however, additional support may be desired X
FirstLaw Door Pull Up Bar Yes X
DIY Pull Up Bar #1 Varies X (ceiling mount)
DIY Pull Up Bar #2 Varies X

 

Sample Workout: Pull Up Bar

Once your pull up bar is installed (or built), don’t miss out on our sample workout! While these exercises may not work with every pull up bar, most of these exercises can be done on even the most standard bar. As you will see, some of these exercises may be best performed with weight vests, weight plates and belts, a power rack, or squat rack. Like always, if you don’t have exactly the right equipment for these exercises, then improvise (safely)! So, get your gym shoes and creative cap on to get a muscle-shredding pull up bar workout!

Above all, it is up to you to determine if you should add weight to these exercises. So, we did not include added weights for each exercise. Base your decision on your needs, goals, and equipment available. As a rule of thumb, if you want to bulk up, then max out and limit the number of repetitions you do. If you want endurance training, then lower the weight so that you can get in 15 to 20 repetitions per set.

Disclaimer: Before starting any exercise routine, make sure that you check with your doctor. It is imperative that you are cleared for specific exercises, especially ones that use pull up bars. Also, make sure your pull up bar is installed correctly. If you have a DIY pull up bar, then ensure that it can withhold your weight and/or added weight. 

Exercise

Notes

Target Area(s)

Sets

Repetitions

Classic pull up
Diversify your pull up by switching up your hand positions. For example, do several sets with your hands close together and then switch it up with a wide grip. If you want even more great chest exercises, then click here. Chest 4 15
Weighted pull-ups
You can do this exercise with a weight belt and weight plate, or you can do this with a weight vest. If you want more bicep exercises, then click here. Biceps, back, chest 4 10
Abdominal leg raises
While hanging on your pull up bar, keep your legs straight while you lift them up to a 90-degree angle. For an even more intense abdominal pull up bar workout, try to lift your legs all the way up to the bar. Try to make your toes touch the bar! If you’re a beginner, then try simply tucking your legs to your chest until you have enough strength to do straight-leg raises. Abdominals 3 10
Around the world leg raises
Using the same positioning used for the abdominal leg raises, keep your legs straight as you slowly circle your feet to the side, up, to the other side, and then back to the start. Try to get a really wide, full range of motion circle. If you do it right, then you should feel a burn in your abs and obliques! Oblique, abdominals 3 (per side) 5
Climber pull ups
This exercise is similar to a classic pull up, however, it forces you to use the sides of your chest to get even more ripped. To do this exercise, pull up as you would in a classic pull up. Once up, shift your torso to one side so that your chin is hovering near one hand. Then, lower back down. Repeat on the other side. For an alternative to this exercise, stay pulled up and shift from one hand to the other by hovering back and forth (don’t lower down between reps for this one). Arms, bicep, chest, back 4 10

 

Do you think you can get through this workout? We challenge you to try this workout in order to make mega gains. Also, don’t forget to get a good stretch in before and after this workout, because you’re going to need it!

Before You Purchase

After reading this article, you have numerous reasons to consider a pull up bar for home. Not only can you make major gains in your upper body, but you can also test the limits of your strength (or lack thereof) with suspensory exercises. Talk about real strength!

If you’re still unsure which pull up bar is the best for you, then make sure to jump back up to compare the pull up bar models we reviewed as well as reread the pros, cons, and differences between several types of pull up bars. As you can see, pull up bars can provide a few exercises or they can give you total body workouts depending on which type you choose.

What type of pull up bar are you interested in? A doorframe pull up bar? The free standing pull up bar? Let us know your favorite in the comments below.

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