Pull up bars are the ideal tool for performing an intense upper body workout at home using only the weight of your own body. They are so useful and inexpensive that just about anyone serious about building a sculpted physique should own one. In this overview, we’ll break down what you need to know and share our top picks for the best pull up bar for your home workouts.
There are a few different kinds of home pull up bar, some more portable than others. But in general, pull up bars are composed of metal, some kind of foam or rubber grip, have a means of being secured to a doorframe, wall, or ceiling, and enable a person to raise themselves off the ground using a variety of upper body muscles including arms, back, shoulders, and chest.
#1 Pull Up Bar Choice:
But before we get too far along, let’s breakdown our favorite doorway pull up bar. We like the Perfect Pull Up Multi-Gym doorway pull up bar for a few big reasons. Click here to check out the lowest price on the Perfect Pull Up Multi-Gym.
The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym is a has a big weight capacity of 300 lbs with innovative pads that rest against the doorframe, saving it from the wear and tear of a million good workouts. You’re going to be able to hit your arms, chest, back, and core on this comfortably gripped workhorse. And unlike most other doorway bars, the Perfect Pull Up Multi-Gym allows you to perform true wide grip pull ups. The grips extend to the outsides of your doorframe, not inside it. (Take a look at the picture to the left.)
Considerations When Looking at Pull Up Bars:
Door frame pull up bars are one of the quintessential pieces of bodyweight equipment. The benefits of doing bodyweight-only exercises include avoiding injury by not overloading your muscles or joints with extra weights.
Our muscles are designed to be able to handle the load that our body can provide. And if performed correctly and in a controlled manner, pull ups alone can make huge, visible improvements to our upper bodies. Think of it this way, if you weigh 150 lbs, you’re pulling up 75 lbs on each arm. That’s a lot of weight! You’re going to see muscle definition soon.
Comprehensive Strength Training
Pull up bars are designed to help you strengthen your arms, shoulders, back, lats, hands, and even your chest. If you incorporate leg raises, you can work your abdominal muscles as well. And some portable pull up bars offer even more muscle working options like dips to work the triceps.
A Sturdy and Compact Piece of Exercise Equipment
One of the huge benefits of pull up bars is they’re extremely compact while at the same time, able to handle a lot of weight. They usually weigh under 10 lbs but most can accommodate a user around 300 lbs.
Portable Pull Up Bar Options
A lot of pull up bars like the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Pull Up Bar don’t require any permanent supports, meaning no damage to your walls or door frames. Some of the doorway pull up bars like the Sunny Health & Fitness Pull Up Bar technically don’t necessarily require brackets, but it’s advisable since this type doesn’t use secure leverage like some other styles. The golden rule of getting healthier is to not injure yourself while doing it, so always err on the side of caution.
Some of the best pull up bars have multiple grip options for getting even more variety in the workout. The Iron Gym Extreme Edition has 5 grip positions. Again, pull up bars differ in style, features, and price. It’s hard to say there’s a best pull up bar as overall the verdict is that the action and result is the same. You’re fighting against gravity, and working out a ton of muscles doing it.
Different Types of Pull Up Bars
Not all bars are made equally. There are the portable doorway type, the telescoping type, the type that you attach permanently to a wall or ceiling joist, and the stand alone pull up tower type. Click a link to jump to the section:
Doorway Pull Up Bars (use leverage around door frame)
These types of portable pull up bars allow you to activate different muscles via gripping at different distances such as close grip, neutral grip, wide grip, etc.
These types of bars typically do not require permanent supports or brackets. Instead they use leverage points to create an extremely secure grip on your door frame. That said, you do want to make sure the construction of your house is strong enough to handle the device.
What to Look For in a Doorway Pull Up Bar:
- Multiple grips
- Sturdy construction
- Padded contact points to prevent damage to walls and door frame
Best Doorway Pull Up Bars by Price
Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar – $28 – 2515 reviews
Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro – $39 – 168 reviews
Iron Gym Extreme Total Upper Body Workout Bar – $49 – 872 reviews
Our Top Pick for Doorway Pull Up Bar:
Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar – Extreme Edition
The Iron Gym Extreme is our pick for the best leverage-based multi-grip portable doorway pull up bar. This portable pull up bar is a rugged, highly-functional tool that will take your upper body game to the next level. What’s best about the Iron Gym Extreme Total Upper Body Workout Bar is that it has so many grip options (5 total) including the traditional narrow, neutral, wide, but also an alternate wide grip and a side grip. The various grips allow you to target different muscle groups in your shoulders, arms, back, etc. Then you can take it off the upper door frame and place it lower to help with sit ups.
And flip it over on the floor for push up grips.
Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar Features:
- Strong steel construction
- Comfortable foam grips
- Max user weight: 300 lbs
- Assembly tools included
Extending Door Frame Pull Up Bar (extends out to fit between door frame):
This type of door frame pull up bar is among the cheapest and easiest to install. The Sunny Health & Fitness Chin Up Bar is a great example. It’s a chrome tube that telescopes and extends on either end to fit a doorway up to 3 feet wide. There are rubber pads on either end that help create tension to resist the load of the user.
Although not required, brackets are recommended to keep the door pull up bar from slipping down the frame or falling off. So the pros are that you can put this type of bar just about anywhere in your home, the cons are that you should really use the brackets and your hand positions are limited to pull up or chin up.
Pull Up Bar (Extending) Features:
- Functional and secure telescoping design
- Sturdy construction
- Comfortable hand grips
- Brackets and screws
Best Pull Up Bars (Extending) by Price
Sunny Health and Fitness Chin Up Bar – $15 – 469 reviews
GoFit Chin-Up Bar – $29 – 361 reviews
Big Mike’s Fitness Deluxe Doorway Pull-Up Bar – $29 – 138 reviews
Our Top Telescoping Doorway Pull Up Bar Pick:
Sunny Health and Fitness Doorway Chin Up Bar
This heavy duty pull up / chin up bar gets the job done and at a great low price. Super easy to install, each end of the bar has extenders that twist out to fit just about any door frame. It’s strong enough to hold 220 lbs of user weight. The comfortable, no-slip foam grips save your hands and help you focus on the pull up, not the hanging on.
Once the Sunny Chin Up Bar is set up, you’ll feel stability. It’s like it’s part of the door frame. And to change up your workout, you can move the bar down to the lower part of the doorway to help secure your legs for sit ups, or use it as a bar for stable, controlled push ups.
When you’re done working out, you simply twist the ends of the bar, bring it down and store the bar anywhere. It fits in any closet or even just looks great in a corner of the room. And if you don’t mind leaving it in the doorway, then you’ll have an easy way to get a bit of exercise by doing a few pull ups every time you pass through the door.
The Sunny Chin Up Bar (and other telescoping bars) technically can be used without support brackets, but it’s highly advised you use them for safety. I just placed the bracket in a doorway that lent itself best to using the pull up bar regularly. The included screws are very small and won’t leave much of a mark when removed.
Sunny Chin Up Bar Features:
- Adjustable length, extends from 24.5” up to 36”
- Comfortable and moveable foam grips help minimize hand fatigue
- Exercise variations (pull up, chin up, ab work, push up)
- Mounting brackets and screws included for maximum enhanced support
A Word of Caution:
Note that with pull up bars that attach to walls or door frames, you always want to make sure the wall or frame is constructed of a solid material like wood studs, brick, or concrete. Plain drywall or a thin metal doorframe won’t be able handle the tightening of the bar as it telescopes out. Plus this will help ensure the round brackets are installed securely and won’t pull out or damage the frame.
Also note that you can usually use a doorway that has a door that closes. As long as the doorframe is thick enough, which most are, you can set up the brackets for the Sunny Chin Up Bar on the open side of the frame.
Benefits of Using Pull Up Bars
Pull ups are one of the best exercises you can perform to build up your arms, chest, shoulders, and back muscles. Some of the benefits include gaining muscle mass, improving your posture thus protecting your spine, and generally looking great.
The US Marine Corps actually uses pull ups as a measure of upper body strength. If you can do 20-25, you’re in excellent condition. If you can’t do at least 3 pull ups, you’ve got some work to do. The good news is that with a home pull up bar, you can easily work on it and increase your repetitions every day.
As you’re using only bodyweight, using a pull up bar is a cross between cardio and strength training. You’re using big muscle groups and will definitely going to raise your heart rate, but over a short time. Two pull ups might get your heart racing. And because the max weight you’ll be pulling up is generally the weight of your own body, you’re much less likely to overdo it and injure yourself. This is a great place to be.
Building Muscle Mass
Everyone’s ability on the chin up bar is relative to their body size and weight. If you are pulling up 100-150 lbs of body weight, that’s not going to be easy. It’s going to build muscle.
Bad posture and rounded shoulders are at epidemic levels right now. Most of us work at desks at least part of the day and our backs are slowly crumpling over toward the computer and on to the floor. Pull ups can help correct that bad posture by activating your shoulders and back muscles and enabling them to get your torso closer to that correct structural position.
Getting Started with Pull Ups
If you’ve worked out at all in your life, you’ve probably tried doing a pull up on a bar. And if you have, you know that it’s a surprisingly challenging move. Just one chin up or pull up can seem impossible for a lot of people. And its kind of shocking that humans can’t lift our own weight more easily. After all, our legs allow us to walk, run, and jump, propelling our full body weight with little difficulty.
Well, the truth is, humans are definitely designed to be able to do lots of pull ups, but we simply aren’t forced to do it very often in modern civilization. But what we’re giving up is an ultra-natural, healthy, and safe way of building an amazingly sculpted upper body.
Modified Pull Ups
Pull ups aren’t easy at the beginning, but you don’t have to start out with full bodyweight. A helpful option is to start by doing a modified pull up with a box or chair beneath you to take a few pounds off your full weight (make sure it’s secure and/or held by a friend). Over time you can reduce the weight you’re putting on your feet and increase the load on your upper body.
Kipping Pull Ups
Kipping is doing a sort of upward bucking thrust with your body to give a boost to be able to complete pull ups easier. Kipping pullups (or hip snap pullups) are popular with CrossFit practitioners to enable higher repetitions. The opposite of the kip up is the deadhang pull up that most people are familiar with. This is where you start from full or near full hanging extension of your arms and pull up using just your upper body in a slower, more controlled fashion. As CrossFit enthusiasts will tell you, kipping is not cheating and neither style of pull up is better or worse. They’re just different.
Some More Words of Caution
As with any new fitness regimen you should always check in with your doctor if you have any health concerns. The goal is to get better and healthier, not to hurt yourself or make yourself worse. Know your limits and, though it is good to push them, don’t overdo it.
And again, pull up bars need to be securely set up before you use them. That goes double if you’re doing kipping pull ups. You absolutely don’t want a bar to fall with you on it, right? Right. Safety comes first. Amazingly toned and sculpted body comes second.
Final Word on Pull Up Bars
The best pull up bar is the one that fits your life and home gym situation. That said, getting a chin up bar / pull up bar isn’t going to immediately turn you into a sculpted god. Pull ups are one of the best exercises you can do for your upper body fitness, but you have to DO THEM. So get a pull up bar that you can install in a place where you’re going to see it and be compelled to use it. A doorway pull up bar in the middle of your home can definitely help you achieve your fitness goals. The next step is yours.