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Pull-up/chin up bars can be a great option for anyone who wants to start working out at home without breaking the bank. Compared to other home gym equipment, pull-up bars are far more affordable, easier to use, and they take up less space, depending on the type you get. Many bars can be attached to door frames with little or even no assembly tools, and this convenience adds to the bar’s appeal. They help you get toned and in shape by focusing on upper body strength and can even encourage healthy weight loss. But which pull up bar is the best? That will depend a lot on where you want it in your house and what kind of exercises you plan to do.
Our pull up bar buyer’s guide will show you what kinds of bars are available and which ones are best for different purposes.
- 1 Types of Pull Up bars
- 2 Things to Look for when Shopping for a Pull Up Bar
Types of Pull Up bars
Leverage Mounted Door Bar
Leverage mounted door bars are typically used in doorways and require absolutely no tools for attaching to the door frame. Instead, these convenient pull-up bars remain sturdy and in place by using your body’s weight as leverage. One side of the bar hooks and grips the door ledge in one room while the horizontal bar that you hang on pushes against the left and right frames in the other room, as this bar extends a bit on either side.
Because of this, the bar can be taken down easily and stored out of sight after you use it. This makes it a great option for anyone in tight spaces like apartment buildings and even dorm rooms. It also encourages busy people to grab a couple pull ups every time they pass under it, making this possibly the best pull up bar for home use.
It can also be placed on the floor and used for sit ups where your feet anchor into the bar, or for push ups where you grip the two rounded ends to give you a more comfortable workout.
If you feel that you have unstable door frames, then leverage mounted pull-up bars might not be as safe of an option as some of the others on this list.
Telescopic Mounted Door Bar
Telescopic mounted door bars are fixed in place right inside a door frame by pushing up flat against either side, similar to a shower curtain rod. The bars twist on either side to adjust the bar’s length, and you’ll have to be cautious not to twist it loose as you workout with it. This could cause it to start sliding down on one or both sides or even pop out completely. Like leverage mounted pull-up bars, this is a great option for small spaces but might not be the safest option.
Hardware Mounted Door Bar
A hardware mounted door bar is very similar to the telescopic mounted alternative. The difference is that this option is reinforced with strong hardware brackets on each door frame surface. These brackets provide a resting place for the bar, ensuring that it does not slip out of place while you are using it. It is a safer option than the telescopic bar and is similarly a great option for smaller dwellings. The reason some people might choose telescopic over hardware mounted pull-up bars is to eliminate the small screw holes that this option leaves behind.
Check out our picks of some of the best doorway pull up bars of all the above types.
Joist, Wall, or Ceiling Hardware Mounted Bar
These three options are similar because each bar has been constructed with a sturdy built-in bracket that gets screwed into place either on a ceiling, wall, or ceiling support beam. These wall mounted pull up bars are a more permanent and prominent fixture than the bars that mount in a doorway. They are typically used as an addition to a workout room, home gym, or garage gym. However, they can be mounted just about anywhere with enough height and support if you don’t mind not being able to take it down between workouts and are able to put screws in your walls.
Free-Standing or Tower Bars
A free-standing or tower pull-up bar does not require any mounting, so it’s a good option for anybody that rents their home and cannot damage the walls, door frames, or ceilings. While they require a decent amount of floor space, they’re not as large as power racks, so they typically can be placed in medium-sized rooms. They make a great addition to a garage or home gym as long as the ceiling isn’t too low.
The pull up bar isn’t the only station that comes on these towers. You’ll also get support bars for doing dips and push ups, and some even have leg raise stations with backrests and armrests. This means that you can work out several different muscle groups with a tower and it can be great value for money.
Make sure that this type of power tower pull-up bar is set up on flat and level ground to ensure that you remain stable as you work out. Many of these towers have additional supports such as foot rest assists that can help make the pull ups and chin ups easier for beginners.
Power Rack with Integrated Pull-Up Bar
Many power racks on the market today have pull-up bars integrated into them. Power racks are much larger in both width and height than even free-standing power towers, so they are best suited for garage gym settings. This option would be ideal for hardcore fitness enthusiasts who practice lifting in addition to pull-up exercises. They offer the complete package for upper-body strength training. They are also the most expensive type on this list.
Things to Look for when Shopping for a Pull Up Bar
The frame is probably the most important thing to consider before buying a pull-up bar. Poorly constructed products with weak frames are less durable and more dangerous, so be sure to avoid bars that aren’t constructed with steel. Steel won’t warp or break, even with regular everyday use and around heavy gym equipment. Make sure that the bar itself is made with steel in a heavy gauge, as this helps the bar keep its shape and support your weight.
As with any product, if a pull-up bar’s price seems too good to be true, then it might not live up to the quality you’re hoping for. However, this doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to have a safe, sturdy, and effective bar. Door mounted pull-up bars are generally more affordable. You can buy a high-quality leverage, telescopic, or hardware bracketed door mounted bar for around $20. Free-standing towers and power rack products are going to be more expensive. For a safe and long-lasting product, you can expect to pay about $100 on the lowest end and up to about $400 for truly high-quality rack.
Length of Bar
Make sure to measure your door frame before buying a door mounted pull-up bar. You’ll be frustrated if you get your bar and it is too long or short to fit where it’s supposed to. If you are looking for a bar that allows for a wide grip pull-up, then steer clear of door bars that don’t give you at least 45 inches of space, which is plenty for a wide grip workout. Power towers, racks and ceiling or wall mounted bars are usually long enough.
Grip Comfort and Adjustability
Some pull-up bars, especially the more budget-friendly options, offer no grips. If the bar itself is wide enough, then you can get a good workout and strong grip by working out with these products. However, you’ll be sacrificing comfort and may even start to develop blisters and calluses on your hands over time. For more comfort, look for a pull-up bar with foam padding where your hands will be gripping. This is especially important on thinner bars, which are not large enough to grip without the addition of foam or rubber handles.
Also look for bars that come with several grip positions if you also want to do chin ups or just want to adjust your grip width for maximum comfort. Some bars come with adjustable foam grip positions.
User Weight Capacity
Every pull-up bar has a specified weight capacity that it can handle safely. Always be sure to check that your weight is under this number, or else you risk the possibility of your bar bending, breaking, and possibly causing you to be injured during a workout. Typically, door mounted bars can support less weight that free-standing and tower bars, and power racks with integrated pull-up bars can support the highest weights.
Wall mounted bar: Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Door leverage pull up bar: “https://www.flickr.com/photos/hvc/2917168555” [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)], via Flickr
Power Tower with Pull Up Bar: “http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Training-Exercise-Pull-Up-Workout-Sport-Fitness-828744” [CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Max Pixel
Power Rack: Matus [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons