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Your Guide to the Best Pull Up Bar for Your Pull Up Workout!

Last Updated January 26, 2021

PULL UP BARS

The Definitive Comprehensive Guide

Pull Up Bars – What are They?

Looking to take your health to the next level and drop a few pounds? Are you sick of weak back muscles holding you back? Does the idea of having to drive to a gym and pay for a membership just for a workout cause you unnecessary anxiety?

If so, a pull up bar might be the answer to your problems.

A pull up bar is a suspended horizontal rod that you can use to do pull ups and similar body weight workout. They are often installed in doorways, entryways, and hallways, but they can also be part of a free-standing piece of equipment or stick out from a wall. Any structure that is fragile, such as glass, would be avoided for installation. Typically, it must be high enough off of the floor so that the user must jump or at least stand on tip-toe to reach it. It is great for developing one’s strength in strength training, weight training (with barbells, for example) and body weight lifting.

Types of Pull Up Bars

As the name implies, a pull up bar is typically rod-like in appearance. They can be separated into types based on how they are installed.

This image is of a door frame mount in which the pull up bar suspends above the doorway.

Door Frame Mount: These have a base that hangs off of a door frame. The hanging part curves underneath the frame, and the bar itself is suspended above the doorway. Doors can either be shut or open for this to be used.

This image is of a horizontal mount in which the pull up bar suspends between a door frame.

Horizontal Mount: These attach to the opposite sides of a door frame, entryway, or hallway, with grips in the center, sometimes in foam material. Doors may need to be open for this to be used.

This image is of a wall mount in which the pull up bar is attached to two rods, which then sticks out from a wall.

Wall Mount: If you do not have a convenient entryway or door frame, a wall-mounted pull up bar is attached to two rods, much like a door-frame mount. The two rods, however, curve straight up and attach to a wall. It then sticks out from the wall. These mounts are great because they can be used both inside and outside.

This image is of a ceiling mount in which the pull up bar suspends from the ceiling, with support of two rods or chains that hold it.

Ceiling Mount: Alternatively, you can mount a pull up bar to the ceiling to avoid the fuss of doors altogether. Typically, these bars have two rods or chains that extend from the bar to the ceiling for a secure hold. These may be more likely to swing than other types.

This image is of a free standing pull up bar in which the pull up bar is attached to a frame that sits on the floor.

Free Standing: Free standing pull up bars are attached to a frame that sits on the floor and may require the user to jump first in order to reach. They can somewhat resemble an empty drying rack for clothes.


What to Consider When Purchasing One

There is a lot of variation in pull up bars on the market today. Some important things to consider before you buy include:

Portability

Some pull up bars can be put up and taken down quickly without fancy tools and hardware. These are perfect for people who travel a lot and want to take their pull up bar along to maintain their workout regime, to maintain strength for strength training, weight training, their health or keep the pounds off. They are also nice for people who rent and cannot put up more permanent fixtures.

The two most common types of portable pull up bars are free standing and horizontal mounted. Free standing portable pull up bars are good for people who keep their pull up bar in the home while horizontal mounted portable pull up bars are better for those who are on the go.

Installation

Some pull up bars are easier to assemble than others. Does your pull up bar require additional equipment like screws or a drill? Will the installation comply with your landlord’s requirements if you rent? In addition, consider that it may take time to assemble a pull up bar, especially a free standing one. Make sure you know what you will need ahead of time!

Versatility

What exercises can you do with your pull up bar? Can you adjust the height to do other exercises or to allow another household member to use it? Some pull up bars are designed to replace several pieces of workout equipment, while others are best for pull ups alone.

Stability

You should always consider the stability of your pull up bar! If it is not stable, you could be seriously injured or cause damage to the structure of your house. Also make sure to check the maximum weight limit of your pull up bar — some are lower than you would think!

Space

Do you have the room for a freestanding pull up bar? Do you have a space to hang a door frame mounted pull up bar? For example, a wall mounted bar might be great, but it will not help you if you do not have a bare patch of wall to use it with!

Picking the Best Type for You

The best type for you depends on your health and workout goals (e.g. how many pounds of fat you want to lose, pounds of muscle you want to gain, etc.) and your space!

Best Portable Pull Up Bar

Are you on the road a lot but still want to get a workout in? Are multiple people of varying heights going to be using your pull up bar? Do you have a landlord who doesn’t want holes in the wall? Then you probably need a portable type!

Our favorite is the FEIERDUN Doorway Pullup Bar because it is highly portable and can be used in almost all standard door frames. Many portable types cannot hold even up to 300 lbs, but this one can hold up to 440 lbs! As long as it is installed correctly, you can reach your fitness goals and keep your landlord happy!

Best Permanent Pull Up Bar

Our favorite permanent type is the ONETWOFIT wall mount pull up bar. It can go on any bare patch of wall inside or outside, but definitely not on any glass surfaces. Like the FEIERDUN, it can support up to 440 lbs and has clear instructions so you can make sure you put it on compatible surfaces. It also has cushioned handles and allows for both the classic and neutral grips, and even foam grips.

Best Free Standing Pull Up Bar

The best free standing pull up bar is the CAP Exercise Stand. This free standing pull up bar is easy to assemble and does not take up too much room. It is also incredibly versatile and can be used for many different types of exercises such as bench pressing. In fact, CAP makes a wide variety of products, so it is also easy to use this exercise stand as a base for building your dream home gym.

Best Ceiling Bar

Ceiling pull up bars are great because you can literally install them anywhere in your house. They are also especially useful for really tall folks because they can be installed higher up. Our favorite is the Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mount Pull Up Bar. It also has a fantastic return policy, so you are guaranteed to be satisfied with your results or get your money back.

The image is of six potential benefits of using a pull up bar for exercise.

Benefits to Using an At Home Pull Up Bar

If you’ve ever made a statement of intent to build up your physical health and/or strength, why pay for an expensive gym membership when you can get the benefits of a pull up bar at home? Having one nearby will also encourage you to use it for a workout more frequently so you can really improve your muscular and skeletal health, and keep you from feeling as brittle as glass. With so many different options available, we may be able to help you find one that fits your needs and space.

Using one consistently will allow you to build up your back, arm, and core strength. In fact, strengthening them through strength training like this can help to ease pain and improve posture. Toned backs and shoulders also look much better than loose flab! They can definitely help you gain pounds of muscle in replacement of fat.

The image shows the back muscles of a human body which are activated during a pull up exercise.

Which Muscles are Used

Regular pull ups primarily affiliate with your “latissumus dorsi” muscles, more commonly known as “lats.” These are located right behind your shoulders.

Pull up variations can emphasize many different muscle groups including biceps, triceps, grip strength, pectorals, and more. You can really get a full body workout with just a few simple moves!

Different Grips and Moves Used

  • A proper pull up uses an overhand grip and arms that are approximately shoulder width apart.
  • Chin ups, on the other hand, use an underhand grip and use more arm muscles than traditional pull ups. They are usually a little easier for beginners.
  • You can also vary the width of your grip to hone in on different muscle groups. Narrower grips will require more arm strength while wider grips will require more back strength.
  • Some bars have small foam handles that stick out. If you were to grab them, your grips would be facing each other and you would be looking at your thumbs. This is called a “neutral grip” and is another great pull up variation. Note, however, that this variation is not compatible with all home pull up bars. Make sure yours has small handles that accommodate the neutral grip if this is something you want to try!
  • You can also use one to do a dead hang which will improve your arm and grip strength. These are especially great for people who are new to pull ups. Time yourself to see how long you can do a dead hang. Then, work your way up to chin ups and, eventually, full pull ups.
  • And if you are ready for something really challenging? Try a one arm pull up or chin up on a bar!
The image is of a person doing a modified pull up using a horizontal mounted pull up bar model.

How to Do a Modified Pull Up

Not ready to do 50 reps of one-arm pull ups? That’s okay! Everyone needs to begin somewhere.

Modified pull ups are a great beginner exercise that targets the same muscles as regular pull ups.

To do a modified pull up, you will need a bar that is about 30 inches off of the ground. Some free standing types can be adjusted for modified pull ups. You can also use a portable horizontal mounted model set at a lower height.

Slide yourself underneath the bar so that you are laying on your back and looking up. Grab the foam, plastic or metal bar, and pull yourself up. Your heels will still be on the ground when you bring your chest do the bar. Repeat.

With repeated practice, you will eventually even be able to do to 300 reps!

The image shows a person performing a kippling pull up, with each hand on a suspended metal loop.

What are Kipping Pull Ups

Nothing feels more amazing than finally completing a pull up — except completing more than one pull up.

Yet, getting reps can take a lot of practice. Kipping pull ups can help you increase your pull up count and enable you to reach your goals. This is great for body weight lifting or increase your strength for weight training with barbells.

In a proper pull up, you will only use your arms and back to lift your body weight. When you do a kipping pull up, however, you will swing your legs to give yourself momentum. This will help you complete pull ups and get more reps in while you work up to the real thing. You don’t want to rely on your lower body forever, but it can certainly help at the beginning of your pull up journey!

Other Exercises You Can Do

Dead Hang

This is a great beginner exercise that improves your grip and arm strength. It’s also very easy to do! Simply grab your pull up bar and hang. See how long you can go without dropping. You can try the dead hang with a pull up grip, chin up grip, or neutral grip.

Knees to Elbows

This exercise starts with a dead hang. Pull yourself up so that your arms form a ninety degree angle and your upper arm is parallel to the ground. Then, bring your knees up to your elbows. You can bring both knees at once or alternate sides.

Leg Raises

Again, start in a dead hang. Then, slowly lift both legs so that they are parallel with the ground. Hold this for as long as you can. It shouldn’t take long before you feel the pounds burning away!

Accessories or Devices You can Add

Ab Straps

There are three separate images. On the left is an image of an ab strap which can be used for pull ups.
In the center is a person using two ab straps, with one on each arm, each tied to a suspended metal bar.
On the right is an enlarged image of two ab straps tied to a metal bar, with a person using them as demonstration.

Ab straps hang down from the bar and go over your upper arms. They help to keep you suspended so that you can do hanging exercises that target your abs such as leg raises and knees to elbows without having to worry as much about arm and grip strength. This means you can better target specific muscle groups and build core strength. Ab straps will also allow you to rotate your body to utilize more muscle groups during your workout.

Grip Support

There are two images of a person's hands wearing grip supports that do not encase the whole fingers. 
The third image is a demonstration of how grip supports help in an exercise.

For some people, the difficulty with pull ups comes down to grip strength. Many people can develop cuts and painful calluses on their hands if they spend a lot of time on a pull up bar, especially if there is no foam for support and/or they do so in conjunction with other exercises that require a firm grip, such as kettle bells. Grip supports help to prevent calluses and wounds while allowing you to build up your strength with pull ups and other exercises. With this, some people can get up to 300 pulls ups in a row.

Attachable Grips

Alternatively or in addition to grip support, you can install attachable grips. These will also help to protect your palms while you do pull ups and making it easier to add more reps. They may not be as cushioned as foam grips, but they are just as effective in gaining pounds of muscle, particularly in weight training using barbells.

Power Grip Balls

The image on the right hand side shows two yellow power grip balls dangling from a horizontal bar.  The image in the middle shows a person gripping onto two yellow power grip balls whilst performing a bent leg raise.  The image on the right hand side is a single yellow power grip ball in a person's hand.

Already a pull up master? Want to add a challenge to your workout? Try power grip balls! These are not made of foam though; they are small plastic balls hang down from your bar. You can try holding onto them and doing the same exercises you would normally do. This will just make those exercises 10x harder but melt those pounds away faster!

Assist Bands

The image on the right hand side is a person in athletic attire who is standing whilst holding a straight rod with their left hand.  The image in the middle is of five assist bands, in various colors, labelled with the brand WOD NATION.  The image on the right hand side is a person using an assist band, in which the assist band is looped around their upper thigh.

Pull up assist bands work somewhat like kipping pull ups because they provide additional momentum to help you complete reps. They are one way for beginners to try to perfect their pull ups and chin ups.

Last Words: Why Quality Matters

Quality of a pull up bar can affect your pull ups

As always, the most important thing to remember when buying a pull up bar is quality. There may be many devices, but if you get a poor quality one, you will have poor quality results in your workout. In the worst case scenario, it may even break and cause an injury, which will only delay your health improvement journey. It could also come out of the wall and cause damage to your home. If this happens, you will also need to spend money to repair the problems and then buy a new one. Save yourself the trouble by buying something that is made to last the first time.

As a statement from us, ComproGear is working on developing the best pull up bar on the market, with potential affiliate partnerships in the making. In the meantime, check out our comprehensive recommendations above. We may even make an update to ensure our recommendations stay relevant. Your back will thank you!

ComproGear also has other useful articles you could check out from the links below: