The tried and true pull up. When growing up as a kid there was always a competition on who could do the most pull ups. More importantly, it is one of the best multi-join upper body exercises for building muscle. As adults, pull ups are an integral part of a well rounded lifting regime. They sit alongside squats, deadlifts, and dips as one of the heavy hitters. A fine piece of equipment is the relatively new pull up bar, enabling you to get some reps in anytime. Many of these products will fit in a doorway, letting you shape some massive delts without having to leave the house. We take a close look at some of the best pull up bars to help you get ripped.
In this review feature, we check out some of the best pull up bars on the market. First we talk about pull ups benefits and why it should be an integral part of anyone’s workout regime. Following that, we look at some of the most common pull up bar workouts. In our review section, we check out the best door frame pull up bar and home pull up bars worth your consideration.
9 Best Pull Up Bars of 2016
In this section we provide our readers with a comparison table of our top picks. Scroll past the table for a closer look at each of the 9 best pull up bars in our review section.
|Iron Gym Upper Body Workout||Doorway||24"-32"|
|Sunny Health & Fitness Door Way Chin Up Bar||Doorway||24.5"-36"|
|Titan Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar||Wall Mounted||48"|
|Maximiza Doorway Pull-up Bar by Garren Fitness||Doorway||26"-36"|
|Ultimate Body Press Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar||Wall Mounted||42"|
|Stamina Doorway Trainer Plus||Doorway||37"|
|Shamrock Pullup and Dip Station||Doorway||53"|
|ProSource Multi-Grip Chin-Up & Pull-Up Bar||Doorway||42"|
|Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar||Ceiling Mounted||24"|
If you’re looking for a basic, multi function upper body workout bar this is a great piece of equipment. This is a well priced door frame pull up bar at about $25. For that amount, you can use Iron Gym’s Upper Body Workout to do push ups, dips, and pull ups. It is a little low for dips, but if you implement the use of a chair or stool you can solve that problem easily. For pull ups, it fits in a door way and has three grip positions: wide, neutral, and narrow to help you target different muscles.
It utilizes leverage to stay in the door way, you don’t need to use screws or anything like that. As long as you have a sturdy door frame and aren’t over 300 lbs, your ready to set this up in minutes (assembly time is around 5 minutes) and start building muscle. Iron Gym also has an “Extreme Edition” that is more expensive but has a few more gripping mechanisms.
Sunny Health’s Chin Up bar is a minimalist single bar unit. This is a bit more permanent solution that the Iron Gym bar because you select one door way to install it rather than being able to move it from door way to door way. While not as versatile, the brackets that come with the bar do make it feel more stable. It is also about $5 bucks less than the Iron Gym bar.
It is adjustable (24 inch to 36 inch), so it will be able to fit nearly any door way you select. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to install and the mounting hardware is all included. The max weight capacity of this bar is 220 pounds so if you’re a really heavy guy this isn’t the one for you.
If you’re one of those people that have to have the best, Titan Fitness’ pull up bar is the ultimate solution. This is perfect for a nice home gym or a professional gym. This is an expensive pull up bar, but it is built like a tank and will last for decades. It has a capacity of 500 pounds and is mounted on wood studs, sheet rock, or a concrete wall.
As long as you have a solid connection to mount it with you’ll be good to go. Coated in a matte black powder, it rocks a serious, rugged look. This pull up bar allows you to have plenty of room, enabling you to do any variation of pull up your heart desires. One downside is that you do need to buy the screws and washers to install it.
Here are a few other solid door frame pull up bars and wall mounted pull up bars.
People may line up in droves for the lat pull down machine. Then you’ll notice the lone wolf terminator (aka well muscled individual) in the corner of the gym plugging away at the pull up bar. There is a reason that dude has massive back and yoked out biceps. Pull ups are one of the most versatile exercises. They are hard, but when your in the gym, the hardest lifts usually are the best lifts. The pull up is an excellent compound exercise. The fact that it targets multiple muscle groups means it will trigger a release of growth hormone, just like doing squats.
The United States Marine Corps division of the armed forces uses the pull up to measure the upper body strength of service members. To get a perfect score in this physical condition test, you’d have to do 20 immaculate pull ups in a row. To earn any points, at least 3 pull-ups must be completed.
The reason that the pull up is such an effective way to measure upper body strength is that it takes into account relative strength. It is a pretty good measure of pound for pound, who is the strongest but it gets pretty complex—if you are interested you can read The Mechanics of a Pullup on Scientific American. Sure a lighter guy is going to have less weight to pull up, but he also is going to have less muscle to help him complete the pull up. The most pull ups ever done in one minute was 43.
Top 10 Benefits of Pull Ups
Pull ups are just as essential as bench press to building a well rounded physique. When you do both, you are hitting every major muscle in the upper body.
The pull up is classified as a CKC exercise. CKC stands for closed kinetic chain. This means that your effort moves you rather than an open kinetic chain where your effort moves an object such as a bar. Pull ups hit lats and biceps hard, furthermore working trunk, shoulders, abdominal, pelvic, hands, and forearm muscles. They are one of the kings of back exercises and help build your body into that nice tapered-V look.
Here are the top 10 pull-ups benefits:
- Quantifiable. It is easy to measure your progress and see how quickly you are improving. Especially when you are just beginning, adding just 1 more pull up can be pretty motivating.
- Versatile. There are are around 10 variations of pull ups that can be executed to target different muscles.
- Convenient. All you need is a bar and your body. Once you have a pull up bar, you can pretty much do these anywhere, anytime.
- Strong Back. In this day and age, most people do a lot of sitting. At home, at work, on the way to work, going out to eat, you get the picture. Building a strong back is a great asset in this type of society. Pull ups are going to hit your core muscles and keep you strong around the middle. This is a good way to counter a weak back that many people suffer from.
- Latissimus Dorsi. The latissimus dorsi (lats) are the biggest muscle group in the upper body. Building these muscles will lead to a V look where your shoulders look bigger and your waist smaller. Pull ups are one of the only ways—and the best way—to develop your lats. Probably the most impressive back muscle, giant lats poking through the shirt are sure to excite the ladies.
- Grip Strength. Often overlooked, grip strength is essential for any gym regular and bodybuilder. Pull ups are the perfect exercise for strengthening your grip.
- Endurance. Almost nothing will get your heart rate up like pull ups. Much like squats, pull ups will kick your butt and throw your cardiovascular system into overdrive. Reduce time between sets for an even greater challenge.
- Better Posture. Developing strong core and back muscles will lead to a much “taller” vertical position when sitting and standing.
- Functional Strength.
- Bragging Rights. Just like when someone loads 225+ on the bench press and smashes out 10 without a sweat, the same awe-inspiring looks can be drawn by busting out 10 to 20 perfect form pull ups. Inspire other people and with how many you can do and win any pull up competition (obviously the most important benefit).
Pull Up Bar Workouts
Every variation of the pull up hits a large number of muscles, but specific techniques hone in on certain muscles. For example, wide grip pull ups will focus on the back muscles while narrow grip promise to destroy your biceps. Here is a list of the most common pull up bar workouts.
Assisted Pullup. If you can’t do one pull up, you’ve got to start somewhere. This type of pullup is done by using a chair to rest the feet that will help you complete a pull up with good form. You can also find a workout buddy and have them grip the ankles and apply force much like a spotter helping with bench press. Some gyms supply straps that are very useful for those just beginning to build up.
- Pullup. The classic pull up is executed with palms facing away from you, knuckles visible. This form mainly hits the upperback, shoulders, and lats. Your abs will also receive a pretty good workout, especially when you first start doing them.
- Chinup. The chin up is completed with palms facing to you, knuckles not visible. This slight variation in grip has pretty big implications, the bulk of the weight is transferred to the biceps. The chin up is a great addition the arm days.
- Alternate Grip Pullup. The alternate grip pull up is performed by placing one palm facing you, one facing away. A lot of guys will use this to get a better grip when executing deadlifts.
- Weighted Pullup. You’ll probably need to head to a gym for these, unless you have a well equipped home gym. Weighted pull ups are down the road for many of us and usually just increasing reps is more than enough of a challege. Once you can get 25+ pull ups with perfect form and do multiple sets of this, laboring away at them at home can get boring (always a good place to be). You’ll need to add a dip belt or weight vest to keep building strength and mass.
- Commando Pullup. These are also known as cliffhanger pull ups. They are awkward looking, where the body is faced sideways to the bar. You grab the bar like it is a baseball bat and then the body is pulled up as high as possible, until one shoulder touches the bar. This form hits the lats and obliques extra hard.
- One arm. Considerable physical strength is required to do a one arm pull up. Sure, it is great for showing off, but don’t get carried away with these. It certainly isn’t the optimal way to build muscle and you risk injuring yourself.
For even more variations, you can check out this page.
Probably one of the best ways to start incorporating pull ups into your work out routine—or starting up at home is the pyramid routine. For the beginner, picking a number from 5 to 10 is probably a good starting range. Then you do 1 set of 1 pullups followed by 1 set of 2 pullups followed by 1 set of 3 pullups… you get the jist. Follow this until you hit your number, then walk back down to 1. It is a great way to stay psychologically pumped and get a thorough workout in the process.
Of course, once you build up strength, there is nothing wrong with the three sets of ten tried and true formula. As you build, you’ll want to increase to 12 and then 15 reps, and from there potentially add more sets depending on the length of your workout. Some individuals will choose to get in a set whenever it strikes their fancy, during a commercial break, in between a video game match, or right after they pop out of bed if you’re a morning person. While not optimal, this will slowly build muscle over time and it is definitely better than doing nothing.