We tended to this important article on pull-up bars, giving our top ten chart an overhaul and tweaking some areas of our buyer’s guide.
Amendments to the chart included adding three new models to replace some out-of-date bars. These included the excellent Stamina Outdoor Power Tower Pro and Steelbody’s STB-98501 Power Tower, as well as the versatile Merax Multi-Grip Chin-Up Station.
The pull-up may be the greatest – and toughest – bodyweight movement of all time. A true test of strength, recruiting your back and biceps, as well as your forearms, traps and even pecs!
Table of Contents
There are three main styles of pull-up bars on the market: doorway, wall-mounted and free-standing. All have their own pros and cons, but all work well at helping you perform the magnificent calisthenics movement at home.
In this article we focus on all three variations, as well as provide links to their own individual pages. First, there’s a top ten chart to dive right into, highlighting our favorite pull-up bars on the market today.
We then dissect and discuss each variety of pull-up bar below, before answering your questions in our new FAQ section. Ready? Let’s go!
Max Weight: 300lbs
Adjustable Height: No
Assembly Required: Yes
Features: Steel construction, weather-proof coating, multiple pullup grips, dipping station, pushup station, adjustable plyo box
Stamina is a brand that consistently puts out impressive products, and their line of freestanding pull-up bars is no exception. Sitting in the premium zone, the Outdoor Power Tower Pro is an incredible choice for outdoor workouts.
It offers everything you need for a full-body calisthenics workout. This includes both wide and neutral grip pullup bars, a dip station, a pushup station, and an adjustable plyo box with a textured surface.
This power tower is built to survive the elements, from rain and wind to sun and snow. This is thanks to the heavy-duty steel coated with a protective layer that’s resistant to moisture, corrosion and UV rays. Expensive, but you pay for quality here.
Max Weight: 250lbs
Adjustable Height: No
Assembly Required: Yes
Features: Multi-angle pull-up bar, adjustable dip station, adjustable pushup station, padded back and arm rests, foam rollers, sturdy build
Steelbody’s STB-98501 is a popular go-to power tower for users who want a no-nonsense unit that will stand up to heavy use. While it may be no-nonsense, it’s not limited in its options for upper-body workouts.
It features a generous multi-angle pull-up bar for many pull-up variations. In addition, there’s a dip station with three positions, while using these adjustable dip bars in the three lower holes transforms it into a pushup station.
A captain’s chair for knee and leg raises is also built into the tower, with comfortable padded arm and back rests, while a pair of low foam rollers to hold you in for sit-ups completes the line up. Made from steel and supporting up to 300lbs, this is a tower that won’t let you down.
Moving onto doorway models and our top pick for this section is the Iron Age Pullup Bar. While not as wide-ranging in its grips as some of our other selections, it is a rock-solid piece of gear that would benefit any compact home gym.
With no assembly required, this simple padded bar features a ‘smart hook’ design, which protects your doorframe from downward force. This allows you to enjoy – or endure – wide-grip pull-ups and chin-ups with confidence and comfort.
The design also places the bar higher over the doorway, so taller users won’t have issues. Neither will heavier users – the stability of the bar is one of the best in its category, capable of taking loads up to 440lbs!
With this popular unit, Merax delivers a wall-mounted pull-up bar that manages to combine strength, versatility and affordability.
It’s a generous size that will work well for home gyms and garages, for users who insist on more than a straight bar. This one features multiple angles to allow for everything from wide-grip pull ups (48” width) to neutral-grip chin ups. When mounted, it holds up to 286lbs of weight.
The bars are made from a strong 2”x2” black powder-coated steel, while knurled portions enhance grip for a locked-in feel. Another selling point is the inclusion of two anchor points at either end, for hanging a suspension system or hanging punching bag. For the price, this one is hard to fault!
Sticking with free-standing pull-up bars, the 1690 is a popular choice as it balances quality with affordability. It has simplicity at its core, offering just four workout stations.
One of these comprises a pull-up station, featuring a bar with foam-padded wide and close grips, allowing for both pull-ups and their slightly-easier cousin, chin-ups. In the middle of the frame you’ll find a dip bar, with pushup bars and ankle pads for sit ups further down.
Is it the most versatile power tower? No – it lacks things like a captain’s chair station and some of the extras that higher-end models offer. Yet, for the price, this is a sturdy, confidence-inspiring power tower that proves a stellar addition to any home gym.
Max Weight: 300lbs
Adjustable Height: Yes
Assembly Required: Yes
Features: Wide pull-up bar, dip station, pushup station, easy to build, lightweight design, workout manual, resistance bands, carry case
Our final free-standing pick for this chart, the GoBeast Power Tower has a lot going for it! It features a lightweight design that allows you to perform 35 different exercises.
With a wide base, the steel frame supports a long top bar for wide-grip pull-ups as well as chin-ups. You can remove middle sections of the frame when you are ready to perform dips, while you can manipulate the unit to perform leg raises, pushups and Australian pull-ups.
GoBeast also provides a few extras to enhance convenience. These comprise a set of three resistance bands, as well as a workout manual and carry bag. Overall, it lacks a bit of stability when compared to others, but this affordable tower remains a solid choice.
Max Weight: 800lbs
Screws or Mounts: Screws
Assembly Required: Yes
Features: Multiple grips for exercise variety, arched construction, powder-coated steel frame, reversible center frame, fits standard wall studs
While it may seem pretty simple, the strength and versatility of this bar from Gronk Fitness is absolutely outstanding. No wonder it was one of the top picks in our article on the best wall-mounted pull-up bars!
Most notably, this heavy-duty powder-coated bar supports up to 800lbs of total weight, allowing you to attach accessories such as suspension training systems, or even use inversion boots with confidence.
With multiple grips, this bar allows for wide- and close-grip pull-ups, as well as pronated, neutral or supinated grips – not forgetting chin-ups. The reversible frame allows you to attach it to the wall to suit your style, whether you prefer muscle-ups or dips. It’s not a cheap bar, but well worth the price.
Max Weight: 440lbs
Screws or Mounts: Yes
Assembly Required: Yes
Features: Two setup configurations for pull-ups and dips/abdominal work, foam padding for back and arms, multiple grips, built-in metal rings
While many wall-mounted bars allow for just pull-ups, Merax’s pull-up bar delivers a surprising amount of stations for a solid upper-body workout.
Capable of handling loads of up to 440lbs, this unit can be operated in two ways. First, you can use it as a classic pull-up bar, with wide, close and neutral grips, as well as a dip station. You can also flip the station and use it as a padded captain’s chair to nail your abs.
Built-in metal rings also allow you to attach accessories, such as a suspension training system or a punch bag. This versatile unit requires substantial assembly and demands a lot of wall space, so be aware of this before you purchase.
Motor: 2.25 HP
Speed: 0 to 10mph
Incline: Two positions (Manual)
Belt: 16” x 50”
Features: Backlit display screen, thumb heartrate monitor, iFit compatible, six preset programs, storage space, media shelf
The Ultimate Body Press XL is another top-quality bar, featuring more grips than the model above to make it one of the most versatile doorway pull-up bars out there.
With a robust steel frame that extends 10” out from the doorway and 1” up, you are able to enjoy extra clearance from the wall and a better range of motion when performing pull-ups. There are grips available for wide-, close-, and hammer-grip pull-ups, as well as chin-ups.
High-density foam padding delivers both comfort as well as protection for your doorframe. On that note, this bar is extendable to fit doorways that are 24” to 36” wide. It’s also easy to remove this unit and place on the floor for use with pushups, dips and sit ups.
A slightly cheaper doorway pull-up bar – although one that doesn’t skimp on functionality – is the Multi-Gym Pro from Perfect Fitness.
With a simple and compact frame, there are three padded grip variations. These allow you to perform wide- and close-grip pull-ups, as well as chin-ups and hammer-grip pull-ups. But it’s not just your back – you can target other areas of your body by using the Multi-Gym Pro. For example, pushups, dips and sit ups when it’s off the door and on the ground.
This affordable model holds users up to 300lbs in weight. It also fits most doorways (27” to 33”) with ease, while wide door pads create a bigger contact surface resulting in less damage to the doorframe.
The idea of a pull-up bar is simple – a bar that allows you to pull yourself off the ground. In practice, things are more complicated!
As you will have seen from the chart above, a pull-up bar can come in all different shapes and styles. Some big and versatile, some small and simple. Thankfully, we are able to separate them into three categories based on where and how they are used.
Doorway Pull-Up Bars
Living in a small home or apartment? Or simply don’t want a bar permanently fixed to your wall? You will be wise to check out doorway pull-up bars.
These simple and compact bars hook over your doorframe to provide you with a temporary pull-up solution. Enjoy a tough workout, then simply remove the bar and store it until the next one.
These popular bars have their limitations and they are known to scuff the woodwork, yet they are an affordable solution and an ideal way to begin doing pull-ups at home.
Wall-Mounted Pull-Up Bars
A wall-mounted pull-up bar takes things a step further when compared to doorway units. These bars are strongly bolted onto either an interior or exterior wall, ceiling or joists, providing you with a stable base from which to perform pull-ups.
This is the prime advantage of a wall-mounted bar – stability. There is no chance of it slipping off a doorframe or toppling over. When it’s on the wall, it’s there until you take it down.
This means they are stable enough to allow you to attach other equipment, such as a punchbag or TRX suspension training system. Plus, they can handle superior weights compared to their more portable cousins – even if they are considerably more expensive.
Free-Standing Pull-Up Bars
If you have the space required to house a free-standing pull-up bar – also known as a power tower – then you will have a very powerful tool at your disposal.
These effective heavy-duty units don’t require any mounting. Instead you can place them wherever you like (on a stable surface) and perform a wide range of pull-ups. Power towers usually feature other workout stations to complement pull-ups. You will often find dip bars, pushup stations and ankle holders for sit ups, among others.
Aside from requiring more space, free-standing units are generally more expensive than doorway bars. They also inevitably feel slightly less stable than their wall-mounted counterparts.
After browsing our top ten chart, you may be all geared up to purchase your bar – but wait! Don’t dive in too quickly. There are many considerations to make first to avoid ending up with a bar that doesn’t suit your needs.
Budget is often a major part of what you will end up choosing, but this shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. Aspects like the design of the bar, how many grips it offers, how much weight it can handle and where you can place it are all as important.
Let’s take a look at some of the things to consider before you make your choice.
As we have already outlined, there are three categories of pull-up bars available: doorway, wall-mounted and free-standing. Your first criteria in choosing the right bar for you is to settle on one of these three.
If you are living in a small home or rented/temporary accommodation, chances are you won’t have room or permission to drill holes and fix a permanent bar to your wall or ceiling. A good doorway pull-up bar is usually your best bet in these scenarios.
Don’t forget that some doorway bars can scuff or mark doorframes, but providing you buy good quality and install them properly you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
Overall, your average doorway pull-up bar lacks the stability of the others. If you are not careful, you can accidentally dislodge it from the doorframe, which can lead to discomfort at best – injuries at worst.
If you have a larger home, garage, exterior wall or a dedicated home gym, a wall-mounted pull-up bar is an excellent choice.
As you will have seen, these fix solidly to your wall and some can support weights up to 800lbs. This can easily support both you and some extra weight, if you want to add some resistance. If you value this stability, and don’t mind having a bar as a permanent fixture, then wall-mounting is the way to go.
If space is not an issue and you have a bigger budget, a free-standing pull-up bar is a worthwhile consideration. You have to put up with a little less stability overall, but the extended functionality is worth it.
Bars in each of these three categories have their own individual designs. For example, a wall-mounted unit may offer just a simple straight bar, or may have a plethora of grips for all variations of pull-up. There’s more on this in our next section…
To the outsider, a pull-up bar is only that – a simple bar on which you can perform pull-ups. While this can be true, many bars also offer other stations to provide a more complete upper-body workout.
Let’s start with pull-ups. Every unit will offer a bar for both wide- and close-grip pull-ups, as well as chin-ups. This is pretty standard. Many will also offer close parallel bars meaning you can perform hammer/neutral-grip pull-ups too.
Higher-end models may provide stronghold ball grips and/or rock-climbing grips, which can be useful for training your grip strength as well as overall upper-body power. Of course, these are particularly good for ninja warriors and rock-climbers too!
In general, doorway pull-up bars are usually the most limited in the stations they offer as they lack the same stability, weight capacity and footprint of the other designs. You can usually remove them from the door and use them for pushups and sit ups, yet wall-mounted bars and free-standing towers will offer more versatility.
Power towers in particular will almost always offer a dip station. Located in the center of the unit, parallel bars will protrude to allow you to perform triceps dips.
Abs are another area that power towers and – to a slightly lesser extent – wall-mounted bars help target. Providing the wide pull-up bar is stable enough, you can hang freely and perform leg/knee raises to work your core.
Some units will go one step further and provide a dedicated ‘captain’s chair’. This resembles a big seatless chair with a padded backrest and arm supports, allowing you to support your body while you perform leg/knee raises.
While wall-mounted bars can offer means to perform ab and triceps exercises, they don’t have the versatility of a power tower.
For example, the bottom of a power tower is rarely wasted space, as manufacturers often add in foam rollers to support your ankles as you perform crunches and sit ups, while some also offer pushup bars.
Other towers offer stations around the back of the unit, such as an adjustable platform that allows you to work your lower body with box jumps, step-ups and split-squats. You may also find a removable or foldable bench, meaning – providing you have some free weights – you can add some bench pressing to your workout.
One area in which wall-mounted bars outperform free-standing towers is attachments. Due to their hefty weight capacity and stability, wall-mounted bars are capable of taking punchbags, TRX suspension training straps and other accessories.
Assembly and Location
There are two further aspects to consider – how easy the bar is to put together and where you will be placing it.
In general, wall-mounted and doorway pull-up bars are the easiest to assemble, usually requiring you to slot in a bar or adjust some screws.
On the other hand, power towers can require a few hours of building time. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the bigger frame and additional stations that free-standing units feature.
Regardless of the design, as you put your new purchase together, you should decide where you will be using it.
A doorway bar is pretty obvious. These devices simply hook onto the doorframe and can be removed just as quickly. However, they should remain stable and functional throughout the workout.
While there are less considerations to be made with a doorway bar compared to the other designs, you should be aware of the clearance. Some bars sit quite close to the doorframe, which can cause problems as you pull yourself up – you may need to adjust your body to stop yourself hitting you head.
Wall-mounted and free-standing bars will require a little more thought.
When mounting to a wall, you will need to drill multiple holes. This may be in a brick or concrete wall outside or into studs on an interior wall. It goes without saying that you can’t mount to drywall as it probably wouldn’t support the weight of the bar, let alone your bodyweight!
Studs are usually placed either 16” or 24” apart, so ensure your bar will fit this spacing. Check on the marketplace you are buying from or the individual manufacturer’s website, as a little planning can save you time and money in the long run.
If you aren’t mounting onto a wall, you may be fixing the bar to a ceiling or ceiling joists. If this is the case, be aware of how much clearance you will have when in place. There is little point in having a pull-up bar if you can’t pull yourself up without hitting your head!
Equally, you don’t want to place the bar too low, as it will make exercises that require a dead hang quite uncomfortable.
As with any fitness equipment, be sure to read the instruction manual prior to installing it. Missing an important step or fixing it incorrectly in any way could result in the bar falling off the wall, which could prove costly to both yourself and your home.
Finally, free-standing power towers don’t require you to drill holes or damage your doorways, but they still need some consideration.
Firstly, where are you going to use the tower? You aren’t restricted to a doorway or wall, so you could use it anywhere you like – providing the ground is flat and solid. This could be indoors or outdoors.
However, if using it outdoors, you will want to ensure the tower is weatherproof. You don’t want the metal rusting or the fabric/padding rotting if it rains.
If using the tower indoors, you will need to judge the height of it. Some towers are quite tall – between 80” and 90”. If you are planning to keep it in your garage, which may have a ceiling of 84”, you may be in for a tight fit.
Even if you do manage to fit it in, you probably won’t have enough clearance above the bar to perform a pull-up comfortably.
Some towers feature adjustable height, which is a godsend for scenarios such as this. This simple but worthwhile feature will allow you to alter the highest point to optimally fit the room.
Considering a pull-up bar is one of the most important pieces of fitness gear you will ever purchase, it’s surprising how affordable they can be.
However, like any fitness gear, you will find both entry-level designs aimed at those shopping on a budget, as well as high-end models that only serious calisthenics enthusiasts will realistically consider.
In general, you can pick up a decent doorway pull-up bar for around $25 to $50. Wall-mounted bars have a similar starting price (around $25), although expect to pay around $150 for a high-end bar.
Power towers are the most expensive design, with the average price sitting around $150. Some higher-end units come in at around $500, although if you shop around you can find affordable models on sale for around $100.
Our advice? Don’t skimp on a pull-up bar. The more expensive models usually deliver better stability and extended functionality.
If you can only afford a $25 bar, then that’s not a problem – these bars still offer everything you need. However, if you know you can spare an extra twenty bucks, you will be rewarded for the investment.
The brief answer is yes, pull-up bars are very effective – providing you are using them correctly. In fact, many would argue that a pull-up bar is the single most important piece of fitness equipment you can purchase.
They allow you to perform – or work towards performing – a pull-up. As you may know by now, a pull-up is a compound movement, working your lats, biceps, forearms, upper back, traps and even your chest, as well as your grip strength.
A good pull-up bar will also allow you to perform pull-up variations: close-grip pull-ups, chin-ups and hammer pull-ups to name a few.
Without a pull-up bar, your only option to perform pull-ups at home would be to grab onto a fence, a wall or a tree branch. These methods can work, but they don’t offer you the same consistency or stability.
In fact, your effort would probably be more focused on not scraping your body against the wall, or listening in case the branch breaks!
So yes – providing you have a decent pull-up bar and that you are using it in the correct way, pull-up bars are very effective at allowing you to perform pull-up variations at home, and build your upper body in a way that no other calisthenics movement can!
Doorway pull-up bars are very safe. Of course, using one does place a great amount of force on the top and sides of your doorframe. However, these bars are specifically designed to be hooked onto a doorway and used regularly, with no danger to yourself or the door.
This is only true if the pull-up bar is well designed so your weight is evenly dispersed – like those we feature in our top ten chart and on our dedicated doorway pull-up bar page.
Ultimately, a doorway is surprisingly strong – historically, the strongest point in the entire house! However, this doesn’t mean you can use one without caution. Using a pull-up bar incorrectly can result in a broken doorway.
You will want to ensure you are pulling yourself up straight and not swinging too much. If you are into momentum or kipping pull-ups – as used in CrossFit – then a wall-mounted bar will be much better suited to your style.
Doorway pull-up bars are built to take loads of anywhere between 200lbs and 450lbs. They will have been thoroughly tested and the maximum weight will be indicated on the marketplace you purchase from. For most people this will give great peace of mind.
However, another problem arises if you are using a weighted vest or dipping belt to add resistance to your pull-up. You may be a 220lb guy, but wearing a 60lb vest then pulling yourself up on a bar that can only handle 250lbs will result in some damage!
Above all else, you will want to ensure that the doorframe is in good condition. If the frame is particularly old, or you see splits in the wood, or any suspect carpentry, then don’t use a bar on that frame. Find another door!
Providing your doorway is fit for purpose (again, most are) and you are using the bar correctly, you will have no problems. The most damage you will encounter is a little scuffing here and there, depending on the bar you use.
Make no mistake about it – pull-ups are hard! It takes serious strength to perform even a handful. You may feel quite strong, but stand under a pull-up bar and watch your confidence drain as you struggle to perform a few reps.
So, how does one get better at pull-ups? Luckily, there are several strategies to help boost your numbers.
Firstly, buy a pull-up bar. Practice is one of the best ways to get better at pull-ups and practicing at home is a convenient way to become proficient. Whether you are using an affordable doorway bar or a heavy-duty power tower, having a bar at home is one of the best ways to make real gains.
Next, if you feel that you are carrying a few extra pounds, attempt to lose some weight – easier said than done, we know!
However, if you are overweight for your height and age, you are asking your back and biceps to work much harder than they need to. Losing a few pounds will help get you started on the road to more pull-ups.
As for techniques, one way to get better at pull-ups is to add weight. It sounds counterintuitive, but by adding some weight – maybe 10lbs to 20lbs to start – for a few reps, it will then feel easier to perform bodyweight pull-ups. Do this for a few sets each session and you’ll be surprised at how your numbers increase overall.
As we have stated many times in this article, the pull-up is the king of bodyweight exercises and a great test of strength. This means a pull-up bar is the king of home gym equipment!
Whether you are going for a budget doorway bar to help you get a few pull-ups in every morning, or are basing your entire home gym around a high-end power tower, there are plenty of options to suit everybody.
Browse our top ten list and check out the individual pages for each pull-up bar category. But also take some time to browse the market by yourself – you may find something more suited to you.