If you are looking for the best pull up bar for building a stronger back, then this post is for you.
Pull ups are one of my all time favorite exercises. Not only are they deadly effective at building strength and muscle in the back and arms, they’re also fun to do.
The problem is that pull ups require you to find somewhere to hang from. For most of us, this means investing in a pull up bar.
Sure, you can do pull ups from tree branches, rafters in a ceiling, or even a bed sheet hung over a door frame.
But if you’re serious about getting stronger with pull ups, it’s convenient to have access to a solid pull up bar.
So which is the best pull up bar on the market? The answer may surprise you.
The best pull up bar depends on several factors
The truth is that the best pull up bar depends on your unique situation:
- Do you train at home or at a gym?
- Prefer indoor or outdoor workouts?
- Live in an apartment or own a house?
- How wide are your door frames?
- How sturdy are your door frames?
- Do you have exposed ceiling joists?
- How tall are your ceilings?
- What is your budget?
These are just a few of the questions you might consider on your hunt for the best pull up bar.
To give you an example, I began my pull up training with a simple doorway pull up bar. This worked well in my old house where all I had was doorframes.
Once I moved to a new house, I had an unfinished basement with exposed ceiling joists. At this point I switched from a doorway bar to a ceiling (joist) mounted bar in my basement.
In my old house, if I had a joist mounted bar it would have been useless because I had no exposed joists to mount it. But in my new house it made perfect sense.
In the next section we’ll explore the three main types of pull up bars on the market. This discussion will help you determine the pull up bar that is right for you.
Three types of pull up bars – which is the best for you?
There are three primary types of pull up bars on the market:
- Doorway (or doorframe)
- Wall or ceiling
Let’s dive into each of these in a bit more detail.
1. Doorway pull up bar
By far the most popular type of pull up bar is a doorway bar. This type of bar fits into an existing doorway in your home or apartment.
Some of the benefits of a doorway bar include:
- Relatively inexpensive (most are under $40)
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to put up and take down
- Versatile (most homes or apartments have doorways)
Some of the drawbacks include:
- Not as sturdy as some other pull up bars
- Relatively cheap construction (many manufacturers use plastic components)
- Unable to fit in some doorways
- Low hanging height, oftentimes requiring you to bend at the knees or hips
- Limited space (you only have the width of the doorway in which to work)
I personally own the Perfect Fitness Multi Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar. However, I no longer use this bar and now use a ceiling mounted bar in my unfinished basement.
The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is another popular favorite in the doorway bar category with over 4000 Amazon reviews.
There are several other doorway pull up bars on the market boasting different grip variations. Don’t get sucked into this marketing hype.
When it comes to pull ups and other bar exercises, all you need is a straight, solid bar. This allows you to do both pull ups (pronated grip – palms facing away) and chin ups (supinted grip – palms facing you).
Neutral (hammer) grip is a nice bonus, but it’s not necessary. Sometimes, the neutral grip bars can get in the way as you perform different variations of pull ups.
Not all doorframes can support these types of pullup bars. If you have wide or weak doorframes, an extendable pull up bar may be a better option for you.
Usually these types of pull up bars comes with supports that you must attach to your doorframe, which may be undesirable.
2. Wall or ceiling pull up bar
Next up on our list of the best pull up bars for building a stronger back is the wall or ceiling mounted bar.
Some of the benefits of this type of bar include:
- Sturdier than a doorway bar
- Usually made from higher quality material
- More space to move (you aren’t limited by the width of your doorway)
Some drawbacks include:
- Cannot move it as easily as some other pull up bars
- Generally more expensive ($50-$100 range)
If you have a dedicated area for your workouts, this type of bar may be a great option. I personally perform my workouts in my unfinished basement and use this joist mounted pull up bar.
This bar is solid as a rock and hangs high, giving me enough clearance to keep my feet straight during pull ups. I like it a lot better than my old doorway bar.
I also like to grip iron when doing my pull ups rather than soft padding that is typically found on doorway pull up bars.
Depending on your ceiling, there are other types of ceiling mounted pull up bars available. One is the Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar.
If the ceiling is not an option, you may want to look at a wall mounted pull up bar. Similar to ceiling mounted pull up bars, wall mounted pull up bars are generally sturdy as a rock.
3. Freestanding pull up bar
If you don’t want to put holes in your ceiling or wall and a doorway bar isn’t an option, you may need to look into a freestanding pull up bar.
Sometimes called a power tower, these pull up bars are oftentimes found in gyms.
They rest on the floor and extend upwards. The bar itself is located at the top of the tower.
Some of the pros of a freestanding pull up bar include:
- Easier to move because it is not mounted to a surface
- Fairly sturdy, although not as much as a permanently mounted bar
- Often include parallel (dip) bars making it an easy place to do dips as well
Some of the cons of this bar include:
- It is bulky and takes up more space than other types of pull up bars
- Assembly may be more time-consuming than a standard doorway bar
- More expensive ($100+)
- They don’t work in low ceiling applications
I personally do not own a freestanding pull up bar, but I have used several in gyms over the years. Some are rickety pieces of junk, and others are great.
A popular choice on Amazon seems to be the Stamina Power Tower. This bar has over 1000 reviews and comes at an affordable price point.
I have not used this pull up bar personally so I cannot fully endorse the product.
Other pull up bars to consider
There are other pull up bars beyond the three listed above that may be worth considering.
For example, if you train at a gym oftentimes the cable machines come with a pull up bar in the middle. These bars are called station pull up bars.
Also, many calisthenics enthusiasts like to use outdoor pull up bars made from tall posts cemented into the ground with a bar at the top. This pull up bar is similar to what you might see at a local park.
These pull up bars are beyond the scope of this post, but may be worth exploring depending on your situation.
One other note… if your goals include muscle ups, then you need to consider how much clearance you have above your pull up bar. Unless you train at a gym or have high ceilings, oftentimes indoor pull up bars do not provide enough head clearance for muscle ups.
This is where outdoor pull up bars can be of great benefit.
In summary, the best pull up bar for building a stronger back is 100% dependent on your unique situation. What works for one person may not work for another.
Once you decide which type of pull up bar is best for you, do your homework. Read the reviews and visit fitness forums before pulling the trigger.
Doorway pull up bars are a great place to start.
If you have the budget and a place to mount it, a ceiling or wall mounted pull up bar provides more stability and more room to work than a doorway bar. I recommend going this route if you can.
Finally, if neither of the above pull up bars are an option a freestanding pull up bar may work best for you.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to have a pull up bar to do pull ups, it is simply convenient. Wherever you find yourself, look around and you can almost always find a place to hang from.
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