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It’s hard to find an excuse not to use a doorway pull-up bar. Not only are they moderately priced and easy to install, they take up no excess space and they sit right in front of the owner every day, just begging to be used. Unlike a spin bike, treadmill or yoga mat, they’re very hard to ignore. You can avoid your garage or basement gym for a week, but you can’t help walking through your bedroom doorway.
The ROI of a simple pull-up bar is incredibly high. They usually cost between $30-$50, and the pure movement they facilitate is about as effective, efficient and full-body as it gets. Pull-ups can also offer more than just helping the end user get ripped. “I used pull-ups as a teenager to help cure chronic lower back problems,” said Austin, TX-based wellness coach Mark Jordan who at 54 years old set the Guinness Book of World Records record for most pull-ups in 24-hours with a mind boggling 4,321 pull-ups.
There is a reason why doorway pull-up bars are staples in college dorm rooms and young athletes’ first apartments. Any space-conscious fitness enthusiast can benefit from them, they can come with someone when they move, and if they’re properly installed it’s rare they’d damage a doorframe enough to lose a security deposit.
“Back in my 20s, when I was apartment dwelling, I always had a pull-up bar set up in my house,” said Jordan. “What you are looking for nowadays is something very sturdy that removes any opportunity for play or rocking. If you are looking to use it for the long haul, and avoid injury, the more you can minimize that the better off it will be for you.”
The two most common designs for doorway pull-up bars differ in one key way: one requires drilling into the door frame and the other doesn’t. The drilled-in kind may prove to be more stable, but for most users, the kind that’s situated on top ofthe doorway molding and uses a counterpoint for stability will be more than enough. It’s worth pointing out that all doorway pull-ups bars are likely to inflict some damage on their door frame — either in the form of scuffs, dents, divots or chips in the paint.
What the Experts Say
“I’ve been a big fan of the door jamb style pull-up bar for a decade or more,” said Mikey Bell, a personal trainer, a professional mountain guide, and the founder and owner of Outdoor Adventure Training, a firm that builds personalized training plans for athletes interested in outdoor pursuits. “The free-standing pull up bars are great but a problem I see a lot of people running into is having a ceiling that is high enough to facilitate that. You need a 10-foot ceiling or higher if you are 6 feet tall.”
While pull-up bars don’t necessarily have to be more than a single bar, having the option of multiple grips can provide modifications in case of an injury, and can help the user spice up a pull-up workout.
“Ask yourself: What’s going to get you on the bar? Does overhand grip bother you, hurt your shoulder or is it just something you are not good at? Does supinated grip (an overhand grip where the palms face upwards) bother you? If that does, a multi-grip pull-up bar might be better,” said Chris Howell, founder and CEO of spxfit, a premium New York City-based luxury gym design group.
Bell also suggests adding a resistance band. “Pull-ups are one of the hardest exercises to perform. I highly recommend that all of my clients purchase some sort of fixed loop resistance band. Rogue makes them, TRX makes them, and there are tons of generic brands that you can choose from, too,” said Bell.
“If you [loop] the band [over]the bar and put your foot in there and cross your other leg in front it gives you extra force and support going up and makes pull-ups easier.”
THE BEST DOORWAY PULL-UP BAR
Armpow Pull-Up Bar
The Armpow is Bell’s personal doorway pull-up bar of choice, due to its powerful and versatile design. He added a little after-market padding in the form of rubber banded-on dish towels to further mitigate the possibility of damage on the door frame of his rental house, but noted it installs very easily. It’s one of the burlier in-frame options on the market, thanks to the fact that it is made from iron, and it offers the versatility. Howell also suggested picking one with four different grips available on one bar, and the ample padding on each of the grips provides comfort during long pull-up sessions but also friction as well, which Jordan maintains is a key factor in a solid pull up workout. Bell also likes the fact that the Armpow can be taken down and used to help facilitate push-ups and dips on the floor.
Perfect Fitness Multi-Use Pull Up Bar
Made For: Everyday user on a budget
The Uplift: The Perfect Fitness Multi-Use Pull Up Bar offers three different grips, an in-frame design at a price point under the other picks on this list, and extra padding for comfort. This Multi-Use bar also has adjustable connection points so it’s highly compatible with a variety of doors and different body types and sizes.
The Hot Take: This pick ticks all of our boxes at a solid price point.
BEST FOR RIGID PERFORMANCE
Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull-Up Bar
Made For: Serious pull-up enthusiasts who, like Jordan, plan to put down hundreds of reps per week
The Uplift: While Jordan didn’t recommend this exact bar, he did suggest a pick that “allows you to very firmly insert [it]between two vertical openings within the door to minimize rocking.” If you’re planning to use your pull-up bar for more than the average daily pump, buying one that screws into the wall is more necessary. This is both for safety reasons and to protect the doorway from damage. Jordan has done more pull-ups than an entire household will in a lifetime, and minimizing rocking on the bars he used helped mitigate unnecessary wear and tear on his body.
The Hot Take: This is the strongest bar for those willing to mount in the door frame.
BEST FOR RENTERS
LADER Pull-Up Bar
Made For: Renters who don’t want any give to their bar
The Uplift: The LADER uses padded forms on either side that can be adjusted with a hex wrench to fit incredibly snug inside the door frame. This gives it the solid no-give performance of the Maximiza in a package that doesn’t require drilling and won’t affect your security deposit. LADER claims that the bar can handle an 1100-lb capacity if installed properly, potentially giving the user a very rigid option without sacrificing the door.
The Hot Take: Nice rigidity in a landlord pleasing package
BEST FOR CLIMBERS
Metolius Rock Rings 3-D
Made For: Grip strength enthusiasts
The Uplift: “For someone who is climbing a lot, getting something climbing-specific to practice pull-ups on is really beneficial,” said Bell. “I also like the two different kinds of handholds for different kinds of muscle activation.” Non-climbers can also benefit from the unique pull up system that can be mounted in a door frame. Bell also said it really helps with grip strength, a major pro for anyone whose looking to lift weights or toughen their hands for other types of workouts.
The Hot Take: The Metolius adds significant challenge and fun to a normal pull-up workout
Frequently Asked Questions About Pull-Up Bars
How expensive are doorway pull-up bars?
Thanks to their simple design, doorway pull-up bars are generally an inexpensive piece of exercise equipment. You can find a variety of sturdy options for under $75 and can even go as low as $35 for something basic that will get the job done. The cheapest options available — in the $15-$20 range — are worth avoiding because they are not only likely to fall apart but will cause damage to doorways.
Will doorway pull-up bars ruin my door?
Any doorway pull-up bar will likely create some wear and tear on either the door frame or the door’s molding. Even the fanciest ones will likely cause some paint chipping or small dents in the wall. One workaround is rubberbanding cloth to the pull-up bar’s connecting points with the door. You may also want to use paint and caulk to retouch the area before a move.
How do I install a doorway pull-up bar?
Doorway pull-up bars that interact with the molding of the door are very easy and intuitive to install. Simply place the support side of the pull-up bar above the molding on one side of the door and the padding attached to the bar on the other side of the door. The two sides create friction with the user’s weight which keeps them attached to the door. Most pull-up bars that attach inside the door need to be bolted to the sides of the door, which is a straightforward process with the right tools but involves making the fixture more permanent. It’s also incredibly important to make sure the bar is level when drilling it in, as it’s difficult to fix after the fact.