Want to build upper body definition at home? You'll need the best pull up bars. Easy as that. Pull up bars come in many shapes and sizes: door pull up bars are ideal for rented households, mounted pull up bars if you've got a dedicated workout space (and permission to drill the walls) and standalone pull up frames if you have all the space in the world to set your home gym.
The best pull up bars are ideal for building upper body strength at home using nothing else but your bodyweight as resistance. For the same reason, it might take a bit of time to get used to them and to build strength so you can perform chin ups and pull ups properly, but after that, the sky's the limit when it comes to building big arms and a wide back (find out what the difference is between chin ups vs pull ups here).
You can approach setting up a home gym from a lot of different perspective. You can just get a dumbbell or maybe a couple of kettlebells and cover most of the basics. You can also get a barbell and a weight bench or home gym and do full body workouts. If you want to do bodyweight exercises, though, you might want to get the best pull up frame and potentially an ab roller, too.
The main benefit of bodyweight training is that it requires hardly any equipment for it to be effective. You can do V sit ups and pike push ups without any equipment. Saying that, some equipment can help you work your muscles even more effectively.
Among these are pull up bars and pull up frames which will help you achieve the widest of backs, quicker. Pull ups are one of the best back exercises and they also work other muscles, like the biceps, too.
Have more questions about pull ups? We've answered 11 of the most searched questions about pull up bars here.
Best door pull up bars
The Adidas Door Gym does what it says on the box: it is indeed a cost-effective, space efficient and versatile piece of home training equipment.
Door pull up bars have less max load capacity (the Adidas Door Gym's max load is 110 kg), but since they are attached to the door frame, there is no point for them being able to hold 200 kg when the door frame would give in under much less.
The Door Gym has three grip positions and it is also height adjustable so you can tailor to the door space you have (width is not adjustable so please be mindful of that).
Some reviewers complained about the foam cover not being sturdy enough on the side where the Door Gym meets the frame, but if it's secured properly, it shouldn't be an issue.
The most convenient (and probably cheapest) way to build upper body strength.
The Ultrasport Door Pull-Up Bar supports up to 100 kg in user weight and is ideal for pull ups and chin ups. Better still, it comes with three different depth settings so one can adjust it to their own door frames. If this is not good enough for you still, the Ultrasport Door Pull-Up Bar can also be used as incline push up/floor dip bar, all without having to drill or move things around in your rented flat.
Door pull up frames are ideal for getting better at pull ups and chin ups: should you have enough space to walk under it, just have the Ultrasport Door Pull-Up Bar on the door frame all the time and every time you walk under it, do a pull up or chin up. You will see results soon enough!
As with all door pull up frames, it is true that although the actual equipment can support up to 100 kilos in bodyweight, the max load also very much depends on the door frame itself. for the same reason, this pull up bar might not suitable for CrossFit-style pull ups as it could wriggle around too much on the door frame.
Best free standing pull up frame
Should you have the space to house this beast of a home gym equipment, you should most definitely invest in the Weider Power Tower. As well as being able to perform pull ups and chin ups, using the Weider Power Tower, you will also be able to do knee raises (or leg raises), bodyweight dips and a wide variety of push ups, too.
Although it is a free standing pull up frame, the max user weight is a pretty impressive 135 kilograms. That's is even more surprising considering that the Weider Power Tower only weighs 40 kilos itself.
Some self-assembly is required to put this home gym equipment together, but not much. The time spent on assembling the Power Tower will be dwarfed next the time you'll spend doing full body workouts on it.
The Bowflex BodyTower doesn't disappoint either; Bowflex claims you can do more than 18 different exercises on this power tower, including – of course – pull ups and chin ups.
This beast of a home gym equipment is over 50 kilos but in return, the max supported user weight is over 130 kgs. Surprisingly, it takes only 30 minutes to assemble the BodyTower, according to Bowflex.
Bowflex knows that no one ever cleans their gym equipment, so it threw in a special feature: the hand grips are covered with non-absorbent, microbial-resistant material and even the back pad is non-absorbent, closed-cell EVA foam cushioned. Well done.
Power racks, such as the Powertec Workbench, are the perfect solution for all calisthenics fans out there to build functional muscle mass at home. Want to master muscle ups before you head down to the park to impress your peers? Better practice them out of sight, at home in the garage or spare room, and showcase your muscle power once you can perform the exercises correctly.
As well as being a very competent standalone pull up frame, the Powertec Workbench can also function as a squat frame (barbells/plates sold separately) and a dip station too, meaning it can provide a full body workout in just three moves. When you think about it this way, it really isn't that much of an investment, is it?
Do bear in mind that this home gym equipment is on the bulky side and will require a lot of floor space too. Also, the Powertec Workbench stands over 2 metres tall and you would need enough space between the top of the tower and the ceiling so you won't headbutt the top of your abode with each rep. Ideal for garage gyms or spare rooms, though.
Best wall mounted pull up bar
Mirafit's mission is to manufacture quality products for a reasonable price, and boy-oh-boy, do they deliver on that promise! The Mirafit M2 wall mounted pull up bar is a commercial grade, sturdy piece of home gym equipment that also looks great.
The max load of the Mirafit M2 is 150 kg (subject to wall strength, of course), more than enough to hold the weight of most fitness enthusiasts. Not just that, but the Mirafit M2 has loads of different grip positions so you can target your muscles form a lot of different angles.
The powder coated frame looks good enough to actually compliment your garage gym too.
Wall fixings are included although you will need a drill to for the holes in the wall.
How to buy the best pull up bar
Pull up bars come in a variety of shape and form and you should always do your research before you invest in one.
If you are in a rented property, you might not be able to drill a solid, mounted pull up bar into the wall. Luckily, there are free standing pull up bars and door pull up bars too, which don't require any drilling or much DIY at all.
The two main features to consider is max load and versatility. The non-free standing versions should have at least a few different grip positions (wide grip, narrow grip and neutral grip) and around a 110-150 kg max load.
Free standing pull up frames should include other features, like a padded back and arm rests provide support during workouts. Some models also include grips at the base of the frame so you can mix up your press up routine as well.
Generally, free standing pull up frames' max load is less than the wall mounted variety and is between 120-140 kg.
Do pull up bars damage doors?
Neither stand alone, nor wall mounted pull up bars damage doors, because they aren't attached to the door frames. Door pull up bars – the ones you attach to door frames – shouldn't damage doors either, but make sure you check what is the minimum and maximum door width the bar can support.
Are pull up bars safe?
A good quality pull up bar installed correctly is always safe to use. That being said always test the bar a bit before you apply your weight onto it. The stability of pull up bars depends on the way it was assembled or attached to the wall/door frame.
Alternatively, you can always purchase an exercise floor mat, like the Mirafit folding exercise mat, that could help you land softer.
If you are concerned about your grip strength, you can get a pair of grip pads or lifting gloves that can help even sweaty palms to grip longer.
You can also try resistance band pull ups which takes some pressure off your arms and back.
How much can a pull up bar hold?
It varies depend on the model but in general, try to pick a pull up bar that's maximum user weight figure is a good 20 kg over your bodyweight. Considering that even door pull up bars can hold 110 kg, most of them will be able to hold an average-built adult easily.