If you always walk past the pull-up bars in the gym because they look too much like a medieval instrument of torture, then you’re missing out on a supremely effective upper body workout that will hit your arms, back, shoulders and core, all in one go.
A good pull-up bar should allow a range of hand positions and grips so that you can target different muscle groups, and it should be able to accommodate wide and narrow grip pull-ups, chin-ups and also the dreaded leg raises.
We tested for how easy the bars were to assemble, how good the grips were and whether there was any damage or marks left behind when we took down the non-permanent models.
We also looked at the latest collection of bars available online, with various mounts and fixings, noting how stable and sturdy they were, as well as how useful the supplied mounting bolts were (for wall bars) to ensure that you won’t end up wearing the equipment when you’re halfway through a set.
Here are our top recommendations – the best pull-up bars available for pulling your weight.
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The best pull-up bars for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Mirafit ceiling and wall stud mounted pull up bar: £79.95, Mirafit.co.uk
- Best for full body workouts – Body power door gym: £22.99, Fitness-superstore.co.uk
- Best for convenience – Umi essentials pull up bar: £42.25, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for outside gyms – DTX fitness mounted bar: £69.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for bigger home gyms – MuscleSquad X3 power rack: £550, Musclesquad.com
- Best for strengthening back muscles – JX fitness mounted chin up bar: £55.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for looks – Nohrd wallbars: £232.40, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for outdoor home gyms – DTX Fitness power cage: £189.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for portable pull-ups – Gravity Fitness portable pull up rack: £119.95, Gravityfitness.co.uk
Mirafit ceiling & wall stud mounted pull up bar
If you want a bar at home that’s always ready to go, but you don’t have much room and don’t want anything jutting out from your wall, then you can mount these bars on the ceiling. The fixings supplied were more than adequate for any location you might have in mind, and the bar has two positions so that you can tailor it to your workout. It’s a good option if you’re tall, as this bar allows for more movement and is perfectly suited for more advanced moves such as front levers and kipping pull-ups. It was comfortable to use, easy to grip, and solid enough to fix other equipment, like a TRX system, too.
Body power door gym
Best: For full body workouts
One of the common problems with door bars is that they don’t allow enough room for leg raises because they are too low, but the upper bars of the door gym sit a full seven feet from the floor (positioned above the door frame itself) so you won’t have any excuse to skip the raises portion of your workout. The height of the bars also means that you can leave them in position without constantly worrying about getting tangled up in them every time you walk through the door. Assembly and placement were very straightforward, as the bar simply hooks on to the back of the door’s frame, with different settings to allow for three thicknesses of frame. A good choice of grip positions and widths allowed for pull-ups, chin-ups and leg raises, and we found that the bars were very sturdy even when we were straining on our final reps.
Umi essentials pull up bar
Best: For convenience
If you don’t fancy cracking out the power drill to fix up your bars, but you have a sturdy door, then you can be up and groaning in no time with this very versatile bar from Amazon’s own brand fitness line. The Umi bar takes a little figuring out the first time you operate the ingenious telescopic doorframe fixing, but after doing it once you’ll be able to attach it to a variety of door frames in under a minute, or move it up and down the frame to accommodate different exercises. Supporting up to 200kg, the ingenuity extends to the rhombus hinge mechanism, which only increases the stability of the bar as you hang from it. It’s easy to take down afterwards if you want to keep your doorways clear, or you can leave it in situ because the clever design allows for it to remain in place with the door closed. Just remember that it’s there the next time you enter the room!
DTX fitness mounted bar
Best: For outside gyms
This mounted bar was very straightforward to attach to masonry, although you might want to use heavier duty bolts than the ones that are supplied. A good range of grip options, thanks to a multi-angled bar, gives you a number of options for targeting different muscles. We also found that the bar was robust enough to hang a punching bag from if you want to extend your workout with a finisher on the bag.
MuscleSquad X3 power rack
Best: For bigger home gyms
If you have a dedicated workout space at home and are looking for a piece of equipment that will allow you to get through a range of pull-ups, chin-ups, leg raises and then move seamlessly on to squats and presses, then you should consider this rack. The fact that you’re not restricted by walls or ceilings makes the X3 ideal for both basic and more advanced workouts and offers very straightforward assembly. The incorporated pull-up bar is multi-angled and comfortable to grip, and offers great hanging height for a range of exercises, as well as stretches. It was one of the most stable pieces of equipment we tested.
JX Fitness mounted chin up bar
Best: For strengthening back muscles
With easy assembly and excellent build quality, the heavy-duty steel bar can withstand 125kg of hanging weight, so if you’re super serious about your workout you can probably hang off it and strap a weight plate to increase the difficulty of your workout as you progress. We found that it mounted to an exterior wall without a problem using the supplied expansion bolts and the foam that covers the six different handle positions were comfortable and easy to grip. The bar had one of the widest grips on test for targeting and strengthening back muscles, and there is extra functionality with the addition of three eyelets that can be used to attach TRX bands or punching bags.
Best: For looks
These might give you nightmarish flashbacks to gym class when you were in primary school, but they are an effective and super stylish way to work on your guns. Assembly and placement takes some time, but it’s well worth it because what you’re left with is a super solid and aesthetic piece of equipment, with a pull-up bar that folds out on a safety cord, which you can tell is engaged thanks to a discernible click. The wood also feels very stable and is comfortable to use.
DTX Fitness power cage
Best: For outdoor home gyms
Pull-ups and chin-ups are a vigorous full-body exercise that will really test the equipment, and one of the issues with free-standing bars is the amount of shake and flex you get from them during a workout. The power cage stood up really well to the punishment, and of all the free-standers that we tested felt super stable and sturdy no matter how much we were straining to complete a set. Comfortable and easy to grip, even with sweaty hands, we found that the option of adding weight plates (if you have them) to the rack made the structure even more secure, or you can bolt the power cage to the ground with the supplied bolts for total peace of mind.
Gravity Fitness portable pull up rack
Best: For portable pull ups
Another free-stander that felt very sturdy and came together in minutes using just click pegs rather than nuts and bolts. In use it was incredibly versatile and can be adapted for a range of exercises, like dips or incline press-ups, by simply taking out sections of the rack, or positioning it differently on the ground. One of the big advantages of this rack is its portability and the rack collapses down to fit in a carry bag as quickly as it goes up, so that it can be stored easily or you can take it with you when you go away so you won’t miss a workout.
The verdict: Pull-up bars
Inexpensive but invaluable for maximizing a workout, the Mirafit ceiling & wall stud mounted pull up bar offers lots of options for placement, absolute rigidity and also the option to take your pull-up performance to the next level with advanced moves such as muscle-ups, where your torso goes above the bar.
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