One of the ultimate tests of strength, pull ups are a must when it comes to training your upper body.

Known as a compound exercise, pull ups work more than one area of the body in one go and are great for targeting your back and biceps.

And when it comes to bars, there’s much more to it than just having something to do a straight pull up on. There are so many different varieties of pull up so having a piece of kit that’s versatile can really help you train a wider variety of muscle groups.

Pull up bars are also great to have in the home as you can easily fit in a good amount of upper body strength training without even leaving the house. Include as part of your home or garage gym, and you’ve got a solid piece of equipment that you can use anytime for a bit of extra grit.

Want to progress? Add weights round your waist and take your pull ups to the next level. Can’t do a pull up yet? Don’t worry – they’re not easy when you’re first starting out. But it is possible to work up to one once you know how.


Which pull up bar is best?


There are a few things you need to consider before buying a pull up bar. Which one you get is mostly determined by your home and what space you have available.

The two main types of pull up bar are wall mounted and ceiling mounted. You can also get doorway pull up bars, but these can be restrictive. You’ll need to ensure that the surface you’re planning on fixing your pull up bar to – either wall or ceiling – is strong enough to take not only the weight of the bar, but also the weight of whoever is using the bar, as well as the exertion of their exercises on top.

Fixing your pull up bar to something like a plaster wall is only going to end in disaster, never mind injury, so it’s always best to consult a qualified builder or surveyor before mounting your bar.

If you have a suitable place to put either a wall mounted or a ceiling mounted pull up bar, then there are a few things you will want to think about:

Your height – if you can’t reach a ceiling mounted pull up bar without jumping, then you risk injury to your joints, so a wall mounted pull up bar will be much more suited to you.

How wide you pull – some bars are wider than others, so if you want to target your lats, then choosing something like the Mirafit M3 Commercial Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar would be more suitable as this has a wider bar.

Weight – if you’re planning on doing weighted pull ups, it’s best you make sure your pull up bar can handle the strain. Different pull up bars have different maximum weight loads, so check how much you need it to take before you buy.

Leg space – if you want to perform kipping pull ups or any pull up which requires a good level of momentum, then having a ceiling mounted pull up bar which is farther away from the wall might be the best option for you.

Muscle ups – if you’re planning to take your training to the next level by turning your pull ups into muscle ups, you will want a wall mounted pull up bar with enough space above it to bring your whole torso up above the bar.

Home gym – if you’re planning on building up your home gym, you want to make sure you don’t mount your pull up bar in the same place where you might want to put another piece of equipment later, so forward planning is key.


Recommended heights for pull up bars

This will again depend on the height of the person using the pull up bar and how much room you have. If there is just one person using the pull up bar, you want to make sure they can just reach the bar with their fingertips when their arms are fully extended above their head. This means it’s possible to hang easily without having to bend your knees, but also that you won’t have to jump to reach the bars (which can cause injury to your joints).

If multiple people are using the pull up bar, it’s best to have it set at the right height for the tallest person. But it does mean the shortest person will need to use a small plyo box or a stepper to be able to reach the bars safely.

Once you have established how high your reach is, you’ll also need to make sure you have around a foot above the bar for your head to go (or your whole torso for muscle ups). This is already taken care of with the ceiling mounted pull up bars as they hang around a foot below the ceiling.


What are pull ups good for?

Pull up bars are a really versatile piece of equipment and depending on how you position your arms (and legs) will determine what muscle groups you work.

The straight pull up with your palms facing away from your body will work your back. The wider you have your hands on the bar, the more intensely you will work your lats.

Face your palms towards you and bring your hands closer together (or under the chin for a classic chin up) and you will target your biceps. You can then vary these techniques and add raised legs, knee twists, weights and side to side movements to add in core, triceps and chest exercises.

You can even try towel grip pull ups for that extra level of difficulty. As always, variety is key so doing a range of different exercises is the best way to keep your upper body in good shape. Also, having a pull up bar at home is a great way to fit in some extra training. Whether it’s after work, before bed or even while you’re waiting for the oven to heat up!


How to do pull ups for beginners


If you’d love to include pull ups as part of your training regime but can’t yet do them – don’t worry. Going from lifting nothing to lifting your whole bodyweight is a big step, but it can be done by taking a few simple steps:

• With your pull up bar safely in place, practise dead hanging from the bar – so you have your arms straight and your feet off the ground – and work up to holding this for 10 seconds.

• Once you have mastered the dead hang, then practise flex hanging – so you are in the top most position with your arms bent and your head over the bar – and work up to being able to hold this position for 10 seconds (make sure you stand on something sturdy to help get you in the right position).

• The next step is to practise negative pull ups – start off in the flex hang position and gradually lower yourself down into the dead hang position. Keep doing this until you can comfortably manage 10 of these.

Body rows – these are pull ups but with your legs at an angle so you’re not taking your full weight. You may want to start of with your feet resting on something and then gradually move onto being able to do them without any support.

Pull ups – the final step! Straight pull ups. Start with one and work up from there – practice makes perfect!


And by having a pull up bar at home, it means you can train regularly so that you keep on building strength. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, 20 minutes on the pull up bar is a great amount of time to devote to your upper body and will give you a challenging workout that’s also fun to do.


(Thank you @christiana_wilson91 for this brilliant image of the Mirafit Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar being put to good use. Happy training!)