While every fitness enthusiast probably dreams of having a dedicated home gym, unfortunately, it isn’t a feasible goal for most people. That’s why it’s important to prioritize versatile and space-saving equipment. You’ll want to look for equipment that serves multiple functions and doesn’t take up much space (sorry, rowing machines). That’s what makes a pull-up bar such a great investment. Even if you live in a tiny studio apartment, you probably still have enough room for a bar — all you need is a doorway.
Most pull-up bars can be hung from the edge of the doorframe without the need for any hammering. Of course, you’ll limit the ability for that door to be easily closed, so you should prioritize kitchen doorways, hallways, and any other doorways that don’t need to be closed. Since they’re above your head, a bar typically won’t be in the way for anyone trying to get through the door.
The two basic exercises that you can perform with a pull-up bar are pull-ups and chin-ups. While they look similar, there are important distinctions between the two. Pull-ups are done with your hands farther apart and with an overhand grip (your palms facing outward). Chin-ups are done with a closer grip and an underhand grip (palms facing inward). There are also neutral grip pull-ups, which are done with your palms facing inward toward each other. Some pull-up bars are hung from the top of the frame, and these typically include grips that can be used for neutral pull-ups. These may not work for every doorway, which is why a good alternative is a straight bar that fits between the sides of the doorway. However, these straight bars cannot be used for neutral grip pull-ups. They also typically involve drilling in brackets to secure the bar.
Part of the reason it’s worth noting the difference between pull-ups and chin-ups is that you have to be mindful of space. If you have a wide wingspan and narrow doorways, you may have trouble getting your desired grip for pull-ups with a doorway pull-up bar. Chin-ups, which utilize a closer grip, will be easier to do in space-constrained doorways.
We’ve done the heavy lifting and found some of the best pull-up bars available right now, including options that are great for taller people and bars that feature a variety of grip positions.
1. Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar
Iron Gym’s pull-up bar features a curved design that hangs from the top of the frame. The sides of the bar rest against the other side of the door, providing stability. There are perpendicular grips that allow you to do neutral-grip pull-ups as well. You can also use the pull-up bar for various ground exercises.
Pros: Foam padding for comfortable gripping. It can be used for neutral-grip pull-ups, chin-ups, and wide-grip pull-ups.
Cons: The edge of the bar can damage the doorway, which is why it may be a good idea to add extra padding.
2. Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull-Up Bar
This pull-up bar is straight and is designed to fit in between a doorway rather than over it. This can make it a good option for doorways with frames that are either too thin or too thick. The bar extends to fit doorways between 26″ and 39″. It’s held in place using tension and screw-in support brackets. Foam padding throughout makes for more comfortable gripping.
Pros: Widely adjustable, making it a good option for narrow or wide doors. Foam padding for a comfortable grip. Includes brackets for a more secure hold.
Cons: Bar can rotate.
3. Ikonfitness Pull-Up Bar
The problem with most pull-up bars is that, because they hang under the doorframe, it can be challenging to do a complete chin-up or pull-up because the top of the doorframe can get in the way. That’s what makes this option so ingenious. There are actually two bars, one that rests against the door and another that protrudes outward and above the doorframe, meaning that you can do a full chin-up over the bar.
Pros: Good option for taller people, angled design means that the top of the door frame doesn’t get in the way. Can be used for floor exercises.
Cons: Unlike some over the door pull up bars, this option does not lend itself to neutral-grip pull-ups.
4. Yes4All Doorway Pull-Up Bar
Yes4All’s affordable pull-up bar fits over the top of the doorframe, and it has various padded grips that make for a complete workout. You can use it for leg raises, wide-grip pull-ups, narrow grip chin-ups, or neutral grip pull-ups. It’s designed to fit doorways between 33″ to 37.” You can also choose between bars that fit narrower or wider doorways from this same listing.
Pros: Affordable option. Padded grips throughout for various types of exercises including chin-ups, pull-ups, and neutral grip pull-ups.
Cons: Fits a more limited range of doorways.