Pull-ups are a must for any serious trainee.
They can build serious strength, they can build serious muscle, and you can throw them into MetCons for out-of-this-world conditioning.
Yeah…you gotta do your pull-ups!
But what if you train at home or in the garage?
It can get tricky. Most homes or garages just aren’t designed with doing pull-ups in mind.
But fret not, I’ve got a few solutions. None are perfect, some are better than others, and all require compromises. But hey, at least you’ll be able to get your pull-ups in.
Let’s get right into it.
1. Find a Sturdy Apparatus on Your Property
This could be a beam, a pipe, or any other sturdy thing you could hold onto.
My childhood home was built in the early 1900’s and had solid exposed beams in the basement that we would do pull-ups on. It wasn’t that bad, save for almost impaling our skulls with nails and getting covered in cobwebs (I was also a kid and not too serious about training).
I really don’t recommend this option, unless you really have no other choice. You could seriously damage your property or fall off and get injured by hanging onto things that weren’t meant to be hung onto (and even catch a nail in the skull).
Indeed, this is a last resort or temporary option.
2. Find Jungle Gyms, or If You’re Lucky, Calisthenics Parks
Another free option: you could get outside and use nearby jungle gyms or calisthenics parks.
There are a couple hang-ups here, though. One is that you probably won’t be able to bring much other equipment with you. Two is that the weather must cooperate (and it probably won’t). Three is that there’ll likely be lots of other people there.
Obviously these three things make this a less than ideal option for our purposes. It can work, but it’s not ideal.
3. Build Your Own Pull-Up Apparatus
Now we’re getting serious.
If you’re the engineering type, building your own pull-up apparatus is a great idea. You could build a bar off something, like a sturdy wall, or even build your own pull-up stand.
The beauty here is that you could customly build it to your height and width specifications, creating exactly what you need.
You must know what you’re doing. The key words here are sturdy and safe. If this apparatus breaks in the middle of a set you’re going to have a bad time.
A great option if you’re handy, less so if you’re not.
4. Buy a Door-Frame Pull-Up Bar
A door-frame pull-up bar simply attaches to a door frame, and these can be a great option for those on a budget or for those who have little space.
One hang-up with these bars is that you won’t be able to do a full hang, especially if you’re taller. You’ll have to go with bent knees.
Another hang-up is that it could damage your door frame, although I’ve been using mine for years with many different door frames and I’ve never had a problem.
This might be a good option for a more compact person, but a not-so-good option for a bigger and taller one. Medium-ish people like me could go either way.
5. Mount a Pull-Up Bar on the Wall
Yes, there are pull-up bars that can be mounted directly onto a wall (forget mounting your flat screen, mount a pull-up bar!).
This is only an option if you own your house though, because it’s pretty invasive. You also must know what you’re doing, as you could just plain mess your walls up.
I have no experience with this, but if you have a single carpenter bone in your body and the right housing framework it probably wouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
6. Go with Rings
Rings can be a great minimalistic and space-saving option.
If you have a strong beam or other sturdy anchor point high enough, you can just swing them over and get to work.
I also find that rings are much easier on the elbows, as they allow them to move freely.
They do require more coordination, however, and you also can’t do banded pull-ups with them, so they’re not a great option for newer trainees.
7. Buy a Squat Rack with an Equipped Pull-Up Bar
You need to do your squats anyway, right? Why not hit two birds with one stone?
This is the ideal solution, but it comes with a greater cost and requires more space.
Things to Think About That Might Affect Your Final Decision
- If you can’t do a pull-up yet, you’ll have to use some assistance (bands, a chair, etc.).
- When you get stronger you’ll attach weights to yourself to make progress. This could be north of 100 lbs.
- A high enough bar or rings will allow you to do fixed upper body core exercises (hanging reverse crunches, knee/leg raises, toes-to-bar, etc.).
- If you want to explore calisthenics, you may need room for muscle-ups and the like.
- If you intend to throw pull-ups into MetCons you’ll want to use a kip, meaning you’ll need a sturdy set-up.
Pull-Up Solutions Resource List
And There You Go
I told you, none of these solutions are perfect, but that’s life.
Now it’s up to you. Pick an option and get to training!