You’ve read it once, you’ve read it a hundred times: pull-ups are just about one of the best exercises you can do to train your upper body. If they’re not a part of your workout program then you should seriously consider making some room for them in your regime.
For the home gym heroes, this means you’re going to need to install a pull-up bar somewhere in your home. There are few pieces of equipment that are more essential for a home gym than a pull-up bar but something you’ll need to first consider is the pull-up bar height and where you can install it.
A pull-up bar should be installed at a height of at least 7 feet from the ground for most individuals (taking into account an average height of 5’8). You also need to leave around 20 inches of clearance above the bar to allow for a sufficient gap between the top of the bar and the ceiling.
Although it’s a very simple piece of equipment, of which there are multiple options available, the where and the how of installing a pull-up bar in your own home is going to depend entirely on the space available to you.
At the very least this article will give you a good idea of which option is best for you, and how high to install the bar for your own use (as this will vary for each individual).
Correct Pull-up Bar Height
There really is no clear-cut answer to this question, as it varies entirely on your own body height. However, there are 2 things you need to take into consideration when working out where your own bar should go.
Firstly, you definitely do not want your head banging into the ceiling as you reach the highest point of the exercise. Neither do you want your lower body, be it your knees or your feet, touching the ground during the movement.
Generally speaking, you want to leave a bare minimum of 20 inches (50cm) space between the ceiling and your pull-up bar. If the space you’re looking to install your bar can’t accommodate this gap you would be best off trying to mount it elsewhere: the last thing you want is to limit your range of motion with the pull-up as this will make the exercise redundant.
Gauging how much distance you should keep between the ground and the bar is a pretty simple task. Standing on the tip of your toes, extend your arms up against the wall as high as you can and mark the height. It’s best practice to exercise a little caution here and install the bar 2-5” above this mark – safety is paramount after all.
If ceiling height is an issue when installing a pull-up bar, an alternative solution is to set the bar at a height whereby you’ll do pull-ups with your knees bent. This reduces the amount of space you’ll need to perform the movement but won’t impact the effectiveness of the exercise.
To measure the height when setting the bar for pull-ups with knees bent. Kneel on the floor and fully outstretch your arms. Mark the highest point of the lift and then add an additional 1-foot on top of this. You’ll need the extra height in case you want to use external weight with a dipping belt and to allow some comfort when getting into position.
Although it’s important to leave a safe distance from the wall when mounting your pull-up bar, there won’t really be any bars on the market that are too close to the wall for you to perform the full range of motion during the movement.
If you’re making a DIY bar, however, or just curious to know the answer, the bar should be at least 12 inches from the wall for a regular pull up, but to give yourself the space to perform other exercises like chin-ups, you’re best giving yourself 20-24 inches.
Where To Mount a Pull-up Bar at Home
Once you’ve worked out a safe height to mount your pull bar, it’s a simple case of finding the best spot available to you. There are a number of options here: some options are better than others but each has its own advantages, which will be explained below.
- Wall-mounted – Overall this is going to be your best option. It is a more permanent fixture for your home gym, requiring you to bolt it into the wall. As long as you make sure to fasten the bar securely into the studs, or the most stable part of the wall, this is the most reliable place for you to mount your bar at home and is as versatile as the bar that you install. A multi-grip bar is your best bet here as it offers the broadest range of exercises.
- Ceiling-mounted – Again, this is going to require bolting the bar into the ceiling, giving you a reliable, permanent fixture. Fastening a bar into the ceiling, however, is almost always going to be less safe than mounting it on a wall – unfortunately no matter how many pull-ups you’re managing in a set gravity is always going to have its way.
- Doorway-mounted – These pull-up bars don’t require fastening to a surface – instead, they make use of leverage to remain in place throughout the exercise. Although they are a less robust and stable option than a permanently mounted pull-up bar, they are very budget-friendly and can be moved anywhere in the house. An added bonus is that you don’t need to measure anything, your doorway does it for you. Just make sure to always follow the instructions for whichever product you purchase.
- Free-standing pull-up towers – Although these power towers take up much more space than your standard pull-up bar, they typically offer a much wider range of grips to perform different bodyweight exercises. These products tend to average between 70-85” in height, but most are adjustable to accommodate all shapes and sizes. If you have the space available and don’t want to drill any holes in your walls or ceilings, a free-standing tower offers a more stable pull-up bar than anything you can hang in your doorway.
Which Pull-up Bar Is Right for You
Taking into account all the information available, it’s best to work out your priorities before purchasing a pull-up bar for your home gym.
If space is an issue then a power tower probably isn’t the right choice for you, for example. The first step in making a decision should be figuring out what you can actually install in your home: no matter what setup you opt for, always make sure that you will have sufficient space both above and below you during the exercise.
Next, you want to consider the structure you’ll be using. A door-mounted pull-up bar means you don’t need to set the height as the door frame will already act as your set position. These are also incredibly quick to set up and the only issue to keep in mind is whether your pull-up bar could damage the door frame.
If you are planning to mount a pull-up bar on concrete, drywall, wooden beams, or any other structure in your home, you’ll need to do the necessary checks to ensure your wall can both be drilled into securely and that it will hold your weight during use.
When installing a pull-up bar at home, the most important thing is ensuring you mount it at the correct height and that you are also mounting it in a safe and secure area. If you opt for a doorway-mounted pull-up bar or power tower, the installation and height is already decided for you.
If, however, you opt for a wall or ceiling-mounted pull-up bar, then setting the correct height and location becomes a more important decision. You’ll want to take into consideration ceiling height, exercise selection, wall structure, and the type of bar.