Here are Your Options for Finding, Building or Buying a Pull-up Bar

Monkey bars provide plenty of opportunities to practice pull-ups.
Playgrounds and monkey bars provide a plethora of options to do pull-ups. (Lance Cpl. Lucas Vega/Marine Forces Reserve)

Here is an emailed question about not having the facilities to do pull-ups. I have a hard time with this one as I have not been a gym member for nearly 20 years and have no issues with finding pull-up bars or even building my own for little or no money.

Just use some good old-fashioned ingenuity or buy an inexpensive pull-up bar system. One observation: Have you noticed there is never a line in the gym for the pull-up bars?

There is a reason. Pull-ups are hard to do, so get crackin’.

Stew, I recently read your article about not doing pull-ups and push-ups every day. I have a different issue. I cannot ever do pull-ups, as I am not a member of a gym and I do not have a pull-up bar. Any suggestions on what I can do?

You have so many options. Check out these options:



The Playground Options

I have been running to a local playground and using their monkey bars to do pull-ups for years. Whether I am at home or traveling, I am never too far from a park or an elementary school to find pull-up bars. High school tracks have pull-up bars nearby, and those make for great free workout facilities. Monkey bars give you a variety of pull-up options from wide grip, reverse grip, neutral grip, etc. … Bonus: You can take your kids and teach them how to do pull-ups if you are old like me. :)

Make running to the playground part of your workout.


homemade pullup bars

Build Your Own

All this version takes is a bar and some trust in a ladder and a secure location on a wall. It works. Make sure you secure both ends and have a sturdy enough bar. Cannot find a bar? Look around your house or go to Home Depot for everything that you need to build pull-up bars.

On the right-hand side, with a few wood screws, pipes and 90-degree pipe elbows, you can hook a pole to your unfinished basement beams.


power tower

Buy a Power Tower

I have used one of these for years and donated one to our local swimming pool, which allows my group to do pull-ups and dips mixed into our swim PT sessions. These range in price from $100-$250, depending on the sturdiness of the tower. But even the flimsiest power towers will allow you to do pull-ups and dips in your home.


door jamb pullup bar

Door Jamb Pull-up Bar

This model on the right works well, even in 36-inch door wells. These devices are surprisingly sturdy. However, if your door jamb is not sturdy enough, you quickly could be on your face. When using these as well or the ladder option above, I recommend that you not bend your knees or feet backward or cross your ankles so that you can land on your feet if your door or equipment fails.

There are many, many options for you to find a place to do pull-ups. You just have to take your pick. Any other ideas out there?

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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