It’s common enough to find either wall-mounted or doorway pull up bars in people’s homes. There’s a good reason for this – pull ups are just about the best exercise going for building upper body strength and size, specifically through the latissimus dorsi, abdominals, posterior deltoids and biceps. Pull up bars can also be used to work more closely into the core with exercises like hanging knee lifts and leg raises.
All in all, if you want a decent upper body workout from home, getting a pull up bar is a great idea.
However, doorway pull up bars aren’t the most stable of implements. They can also be ruinous to doorways, especially in period properties. Wall-mounted pull up bars have similar issues. They won’t be secure enough drilled into a stud wall, so you need to fix them to load-bearing walls. Even then, they can be a little wobbly, they take massive wall plugs to keep them in place and can pull plaster and brickwork apart pretty easily (especially if the pull up bar is being used by a heavier athlete).
Free standing pull up bars will therefore offer a better user experience and are safer and more versatile than other home-gym options.
Pull ups should therefore form a bedrock of any upper body routine. You will want to get it right when looking to invest in a proper pull up bar. Whether you’re looking for a free standing pull up bar as park of a power tower, power rack or as a simple, standalone piece, there are some fantastic options out there for you to choose from. As with any piece of home gym equipment, there is a balancing act involved – getting the right mix of economy, quality, utility and longevity is vital.
We’ve trawled through some of the best free standing pull up bars out there in a bid to get this balancing act right. Our lats are sore, our cores are solid, and our t shirts don’t fit so well around the chest anymore, but we’ve managed to get a good list together.
5 Best Free Standing Pull Up Bars
This is out list of what we think are five of the best pull up bars available in today’s market. There are some pretty big differences between some of them, but this is as it should be – pull up bars come in all shapes and sizes. The one you want will depend on your tastes, wonts and requirements.
As mentioned above, you can find free standing pull up bars that are just a simple pull up bar and ones that are part of a larger piece of equipment like a power tower or power rack. All have their place – each will have its own use.
Our top pick – DTX Fitness Power Rack
I love a power rack – they are the best. If you can only have one exercise station in your home gym, as far as I’m concerned it should be a power rack with a couple of barbells. Therefore, it’s very exciting to try out a free standing pull up bar that doubles up as a power rack.
This is exactly what you get with the DTX Fitness Power Rack.
It’s another budget friendly option, with an impressive maximum load of 120 kg for pull ups. Easy to assemble, easy to store in a forgotten corner, and quietly, simply elegant, the DTX Fitness Power Rack is well worth looking into.
The pull up bar is straight, with no angling. This is fine. Though it’s generally more comfortable and friendly on the wrists to perform pull ups with an angled bar, straight bars are perfectly serviceable. It’s 214 cm high, with the rack as a whole standing at 221 cm. The base is 134 x 119 cm and, as the whole thing is essentially hollow, it takes up less room than this footprint may suggest.
The DTX Fitness Power Rack is made from 50mm steel tubing, painted in a grey powder coating for a cool, industrial looking finish. The bar is solid steel, so that you can use it with confidence even whilst using a weighted vest or something similar.
Of course, as well as this bar, you have a rack facility for barbell work. Purchase a bench to be able to perform bench presses. The cups provided will allow you to run through squats and overhead presses with the frame alone. There are 28 different heights available for racking the barbell, making the DTX Fitness Power Rack suitable for all heights and movements.
If you’re keeping this in the garage (or somewhere else with floors that can be played around with) you can keep the DTX Fitness Power Rack far more secure than other models. It comes provided with heavy duty bolts to fix it in place. Though this isn’t a necessity, if you’re racking a heavy barbell in place, it’s a very good idea – 200 kg of bar and plates can topple over very easily and very dramatically!
If you’re looking to get into barbell work alongside your pull ups, this is the one for you. Though you can’t perform dips and leg raises with it, the options for power barbell moves cannot be oversold. It’s fantastic for a home gym.
BodyTrain Power Tower
Now let’s look at a power tower – a piece of equipment that helps you to build upper body and core muscular strength. Also known as a knee raise station or a captain’s chair, it gives support for leg and knee raises, dips, pulls ups, chin ups and push ups, allowing for a full torso workout consisting of a full range of compound movements.
BodyTrain’s Power Tower is one of the more budget friendly options on this list, despite also being one of the best built and, as a power tower, one of the most versatile. You can use it for everything above – pull ups, dips, leg raises and so on. It also has push up handles built into the base, which will make your push ups far more comfortable on the wrists and a lot deeper, giving a better stretch and range of muscle recruitment through the pectorals.
This base is incredibly stable, with non slip feet and sturdy legs. The whole lot is, of course, free standing, and the frame is made from reinforced steel. It will be suitable for the heaviest of athletes. It measures in at 65 cm wide, 109 cm deep and 223 cm tall, with a 110 cm wide pull up bar. All of this combined means that, whilst it uses space economically, the BodyTrain Power Tower is suitable for even the largest, or heaviest of athletes.
The BodyTrain Power Tower is also very smart looking, with anti-chip black paint to keep it looking fresh and slick. The cushioned, non-slip arm pads make leg raises pretty comfortable, and they are coated in a stylish, soft PVC leather that seems to be very hard wearing. The padding around the handholds for the dip, push up and pull up components are well-padded and sweat resistant.
If you’re looking at finding something at a lower budget that nevertheless delivers high-quality finish and a great range of training options, you could do far worse than the BodyTrain Power Tower. It’s a joy to use.
VitalGym 5-in-1 Multi Gym
Let’s kick this list off with a multi gym.
This offering from VitalGym has a pull up bar, off course, and is suitable for any home gym. However, there is a lot more to it than this. First and foremost, it has a bench, meaning that you can perform bench and chest presses, single arm rows, flies, pull overs… basically anything that needs a bench. It also includes a core power tower element, on which you can perform dips and leg raise variations and handles for comfortable push ups.
VitalGym are a bit of a rising star of the home gym equipment scene, focused currently on bringing out a high-quality range of products that serve multiple functions and deliver great usability. The 5-in-1 Multi Gym is one such piece of kit, and it is superb.
Though you can – and definitely should – perform plenty of different resistance exercises on the 5-in-1 Multi Gym with just itself and a pair of dumbbells, we are here to look at free standing pull up bars. So, how does the 5-in-1 Multi Gym’s pull up bar measure up?
Very well, it has to be said – and yes, we were seriously impressed.
In terms of actual measurements, everything is as you would want it. The bar itself stands at a little over 220cm from the ground, giving plenty of room for anybody to perform pull ups and chin ups, no matter their height. However, this height can be adjusted downwards for those who need it. There are 4 adjustable options over a range of heights that comes all the way down to 160cm, for shorter athletes or those looking to perhaps perform high inverted rows. The bar itself is straight, with angled sides, which is common enough. The straight bar is for chin ups, generally, with the angled sides being perfect for pull ups.
In addition, the power tower component is very well supported for your back for performing ab work and the pull up bar itself is incredibly well padded for comfort and utility. They can ably deal with user weight, even with heavier athletes, as well as extra weight for those looking to perform weighted pull ups.
Though the 5-in-1 Multi Gym can lurk at the upper end of most budgets – it certainly has the capability to be the priciest on this list – VitalGym and third-party retailers aren’t shy of offering discounts. Find it with a bit off (and make use of VitalGym’s 12-month warranty) and you’ll be making an incredibly sound investment. You will be able to get a full and complete upper body workout from the comfort of your own home with a good bit of kit from one of the best fitness equipment companies in the UK.
Hardcastle Pull Up Station
It is the cheapest model we looked at. This shows – the build quality is noticeably lacking compared to the other pieces of equipment we reviewed. It is less sturdy and feels like it would degrade after a while. There is also no way of securing it to the floor – other than maybe putting a couple of barbell plates on its base when you train – so it can feel a little precarious as you train.
The padding, though completely adequate, isn’t great. You may find it splitting and chafing over time, though it’s anti-slip when you first get it. It’s especially bad on the pull up bar and a little better on the dip section and back rest.
However, if you’re looking to put a home gym together on a shoestring, the Hardcastle Pull Up Station is perfect. Though it’s not the best, it’s fantastic for the money.
It is another power tower, so that it will allow you to perform pull ups, chin ups, dips and leg raises. There are no push up handles, but for the money you spend, performing push ups the old fashioned way, palms flat on the ground, is no hardship (or paying a tenner for a set of cheap push up handles).
It’s also a fair bit sturdier than it feels – though this isn’t saying too much… Though it can wobble, it has an impressive top user weight of 120 kg, meaning most athletes will be able to use it safely. At 214 cm tall, with a footprint of 60 x 106 cm, it’s also one of the most space efficient models we’ve tested.
You get the standard straight bar with angled ends, for chin ups and pull ups, respectively, with the Hardcastle Pull Up Station. All taken together with the other power tower elements, you can get a very good upper body workout for a very modest layout.
If you’re looking to invest in a good gym for the long haul, the Hardcastle Pull Up Station is probably inappropriate for your needs. However, if you’re doing things on a budget (or simply just love a bargain – who doesn’t?) or if you’re looking to the short term or are even just trying a power tower out for the first time, it will do you well. You get a lot for the money you spend.
Sportstech Power Tower PT300
It’s a bit more than this, however. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine how a power tower could fit more functions into a simple, modest frame.
The PT300 calls itself a 7-in-1 Power Tower. Though it’s priced accordingly – this is not one of our budget options – they have built such a good piece of equipment here that you cannot begrudge them a bit of a stiff label.
These 7 options are the pull up bar, of course, with three different grips, alongside the captain’s chair ab station and the dip bars. You also get various eyelets for cable and band workouts. The PT300 comes with an e-book called ‘The Pull Up Bible’ which runs through the basics of performing and training pull ups, along with some helpful pro tips.
All in all, you get an astonishing range of exercise variety and information with this power tower.
The Sportstech PT300 is not just well designed – it is also incredibly well put together. The build quality is superb and robust. It has sturdy legs, a sturdy frame, and a solid feel to every element. There are four suction cups at the four corners of the legs’ undersides for extra stability.
Let’s look at the pull up bar properly – it is, after all, the focus of this review. The pull up bar itself is height adjustable over three different placements, which is fairly novel on this kind of power tower and incredibly welcome. You can choose between 202 cm, 210 cm and 218 cm. Though this may sound like a small thing, that level of variety can make all the difference to some athletes, especially those at the edges of average height ranges. The grips are amongst the most comfortable we have found on any machine and their three different positions are another seemingly small thing that will be incredibly impactful as you train.
Whether or not this is the machine for you depends on how much you want to get out of your free standing pull up bar. If you simply want something on which you can perform pull ups, you will likely be paying over the odds for the PT300. However, if you value functionality and want to make the most out of the full range of options available with the PT300, dig deep and get it. Your torso will thank you for it (or maybe not, as the DOMS sets in!)
Any of these free standing pull up bars will do you justice. If all you are looking for is something to prop up in the corner to perform nothing but pull ups and chin ups, go for one of the simpler or cheaper models – the Hardcastle or DTX offerings will be great. Alternatively, go for the DTX if you want to get yourself a barbell and create a good space for a full body workout. If you’re looking for more versatility in your upper body workout, the PT300 or Vital Gym 5-in-1 will be for you.
Remember, also, to balance budget and quality. If you can afford more, go for the upper end of the scale. This should be an investment, approached with a serious mind, with an eye to it lasting you a good while. However, this isn’t to say that you always have to get what you pay for if you go cheaper – though inarguably inferior to top models like the PT300, you will not be disappointed in the workout you get from something like the Hardcastle Pull Up Station.
James is a full time personal trainer and an award winning writer with over 10 years of experience behind him. So far, he has helped hundreds of people with their health and fitness through his career.