Pull Up Bars: A Guide to Each Different Bar Type

Buying a pull-up bar can be harder than it sounds.

Not only are there many different products and brands on the market to evaluate, but there are also a variety of different types of pull-up bar to choose from, making the whole thing a bit of a minefield!

In this guide, I'm going to explain the different types of pull-up bars available and outline the advantages and disadvantages of each type in order to help you choose which bar is best for you.

You can also find links to Calisthenics 101's top-rated bars within each bar type listed within this guide.

What are the different types of pull-up bars available to me?

When it comes to buying a pull-up bar, there are 5 different types of pull-up bar to choose from.

Most people (understandably) only buy a single pull-up bar, so it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type before you buy one.

The 5 different types are:

  • Free standing pull-up bars
  • Doorframe mounted pull-up bars
  • Pull-up stations ("AKA Power Towers")
  • Wall mounted pull-up bars
  • Ceiling mounted pull-up bars

Already know which bar is right for you?

Click the links below to see our top picks of each type, otherwise, continue reading and you can find more links further down the page.

Let's look at each different type of pull-up bar and consider its advantages and disadvantages, and why it may be the best pick for you.

Free Standing Pull-Up Bars

Muscle Up Tower - 240cm High

The free standing pull-up bar type is best suited for those who don't want to be limited by space around and on top of the bar. More specifically, this type of bar suits a user who wants to progress to more advanced bodyweight exercises such as muscle-ups, front/back levers, flags and straight bar dips; exercises which are not possible on some of the other bar types.

In the free standing pull-up bar range you will often come across two different options; a purpose designed bar which can easily be dismantled and transported, or a squat rack type structure which can be used as both a pull-up bar and a rack to hold a barbell if desired.

Within the world of calisthenics, the purpose designed bars such as the Pull Up Mate or Gravity Fitness's bar are the better choice here.

Click here to visit our free standing pull-up bar guide

Doorframe Mounted Pull-Up Bars

Trend-Welt Door Frame Pull-Up Bar

A doorframe pull-up bar is typically the cheapest of the different varieties and by far the easiest to install.

A doorframe pull-up bar simply attaches to the inner panel of the doorframe and is designed so it can be easily removed from the frame when not in use.

There are usually two methods used to do this:

  1. Two small circular brackets are permanently mounted on the inside edge of the doorframe, and the bar can be slotted into these brackets when in use. 
  2. A more complex bar design allows the user to position the bar around the doorframe so that it is held in place without the need to drill or screw anything into the doorframe.

The doorframe pull-up bar type is best suited for the beginner user only looking to increase their pull-up reps within their own home, those on a shoestring budget, or for those who are limited by space or the flexibility to drill and fix a bar to their wall. This type of bar is, as you'd imagine, the most popular choice for teenagers and students.

Click here to visit our door frame pull-up bar guide

Pull-Up Stations AKA 'Power Towers'

Bodymax CF362 Power Tower

Of the different types of pull-up bars listed, a pull-up station is the one you're most likely to have seen or used in a regular gym.

Often referred to as a 'Power tower', a pull-up station is a larger 'all-in-one' piece of equipment that you can use to perform pull-ups, dips, hanging leg raises, and various other exercises on. This makes it great for those looking for a single piece of equipment that they can use for a full body workout.

A pull-up station is often the most expensive of the different types and is also the largest. The size and shape of most pull-up stations are similar to that of a free standing pull-up bar (if not bigger), however, it is designed to be assembled once and not dismantled, so it is the most space consuming of all the different types.

Read our review of the Bodymax CF362 Power Tower here

Wall Mounted Pull-Up Bars

Gymcor Commercial Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar

Wall mounted pull-up bars are the first bar type in this guide which I would consider a permanent fixing - the bar is bolted into the wall meaning it cannot (easily) be moved once assembled.

This kind of pull-up bar is great for those looking for a solid and sturdy structure. Some users may not feel confident with a doorframe pull-up bar, and other users may also prefer something more rigid than a free standing pull-up bar, which is where a wall mounted pull-up bar would benefit.

Wall mounted pull-up bars are also the most common pick for those looking to fix a pull-up bar to the outside of a house or garage. Most of these types of pull-up bar are durable and known to hold up pretty well in all kinds of weather (though as an Englishman I could never trust anything to last a year in our awful climate!).

The main disadvantage of this bar type is what some users would consider a lack of space between the bar and the wall. This does force you to maintain a stricter pull-up technique but can feel restricting for those who wish to use the bar for other calisthenics techniques which require more space.

Click here to visit our wall mounted pull-up bar guide

Ceiling Mounted Pull-Up Bars

A ceiling mounted pull-up bar is very similar in style and price to the wall mounted pull-up bar, but it is of course designed to be mounted from the ceiling instead of a wall. 

This may mean the arms/handles will be angled differently, and there will most likely be extra space between the bar and the fixings. This allows the user to perform exercises above the bar without hitting their head on the ceiling.

A ceiling mounted pull-up bar is ideal for those who have exposed beams in their house or garage and want to get the most out of the available space.

Still not sure which pull-up bar type is best for you?

Although the above recommendations should have given you a better idea of which pull-up bar type suits you, there are a few other factors you need to account for when purchasing a pull-up bar which may help you make that choice.

Weight Limit

Each bar has a maximum user weight listed on it, which is most commonly between 100KG and 200KG.

Most users won't be affected by the supported weight, however, you should also factor how much weight the supporting structure can hold. For example, if you have purchased a pull-up bar which attaches to your doorframe, are you sure that the doorframe itself will hold your weight?

Height Limitations

You also need to consider your height.

If you are over 6ft, you will likely find a doorway pull-up bar is hard to use, and you may also find that you struggle to position a wall mounted pull-up at a desirable height unless you have high ceilings or can mount it outdoors.

Setup Requirements

Each pull-up bar type has a completely different set of requirements.

A wall mounted or ceiling mounted pull-up bar will require at least two people to set up, and will involve some DIY as you will likely need to drill into your wall or ceiling.

A free standing pull-up bar, on the other hand, can be assembled easily by a single person and can be done without any additional tools.

Make sure you have the resources and tools to correctly mount or assemble whichever bar you choose, as the supporting weight and warranty will only apply if the bar is assembled correctly.

Recommended Pull-Up Bars

You should hopefully have decided which pull-up bar suits you best by now, so simply follow the links below to view our recommended pull-up bars within each type!