Pull-ups are a functional and fundamental movement pattern. In fact, they are worth adding to any well-rounded fitness training program because of their ability to sculpt and strengthen your body and boost your overall fitness.
For those of us with smart home gyms, we need to find the right pull-up bar and determine the best diameter (thickness) for a pull-up bar. But as with most things, the answers depend on a few variables.
The type of pull-up bar you’re installing, where you’re mounting the pull-up bar, and the purpose why you’re using the exercise equipment will all impact the answer to this question.
Check out the best diameter for a pull-up bar below and the average dimensions so you can design the perfect home gym you’ve always dreamed of.
Most Common Types of Pull-Up Bars
To learn the best diameter for a pull-up bar, you’ll need to understand the most common types of pull-up bars. That’s because these pull-up bars function differently, as they have varying dimensions and designs.
1. Wall-Mounted Pull-Up Bar
Where is it attached: Concrete wall via studs or joists
As the name implies, a wall-mounted pull-up bar is a type of pull-up bar attached to the wall. It is generally built to have weight hung from them in a single direction. This standard pull-up bar is usually mounted underneath 16- to 24-inch ceiling joists.
The median dimensions of a wall-mounted pull-up bar are usually 39” (length), 25.18” (depth), and 17.25” (steel anchor plate height).
If you cannot endure pull-up workouts properly, it may be due to your handgrip strength. I suggest you use a hand gripper to improve various muscles in your hands.
As for knowing how wide your grip you want to do on a pull-up bar, it’s something you can figure out over time. Most fitness enthusiasts simply feel which muscles become active when they do the workout. But you may be doing it wrong if you don’t feel your last muscle while doing wide grip pull-ups.
2. Doorway Pull-Up Bar
Where is it attached: jambs or doorway
A doorway pull-up bar works so that your weight presses one part of the pull-up bar against the doorframe and the other against the wall. A certain amount of weight likewise rests at the top of the doorframe.
If you’re looking for a pull-up bar with a small footprint, then go for this type of pull-up bar. Doorway pull-up bars offer a good value for individuals who weigh less than 250 pounds, especially those who are smaller-framed.
Choose a U-shaped bar if you love a variety of pull-up grips. One benefit of such a shape of the doorway pull-up is that it gives greater clearance from the doorframe when you pull up.
3. Door Frame Pull-Up Bar
Where is it attached: upper frame of the door
This pull-up bar type is attached inside a door frame. Some equipment models can be installed by drilling a hole in the doorframe and attaching a holder with screws. Other models require you to only push the bar with outward force to attach the bar.
The screwed-in doorframe pull-up bar is sturdier, yet they require slightly more work to install. Nevertheless, both versions of the door frame pull-up bar are usually very easy to install and de-install.
Many fitness enthusiasts prefer this pull-up bar because they can easily store it when they’re not using the equipment.
Related: Why are Lats Pulldown Harder Than Pull-Ups?
4. Ceiling-Mounted Pull-Up Bar
Where is it attached: Concrete ceiling via studs (H-beams or I-beams)
The ceiling-mounted pull-up bar is similar to the wall-mounted types, only that it’s installed on the ceiling. It’s safe, but be sure that the ceiling you’re planning to install the equipment on is suitable for this.
Furthermore, this pull-up bar allows users to build their endurance and strength with multiple angle and grip orientations.
Ceiling-mounted pull-up bars are easily installed with galvanized steel pipe, 2×4, and lag bolts, all attached to the ceiling joists. The three pieces of galvanized steel pipes just have to fit together to form a rectangle, with one side open.
5. Outdoor Pull-up Bar
Where is it attached: between two sturdy trees, posts, or wall
An outdoor or garden pull-up bar is great equipment for an effective workout even when you’re outdoors.
Of all pull-up bar types, this one gives you great freedom in movement. However, not all models are insensitive to different weather conditions. High-quality outdoor pull-up bars withstand the strongest pressures without problems and allow you to perform different grip variations.
The most popular kind of outdoor pull-up is the simple standard, which is clamped between two trees.
To allow dip exercises and more free movements, use a bar about 68-70 inches in width to allow dip exercise and more free movements. A wide pull-up bar will enable you to do different exercises.
So, What Is the Best Diameter for a Pull Up Bar?
The best pull-up diameter (outer) is about 1-2 inches. This diameter works well for a lot of people. However, the most common outer diameter you will find when shopping for a pull-up bar is 1.25” (3.18 cm). That’s a good enough diameter and something I could recommend if you’re building your home gym.
Sometimes, the preferred grip size is larger or smaller, depending on the age and size of the user or athlete.
Fitness equipment provider Titan Fitness usually offers a 1.25” diameter of adjustable depth wall mounted pull-up bar. For Rogue Fitness and Fringe Sport, it’s also 1.25”. As for width, it should be as wide as 46 to 50 inches to hold safely around 400 to 550 pounds of weight.
Benefits of a pull-up bar with 1-2 inches diameter
A pull-up bar with a diameter of about 1-2 inches allows you to strengthen your grip, hold much weight, keep the bar from spinning, and make a more stable bar set-up.
Disadvantages of using a pull-up bar with a diameter lower than 1 inch or beyond 2 inches
By using a pull-up bar with a diameter lower than 1 inch, you subject yourself to possible wrist injury, unstable or weak bar, and spinning the bar.
In the same way, if you use a pull-up bar beyond 2 inches, it may be impossible for you to do complete reps or grips on the bar. Moreover, you may find it difficult to attach the bar.
If you prefer to build your own pull-up bar, first decide on the type. You can find instructions and designs online and the list of materials you need. You may need wood posts, wood screws, galvanized steel pipe, 2×4 wood for mounting boards, galvanized cap fitting, and nuts and bolts.
Inner vs. Outer Diameter of Pull-Up Bars
When shopping for a pull-up bar, remember that there’s a difference between an inner and outer diameter. Generally, the listed diameter in the product specification is the inner diameter. For instance, the inner diameter can be listed as 1.05”, but its outer diameter is 1.315”.
It’s best to check the full specifications to get the pull-up bar with the right outer diameter you want, especially if you’re building a DIY pull-up bar setup.
For points of reference, I’ll also share the best pull-up bars you can buy in the market today.
Related: Best Home Gym for Low Ceilings
Our Top Picks: Best Pull-Up Bars
1. FlyBird Pull-Up Bar for Doorway – Best for Different Venue Installations
This best pull-up bar for the doorway has 360-degree safety locks on both sides to avoid accidents and prevent rotation. And because the locks are made of stainless steel, they are more sturdy than other materials.
We like that it’s pretty heavy-duty equipment too! It has the capacity of up to 660lbs. And the pull-up bar dimensions for this heavy-bearing equipment are an adjustable length of 28.3”-36.2”. It’s suitable for different venue installations in a cement wall, corridor, or solid wooden door.
Overall, this is a good pull-up bar if you don’t want your doorway to be ruined. It’s sturdy and easy to set up – simply tighten or loosen it.
And since you target your arm muscles when performing pull-ups in this equipment, you may want to pair the workout with push-ups to target your triceps, shoulders, and chest.
2. Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull-Up Bar – Best Portable
The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull-Up Bar is a portable gym and is super easy to assemble. It just needs four screws and two Allen tools. The foam grip is sweat absorbent, providing a soft texture to prevent callous building when doing pull-ups or chin-ups (differs in grip variation).
You can take this equipment with you as you travel. Aside from its ease of assembly, a plus factor is that it comes with foam pads on the corners. The patented door frame guard avoids damage in hotels. Turn this equipment over to perform push-ups, dips, and situps.
Don’t be skeptical about hanging your body weight off the ground because this equipment is sturdy and solid enough to carry you just fine. It even has a safety clip to prevent the bar from slipping accidentally.
3. OneTwoFit Multifunctional Wall Mounted Pull-Up Bar – Best Wall-Mount
The OneTwoFit Multifunctional Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar is professional sports equipment. It is made of heavy-duty steel and supports up to 440 pounds. I have this at home, and the assembly was quick and easy.
This equipment offers great rigidity and stability. However, it’s best not to install it on plaster walls, cavities, and drywall. A good alternative is to put lumber in the wall and then install this product over it. But if you do have a cement or concrete wall, the installation would be easy.
You can do standard pull-ups, neutral-grip pull-ups, and hanging leg raises on this equipment. Overall, this is a solid multifunction bar.
4. Iron Age Pull-Up Bar – Best for Small Spaces
The Iron Age pull-up bar makes a great addition to your home gym. The bar is already assembled, and you can store it flat when unused. It also includes TRX bands, which can help maximize your workout.
It is easy to assemble and disassemble. The length of the upper bar can be shortened from 47.24 inches to 39.17 inches, making it ideal for small spaces. With that same length of a pull-up bar, you can do shoulder-width pull-ups.
Moreover, this solid pull-up bar has padding for different grip positions: close grip or shoulder width grip. You can even convert this Iron Age pull-up bar to perform ab workouts for floor use.
5. Sagler Doorway Pull-Up Bar – Best Value for Money
The Sagler Doorway Pull-Up Bar is one of the best options for those looking for an affordable yet good-quality pull-up bar. This budget option, paired with a solid construction, classic design, and uncomplicated instructions, makes it worth adding to our list of the best pull-up bars in the market.
But just because it is one of the most affordable pull-up bars doesn’t mean it’s less in quality. In fact, it is a heavy-duty bar trainer for a home gym. You can do dips, push-ups, and situps with this equipment.
This fully-functional equipment is easy to install, very stable, and does not require drilling. The only downside, perhaps, is the grips. The grip material is foam, which may degrade pretty quickly, depending on use. Still, for its price and features, it gets the job done.
There is no doubt that the best diameter for a pull-up bar is 1-2 inches. Anything thinner than that may cause durability or stability issues. A slightly bigger pull-up bar will not make a noticeable difference.
On the other hand, an appropriate pull-up bar diameter partnered with a thicker or longer pull-up bar width can increase the equipment’s weight limit. May this information help you in buying or building your pull-up bar.
If you like this article, you might want to read our other reviews at ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.