How To Use A Pull-up Bar For A Good Workout

Photo of author
Last Updated On

There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission on anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

You may have heard a pull-up bar can be a great workout tool. But how do you use a pull-up bar the right way to achieve results?

Basically any horizontal bar that is sturdy enough to be used to do the pull-up exercise can be considered a pull-up bar. It may sound too good to be true that something like this could offer any significant benefits to your workout routine.

However, a pull-up bar allows you to do valuable exercises that would otherwise be impossible or uncomfortable to do.

Should you use a pull-up bar?

The first step before learning how to use a pull-up bar is figuring out whether you should actually do so. While a pull-up bar can be great it is not a miracle tool that will instantly, or even over time, will get you to any workout goal.

There are different types of workouts. The most common distinction is workouts that focus on cardiovascular health (running, cycling, swimming,…) vs strength training to build muscle (squats, bicep curls, crunches,…).

A pull-up bar allows you to do movements where more of your body weight pulls against certain muscles compared to similar movements without equipment.

If you are more of a beginner to strength training this may sound like something you don’t want. However, the way you build and preserve muscle is by engaging these muscles enough so that they get damaged.

This damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.

So a pull-up bar can be really effective for increasing the resistance in certain strength training exercises and in turn cause muscle growth. This is how a pull-up bar is used by both resistance training beginners and advanced individuals

For other types of workouts like cardiovascular training, coordination, and balance, other exercises and fitness tools will generally be more helpful than a pull-up bar.

Areas where a pull-up bar stand out

A pull-up bar is certainly not the only fitness equipment option to make resistance training exercises more challenging. There are a wide variety of equipment alternatives that can help you do the same, sometimes more effectively.

Even so, there are some relatively unique things about this fitness equipment option. The two main things are the ability to do the pull-up exercise and having your legs free when you hang on the pull-up bar.

The strong muscles in your upper back are generally challenging to train on a budget with other tools. Even so, doing pull-ups on a pull-up bar is a great way to challenge these muscles.

Individuals more advanced with resistance training may need to do weighted pull-ups and other exercises but beginners and likely intermediates can use bodyweight pull-ups to build a nice amount of muscle mass.

Secondly, when hanging from the pull-up bar, you can move your legs freely to do hanging core exercises.

One downside of a pull-up bar is that it is more specific than for example using dumbbells when it comes to what body parts can be trained.

In short, a pull-up bar can be great for training upper back and core muscles. For other muscles, there are likely better equipment options.

Types of pull-up bars

If you concluded that a pull-up bar would be a good addition to your workout equipment collection, you can start to think about which type would fit your personal situation. Some of the main types include:

  1. Doorway pull-up bars: These are types of pull-up bars that you can attach to a sturdy doorfrom to do pull-ups. While easy to install and inexpensive, these are generally not the most sturdy.
  2. Mounted pull-up bars: Pull-up bars you can attach to the wall, ceiling, and inside a doorframe. These are harder to install and slightly pricier but in return more sturdy if you attach them well.
  3. Power towers: A free-standing piece of fitness equipment that is a combination of a pull-up bar, dip bars, and often captain’s chair. You don’t have to drill any holes for this one but it is pricier and takes up more room.

There are other types and distinctions but these will be the most relevant to get started with pull-up bar workouts.

Which one of these pull-up bar types is the best for you ultimately depends on things like your training goals, storage space, personal situation, budget, and personal preference.

Pull-up bar accessories

One of the benefits of a pull-up bar is that you can get in a relatively good workout with just the bar. There are however also some pull-up bar accessories that can make your workouts more effective, comfortable, and/or help your work up to a pull-up.

Two main issues people have with pull-ups is that the exercise is either too hard or too easy. For both of these challenges, good loop resistance bands can be the solution.

You either anchor them to the bar and below your knees to do assisted pull-ups or you anchor them close to the ground and around your feet to do weighted pull-ups.

Another potential challenge of using a pull-up bar is making the core exercises more challenging since it is not convenient to hold weights with your feet. To solve this issue you can invest in one of the best ankle weights.

3 pull-up bar exercises

Once you understand and have the previous things, you can get to actually using a pull-up bar. There are movements where the pull-up bar allows you to take more advantage of the weight of your body.

The three exercises below, especially pull-ups, can be powerful. However, as mentioned before, a pull-up bar is a relatively specific workout tool. For many body parts and other exercises and fitness equipment will be more effective.

Some doorway pull-up bars can also be used for exercises like pushups or dips. A power tower can be used for dip bar exercises and captain’s chair exercises.

1. Pull-ups

To do a pull-up take the following steps:

  1. Hang from the pull-up bar with your hands at about shoulder-width with your hand palms facing forward.
  2. Pull your body up slowly until your shoulders are the height of the bar.
  3. Lower your body again into starting position in a controlled motion.

Pull-ups train muscles like your lats, biceps, core, rhomboids, and deltoids.

2. Hanging knee/leg raises

To do a knee or leg raise take the following steps:

  1. Hang from the pull-up bar with your hands at about shoulder-width with your hand palms facing forward.
  2. For the knee raise, start raising your knees held together upwards. Let gravity do its work on your lower legs throughout the exercise. For the leg raise, you keep your legs stretched but in this step, they just hang downwards.
  3. Slowly raise your knees to at least hip height for the knee raise or your feet to at least hip height for the leg raise. Once you are at your highest point you can hold for a second or less.
  4. Lower your legs back into the position in step 2 in a controlled manner.

If you are more of a workout beginner you can start with knee raises. These are generally less challenging than leg raises. If that is still too hard you can start by raising your knees only a small amount.

Hanging knee and leg raises train muscles like your abs, obliques, and hip flexors. Leg raises engage your quadriceps to some extent to keep your legs straight.

3. Pull-up bar dead hang

In this next pull-up bar exercise, you simply hang from the bar with your hands at about shoulder width and hand palms facing forward.

While most pull-up bar exercises do this to some extent, the dead hang is mainly for training the grip muscles in your forearms.

Other pull-up bar exercises

While these three pull-up bar exercises can already offer some benefits, there are also a few other options. You can check some of the exercise lists below for more inspiration:

Using a pull-up bar can help you grow your muscles, improve your strength, and all the benefits that come with these things.

As your muscles become stronger, you will have to do pull-up bar exercises weighted while using heavier and heavier weights to keep seeing the same amount of muscle growth and strength progress.

If you decide to use a pull-up bar more make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.

Photo of author


Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.