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The pull-up is a popular compound back exercise for both at home or in the gym. Find out what pull-up bar accessories can make your pull-up sessions even better.
Pull-ups are an exercise where you pull yourself up to a bar and lower yourself again. This is a great compound exercise for training back and bicep muscles.
In essence you only need a good pull-up bar to do this exercise. However, the right pull-up bar accessories allow you to do certain types of exercises better, allow you to change your grip, allow you to make a pull-up more or less challenging, etc.
This can make certain options a worthwhile investment depending on your training goals and budget.
1. Resistance bands
This first accessory is for both pull-up beginners and experts. Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. You can use resistance bands during pull-ups in two main ways.
For resistance training beginners, regular bodyweight pull-ups may currently be too hard. If this is the case you can use sturdy loop resistance bands to do assisted pull-ups to work up to the regular version.
Individuals more experienced with back muscle training can anchor the resistance band close to the ground and loop the other end of this pull-up bar accessory around their ankles.
This makes it harder to pull yourself up. In turn, this can lead to more muscle gain faster.
Some of the other benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, usable in a variety of other exercises, easy to store, and very portable.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of fitness equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
2. Hanging ab straps
The pull-up exercise is definitely the most popular way to use pull-up bars. Even so, there are a wide variety of pull-up bar core exercises too.
One potential downside of using a pull-up bar this way is that your grip muscles may fatigue faster than your core. This is not ideal if you want to train your core muscles as much as possible.
One way to resolve this is to use hanging ab straps. This accessory is a strap that you can attach to a pull-up bar with support for your upper arms.
This way you can hang from a pull-up bar without having to use your grip muscles too much. In turn, you can make sure your ab and oblique muscles are the ones to fatigue.
A benefit of this piece of fitness equipment is that it is relatively easy to attach, detach, and store. Additionally, hanging ab straps are generally relatively inexpensive.
3. Gymnastic rings
Gymnastic rings are simply sturdy rings that can be used for a wide variety of exercises. Some examples include dips, hanging core exercises, pushups, pull-ups, and more.
This is a pull-up bar acessory in the sense that gymnastic rings come with straps to hang them onto something. A pull-up bar can be the right choice for this.
A benefit of gymnastic rings is that they are relatively inexpensive. They also allow you to do a variety of extra exercises for different body parts with your pull-up bar.
A downside is that you generally want a good amount of room to use gymnastic rings to their full potential. Additionally, you want a sturdy pull-up bar. A simple doorway pull-up bar is not made for the bouncing that may happen when using gymnastic rings.
4. Weighted vest
A weighted vest is basically its name, a vest with extra weight to make your exercises harder. One of the ways it stands out from other fitness equipment is that it allows you to add weight without using your hands.
This makes it an especially useful piece of pull-up equipment since your hands need to hold the bar. Besides that, you also cannot drop a weighted vest since it is attached to your body.
Another benefit of a weighted vest is that it is extremely versatile. You can use it in many exercises for many body parts and different exercise categories.
If you are more advanced with resistance training but want to keep building a lot of muscle with pull-ups it may be necessary to do weighted pull-ups. A weighted vest is a great option for this.
One potential downside of weighted vests is that they can be a bit pricier compared to some of the other pull-up bar accessories on this list.
5. Pull-up bar suspension straps
Suspension trainers are basically a collection of straps and different handles that are used to do certain exercises. In a way, they are similar to gymnastic rings but their attachments are generally more suited for leg exercises like a suspension trainer split squat.
To be able to use suspension straps you need something to attach them to. A pull-up bar can be a good anchor point for this.
Besides the additional potential for leg exercises, the benefits of suspension straps are similar to gymnastic rings. You can do more different exercises.
The main potential downside of a suspension strap kit is that it can be a lot pricier than gymnastic rings and many of the other options on this list.
6. Dip belt
The dip exercise is an exercise where you put your hands on horizontal bars, lower yourself, and raise yourself back up. This exercise has a similar challenge as pull-ups. Because your hands need to be on the bars, they cannot hold weight.
A way to resolve this is by using a dip belt. This is a belt you can attach weights to that goes around your waist. While the name implies otherwise, the dip belt is also a great equipment option to do weighted pull-ups.
Another benefit of this pull-up bar accessory is that dip belts are relatively inexpensive.
One potential downside is that you do need other weights to attach to the dip belt. Besides that, check the weight limit of the different models and your pull-up bar so that your choices can hold the weight you intend to use.
7. Hand grip hook straps
Grip muscles fatiguing before the muscles you intend to train is not only an issue for pull-ups. In other heavy lifts this can be a challenge too.
Hand grip hook straps can be used in both types of exercise categories to take some of the weight off your forearms and make the grip more comfortable.
These are wrist straps with a hooked pad to put your fingers on. The hook shape makes it so your fingers need to work less hard, the padding makes using your pull-up bar more comfortable.
Another benefit of this pull-up bar accessory is that it is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the extra training gains and comfort it can offer you.
Additionally, hook straps are more durable compared to something like pull-up bar grip tape.
8. Rotating pull-up handles
Pull-ups can be done with different grips, with your hand palms in different directions. This will influence what muscles get targetted the most and how comfortable pull-ups are for your wrists.
For regular and reverse grip pull-ups you only need a straight pull-up bar. For a neutral grip you need other types of pull-up bars or rotating pull-up handles.
These are simply rotating handles that you can easily attach to a pull-up bar. Once you have these attached you can do pull-ups with neutral grip, other unusual grip angles, or with a changing angle throughout the pull-up.
Besides the comfort and potential for different muscle focus, rotating pull-up bar handles are easy to attach, detach, store, and bring with you to the gym.