Below you’ll find 9 ways to build a DIY pullup bar with videos that walk you through it (yes you heard that right.. 9!). 

In the article I cover different ways to build a pull up bar depending on the construction methods in your house, because I don’t want you to come running to me when your wife yells at you for destroying the drywall!

At the bottom I’ve included a section about what you need to consider and how to test the safety of your pull up bar before you start using it. The aim is to help you build a great pull up bar, not give you a short cut to the emergency room…

DIY Pull up bars… getting started

Pull ups are a phenomenal exercise, but a lot of people don’t have the space, budget or wall quality to put a great quality pull up bar in their home gym. You may have a landlord who doesn’t want you putting up a pull up bar at your place, or you may not trust your DIY ability enough to risk dangling yourself off a bar you’ve put up!

So how do you manage to do pull ups if that’s your situation? 

You don’t want to go missing out on one of the best exercises there is because you don’t have access to a pull up bar. Thankfully there are pretty simple ways to make something of your own, without breaking the bank or needing an engineering degree. In fact in some cases, you’ll be able to create a pull up bar in seconds using the most basic items around!

In this article I’m going to show you a few different creative ways to create a pull up station. In some cases it’ll involve you getting your tools out to build something, whereas in others it’ll see you combining a few other items to create a place to perform pull ups. There’s something for everyone here though.

It’s important to say before we go any further, only take on a DIY pull up station if you’re competent with tools and their safe use. If you’re not, you run the risk of damage to your property and worse, injuring yourself. 

Before you start training…

I don’t mean to patronize, but before you start using your homemade pull up bar, test its safety. 

Make sure you’ve allowed time for any glue/concrete to set hard. Check you’ve screwed brackets in tightly. Make sure you’ve tested the strength of the bar – you do this by tying a rope around it and pulling hard on it a few times – if it wobbles, comes loose, snaps etc then you’ve had a lucky miss.

If you aren’t 100% confident in your ability to make one of these bars, ask for help. You don’t want to find out the hard way you made a mistake. Hospital stays aren’t cheap.

So here’s 9 different ways to create a pull up station…

Indoor DIY pull up bar

Rather than me going through a huge step by step guide I’ll leave much of the description to the videos, allowing you to select the materials and tools you need from that.

There’s a good reason for that too, and it’s not me being lazy – I have no idea of the environment you’re working in. I don’t know what your joists are made of, I don’t know your level of DIY skill, I don’t know the space you’re working in.

I’m also not a professional construction worker and I don’t want to give you advice that would potentially be unsafe or impractical. Instead, I’ll show you videos that will help you build something cool and practical in your house. They won’t be those super-long, indulgent videos that some people seem to love to share as well.

Indoor DIY pull up bar if you have wooden joists…

This is a really simple construction, and if you can get over the slightly irritating camera work and presenter, it’s actually a super practical solution in only a few minutes. It’s a very quick and simple approach that can solve your pull up bar problem, but it’ll only work if you have wooden roof joists at home.

What you’ll need: Strong steel pipe or bar. A drill (with a bit the diameter of the bar). A couple of 2” x 4” timbers. Wood screws.

What prior experience/skills you’ll need: None really – it’s pretty self explanatory!

Who it’s best for: The novice DIY’er!

Indoor DIY pull up bar if you have concrete or steel joists…

This one will require more in the way of DIY skill, tools and practicality (or access to a friend who has those things), but it’s a very effective way to build a DIY pull up bar in your basement if you have concrete or steel joists in your house.

What you’ll need: Metal box section. Supporting metal bars. A powerful drill and bit. Welding equipment.

What prior experience/skills you’ll need: A solid background in metal work and access to the tooling – most people won’t have this at home.

Who it’s best for: The experienced metalworker or steel fabricator.

Outdoor pull up bar if you are putting it up on a lawn or in the soil…

This is a quick and simple video that explains the process easily. You really don’t need much in the way of DIY skill here, but you’ll need access to a few basic tools and a willing helpful friend (or two). This project would only take a few hours and you’d be left with a baller pull up bar for way less money than you’d think.

What you’ll need: 2 x wooden posts – 150mm diameter and 3m long (6” by 10’), 2m metal bar at 1.5” diameter, crow bar, shovel, spirit level, 4 large bags of post-hole concrete, spade bit for a drill, angle grinder, water, helper.

What prior experience/skills you’ll need: A decent level of experience with tools. Patience, a friend to help and some experience mixing concrete.

Who it’s best for: The novice-intermediate DIY’er with garden space.

Free standing pull up bar…

If you’re unable to concrete a couple of posts into the floor because you’re indoors, have a hard floor or simply don’t want to because you’d prefer to have something you can move around, this is a great video. 

You really don’t need to go to the trouble and detail of finishing this guy has, but it shows how you can build a free-standing pull up bar.

What you’ll need: 2 x 10’ long 2” x 4” timbers, 2 x 3’ long 2’ x 4’ timbers, 2m metal bar at 1.5” diameter, spade bit for a drill, wood finish, 4 x 90 degree wood brackets, a box of wood screws

What prior experience/skills you’ll need: A decent level of experience with tools. A very basic grounding in joinery. Ability to use a drill accurately

Who it’s best for: The novice DIY’er

DIY pull up options for when you can’t build things…

So far we’ve looked at the options for people who want to take on a building project themselves, but what if you can’t? What if you lack the DIY confidence, or your place just doesn’t have anywhere where you can build something appropriate?

Worry not, amigo. Here’s how you can create a few DIY pull up options – you’ll also learn a few new varieties of pull up from these lists. It’s amazing what you can do when you get a little creative…

Use your barbell as the pull up bar…

A barbell is the perfect pull up bar substitute. It’s long, strong and easy to move around. It comes with knurling, so it’s easier to grip than a standard pipe. It’s a hand-friendly diameter and best of all, pretty much every home gym in the world has one!

Here’s a couple of ideas for creating a pull up bar using your barbell…

On squat stands or a rack…

In these pictures I’ve got a couple of my clients demonstrating how it can be done. I realise if you have a rack there’s likely to be a pull up bar attached, but go with it here – imagine these are squat stands, because the principle is the same!

Position your barbell as high as you can on the squat stands or rack. You’ll probably have to bend your legs to complete a full pull up, but it can be done…

diy pullup on squat rack
diy pullup on squat rack example

Add a new pull up grip option…

If you have a row attachment or a triangle grip, you can add variety to your ‘pull up bar’ grip options. You’ll be able to create a neutral grip for the bar too, adding further functionality to your equipment…

triangle grip diy pullup on squat rack

If you’re willing to tweak your grip and seek a new pull up challenge, you’ve got a few other options too…

Use a towel over a beam…

Want to throw a curveball at your pull up game? Use towels as a grip – apart from the fact they’ll give your grip its biggest test yet, it also allows you to turn a whole range of overhead beams into a pull up bar – think soccer goals, kids park equipment, tree branches etc. In this video it’s across a pull up bar, but use your imagination!

You can use two towels and change it further…

Straps and rings as a grip

Once you’ve tried the towel pull up option, you realise that as long as you have a grip point, any overhead crossbar or beam becomes a pull up bar option. 

Straps and rings are the obvious choice of portable pull up bar handles. They’re easy to transport and store, can be set up in seconds and offer a whole load of exercise versatility beyond just pull ups. 

The great thing about them for pull ups is that even if the crossbar you’re using isn’t quite straight (like a tree branch), you can adjust each individual strap to make sure the rings are level for doing pull ups.

Here’s an example of straps and rings being used on roof joists for pull ups – this could be suitable for you…

A DIY Pull up bar – what you need to consider

If you’re going to build a pull up bar outside you need to factor in weather, so materials and their longevity need to be considered. If you live in a warm, dry area that’s less of a problem. If you live in an area that’s no stranger to rain, wind, humidity and snow, you’ll need to weatherproof the materials.

That means treating any timber against the elements, opting for galvanized metals for the pull up bar and ensuring if you are burying posts into the ground, they’re concreted in and not just put in a hole and back-filled with dirt.

Yes, it’s more work but it’s cheaper and less troublesome than spinal surgery if your pull up bar snaps because your timber is rotten.

If your bar is going to be inside, you’ll have to consider what your joists are like – are they strong enough to hold a bar in place? What materials are they made of – steel, wood or concrete? Can you drill through them?

If you don’t know the answer to these, find out! Ask a professional if you need to. Just don’t go drilling into the very things that support the structural integrity of your house without professional advice!

9 Creative DIY pull up bar options – concluded

The purpose of this article was to show you that there’s always a way to fashion a pull up bar out of something. It doesn’t matter if you can’t fit or afford a pull up bar at your place, your gym doesn’t have one or you train outdoors – there’s always a way to include pull ups in your training.

Across this article I’ve given you 9 different ways to fashion a pull up bar – some you have to build, some you don’t. Either way, there’s a lot of pull up variety for you to work through here!

Give some of them a try and let us know how you get on!

Steve Hoyles

Steve is a Personal Trainer, Weightlifting Coach, and Gym Owner. He has written about fitness for over a decade. He lives with his girlfriend Rachel and their two sons.

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