In our post on how to start outfitting your garage gym we talked about 3 of the most critical pieces of equipment you should start with: an economic set of bumper plates, a reliable barbell, and most importantly a bombproof, sturdy wall mounted pull-up bar or ceiling mounted pull-up bar. The studbar pull-up bar, available here, is a heavy duty, reliable pull-up bar that mounts easily to a standard 2×4 stud wall, or ceiling rafters designed for load-bearing. We’ve recommended the studbar as the first piece of equipment for every home gym we’ve helped to build.
In this post we will discuss the pros and cons of your standard door mounted pull-up bars and how they compare to a permanent stud installation. We’ll also talk about some training methods you can use to truly master the pull-up and use it as a foundation for a strong functional fitness program.
Why a pull-up bar?
Being able to master your own bodyweight should be one of your first goals of achieving a broad level of overall fitness. You may have seen our endorsement of the Bar Brothers Workout, and if you haven’t, go check it out. You’ll see why a heavy duty pull-up bar can and should be the foundation of your gym and fitness program.
Once you’ve mastered or at least made progress at mastering your own bodyweight, the sky is the limit. You may want to move on to free weights, barbells, squat racks or other specialized equipment. But just like any other structure, you need to start with a foundation.
Can you just use a door frame mounted bar?
You may be familiar with door-mounted pull-up bars like this one here. They are great for isolation. Some of them offer varied handles and grips so that you can do all different kinds of pull-ups. But in the end they are good for one thing, and that is isolated, specialized pulling exercises. We encourage you to try to be a specialist in not specializing.
A door mounted pull-up bar can help you build muscle memory and create neural pathways that condition your body to get used to the motion, but they just aren’t as effective as a sturdy wall mounted one.
Why not get both?
Start With “Grease the Groove”
Having a pull-up bar in the doorway of a room you enter and leave regularly will encourage you to get more repetitions in and build some of the upper body strength required for mastery. Doing many (10-15+ sets) of about 50-60% of your maximum throughout the day is a good place to start. This is a method pioneered by Pavel Tsatsouline, who trained Russian SPETSNAZ, U.S. Special Forces and more.
Greasing the Groove helps build muscle memory, muscle mass, and strength, without overtraining.
It is a hot topic amongst fitness enthusiasts; many argue you can’t make progress without doing max reps. In our experience this is not true. Greasing the groove is what we use in our initial training program for new clients who have little experience, or for those who have plateaued.
This is one area where a door mounted pull-up bar may be more beneficial than a wall mounted pull-up bar or ceiling mounted pull-up bar like the studbar. The studbar, once installed, is staying put. If it happens to be in your garage, that means if you really want to grease the groove, you’ll be making a lot of trips there on the regular.
A door mounted pull-up bar means you’ll do more sets and more repetitions
If, on the other hand, you put a door mounted pull-up bar in the doorway of your bedroom or bathroom, it is likely to get much more routine use. Door mounted pull-up bars mount in seconds and are held up by a cantilever so you can put them up or take them down quickly if you need to close the door.
Iron Gym makes a great, reliable door frame mounted pull-up bar with some very basic features. You’re welcome to splurge and buy one of the more elaborate versions, like this one from ProSource, but at that point you’re getting more into the realm of specialization.
We strongly recommend Iron Gym’s Door Frame Mounted Pull-up Bar for both price and function.
When a door mounted pull-up bar won’t cut it
Like we’ve said, you can milk some actual use and function out of a door mounted pull-up bar. But it should be treated as a stepping stone towards bigger and better things.
You can’t safely kip on a door mounted pull-up bar. Since it is held in place using cantilever force, any quick upward momentum from your body that transfers to the bar is very likely to cause the bar to come loose and could lead to a fall, injury or damage to your door frame.
Also due to the height of most doors, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to mount accessories to the bar (think TRX or gymnastics rings for example). While there is some stuff you’ll be able to augment with, it’s more than likely your door mounted pull-up bar will just get used for slow, controlled, dead-hang pull-ups.
Studbar Wall Mounted Pull-Up Bar
The next step after you’ve bought (or decided not to buy) a door mounted pull-up bar, is a permanent fixture.
The studbar mountable pull-up bar is the leader in this field.
The studbar offers performance and function that you simply can’t get from other portable bars. It is versatile enough to be mounted either to a standard 2×4 frame, or attached to the ceiling rafters, even through drywall. Installation is easy with some very basic tools like a decent corded or cordless drill, stud finder and ratchet set.
More importantly, installation is rock solid!
We have seen 225 pound athletes swinging, kipping, doing muscle-ups, front levers, you name it. The studbar ceiling mounted pull-up bar did not budge. With proper installation, we feel that your framework will fail before the bar does!
Safety Safety Safety!
This is an important note. Following the installation directions is critical to using the studbar pull-up bar correctly. If you miss a stud or a rafter, you are asking for trouble. Take your time. Measure twice and drill once. Always ensure you have drilled directly into the mounting surface and stud for safety purposes.
Your best friend will be your studbar once it’s installed. Ok that’s a little weird. But you’ll wish you had one in every room… and maybe one day you will!
What can I do on a wall mounted pull-up bar that I can’t on a door mounted pull-up bar?
As soon as you realize how structurally sound your studbar pull-up bar is, you’ll start to get ideas of what you can do on it.
We are huge advocates of kipping pull-ups. We’ve fought the good fight and heard all of the negative comments, as we are sure you have as well.
The truth is, a kipping pull-up is completely superior in every way to a dead hang pull-up, when it comes to building overall functional strength and fitness.
You have to think of it in terms of work performed. In a dead hang pull-up, you are moving your bodyweight (say 175 pounds) a specific distance (up and over the bar). If you’re only using your arms, shoulders and back to do this, you are likely to exhaust yourself after a comparatively small number of repetitions. You’re also likely to do it considerably slower than if you were kipping.
A good kipping pull-up, on the other hand, will use your entire body to propel itself over the bar. This involves considerable coordination, flexibility/mobility, upper body strength, and muscular endurance and stamina.
Kipping vs. Dead Hangs
If you can do 40 kipping pull-ups in a minute, but only 20 dead hangs in that same time, which method has performed more actual work? With kipping pull-ups, you have moved the weight the same distance, more times, and in less overall time than with the dead hang pull-ups.
This isn’t us hating on dead hangs. It’s just science.
You can’t kip on a door mounted pull-up bar. You can kip on a studbar wall mounted pull-up bar. This is critical for overall functional fitness, and the kipping pull-up will be your launching point for your new home gym and your new fitness program.
Studbar Pull-Up Bar Features
We recommend picking up the Studbar from Amazon and taking advantage of their pricing on it.
If we haven’t convinced you already, that’s ok. We’ve had a lot of readers skip the pull-up bar in favor of a barbell and weights. We’ve also had a lot of readers contact us after doing so to let us know they were wrong. They’ve all found, universally, that there is no stronger functional foundation than the mastery of your own bodyweight.
- The studbar wall mounted pull-up bar has mounts at 48 inches. This gives you plenty of space for wide and narrow pull-ups. More importantly, it is designed to match all stud/rafter spacing in all standard home construction. You should always verify your stud spacing using a stud finder if you’re mounting over drywall.
- It is available in several sizes depending on the height of your ceiling:
- Within these heights, the studbar allows a fine adjustment as well
- 10′ ceilings
- 9′ ceilings
- 8′ ceilings
- High quality, powder coated, 14 gauge steel, rated up to 600 pounds for life!
The studbar is built “bombproof,” and you’ll see why as soon as you start using it. The installations we have helped with, when installed correctly, do not bend, flex, sway or warp.
Studbar Pull-up Bar Accessories
Grab a pair of high performance gymnastics rings and mount them to your studbar pull-up bar. If your ceiling height allows it, this opens up the doorway for learning and performing all manner of gymnastic movements, like muscle-ups, skin the cats, and more. Rings also can expand your studbar’s usefulness from pulling motions to pushing:
Lower your gymnastics rings to a few inches from the ground and use them for some insane push-ups. You’ll thank us when you feel sore stabilizer muscles that you didn’t even know you had.
Not quite a pro yet? Can’t do a pull-up?
You can attach assistance bands, such as theses ones by WODfitters to help you learn how to do pull-ups (even kipping pull-ups). You can’t attach them to door mounted pull-up bars as safely, because they can create excessive upward momentum, which might cause your bar to dislodge from the door frame. However with the studbar, these asssistance bands can be used with no risk all day long.
Assistance bands are not just for beginners. They are great for breaking through plateaus, particularly if you’re stubborn and trying to work specifically on dead hang pull-ups.
What’s the bottom line?
The studbar wall mounted or ceiling mounted pull-up bar, available here, is our favorite focal point of a home gym. We recommend it first to all of our clients. We encourage you to practice kipping pull-ups and to use it for a variety of exercises incorporated into your workouts.
The sky is the limit with the studbar.
Pick up a studbar and give it a shot. Many athletes (both budding and experienced) have found that starting their gyms off with a tool like a solid wall mounted pull-up bar will open up the gateway towards a more well rounded fitness outfit. We think you’ll be less likely to spend money on unnecessary machines. Starting with a proper foundation will get you into the mindset of getting the most out of your equipment.
If you’re not a fitness enthusiast yet, you will be once you get a studbar in your home gym.
Got a studbar already? Like a different product? Want to hate on kipping pull-ups?! Let us know in the comments!