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I am in the process of dismantling my home gym to relocate. One of the chores on the ‘list’ is to dismantle the power rack – pull up bar and all. I’m taking the opportunity to change up my set up, including the mounting height of the bar. But just how high should a pull up bar be?! Here’s what I’ve found out…
At a glance…
- Your pull up bar should be mounted 200cm – 250cm high
- Headroom is more important than bar height – leave around 50cm of clearance ABOVE the bar
- You must be able to dead-hang from the bar with your knees bent – any lower than this is TOO LOW for a pull up bar. The exact height this is will depend on how tall you are
- Don’t be afraid to experiment – exact bar height is a personal thing
- If several people use your gym then set the bar height to accommodate the TALLEST member, with shorter users using a kick stool if needed
- This guide applies to wall mounted bars, those in power racks AND door frame mounted variants
The best pull-up bar height is..
Install your pull-up bar between 200cm (6’6”) and 250cm (8’) from the floor, leaving at least 50cm (1’7”) of headroom ABOVE the bar. Headroom is more important than ground clearance so if you have to compromise then start with the HEIGHT of the bar before the HEADROOM!
Adjust your pull up bar height upwards if you are taller than average (5’10”+), and down if you are shorter (5’5” and down.
Headroom ABOVE the pull up bar matters MOST
As noted above the headroom ABOVE the bar is key – if you can’t get your head comfortably above the bar you won’t be able to do a full rep without bumping your head on the roof!
I work with my pull up bar set 50cm from my garage roof and I have NEVER felt close to touching it even with more dynamic chins and pull ups. You could likely be more aggressive and work with a range of 15” – 20” if you are short on space.
Note that 50cm of clearance is not enough for MUSCLE UPS – so if you have gymnastic ambitions or want to hit this move you will need significantly MORE than 50cm of clearance above your bar.
How to get the height of the bar JUST RIGHT for YOU
If you’re wall mounting your pull up bar or setting it in your rack then you get the AWESOME option of bolting it in at whatever height YOU want.
Personally I like to be able to hang from the bar and have my feet just touch the ground – therefore when installing I measure from the ground to my finger tips and use this as the right height for my pull up bar.
Why finger TIPS? This is a proxy for standing on my tip toes when getting in to position. When up on your toes the bar will nicely rest across the palm.
For me this is 6’6”, or 200cm measured from the ground.
Some like a high bar…
Of course we are all individuals and some – plenty, in fact – LOVE a high pull up bar.
This is particularly common in CrossFit environments where the pull-up motion is quite unique with its curvy-come-kipping motion. The additional clearance under your feet is important so you don’t whack the ground accidentally!
BUT you can go TOO HIGH depending on your plans
The downside to mounting the bar higher up is that reaching it is more awkward. Instead of reaching from your tip toes (how I like it) you would need to jump in to position.
While you get the extra clearance underneath you, you DON’T get the luxury of setting your grip from a sturdy base. This is particularly awkward if you do weighted pull or chin ups as jumping with a vest on is not fun!
One way to work around it is simply to use a stool to get in to position and kick it out of the way once you’re in position.
How LOW is too LOW?
To do a meaningful chin or pull-up you need to be able to dead hang from the bar at the bottom. The compromise you can make is to bend at the knee reducing the clearance required.
Typically door-frame mounted pull up bars are set at this height. Any lower than this will make it difficult to perform reps effectively.
WHERE to mount your chin up bar
There are a few places you could place a chin up bar around your home gym, typically people will choose between:
- Power rack – number one on the list as it’s the easiest, quickest and often most adjustable way to mount a bar. Typically one of the crossmembers at the top of the rack will be replaced with a pull up bar. If you’ve got a modular rack (like an ATX, the common Rogue R3, or equivalent) you can even change the HEIGHT of the bar by simply bolting it in to different holes. Super simple!
- Door frame – another option is a door frame mounted bar. I personally don’t have permission from my other half to use one of these in the house but having used one at a friends gym extensively they are more solid than they look and very easy to put in place. The downside is the height is limited particularly for taller users, and you might bash your head on it when walking through the door!
- Wall mounted – a dedicated pull up bar mounted on an interior or exterior wall is an AWESOME option and gives the most flexibility in mounting height (a power rack is limited by the height of the rack). The downside is many don’t like or are not able to drill in to their walls. Further once it’s in place finer adjustments are more difficult as the holes need filled and drilled again.
If several people use your gym – go HIGHER!
My home gym is largely just for my own use so I mounted the bar at the right height for me and me only. If you have a training partner or a few people use your chin bar then you should make it suitable for the TALLEST person.
The trade off is the shorter users (like me!) may then need to use a kick stool or similar to get in to position!
Do you plan to hang gymnastic rings from the bar?
A small caveat to say that if you are intending to use your bar exclusively (or primarily) for gym rings then your bar will be much higher to allow them to hang down to an acceptable height for you.
This guide focuses on pull up bar heights for traditional pull and chin movements (weighted, unweighted, etc) and not the ring movements.
So how high should a pull up bar be? As ever, it depends… Pull ups are a great finishing move – I typically hit bodyweight AND weighted variants throughout the week. I find having the bar at 200cm (6’6”) works for my uses and enables me to get my grip and set up on point from the ground, but I can see why those who do more dynamic CrossFit style kipping may go slightly higher. Ultimately a bar in the 200cm – 250cm range will suit almost all lifters and lifting styles!
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