Get Your Pull!

If you chose to go the route of squat stands, or if you just want an additional chin/pull up station, then this post is for you! After the basic barbell exercises, the pull up & chin up are some of the most effective exercises for training the upper body.

In the last post, I strongly advised against a do-it-yourself option for the sake of safety. Today’s subject is in a gray area. If you’re not confident in your building abilities, there are some good options available. Don’t be one of these! However, if you’re secure enough in your building abilities to build something from which to suspend yourself against the ever-present pull of gravity, here’s some commentary from my experience.

Foresight tells us that we want a bar that’s mounted firmly enough to hold our bodyweight and then some – weighted chin-ups, muscle ups, kipping pull-ups. The bar needs to be secure, not just vertically, but laterally as well. To accomplish this, you’ll need triangular bracing.

Looking at the options available from Rogue, Again Faster and Christian’s Fitness Factory, I devised a way to mimic their offerings with commonly-available hardware. While I did not actually build what I will describe below, I did verify that it’s possible, and calculated the associated price of materials.

Steel Tube Pull Up Bar

Perforated Square Steel Tubing for a Pull-Up Bar

 

Ceiling Mount

Hardware List:

-(4) pieces of 1”x4’ Perforated Square Steel Tube ($18.99 each)

-(2) 1.5” U-Bolts ($1.14 each)

-(2) 5/16”x3.5” Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts

-(10) 5/16”x2.5” Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(4) 5/16”x3” Lag Bolts with flat washers

Pull Up Bar

Ceiling Mounted Pull-Up Bar

Bolts, washers and nuts are typically sold by weight, and would only cost a few dollars for this project. Total cost is approximately $95 plus tax.

Begin by cutting one of the 1” square steel tubes into two 24” lengths. These will be the horizontal pieces (“beams”) that get mounted to the ceiling. Next, take another piece of steel and cut two 18” lengths. These will be the vertical pieces (“risers”) that drop down and mount directly to the bar. From the third and fourth pieces of steel, cut four 16” lengths. These will be the angle braces. From the remaining cut-offs, cut two 6” lengths. These will be the mending braces that attach the vertical pieces to the horizontal pieces.

With the pieces cut, it’s time to start assembling. Using the mending braces, attach a beam to a riser, using the hole just past center. Put a 2.5” bolt through the beam, into the mending brace, then add the flat washer, lock washer and nut. Hand tighten the nut. Put two 2.5” bolts through two of the holes near the top of the riser, then into mending brace, followed by flat washers, lock washers and nuts. Hand tighten the nuts.

Now we need to add the angle braces. Put a 2.5” bolt through the beam, at the second hole from the front. Put the bolt through first hole of the angle brace, then add the flat washer, lock washer and nut. Hand tighten.

Flip the entire assembly over. Put a 2.5” bolt through the first hole of a second angle brace, then through the last hole in the beam. Add the flat washer, lock washer and nut, and hand tighten.

The free ends of the angle braces should now be rotated into place, and the last hole of the angle braces should intersect with the riser at the 10th hole down from the beam. Push a 3.5” bolt through all three pieces. Add a flat washer, lock washer and the nut, and hand tighten.

With all the pieces in place, use wrenches to tighten all of the nuts. They should be tightened enough to fully compress the lock washers. This completes one side. Assembly of the opposite side is exactly the same.

Pull Up Bar One Side

Ceiling Mounted Pull-Up Bar – One Side

When both sides are finished, they can be mounted to the ceiling. You can use lag screws to mount the rig directly to ceiling joists, however, I would recommend placing 2×6’s screwed to multiple joists to further distribute the load. The rig is then bolted or lag screwed to the 2×6’s.

Install the U-Bolts onto the risers loosely. Insert the black pipe by sliding it into one of the u-bolts, then into the other. Tighten the u-bolts until the pipe is held firmly in place.

 

Wall Mount

Hardware List:

-(3) pieces of 1”x4’ Perforated Square Steel Tube ($18.99 each)

-(2) 1.5” U-Bolts ($1.14 each)

-(10) 5/16”x2.5” Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(4) 5/16”x3” Lag Bolts with flat washers

 

Wall Mount Pull Up Bar

Wall Mounted Pull-Up Bar

Bolts, washers and nuts are typically sold by weight, and would only cost a few dollars for this project. Total cost is approximately $75 plus tax.

Begin by cutting two of the square steel tubes into four 18” lengths. Two of these lengths will be the risers (vertical pieces) that will attach to the wall; two of them will be the beams (horizontal pieces) that will hold the pull up bar. Cut the remaining 12” piece into two 6” pieces. These will be the mending braces that tie the risers to the beams. Cut the third steel tube piece into two 16” pieces, and set the remaining 16” piece to the side for some other DIY project.

With the pieces cut, it’s time to start assembling. Using the mending braces, attach a beam to a riser, using the fourth hole down from the top of riser. Place a 2.5” bolt through the fourth hole, then through the first hole of the mending brace. Add a flat washer, lock washer and nut, and hand tighten. Place a 2.5” bolt through the first and third holes in the beam, then put them through the second and fourth holes in the mending brace. Add flat washers, lock washers and nuts, and hand tighten.

Next, place a 2.5” bolt through the 11th hole in the beam, then through the first hole in the angle brace. Place a 2.5” bolt through the riser at the 11th hole down from the mending brace, and push it through the last hole of the angle brace. Add flat washers, lock washers and nuts, and hand tighten.

With all the pieces in place, use wrenches to tighten all of the nuts. They should be tightened enough to fully compress the lock washers. This completes one side. Assembly of the opposite side is exactly the same.

Wall Mount Pull Up Bar Side

Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar – One Side

When both sides are finished, they can be mounted to the wall. You can use lag screws to mount the rig directly to studs, however, I would recommend placing 2×6’s screwed to multiple studs to further distribute the load. The rig is then bolted or lag screwed to the 2×6’s.

Install the U-Bolts onto the beams loosely. Insert the black pipe by sliding it into one of the u-bolts, then into the other. Tighten the u-bolts until the pipe is held firmly in place.

 

Wood

Hardware List:

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(2) Flanges for Black Pipe

-A few pieces of 2×4

-Triangular piece of ½” plywood

-Wood glue and Screws

-(8) Lag Screws

It’s been a while since I built this, and much of it was constructed using materials I already had. I’d estimate the total cost to be somewhere around $35.

There is a third option for an even lower price: wood. While it costs less, gaining the same strength and stability takes a bit more experience with woodworking, and is more labor-intensive with a lower margin for error.

I went back to my residential construction days for the pull up bar I put in my first garage gym, since it seemed to fit better with the construction of the garage.

For my first chin up bar, I started with a threaded piece of 1” diameter black pipe and two flanges. I added a length of 2×4 to an existing stud to make a double stud. The double stud provided a solid mount for the wall-end of the bar. The other side got a little more complicated.

The other end of the bar did not land directly below a roof truss (in a basement, the same may be true for a floor joist). I framed in a “floating” 2×4 beam utilizing cross members reinforced by hurricane clips.

With the beam now in place, we need to tackle a triangulated mount for the other end of the bar. I measured (to ensure that the bar would be level) a vertically-mounted 2×4 to drop from the beam to the end of the bar. To brace it, I added another 2×4 on an angle up to the beam. I then pieced it all together with a gusset of ½” plywood, glued and screwed to the 2×4’s.

Plywood Gusset

Plywood Gusset

Plywood Gusset

Plywood Gusset

To finish it up, I held the bar, with the flanges threaded on, in place so I could mark the screw holes. I then drilled pilot holes and mounted the bar using eight lag screws.

Portable

Hardware List

-(1) 1”x48” Black Pipe ($11.24)

-(1) 2-pack of Cinch Straps ($6.88)

-(2) U-Bolts ($2.28)

Total cost is $20.40.

Drill holes in the black pipe so that you can insert the two u-bolts, one on each end. Loop the cinch straps over a sturdy structure, then through the u-bolts. Adjust the straps to level the bar. Grab on, pull up!

 

So here you have four options, each a little different, and each with a different price tag. However, you’ll find that each is priced a little below the retail price of a pre-fabricated unit, and any of the do-it-yourself options come with the satisfaction of knowing you created it from the basic raw materials. It’s a very rewarding feeling!

As usual, post questions, feedback or suggestions to the comments! Come back soon to learn how to refurbish a bench!

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6 thoughts on “Get Your Pull!

  1. Pingback: Elements | Garage Gym Guy

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  3. Pingback: DIY Lat Pull Down | Garage Gym Guy

  4. Pingback: DIY Suspension Straps | Garage Gym Guy

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