Door pull up bars are becoming increasingly more popular with people that want to train and build muscle. And why not? You can still do a quick 5-minute workout even if you don’t have the time.
But when I train, I want something.
I want to know that each of my training sessions is as effective as possible in order to grant me the best results possible.
Are door pull-ups bars effective? Doorway pull-up bars are effective exercise equipment that can be used for performing a number of different exercises. What makes door frame pull-up bars so effective is the fact that they can be used indoors, allowing people to train at the most convenient time for them.
Back in the olden days when I first got into street fitness, pull-ups were one of my first goals. I have been doing pull-ups for almost a decade now, and I have experimented with virtually every method and variation possible.
There are definitely some advantages and disadvantages between the different ways people can do pull-ups (or chin-ups). Let me explain.
Can You Build Muscle Effectively with a Door Pull up Bar?
Pull-ups are a staple exercise.
But this is not a random thing.
Both pull-ups and chin-ups are extremely effective exercises for developing and building your back and biceps muscles. Pull-ups can even develop your abs passively.
A wide, strong, and muscular back is one of the most appealing aspects of a men’s physique. Even women can benefit from pull-ups as they can really chisel and give them a nice and tight body that is both sexy and strong.
The good things don’t end here, as pull-up bars can be used for a lot more excises that can target more muscle groups. You can do L-sits, body rows, single bar dips, muscle-ups, front or back lever, knee raises, just to name a few (it is a huge list).
Pull-ups will develop your upper back, trapezius muscles, back shoulders, biceps, forearms, grip strength, abs, and obliques.
Another thing is that building muscle or losing fat will depend on more than just what exercises you do. Your caloric intake, food quality, and general lifestyle will affect your results in a significant way.
You can absolutely build muscles and train effectively with a door pull-up bar. In a bit, I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of door pull-up bars that you have to keep in mind.
The Purpose of a Pull-Up Bar
The primary purpose of a pull-up bar is to allow you to do pull-ups. In order to do this, it needs to have a few very simple characteristics.
- It needs to be horizontal (more or less)
- It needs to be sturdy enough to bear your weight and negate any momentum.
- It needs to be easy to grip.
Pull up Bars Comparison
If we compare both the door mounted pull up bar and the regular pull-up bar we will see that they are absolutely the same. And if we try to do a pull up on each one of them the fundamental mechanics of the exercise are going to be completely the same as well. Our body will move in the same plane of motion.
A pull-up is essentially you pulling yourself against the force of gravity. Very straightforward, right?
The mechanics of the movement are always going to be the same and where you do them will not matter (usually – we will get to that later).
A pull-up bar is a pull-up bar and offers the same effectiveness and muscle activation. Even if you use a tree branch for pull-ups, nothing changes.
What Are the Limitations of Door Pull-Up Bars?
Several things always bothered me with door pull-up bars, though.
Are Door Pull-Up Bars Safe?
The first thing is their general safety.
A pull-up bar placed on the door is almost always going to be very unstable if you do more dynamic movements. This means that you need to pay special attention not to use any momentum or force that may alter the balance of your body and the bar. Granted you will not fall from a great height, but it will still be dangerous.
This means that your pull-up form needs to be by the books – strict, slow, not momentum.
And I am all for doing strict pull-ups, but most of the beginners that are just starting out will not be able to do them with a perfect by the books method. Beginners will swing, use momentum, or have overall poor balance. Often without even realizing it. All this may lead to the pull-up bar falling from the door frame.
Will A Door Pull-Up Bar Damage the Doorframe?
Most of the door pull-up bars that are just held on the door molding. The force created from the friction and tension of your body will pull the pull-up bar, which will tighten it around the doorframe. The most damage to the door frame – if there will be any – will be around the trim where the bar goes across. What you can do is place two small towels between the bar and the door frame and use them as padding. Also, the trim at the top may not be sturdy enough to accommodate for the weight so you need to be careful as it can snap and break off.
Some pull-up bars are permanently secured with screws which adds more safety to them. But people may not really want to damage their doorframe.
The Space Limitations of a Door Pull-Up Bars
Another thing that I don’t like is that door pull-up bars are very limiting. Usually, you will not have a lot of space on top of the bar or around it. Maybe you want to do wide-grip pull-ups – well, this will be determined not by your strength but by how wide is your door. Perhaps you want to learn to do high pull-ups – and here again; you will find yourself limited by the top of the doorway frame.
I learned to do pull-ups on a pull-up bar outside where quite literally the sky is the limit, so to me thees little limitations may seem a bit too extreme. But this is something you may not really want to get used to – being confined in a small area – and ingrain in your mind. As they may slow down your progress if you’re going to learn how to do muscle-ups, for example.
Some door-mounted pull-up bars have different grips which you can use to do regular, wide or close grip pull-ups. However, not all of the pull-up bars are like this.
Another thing is that with the majority of pull-up bars that are mounted on the door frame, you won’t be able to do muscle-ups. Even if you have a tall ceiling and enough space to get over the bar the chances are that the bar may not be secure and safe – even when installed correctly – to support the dynamics of the movement.
Some other exercises, like the single bar dip, pullovers, and any other dynamic tricks and movements, will be extremely difficult if not impossible to recreate.
Are Door Pull-Up Bars Strong Enough?
Another point in case is that certain pull-up bars are not really able to withstand heavyweights. At one point in time, I was doing pull-ups with a 45 lbs plate.
Could I do that same feat on a door pull-up bar? I’m not too sure which will give in first my pull-up bar or the door frame itself (And why not both.)
Although you can even see people on Reddit reporting that they have been able to do pull-ups successfully at a bodyweight in the ranges of 200 to 225 lbs. I always felt safer on a real pull-up bar.
Advantages of a Door Pull-Up Bar
It may sound like I am being way too nit-picky, but I want to give you both the advantages and disadvantages.
With that being said, there are definitely things that make a doorway pull-up bar worth having.
Better Training Consistency
First, you are not going to be at the mercy of the weather.
Anyone who’s had to train outside will tell you that things are not fun during the winter, summer, or even during the rest of the seasons. You will have to deal with the elements constantly.
The sun in the summer can make the pull-up bars outside scorching hot, while in the winter they will be painfully cold. Rain? Yes, please! Your hands constantly slipping not being able to get a proper grip, is definitely a fun experience that we can safely pass.
A door pull-up bar will make your workouts more effective simply because of better consistency.
You will not have to worry about the temperatures or the weather outside. You don’t have to dress or even go outside.
It is perfect for people that are busy for some reason and may want to do a quick workout. Just 10 minutes will be more than enough to get a really good pull-up workout at your home.
An Easy Investment
Door pull-up bars are relatively cheap, depending on what model you get. Of course, make sure to do proper research in order to make a well-educated decision that will fit your personal preferences best.
But a relatively low investment like this can give you wings! Almost literally.
Another thing that has always bothered me is the lack of places suitable for pull-ups when I travel or go on a vacation. I’ve had to do pull-ups at all sorts of weird places like treas, off balconies, stairs, ladders, door molding.
You can bring the door pull up bar with you and depending on the peculiarities of the places you are staying at you may be able to use it to train effectively.
Keep in mind that a door pull-up bar may not fit all and every door frame! So bringing your bar with you may not necessarily mean you will be able to use it!
An Easy Way to Learn Pull-Ups
Probably one of the best things – in my book at least – is that a door-mounted pull-up bar is a great and easy way for beginners to learn how to do pull-ups.
They will help tremendously with the psychological factor.
When I was trying to learn to do my first pull-up, I felt sooo ashamed. Because of that, I was always trying to train during the late hours of the day when there are no people to see me. This is what lack of confidence can do to you – it can ruin your progress!
With a doorway pull-up bar, you can train from the comfort of your own home. Nobody will be able to see you and judge you. This takes a load off your chest – literally – and will give you enough time to improve and build your confidence.
How to Train Effectively with a Door-Mounted Pull-Up Bar
Now that you understand the limitations and advantages of the door pull-up bars, it will be easier to choose a good pull-up bar that will be suitable for your needs.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at a few tips about training on a door-mounted pull-up bar.
- Make sure to do the pull-ups (or chin-ups) with a full range of motion.
- Don’t use momentum to swing or get over the bar. It is both dangerous and unnecessary.
- Don’t train every day. Give yourself enough resting time between the different training session in order for your body and muscles to recover fully. Doing pull-ups three times a week is more than enough to build muscle and have good progress.
- Make sure you get good quality sleep every night as this will speed up the recovery process.
- Focus on eating quality and nutritionally dense food.
- Avoid eating any junk food, simple carbs, bad fats, sugary foods and drinks, pastry, etc.
- Make sure to stay in a slight caloric surplus and get enough protein from your food if you want to build muscle.
- If you are after toning, slimming down, or losing fat stay in a slight caloric deficit while still getting adequate amounts of protein with your food.
- Make sure you get enough high-quality protein from your food.
- Avoid the daily stress as much as possible.
When to Move on to a Stationary Pull-Up Bar?
Sooner or later, you will start to feel the limitations that a pull-up bar is placing on you.
- You want to learn more dynamic movements;
- You want to use a lot of extra weight; and
- You want to do different exercises.
When that time comes, you may need to think about moving on to a stationary pull-up bar. A stationary pull-up bar will allow you to use more extra weight and do more dynamic movements.
Is a Pull-Up Bar Going to Be Enough to Work Out?
A pull-up bar is more than enough to fully develop your back muscles.
However, a good training regime consists of training effectively each and every body part of your body. Missing or completely ignoring certain muscles while doubling down on others can be detrimental to your overall training results.
This creates muscle imbalances which can lead to various injuries
Pull-ups and chin-ups will hit your back muscles, biceps, forearms, and abs.
The muscles that you will need to exercise additionally are going to be your chest muscles, legs, shoulders, and triceps.
If you are training only on a pull-up bar – regardless of its type – you will need to make sure you train your leg muscles as well.
What Exercises Can You Do Effectively on a Door Pull-Up Bar
With an appropriately mounted door pull-up bar, you can actually enjoy an excellent workout.
A lot of the pull-up bars have options for grips with different widths, so you can do anything from close grip to regular grip and even wide grip pull-ups and chin-ups. The more advanced of you can also try working on their one-arm pull-ups.
You can also train your abs if you really want to flatten your stomach with leg or knee raises and l-sits.
The door pull-up bars can be used in some creative ways. Some of them can be used for sit-ups, dips, and push-ups. Although the range of motion will be an important detail here which will ultimately determine the effectiveness of these exercises.
Door Pull-Up Bar Alternatives
A few alternatives can be found that do have some additional advantages and disadvantages.
Wall-Mounted Pull-Up Bar
I have been training since 2011, and pull-ups have always been an integral part of my training routine. So to me, it will be absolutely worth it to have a dedicated place on a wall where I can install a wall-mounted pull-up bar.
However, I do realize that not all of us may have that luxury. But a wall-mounted pull-up bar may definitely be worth the investment and damage to the walls.
Of course, you don’t have to place it in the living room; it can easily be installed in the basement or the garage.
The overall advantages and disadvantages are:
- It provides better safety compared to a door pull-up bar.
- It can accommodate heavier weights. Perfect for those weighted pull-ups.
- It can be used for more dynamic movements.
- Takes little space.
- It cannot be moved easily since it needs installation, and it damages your wall.
Free-Standing Pull-Up Bar
The free-standing pull-up bar is another option that many may prefer.
The advantages and disadvantages are:
- You can do a higher variety of exercises.
- A safer option compared to a door pull-up bar.
- Some may be floor mounted, which may mean you will damage your floor.
- Not suitable for more dynamic movements.
- Takes a lot of space.
Are Doorway Pull-Up Bars Worth Buying?
Doorway pull-up bars are great for beginners and advanced people.
Although they have certain limitations, a carefully chosen pull-up bar and well strictly executed movements can allow you to have more consistent and effective workouts.
In the long run, however, sooner or later, you will start to feel bottlenecked in a sense by the pull-up bar. But until then, a door pull-up bar can be super effective in developing your strength, endurance, and muscles. And if you are interested in improving your pull-ups, learning to do movements like the front lever a door pull-up bar will do you good!