Sunday, 14 July 2013

Pull up frame

Showing the height of the bar

This was my first big fitness related build when I moved into my house and it’s the one which gets the most use. The total cost was about $100 which I’m pretty happy with. Before I had this built I had to do my pull ups on the washing line, or go across town to a park to do my pull ups, which weren’t really the best options. This allows me to knock out my pull ups (or hangs) while I get dinner ready, or work on homework etc. The original plan was to build it out of scaffolding pipe like the Kavadlo brothers so I would be able to move the bar up and down as well as work on flags; however I priced up the pipe at over $200 which was just too much for me at the time.

The specs:

I used 100x100mm H4 treated wooden posts for the whole thing; they stand 3 meters out of the ground with 1.1 meters underground. This was the maximum depth I could dig with the post-hole borer I was using. The posts were concreted in with 2 bags of cement per post ($40 total cost). The cement I used was a simple, pour in and water type, no mixing required. The frame is 1.8m wide to the outside as 1.8m is a standardised size for the posts. This makes the whole frame 3.1m high. The total cost for the wood was $60.

The set up for the bar was sized at three heights, the top is set so that I have a small jump to reach the bar so that I can do pull ups with a full hang. The next rung down was sized to give my head just enough clearance when doing muscle ups. The bottom rung is set up so that I can do Australian pull ups.

The rungs were made with old wood I had in the garage, but ideally they could be made with steel (salmon ladder anyone?). These are just screwed on and have held up very well. The ring bolts at the top are for attaching my gymnastic rings and rope ladder.

Pull up, Muscle up and Australian pull up height.

Notes and suggestions:

To get the frame level and square, set the top beam up first and square up the posts before adding the concrete. I was lucky that I could tie off to the fence behind the frame to hold it square while the concrete set.

Ideally I would have made the frame wider (approximately 2m to the inside) to allow for an iron cross to be performed, but realistically I would require training at a proper facility to work towards this skill. And since 1.8m is a standard size for the post that is the width I went with.

I would also have liked to build the frame 3.3m high so that I had room to jump to the pull up bar, muscle up, and still clear my head from the top beam. However the frame is way too big as it is, given the proximity of the neighbours house so I had to reign myself in a bit. I’m lucky the neighbour is a good guy and didn’t complain. 

Given the height, the frame does swing a bit, not enough to make it fall over but it did help to brace one side against the fence. I still need to brace the other side too which I haven’t done. If you are making one and don’t have a fence to brace off, you could set two extra posts a meter or so behind the frame and brace off that. You could even set it up to be parallel bars behind it.

One issue I have had with the way the bar is set up is that it can twist since it is not locked in. I think this may be why I can’t get a clean muscle up as the twisting means I cannot maintain a false grip. This would be solved with drilling the frame and bar for a pin (large nail) which was removable but prevented the bar from rolling.

All finished I am very happy with the frame I built. It’s extremely versatile and sturdy.

I've since made some improvements - see here

Rope ladder and Gymnastic rings



  1. Hi there...

    I came across your article while looking for an indoor solution for pullups/ australian pullups. I love your set up. I realise your post is almost a year old, but i thought in reference to the bar rolling while you try to do muscle ups, i had an idea - could you possibly weld your round bar to the inside of a short square or triangular shaped metal sleeve at each end of the bar? That way the bar would be prevented from rolling, and you'd still have a circular tube to grip for your exercise movements. Anyways, as said, you might have a solution by now, but if not it might be worth a shot. All the best, Jay.

    1. Hey that's a really cool idea I hadn't thought of. I've got two large nails that I keep meaning to use as pins to hold the bar in place (drill though the bar and into the wood) which I could move around. I just haven't quite got there yet. I might look into doing something with a square bar at the end though.

  2. Hello,

    Awesome build, i am wanting to do the same but primarily as a swing for my daughter as well as a pull up set up. Can i just ask though, your horizontal beam, is that bolted to your verticals or is it held with brackets? I cant really see in the photo.

    Thank you

    1. Hey, thats a really cool idea, dual purposing it. The horizontal brackets are screwed to the verticals, then the pipe sits loose on the brackets. Hope that helps, if not let me know and I'll add some photos.

  3. OMG - an hour of searching and ONE GUY on the web gets it : an adjustable chin-up bar. i'm playing with design ideas that can be incorporated into my home. thanks for sharing your thoughts here

  4. How long do you think the PVC rings will last outside with heavy teenage use? My son wants to make a bar for rings for the pole vaulters to use at his high school and looking at the rings material.

    1. I used my rings for 2-3 years (maybe more, I can't remember) with heavy use, body weight + 30-50kg, they didn't break, I just upgraded to commercial rings. I also built them out of old PVC. I would say the PVC rings would last 5 years or more.

  5. What sort of metal bar did you use and where did you get it?

    Also can you put close ups of the wood you used for the supports for your bar please, and what heights from the ground they are at.

    Thanks bud,


    1. Hi, the pipe is 25mm hollow pipe, about the thickness of a standard Olympic bar. I was given the pipe, but it would be easily bought at a place selling steel.

      The supports are just 2x4, a block for the bar to sit on and the angled piece to stop it falling off. I used standard wood screws, but I really should have used a much larger gauge. I actually have some steel to upgrade it with soon, so I'll post that up soon.

      As for height, the top is about 2350mm, next one down is about 2050mm and the lower one about 950mm.

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