This article details the steps for building an outdoor, fixed position, pull-up bar that will out live your grandchildren. You also have the option to build a set of parallel bars to create the ultimate bodyweight strength training setup.
Equipment doesn't come much more basic than bodyweight bars, but you can build incredible strength and definition with many different exercises that will challenge you for years to come with this setup.
This is what we're building...
Pull-up Bar Requirements
Our requirements for the pull-up bar project are -
- Suitably sized and with space - to allow a variety of common exercises without compromising on form or technique (such as pull-ups, dips, muscle-ups, leg raises, and various freestyle street workout movements).
- Heavy duty - strong and sturdy enough for at least one person to train safely and with intensity.
- Weather proof - suitable for outdoor use and will stand the test of time.
The sturdy design and outside setting of this bodyweight gym will give you the perfect venue for some freestyle bar work and more than enough room for muscle-ups, bar handstands or hanging gymnastics rings.
Tools and materials needed
Here are the materials you'll need to build one pull-up bar -
- 2 x 5x5 inch posts, 10-11 ft (depending on your height)
- The bar - (There are two options here, see "Bar Welds" below for more information)
- Option 1: 33 mm thick steel tube with welded brackets, made to measure
- Option 2: 33 mm steel tube and 2 x mounting cups
- 4 x 4 inch self-tapping bolts and washers (10mm thick)
- 2 x bag of quick dry postcrete
- Estimated 6 - 10 bags of ready mixed concrete (or you can mix it yourself)
- A small bag of gravel
- Fence paint to protect the wooden posts
- Red Oxide paint (tin or spray can) to prevent the bar from rusting.
...and the tools required -
- Thick paint brush
- Spirit level
- Long rod or broom handle
- Tape measure
- Wheelbarrow or bin to mix concrete
- Drill with 9 mm and 10 mm drill bit
- Adjustable spanner
- An extra pair of hands!
Building the pull-up bar
Learn how to make a fixed position, outdoor pull-up bar using the instructions below. This will provide you with one seriously sturdy pull-up bar which will support your bodyweight training for years to come -
- Mark on the ground (5 ft apart) where you want the posts for your pull-up bar.
- Dig square holes 10 inch x 10 inch ensuring that the marks you made in the ground are in the middle of the holes. These holes should be about 3 ft deep for 10 ft posts or 3-4 ft deep for 11 ft posts.
- Use around 2-3 inches of gravel in the holes to help water drainage and prevent the wood rotting. More or less gravel should be added to make the post heights the same.
- Paint the posts with fence paint or wood preserver.
- Put posts in hole and get a couple of people to hold them. Make sure they are:
- In line with each other
- The same height
- Flat edges on both posts are parallel
- Straight (use a level)
- Pour one bag of dry Postcrete in each hole around posts and re-check the levels.
- (Following instructions) Add correct amount of water to the postcrete. Poke the mix with a broom handle or a rod to mix the water into the powder. Make sure you keep the posts Level and Aligned while postcrete dries, usually around 3-5 mins drying time.
- Mix concrete (following instructions on bag), fill hole and level off. (1-2 days setting time)
- Fix the bar
- Measure the exact distance in millimeters between the tops of the posts (where you want the bar). Get the Bar made at a local steel merchant / retailer / fabricator using the measurements. See "Bar Welds" section below for more information.
- Clean and paint the bar with red oxide.
- Hold the bar where you want it ensuring it's level and mark holes for the drill points. Remove the bar and drill the marks 3 1/2 inch - 4 inch (same length as thread on the bolts. Use a 9 mm drill bit even though it's a 10 mm bolt).
- Wind-in bolts and washers with spanner to fix bar in place and finish the pull-up station!
It's far more preferable to have your pull-up bar made to measure and welded by a local steel fabrication company. See image to the right for an example, which is -
- 33 mm thick steel tube with 100 mm x 40 mm welded brackets on each end (2 x 10 mm holes on each bracket).
- The tube should be around 1.4 metres long including brackets, but measure this after the posts are installed!
Building parallel bars
Parallel bars are another great addition to your outdoor bodyweight gym that you can build yourself.
The parallels can be used mostly for dipping exercises, which is another stable bodyweight exercise everyone should consider adding to their routine. These bars also allow you to practice making the fluid transition from one bar to another which is a solid demonstration in strength and agility skills.
To build parallel bars you simply use the same process as above but using shorter posts (the parallel bars pictured below are 5ft high above ground, with 2.5 ft below ground) and two sets of bars are installed in parallel, around shoulder width apart.
You must make sure that the bars are fixed at the same height using a spirit level.
Building Combo Pull-up and Dip Bars
If you're short on space and looking for both pull-up and dip bars, rather than building two separate pieces of equipment you should consider a combo design like this -
Joining the chin-up and dip bars together as one unit will reduce the amount of posts and concrete which will also save you installation time and money.
Here's a real world example sent to us courtesy of Richard Young, who installed the bodyweight gym in his garden -
Training on the bars
The training possibilities are almost limitless with these fitness bars. Start with some of the basic bodyweight movements and as you get more advanced you can begin to string together exercises for some freestyle bar work.
Forget what you know about strength training until you've tried bodyweight bar training. It's simply unparalleled for building raw strength and a lean, chiselled physique.
Beginners bar training
Here are some of the basic moves you should start with -
Advanced bar training
If you've mastered the basics and looking for some extra challenges you can try rigging gymnastics rings to the bar to increase the difficulty of exercises by introducing the instability of the free-moving rings.
You can also raise the intensity of your training incrementally using a adjustable weighted vest which builds serious strength and sees fast progress in your fitness levels.
Check out Fitstream Athletes Lee Wade Turner and Jay 'KillinGravity' in the video below showing just what you can do on the bars with a bit of dedication -
Build this bodyweight gym at your own risk. Incorrect installation or improper training can result in serious injury!
This article was created with the help of Anton Guidera, who built his own bar gym at the William Knibb Centre in Kettering and continues to help raise the profile of bar training in the UK.
Additional pull-up bar resources
Check out this alternative approach to building your own outdoor pull-up bar sent to us by FitnessFAQs:
Pull-up bar specifications
- 2.03 solid stainless steel bar (34-35mm)
- 2 x 3.7M (100mm x 100mm x 4mm) Galvanised posts
- 2 Galvanised Post caps
- 0.6m3 concrete mix (25MPA X 14mm Stones)
- 500mm x 500mm x 1.2m deep
- Distance between posts (inside) 1.7m
- Distance from ground to bar is 2.5m (Plenty of room for legs to hang even if >6" tall)
If you have your own design or any suggestions you'd like to contribute to our bodyweight station please let us know and we'll share it with the group. You can contact us at email@example.com.