How to make an outdoor pull-up barPublished: 07-11-2011 | Updated: 21-03-2013
This article details the steps for building a fixed position pull-up bar, which can also be used to create a set of accompanying parallel bars to give everything you need for a bodyweight strength training facility.
Requirements and objectives
The pull-up bar should be -
- Suitable for a variety of common strength exercises without compromising on form or technique.
- Strong and sturdy enough for at least one person to train safely and with intensity.
- Suitable for outdoor use.
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.
Equipment doesn't come much more basic than bodyweight bars, but you can build incredible strength and definition and perform hundreds of exercises that will challenge you for years to come.
Tools and materials needed
Here's are the materials you'll need to build one pull-up bar -
- 2 x 5x5 inch posts, 10-11 ft (depending on your height)
- 33 mm thick steel tube with welded brackets, made to measure (see "Bar Welds" section below for more information).
- 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 an fixed position, outdoor pull-up bar (as pictured above) 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)
- 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. The parallels can be used primarily for dipping exercises, which is another stable bodyweight exercise everyone should consider adding to their routine. They also allow you to practice making the fluid transition from one bar to another which is a mean development in strength and agility skills.
To build parallel bars you simply use the same process as that detailed above with shorter posts (those pictured are 5 ft high posts above ground, with 2.5 ft below ground) and two sets of bars in parallel, around shoulder width apart. Make sure that the bars are fixed at the same height using a spirit level.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise