The Sweethome and The Wirecutter (part of The New York Times Company) are lists of the best stuff. When readers buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we earn affiliate commissions that support our work. Here is more on what we do.

The Best Pull-up Bars

After three months of research and eight hours of testing six top-rated models on nine doors throughout my house over the course of several weeks, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym is the best doorway pull-up bar for most people working on general fitness. Some bars offered a bigger and wider range of grip variations or the option to perform exercises other than just pull-ups, but the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym had the best combination of price, ease of setup, and range of pull-up variations. It also has the smallest footprint overall. It accommodates the widest range of door frame sizes and locations. That means it’s more likely to work out of the box in your house—even if you live in a small apartment—and will be easier to stow when not in use.

How to support The Sweethome
WAIT: February 22, 2017
We’ve noticed some stock issues with our top and runner-up picks from Perfect Fitness in this guide. The company now offers three models similar to those picks, so if you need a pull-up bar right away, we think checking out the Perfect Fitness Sport, Pro Wide, and Elite models would be worthwhile. We’re hoping to update this guide in the spring with new tests of those bars alongside other new contenders, and we’ll have some updated recommendations at that time.
Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym
A small footprint and uniquely rectangular door frame pads means this bar fits a wider variety of doorways, is easier to store, and is less likely to damage your home compared to all other models we tested.

Out of the box, the Perfect Fitness products were the only ones to come with a step by step written and illustrated setup guide that was easier to follow than any other bar’s. Perfect Fitness’s bars were also the only ones that had flat, light colored molding braces that do a better job of distributing pressure across a wider area. That means they’re less likely to damage or scuff your door compared to the foam, cylindrical, dark molding pads found on other popular models like those from Iron Gym. The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym is rated for users up to 220 pounds, which is a bit on the low end compared to the typical 250-300-pound ratings found on larger models, but it should be enough for most people considering the CDC says the average adult male in the US weighs 195 pounds. At 185, I can say that it holds me up just fine and doesn’t seem compromised by my weight, but larger users should opt for our runner-up or step-up picks in this guide, which have higher weight-bearing ratings.

Also Great
Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro
This larger unit has everything we like about our top pick but is larger and thus fits a smaller number of spaces (and is harder to store). But it does have a higher weight rating and more grip positions (five, including two neutral grips and an extra-wide grip position).

If maximum grip options for pull-up variety and a higher weight rating (up to 300 pounds) are what you’re after, I recommend the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro. For just $10 more, users can enjoy both wide and narrow neutral grip positions, as well as the extra-wide grip position. However, its larger footprint won’t fit as wide a range of doorways and makes it more difficult to store—that’s a big deal considering you’re going to be storing this thing a lot more than you’re using it. The Multi-Gym Pro utilizes the same rectangular, grey foam exterior door supports that ensure that the door molding isn’t battered during use. It also has three machined holes in the vertical portion of the L-shaped bars that allow for height adjustments at the top of the door-frame. I also liked that of the maximum grip contenders in the field, the Multi-Gym Pro utilized a few more bolt connections to aid stability in these generally more cumbersome units. Overall, it’s a sturdy and capable unit.

Also Great
Gorilla Gym Power Fitness Package
This kit costs a lot more, but enables you to do swinging pullups, mount a punching bag, and other things that other bars cannot. It’s also independently certified by the ASTM for use by children.

On the other hand, if you are looking for singular design features and a huge range of use options—including accessories for mounting punching bags, aerial yoga straps, indoor playground accessories for kids, and the ability to do swinging “kipping” pull-ups—I recommend the Gorilla Gym Power Fitness Package ($70 + 25 shipping). The Gorilla Gym uses the same door molding attachment features above the door as the other contenders but with the added security of adjustable vise grips on the left/right side of the door moulding that gives them greater stability than any other doorway unit. While all of the other products in this field warn against any swaying motion while using their pull-up unit, the folks at Gorilla Gym encourage users to swing around as much as they like. The Gorilla Gym also has the ASTM safety rating, which guarantees that the product meets rigorous safety demands for children’s play products and fitness equipment.

Table of contents

Why should you trust me?

I am the co-owner of dkb fitness in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where my wife and I have been running fitness classes and training private clients since March of 2008. I am also a senior instructor in the RKC School of Strength, for whom I conduct instructor certifications and write blog pieces on various aspects of strength, conditioning and mobility training. Additionally, I am a certified Level 1 and 2 FMS trainer, a certified MovNat instructor and a certified Progressive Calisthenics instructor. I’m also a member of Vern Gambetta’s GAIN Network. Finally, I coach baseball and help coach strength and conditioning at Santa Fe Prep School. My experience working with people of all ages, sizes, and skill levels gives me a credible perspective on which products work best for the largest number of users.

using the Perfect Fitness

The author of this guide using the Perfect Fitness while the rest await testing.

Who’s this for?

This guide is written for regular folks who are looking for inexpensive and convenient ways to build functional strength and an improved physique in the comfort of their home. Pull-ups provide a simple (but not easy) and effective way to increase strength and coordination across multiple joints and muscle groups (shoulders, back, arm and abdominals) to give users access to a basic functional/survival skill as well as improved musculature/tone.

“If you have a doorway pull-up bar and a floor to do push-ups on, you’ve got everything you need for a complete upper body workout.”—Al Kavadlo
Doorway pull-up bars are sturdy, easy to assemble, easy to use, and inexpensive fitness tools that anyone who exercises should have in their home. I spoke with Al Kavadlo, bodyweight strength guru and author of the definitive book on pull-ups, Raising the Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics. He said, “A doorway pull-up bar is the simplest and most versatile piece of fitness equipment you can buy for your home. If you have a doorway pull-up bar and a floor to do push-ups on, you’ve got everything you need for a complete upper body workout.” The six units I tested all offer potential benefit for those looking to improve shoulder, back, arm, and abdominal strength. Some of them offer advanced options for experienced users, while others offer options for people who can’t do a single pull-up yet.

In this guide we looked at the newer generation of home pull-up bars, which are of door-frame leverage variety, offer greater stability and safety, as well as a great variety of grip options for pull-up variety. Andrew Read, writer for Breaking Muscle and author of Beast Tamer: How to Master the Ultimate Kettlebell Strength Challenge, says that these newer pull-up bars offer great variety in grip possibilities that enhance workouts by targeting different muscle groups in the shoulders, arms and upper back. But the grip variations they provide also allow users to avoid repetitive stress injuries from doing pull-ups the same way every time. Having multiple neutral grip positions allows for the best alignments between wrist, elbow and shoulder so that users can get lots of reps without overly taxing one of the joints involved in pull-ups. Thus, these door-frame leverage units offer a safe option for developing pulling strength, even for those who’ve experienced soreness/injury/shoulder pain in the past from doing the conventional overhand pull-up.

How we picked

While at-home pull-up units have been around for a long time (beginning with the telescoping pull-up bar that fits between the doorway), the surge of exercise options like Crossfit, P-90X and revival of bodyweight calisthenics has produced an expanding market of at-home pull-up options.

We chose to focus on the door-frame leverage type because of their ease of assembly, ease/safety of use, and minimal footprint.
My first task was to differentiate among types of pull-up units designed for home use. There are basically five types: wall or ceiling mounted, telescopic, free-standing, home-built, or door-frame leverage. For a really outstanding synopsis of these types, plus images and product guides, please see this blog or this footnote.1 We chose to focus on the door-frame leverage type because of their ease of assembly, ease/safety of use, and minimal footprint (no drilling/alteration of home interior, easy to put up/take down, and stow). One thing to remember about these doorway units is that taller users will have to bend their knees a bit while doing pullups, at least in the bottom position of starting the move, but this wasn’t a bother to me (6′ 1″).

Perfect Multi-Gym pull-up bar

These bars don’t require any drilling because they rest on the door frame molding for support.

I searched for blogs and/or discussion forums so that I could see the product landscape. Easybuypal was and continues to be a helpful site for all aspects of pull-up bars (from explaining the different types of at home units, to reviews, to helpful considerations about doorframe size, user body weight/height, etc). After looking at the photos of the site linked above, I quickly learned that the doorframe leverage bars utilize very similar features. So, I went to Amazon to read product reviews on many of the contenders listed here and on other forums, such as this one on bodybuilding.com.

I wanted the product to work as it was out of the box.
Since I have been testing these at home, one of the key factors in reviews was how the units treated doorframes. Products that got lots of negative reviews (or said that they work fine as long as you buffer them with towels, etc.) were immediately disqualified from my list. I didn’t want to have to jury-rig protective strategies for my doors; I wanted the product to work as it was out of the box. My research into user reviews showed that products lacking thick foam buffers on the bar ends that press into the left/right doorframe molding would damage the molding. I made one exception to that rule by testing the model sold by Beachbody (makers of the popular P90X and Insanity/Asylum Series), which had hard rubber doorframe buffers. Since this model was at the high end of the price spectrum and was touted to be one of the toughest models, I wanted to give it a try.

The other model I tested included the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout: Extreme Edition, which is the best-selling multiple grip variation unit. It is generally well-reviewed and widely available. Some users did complain that the black foam serving as a buffer between the bar and the doorframe blackens the molding with use. For that reason, I decided to test both the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym: Pro (which is very similar in grip options/setup as the Iron Gym) and the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym. Each of those units have a light grey foam buffer (glued to a rectangular backing that abuts the door-frame moulding) that users claimed didn’t leave the black scuff or imprints in door trim. I opted for both Perfect Models because I liked the testimonials about door protection and I wanted to see if the “Pro” or “Extreme” versions with the extra grip variations were worth the extra price and size. The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym provided me with a simple setup to test that question.

The final two I tested were the Stamina Boulder Fit Door Gym and the Gorilla Gym Pull-up Bar Unit. I opted for each of these because of good reviews and unique design features. The Stamina Boulder Fit boasts a heavy-duty frame that users claim will survive the “zombie apocalypse” and unique rock-climbing grips to add versatility to pull-up workouts. The Gorilla Gym is unique in the field with its vise-grip door-frame holds, which stabilize the bar and allow for lots of movement/swinging without knocking the bar off of the door-frame. Users love these unique features and the safety/strength they provide.

pull-up bar test group

All the units we tested.

An important note about door width

Knowing the dimensions of your doorways/hallways is essential to ordering the right pull-up unit. When the makers of the door-frame leverage bars advertise that their product fits doors 24 to 32 inches wide, they are measuring based upon the width of the gap in the doorframe. (In construction, door width includes the door jamb, which includes the frame the door sits in. You can’t see this, but builders will call what I’m calling a 28-inch door a 30-inch door as they account for the hidden frame.)

But knowing the dimensions isn’t always enough. Out of the nine interior doors in my home, I only had two doorways (one 28-inch and one 30-inch) that accommodated all bars (but not all worked on both of these doors without damaging them). I also had a 32-inch door in the narrow hallway (39.5 inches) that only accommodated two of the bars (Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym and Stamina Boulder Fit). Here is a link to webpage that helps you understand what you’re looking for in determining the best marriage between pull-up bar and door-frame.

How we tested

It’s important to state from the start that my evaluations of these products is based upon their use as pull-up bars. Although almost all of these doorframe units can also be used for push ups, dips and sit-ups, I stuck with just testing for pull-ups. If you wanted to do pushups, dips or sit-ups, you are forced to take down the pull-up bar and put it back up again to do the other exercises. We decided this isn’t worth it for the average person who just wants to do pull-ups without a lot of fuss. I was fine with just dropping down to the floor and doing regular push ups in between pull-up sets, and we think most users will be fine with that too. Same with any abdominal work that I wasn’t doing on the bar in its pull-up position. While I love doing dips, doing dips on the units isn’t great because of their limited range of motion. Some users say they elevate their feet to get a more hard-core dip, but again, I found all of this to be too much effort when I was aiming for convenience and functionality.

Outside of the bars’ abilities to allow me to do a variety of pull-ups, I judged them for ease of setup/instructions, quality of materials, appropriateness for different door widths, and whether they damaged molding.

Then, I did hundreds of reps over the course of six weeks on each of the models (excepting the model sold by Beachbody, which beat up the only two doorframes, 30 inches and 28 inches respectively, that I had to test it on). The many workouts/reps allowed me to test comfort and durability of the bars as well as determine which units were easiest to setup, take down, and store in between.

As pullup workouts can fatigue the user quickly, I opted to do 15-minute workouts where I would do some pushing exercise (push-ups or a couple of handstands) and then circuit through the various pull-up units mounted on three different doorways in my house. One day, I would do five pushups, then go and do one pull-up (same grip) on each of three bars being tested. On the next round, I would do five push-ups, then do two pull-ups (from a different grip position). Round three would be push-ups followed by three pull-ups on each unit (again using a different grip position). Then I would go back down the pyramid: push-ups followed by two pull-ups; push-ups followed by one pull-up; and then start climbing the pyramid again. This method of working out would allow me to go for 15 minutes continuously by managing fatigue with low-rep pull-up sets. It also gave me a chance to get lots of pull-ups in over the course of the 32 15-minute workouts I did on these units.

I also had a colleague come over (Doug Arnwine, RKC-certified kettlebell instructor and Strength/Conditioning Assistant Coach at United World College) to test the units as a larger user. Doug’s weight was 217 during the three days he came to test. I asked him to do five-seven reps per set on each of the bars to produce more strain on them. He noted some flexing in the bars (all of them), but they all held fine under his weight. He easily felt most secure on the Gorilla Gym unit, where he had the extra support of the vise-grips on the R/L sides of the doorjamb.

Our pick

Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym
A small footprint and uniquely rectangular door frame pads means this bar fits a wider variety of doorways, is easier to store, and is less likely to damage your home compared to all other models we tested.

While other doorframe pull-up bars might offer more grip variations, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym is our pick, because it rated as excellent in all categories we judged it (though it should be noted that it’s rated for users up to 220 pounds). From clear assembly instructions, to ease of setup, to its proficiency on a wide range of door sizes, to its excellent variety of four-grip positions, the Multi-Gym is user friendly in every way. Additionally, it has a gentler impact on doors compared to all the other units we tested due to its uniquely flat moulding contact points and has a small enough footprint to stow easily and unobtrusively—even in a storage-challenged home.

The Perfect Fitness utilizes the same basic design of the other products. This design includes three bases of support/leverage for the pull-up unit. On the interior part of the door, parallel, L-shaped bars attach to a perpendicular crossbar which sits inside a metal stay on the top of the door molding. On the exterior of the door, the L-shaped bars attach to the actual pull-up bar, which has cushioned supports that press into right/left side of the door’s exterior molding when the user pulls.

Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym pull-up bar

The Perfect Fitness’s exceptionally clear instructions and bundled tools make installation a breeze.

Perfect Fitness manuals were the only ones that had both step-by-step pictures and clear written instructions.
Out of the six bars I tested, the Perfect fitness Multi-Gym was the easiest and quickest to set up by a full two minutes compared to the next fastest Iron Gym Extreme (20 vs. 22 minutes). That’s because the instructions are put together so clearly. While some of the other products in the field (like the Iron Gym models) just have a picture of the assembled unit with little numbers next to the areas that are to be assembled in that order, Perfect Fitness manuals were the only ones that had both step-by-step pictures and clear written instructions. They also come with a single tool–a combo wrench/screwdriver–to perform the assembly with no additional tools needed. It also helps that there’s just not many parts to begin with: five bars, six bolts, six washers and four nuts. There are only five connections that must be screwed together to get the unit up and working. Assembly is performed in three simple steps versus the five steps minimum of the other units I put together. For comparison sake, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro has 16 bolts and nine different bar connection points. But it only offers one extra grip position (this is true also of the Iron Gym Extreme). Once I had assembled the bar, I simply inserted the safety clip on the between the molding and wall at the top of the doorframe and set the unit inside the clip so that the two rectangular foam pads were abutting the right/left sides of the exterior door molding.

Iron Gym and Perfect Fitness manuals

Note that the Iron Gym manual (bottom right) has only one diagram compared to the Perfect Fitness manuals, which have step-by-step illustrations.

While pullups are pretty straightforward (grab handle in favored position and pull yourself up), Perfect Fitness does provide various “U.S. Navy Seal-inspired” workouts on their website. The PDF provides color photos showing the various grip positions as well as a pull-up modifications for people who can’t actually do pull-ups yet. They also have some excellent workouts, including shorter and longer duration intervals depending on how much time you have. My favorite—and a good one for beginners—is the pyramid protocol, which my experience as a fitness instructor has taught me to be an effective means of building strength and endurance while managing fatigue. Because it’s a pyramid, you can “climb” as high or low on it as you want to suit your skill level.

neutral grip pull-up bar

In terms of grip variation, the Multi-Gym has one long foam-covered bar (38 inches) that allows the user to grip overhand (knuckles facing user, the “pull-up” position) or underhand (knuckles facing away from user, the “chin up” position) along the length of that bar in various configurations. I am able to get my hands in four different configurations (from hands touching each other to wide grip with hands at opposite ends of the bar) on the bar alone. Then, there is the neutral (or “hammer”) grip position of the bars that run at a perpendicular angle to the long bar. The neutral grip position is key because it allows the shoulders to be in an externally rotated position which generally puts less pressure on the on the shoulder joint. For more information on the neutral grip position, which lines up the wrists, elbows and shoulders in an optimal working position, see this article on improving pull-ups by strength legend Charles Poliquin. The wide grip position on the Multi-Gym is also worth mentioning. The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar is the number-one seller on Amazon and is the Iron Gym equivalent of the Perfect Multi-Gym. But users of the Iron Gym complain that its wide grip position is set too flush to the molding to actually use. They claim that the hands/arms end up chafing against the molding while in the wide grip position. The Perfect Multi-Gym wide grip position is set far enough off the wall that there is no issue/friction while using it.

I’m impressed at the Multi-Gym’s ability to fit on a wide variety of doors—While other units do sell “extender” kits for doors that are over 32 inches, I found that the Perfect Fitness products (both the Multi-Gym and Multi-Gym Pro) fit the largest range of doors without having to buy extra adapter kits. That’s because it extends longer, but has less overhang on the ends that can create issues with narrow areas.  In my own home, I have done workouts on the Multi-Gym on doors that are 28 inches, 30 inches, and 35 inches, and the unit has performed equally well at all of those increments. It was one of only two tested models that fit my 32-inch door. The only 32-inch door I have to test on in my house is in a narrow hallway that is only 39.5 inches wide. The Perfect Multi-Gym is 39 inches, but it still barely squeezed into this narrow hallway. If space considerations are an issue for you, this is another reason why you should forego the “Extreme” or “Pro” grip variation models, because they are generally at least 40 inches wide and won’t fit in a snug spot.

Perfect Multi-Gym molding pad

The flat molding pad does a better job of distributing force and is lightly colored to avoid marking your door frame.

There is more surface area sitting flush against the molding to lessen the force/imprint of the pressure placed on the molding when pulling on the bar.
Finally, the Perfect Fitness models have two more features that are molding friendly. First, they utilize rectangular foam buffers on the right/left side of the molding instead of the circular foam/rubber typical on other models. This design just makes more sense, as there is more surface area sitting flush against the molding to lessen the force/imprint of the pressure placed on the molding when pulling on the bar. Users of models with circular buffers complain that the circular design starts to leaves indentations in the molding over time. The simple design tweak of the rectangular foam buffer seems to have alleviated this issue.

Perfect Multi-Gym vertical adjustment

The Perfect Multi-Gym units were the only bars that allowed for vertical adjustment. This helps accommodate doorways with thicker moldings.

The second important design feature of the Perfect Multi-Gym regarding doors is that they have five holes machined into the L-Bar attachments so that the unit can be adjusted vertically (depending on the width of the molding over the door) or horizontally (depending on the width of the wall the door sits in). The Multi-Gym is the only product I’ve tested that has this feature. If you live in an older house, chances are the walls are thicker and you need a bar that can adjust to the larger dimensions of the doorjamb. The Multi-Gym can do this. On the other hand, users of the Iron Gym (the bestseller) constantly complain about this problem in older houses/apartments.

Perfect Fitness and Iron Gym molding pads

The Perfect Fitness (right) has a flat molding contact pad that distributes pressure more evenly than the cylindrical Iron Gym pad (left).

Who else likes it?

Outside of customer reviews and various affiliate sites masked as authoritative or neutral reviewers, there aren’t a lot of reviews out there that examine this product category in much depth. In terms of Amazon, 81% of the reviews (out of 268 total at time of publication) of the Perfect Multi-Gym grant either four or five stars, while 9% of the reviews are one-star reviews. Comparatively, 79% of Iron Gym reviews grant four or five stars, while 9% are one-star reviews.

On Amazon, reviewers that compare the Multi-Gym to the Iron Gym typically prefer the Multi-Gym, as attested to here. And, specifically comparing the wear and tear on molding between the two products, again a user recommends the Multi-Gym. And another user comments on its adjustability on different doors as well as its sturdiness after consistent use for eight months.

Outside of Amazon/Dick’s/Wal-Mart and other user review sites, there are several websites that do comparisons between the major contenders in this field. The best, by far, is Easy Buy Pal, which is fantastic for learning the different types of at-home pull-up bars. It also has a “Pull-up Bar Pal” that allows you to sort through the products based upon best matches for bodyweight, desired use/price, and type. In terms of the door-frame leverage type of units, the site reviews all of the major contenders (though not the Boulder Fit or Gorilla Gym that I review here). Their verdict on the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym is that it’s an “amazing adjustable [unit that] fits varying widths, depths, and heights of doors….and is easily one of the best doorway leverage bars you can buy.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Perfect Multi-Gym pull-up bar molding pad

The bar that curves out from the middle can put pressure on your interior molding depending on the door.

The one issue I (and a couple of users on Amazon) have with the Multi-Gym is that the white metal L-bars that attach to the main pull-up bar and the top of the interior door molding do push into the interior door molding a bit. Thus, the potential for some minor depressions (depending on the softness of the wood) and the slight creaking sound the bar makes while in use. I have tried to use the adjustability of the the bar (remember the five machined holes that allow you to play with molding/depth variability) to eliminate this problem by buffering with the foam on the L-bars, but it doesn’t work. This is one area where the Iron Gym excels over the Perfect Multi-Gym, as the Iron Gym doesn’t have any interior molding pressure issues. Still, my experience thus far has been that this doesn’t impair the structural integrity of the bar or molding, and I wouldn’t say that it diminishes the overall advantages of the Multi-Gym.

Another issue that users have with the Multi-Gym is its functionality for larger users. The apparatus is rated for users up to 220 pounds (which is on the low side; the average rating is 250-300 pounds), and some have complained that it strains under the load. I weigh 185 pounds at the time of writing, and I don’t notice any bowing or anything else that gives me apprehension about safety. That said, I think larger users should be cautious about all of these door-frame bars except for the Gorilla Gym, whose vise-grips combine with the over-the-door apparatus to create easily the strongest/safest hold.

It is imperative that you don’t over-tighten the bolts/screws, especially in the plastic crossbar up top.
A final issue users have is with the hardware, and some folks say that bolts break or seem weak enough that they replace them with stronger material from a hardware store. I only used what came in the package, and I haven’t had any issues. It is imperative that you don’t over-tighten the bolts/screws, especially in the plastic crossbar up top, but again, these issues—with cheap hardware and concern over strength—come up with ALL of the door-frame leverage units except for the Gorilla Gym, which is very expensive by comparison.

A heavy-duty runner-up

Also Great
Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro
This larger unit has everything we like about our top pick but is larger and thus fits a smaller number of spaces (and is harder to store). But it does have a higher weight rating and more grip positions (five, including two neutral grips and an extra-wide grip position).

If you are a larger user (up to 300 pounds) or want extra grip options (two neutral grip positions instead of one; standard and narrow grips; an extra-wide grip), we recommend the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro. It has the same advantages of rectangular, grey foam (non-marking) buffers as the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym, but it gives an extra neutral grip option as well as a heavier duty weight rating. It is a very similar design to the Iron Gym Extreme, but it has 16 bolt connections to the Iron Gym’s 10 to make sure that the extra equipment utilized is properly anchored.

Multi-Gym Pro pull-up bar

The Multi-Gym Pro offers more grip variations, but the basic bar is good enough for most people’s needs.

The pull-up bar website referred to above says that the only con of the Multi-Gym Pro is its price tag (~$39 vs. ~$36 for the Iron Gym Extreme), but outside of that, they say “the more expensive price tag is justified by the varieties of grips you can use, the strength of the bar and the adjustable size.” 77% of user reviews on Amazon give it four or five stars, and a small percentage (4%) give it one star. Those who like the bar praise it for its sturdiness, grip options and gentleness on doors. Of those who don’t like the unit, the major frustration is with the hardware/bolts. I can only say that I didn’t have any problems with it when I assembled mine. It took me 28 minutes from getting it out of the box to doing my first pull-up. I had read the warnings (on all of these doorframe leverage units) about over-tightening the bolts, so I haven’t had problems with any of them.

My assumption is that the foam grip components of all of these units will wear out with time, and I’ll eventually be going the athletic tape route anyways.
One interesting thing about the Multi-Gym Pro is that two of the grip positions don’t have foam handles. I don’t mind using just metal, but even if I did, I would just add some athletic tape for extra tackiness (that’s what I use at my gym). My assumption is that the foam grip components of all of these units will wear out with time, and I’ll eventually be going the athletic tape route anyways.

Iron Gym and Perfect Fitness pull-up bars

Note that the Iron Gym (left) has two more foam grips on each side compared to the Perfect Fitness (right), but that they share the same basic positions.

Narrower grip positions work the arms/biceps, and the wider grip positions work the lats/rear shoulders.
The question many potential buyers might ask is: Why would I need the extra grip options? Technically, you really don’t, and that’s why we picked the simpler Multi-Gym as the bar we’d buy. However, the narrower grip positions work the arms/biceps more than the wider grip positions, which work the lats/rear shoulders. These options are going to be useful for people who are going deeper into the muscle-building aspects of pullups and want to target specific muscles to make them grow. Having both narrow and wide neutral grip positions (as the grip-position oriented bars have) allows the upper back shoulder stabilizers (like the rhomboids) to get some work as well. If you’re seeking definition in more of the smaller muscles in your upper back/shoulders, you would benefit from a unit that has advanced grip variations. Here’s an article about some of these grip variations and benefit of using them.

A multi-use step up

Also Great
Gorilla Gym Power Fitness Package
This kit costs a lot more, but enables you to do swinging pullups, mount a punching bag, and other things that other bars cannot. It’s also independently certified by the ASTM for use by children.

The Gorilla Gym Power Fitness Package ($100 including shipping) is pricey, but it’s the only bar that you can swing on and is also the only bar rated for use by children by the ASTM. It has a similar design and feel to the other contenders, using the same L-bars attached to a plastic cross bar that sits on top of the molding, it also boasts patent-pending vise-grips that anchor the unit to the left/right sides of the doorframe. This vise-grip technology gives the unit a rating up to 300 pounds, but to show how strong their unit is, the co-founders hung a motorcycle—while seated on top of it—from it. Adding the pull-up extender gave me two narrow grip positions, a neutral grip, standard and wide grip positions.  

Gorilla Gym pull-up bar

The Gorilla works well for pull-ups but is capable of much more.

I loved the Gorilla Gym because it offered everything I like about the doorframe leverage pull-up bars, but its vise-grip clamps and solid build quality gave me a sense of safety/stability that the others just didn’t. I never once worried about its weight-bearing capacity. While the Gorilla Gym has only ten reviews on Amazon, they all award five stars, and all users rave about the stability/sturdiness of the unit. Here’s a two-minute demo video showing how it works (with video of the motorcycle demo).

The folks at Gorilla Gym want you to swing around on their equipment; thus, they sell a variety of attachments aimed at kids (swings, ropes, gymnastics rings) and adults (heavy bag/speed bag units, aerial yoga straps and aerial cardio bands).
All of the other contenders for this article put disclaimers in their manuals about NOT generating excessive motion/swings on their products and warn that injury may result from a dislodged unit. The folks at Gorilla Gym want you to swing around on their equipment; thus, they sell a variety of attachments aimed at kids (swings, ropes, gymnastics rings) and adults (heavy bag/speed bag units, aerial yoga straps and aerial cardio bands).

Since this is a piece about pull-ups, let’s start with how the Gorilla Gym works for those. The Core Pull-up Unit ($60 base model + $20 shipping) doesn’t actually provide lots of pull-up options. If it’s installed on a 32-inch, 34-inch, or 36-inch door, it will give you narrow grip, neutral grip and standard grip options. Because I installed it on a 30-inch door, I had to remove some of the foam padding and lost the standard grip option; thus, I could only do two types of pull-ups (narrow and neutral). I then had to upgrade and add the pull-up extender (normally $20 but on sale for $10 right now). That’s why we recommend you purchase the Power Fitness Package ($70) from the outset and get the core unit, the pull-up extender and the ab straps. Plus, the pull-up extender allows users to do the kipping pull-ups popularized by Crossfit. Kipping pull-ups utilize a bit of swinging motion generated through the shoulders/hips; the momentum generated through the swing allows higher repetition sets to be performed. The Gorilla Gym is the only unit we tested that can safely allow for swinging motions without displacing the unit from the doorframe.

Gorilla Gym pull-up bar grip

Once that grip is locked in, this thing isn’t going anywhere.

There are a few drawbacks to this model though. As mentioned, this unit is more expensive than the other units and will cost $80-$100 depending upon add-ons and shipping. It also took longer to assemble (44 minutes) than any of the others units, mainly due to its vise grips, which are unique in the product category (I had already put together the other five similar units), so I had to spend a bit more time orienting myself to that dimension. Though I didn’t use them, the step-by-step manual also has links to video demonstrations of all aspects of assembly. Finally, the Gorilla Gym has a larger footprint than the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym, and it doesn’t store quite as conveniently.

Punching bag hanging from a Gorilla Gym pull-up bar

You can even hang a punching bag.

In sum, I would say that if you have an interest in a wider range of exercise options and/or if you have kids, the Gorilla Gym offers options for the whole family. It’s also the one unit I tested that presented absolutely zero apprehension about any load-bearing dangers, so larger users can feel completely at ease using this product. Since I weighed just under 185 pounds during the testing, I had my 65-pound daughter hang from the bar while I did neutral grip pull-ups hanging behind her. The unit had no issues holding us both. Finally, the Gorilla Gym is the only product in the field that has a distinguished ASTM safety rating.

The competition

Iron Gym Extreme pull-up bar

The Iron Gym Extreme doesn’t have a bolt for the center connection, which makes it sag a bit more than other similarly-designed bars.

The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar: Extreme Edition is one of the most popular products that I’ve tested because of the ease of putting it together, the minimal footprint it leaves on doors of a variety of widths, and the many pull-up positions it allows the user. However, while I haven’t had serious issues with the Iron Gym Extreme unit I received, there were enough red flags to ding it some when recommending it to others. It has basically the same design as the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro with a few differences that make it a slightly inferior product. Because it uses fewer bolts in its design (10 instead of 16), it sags a bit under my weight of 185 pounds. Other users also comment on this feature of the bar. Setup is also comparatively difficult since it comes with a manual that provides less-than-minimal instructions, which consist only of pictures. Users do complain about black scuffing from the black foam pad and also how the padding deteriorates, but it hasn’t happened to me yet in six weeks. I have used the Iron Gym on my 28-inch and 30-inch doors, and it fits those dimensions well. I couldn’t try it on my lone 32-inch door because it’s in a narrow hallway that the 40-inch extra-wide grips on the Extreme couldn’t fit in.

Because we were looking for bars with differentiating features and positive reviews, we also tested the Stamina Boulder Fit Door Gym ($50 right now, though regularly priced about $70). It was immediately obvious that the Boulder Fit was a sturdy/heavy duty piece of equipment when I pulled it out of the box. Their hardware and the corresponding sturdiness of their product are among the best I tested. The unit also came with clear, step-by-step instructions that allowed me to put the product together easily. While I did have to wrestle with some of the screws/bolts to get aligned in the hole properly, I did get it put together in 30 minutes. A couple of reviews also mention this difficulty of struggling with assembly.

Boulder Fit pull-up bar

The Boulder Fit has very solid build quality, but is a bit tricky to put together and larger than most people need.

Stamina claims that the bar works on doors from 24-32 inches. I first put the unit on a 28-inch door, and I immediately noticed that the end of two cylinder cross bars pushed into my door-frame molding. I also noticed that the black plastic crossbar that sits on the interior, top door-frame molding wouldn’t sit flush against the wall and down on the molding. Instead, it was driving down at an angle. Given the weight of the unit, I didn’t like that kind of pressure being exerted. I think that Stamina has a potentially excellent product here, and they had very responsive customer support, but it needs a few design tweaks to be a truly great bar.

pull-up bar security clip

Most bars are okay with just wedging this security clip in, but the Pro-Grade model’s instructions insist that it should be drilled in.

I wanted to try the Pro-Grade 12-grip position bar sold by Beachbody because it’s the “official” bar of P90X/Asylum, and because it touts itself as the sturdiest bar out there. After testing however, it was my least favorite of the bars, and not because because it failed a very basic test: it didn’t work on any of my doors (and I’m not the only one, apparently). It’s the only bar that has a safety feature that requires drilling into the drywall over the interior door, top molding mount position. Because I didn’t want to drill, and because I’d read enough reviews already advocating that users skip this unnecessary safety step, I skipped the step. I hung it on my 28” door to find that two metal cylinder ends bore into my molding. I tried it on a 30” door and had the same result. I never got to do a single pullup; This one is a firm pass.

The rest

Of course, as the doorway pull-up bar market has become fairly robust, there was no way I could test everything. What follows is a short description of other contenders and a brief run-down of why I chose not to test them.

Pro Source Heavy-Duty Easy Gym Doorway Pull-up Bar:

While it’s a popularly reviewed item on Amazon, its visual similarity to the Beachbody product that chewed into my molding made me pass. Even in the FAQs at the top of the Amazon page, a respondent says that it leaves black scuff and has left an ⅛-inch indentation in his molding from the hard rubber buffer digging into the door-frame.

Wacces 3 in 1 Fitness Bar:

One of the cheapest contenders ($25) and looks/works just like the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Gym basic unit. Reviews complained that it didn’t necessarily fit doors as advertised (advertised to fit from 24-32 inches). I tried many times to reach the company to talk about testing, but they never responded, which also makes me question whether they’d respond to a customer service complaint.

Go Fit Elevated Chin Up Station:

Looks interesting, design-wise, and is touted to be good for taller users because it gets the head away from the doorjamb and lifting more towards the ceiling. Unfortunately, it was rated for larger door-frames (32” and up, which is on the wider end of your typical interior door width), and I didn’t have any doors in my house that would have worked. Its 3.5 star average rating on Amazon after 355 reviews didn’t inspire any confidence. Also, the more I understood how the leverage worked on these units, the more I thought it would be hard on the door frame. This user attests to that being the case.

Yes 4 All Deluxe Chin-up Bar:

This is a generally well-reviewed option along the lines of the Iron Gym Extreme/Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro. It is affordable ($25 right now, $35 regularly). I disqualified it after just looking at the rubber supports that sit on right/left molding because they scoff/dig your door frame (even user reviewers who like this unit otherwise concede this con). Users who buffer those right/left supports with fabric/carpet seem to be very happy with use, but again, we didn’t want to recommend a product that needed home modification. Sounds like it works best on doors from 30 to 34 inches wide. Lots of grip options for a bargain price.

Rubberbanditz Deluxe Removable Pull-up Bar:

Looks utterly identical to the Beachbody/P90X version, so I discarded thoughts of testing this one. There are no reviews on Amazon, though someone reviewing the Beachbody bar says that it was made by Rubberbanditz. This illustrates one of the problems of this category: there are many identical or nearly identical product entries.

Big Mike’s Fitness 3 in 1 Door Gym:

This one, and its slightly more expensive “deluxe” version big brother, initially piqued my interest. The two products are a lot like the Iron Gym Basic and Iron Gym Extreme models, but they are slightly more expensive. They are generally well reviewed (in fact the Deluxe version had all five-star reviews), so I reached out to the company over phone and email, and they never got back to me. I even suggested in my query that their all five-star reviews looked too good to be true (on the Deluxe model), and now the Deluxe model is no longer available through Amazon?

Wrapping it up

After tons of reading on many of the major contenders in the field and thorough testing of six major entries, we think that the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym is the best option for easy assembly, nice functionality, door-frame width/depth variability, low-impact on molding and small footprint for stowing. It will allow a person to perform pull-ups safely with options for variability, although it’s definitely made for swinging or more dynamic exercises.

Photos by Kate Russell.

Footnotes:

1. First, there are wall or ceiling-mounted varieties. These are incredibly sturdy (and capable of handling the dynamic action of a kipping pull-up) because they must be mounted to the studs (wooden structural beams underneath drywall) or joists (overhead wooden beams above ceiling). The Stud Bar is a highly acclaimed example of this type of bar. We chose not to test these because we were aiming for simplicity of setup for the average user; thus, we didn’t want to involve a bunch of tools. Also, for folks who are renting, we didn’t want to recommend a product that landlords wouldn’t allow. If, on the other hand, you have a garage or basement and don’t mind doing a bit of drilling, I would highly recommend these sturdy units.

The second type of unit is the telescoping pull-up bar. Historically, this was the first offering in the doorway category, and it is a very simple/no frills product. Here’s the well-reviewed Big Mike’s bar. We saw several problems with these types of bars. First, they need to be drilled into the doorframe for safe use. While some of them claim to use drill-free, suction-type connection, beware of safety issues. Here’s an example of the suction failing while in use. Secondly, in order to put them high enough on the door for the user’s feet to get off the ground, they must be installed near the top of the doorframe where it’s easy to bonk your head when doing a pull-up. Finally, they don’t offer any variation in grip position.

The third type of unit is the free-standing pull-up bar. This type of unit can be really nice and also include dip bars and abdominal exercise options, but they are large pieces of stand-alone equipment that eat up space and typically cost more than $100. Plus, they also require a more involved setup process. The Stamina 1690 Power Tower is a really popular and affordable example of this type of pull-up unit and includes dip/ab options as well.

The fourth type of pull-up bar is the home-built type of unit. These can either be mounted to ceilings or walls using gas pipe flanges, metal pipe, etc, or they can be built in a backyard. While these tend to be sturdy and affordable, they obviously require some handyman skills and a significant investment of time. Here’s a tutorial on building an at-home unit if you’re so inclined.

The fifth type is the door frame type, which we covered extensively due to their ease of installation and use. Jump back.

To share this page via email, fill out the fields below:
Message Sent!
Oops! Please try again
Send

Puppies!