My father is a fitness buff who always found time to exercise no matter how busy or tired he was with his job during the daytime. I remember sitting on a makeshift wooden bench as a child while he would use his skipping rope at dizzying speeds, lift weights, and whatever else was on his fitness list for that day.
Part of this little shed was a low-hanging wooden beam where my father used to do his pull ups and chin ups before his car accident. He is not a very large man so the wooden beam was good enough for his weight and the usual pull ups and chin ups.
Having your own gym equipment at home can be quite handy for fitness buffs like my father who like to exercise and workout but do not have the time to go to the gym. However, it can be quite pricey to buy your own equipment and although shopping online has its perks, you never know what you are going to get when you finally open that box.
Most of the equipment in my father’s shed reflected simplicity, functionality, and cost-efficiency. A local carpenter made the wooden bench where he did his bench presses and the wooden beam I mentioned previously was built into the shed itself. Other noticeable items could be listed here, including powerlifting bars, power rack, etc.
My father is not very good with woodworking but if you are handy with tools and stuff, you can most certainly build your own gym equipment at home. How about a simple pull up bar for starters?
In this article, we will teach you how to make a simple pull up bar that is solid, functional, and cost-effective. Plus, you can do muscle ups on it, too, once you are ready to grow beyond the usual pull ups and chin ups.
Let’s get started!
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How to Make a Outside Pull Up Bar
For purposes of this article, we are going to make a free standing pull-up bar. After you complete this tutorial and want to advance in your training, you might also want to try other variations.
But first, the basics.
First of all, you are going to need the following to make a good and stable bar that will last you for many years of fitness training.
- Two 5×5 inch posts, around 10 to 11 feet, depending on your height
- A 33-millimeter steel tube: you can either choose to go with one with welded brackets or one with mounting cups
- 4×4 inch self-tapping bolts and washers, 10 millimeters thick
- 2 bags of quick dry Postcrete
- Around 5 to 10 bags of ready mix concrete
- A bag of gravel
- Fence paint: because you are going to be making this outside where your very wooden posts will be exposed to the elements
- Red Oxide paint: steel bars and rust aren’t very good friends, which is why you better protect your steel bar from the dangers of rust to help your pull up bar live a long and happy life
Every DIY endeavor needs an accompanying set of tools. For your homemade pull-up bar, you will also need the following:
- Tape measure
- Thick paint brush
- Spirit level
- Long stick or rod
- A drill with both a 9 millimeter and 10-millimeter drill bit
- Adjustable spanner
3. Building The Pull Up Bar
Now that you have everything ready and on hand, let’s go build that pull up bar!
3.1. X Marks The Spot.
First, decide where you want to build your pull up bar. Measure five feet in distance on the ground and mark those two points. This will be the distance between the two wooden posts that will hold your bar up.
3.2. Dig it Up.
Now that you have marked the spot where you will be placing your wooden posts, it is time for you to dig it up. With your spade, dig two square holes in the ground, each one measuring 10 inches long and ten inches wide, making sure that the marks you made previously are dead center. Precision is important or you will have skewed posts and in return, a skewed bar. Nobody wants that.
How deep should the holes be? Well, if you are using ten-foot posts, it should at least be three feet deep and if you are using eleven-foot posts, make it somewhere between three to four feet deep. This should give your posts enough stability as you do your pull ups in the future.
3.3. Add The Gravel.
After digging up the holes, fill it up with approximately two to three inches of gravel. You can give or take a little gravel just so you can make both your posts level. Again, precision is important so you might want to enlist the help of other people to hold the posts up to check if they are level.
Gravel is important in that it provides good water drainage and prevents your wooden posts from rotting – because of the elements, duh.
3.4. Paint it Up.
Next up, give your wooden posts a nice coat of fence paint to protect them from the elements. Being outside makes wood very vulnerable to the elements and rotting (shudder). The fence paint will give your posts the protection they need to face wind and rain and sun.
You might want to touch it up regularly, too, to keep it protected across the years.
3.5. Set up Your Posts.
Now for the fun part, you have to recruit a few people to help you out with this one as a pair of hands will not be enough. You need at least two more pairs and a critical eye to make sure that the two posts are parallel with their flat sides facing each other. Use a level and make sure they are standing straight. You also want to make sure that they are standing at the same height.
3.6. Pour in The Postcrete.
With your helpers keeping the two posts steady, straight, and aligned, pour in a bag of Postcrete in each hole and recheck the levels of your posts to make sure they maintained their position.
3.7. Mix Up The Postcrete Properly.
Postcrete is a type of concrete mix with sand, concrete, and other aggregates that could go wrong if not used properly. If you add too much water, it will not harden as quickly as you would like. There are stories all over forums of Postcrete staying soft for as much as a few days.
Make sure to read the instructions in the bag and pour in the adequate amount of water to avoid such mishaps, all the while making sure that your posts maintain their levels.
3.8. Mix The Concrete and Pour It In.
You might find that there is still a bit more hole in the ground to fill so take your bags of concrete and mix them up properly as well. Always follow the instructions in the bags they came in with.
Pour the concrete into the holes and fill them up, leveling them off when you reach the level of the soil. Your Postcrete should have set your posts by now so you can safely let go of them and let the concrete set for a few days.
The use of both Postcrete and concrete will make sure that your posts not only stay straight and aligned but it also adds to the stability of the two posts as they will be equally sharing your weight when you do your exercises.
3.9. Bar Time!
You have already set up your posts and it is now time for you to take care of the bar.
Measure the exact distance between your posts where you expect to put your bar through. Ideally, this should at least be 6 centimeters from the very top. Make sure these two points are also aligned and that your bar will rest in a perfectly horizontal, 180 degrees angle.
You have the choice of having a local steel fabrication shop to fashion a 33-millimeter steel tube with welded brackets or you can be more DIY and use any 33-millimeter steel tube that fits the specifications and mount it with a mounted cup socket.
However, we would advise you to choose a bar with welded brackets because mounting the bar with cup sockets have a tendency to rotate, especially when heavier weights are performing the exercises on it or doing muscle ups.
3.10. Protect Your Bar.
Okay, so you now have your steel bar. It is time to give it the same loving protection that you bestowed on the wooden posts.
Commercially made pull up bars present with a wide variety of coating that will prevent rust and increase friction to keep you from slipping. You can do the closest thing to making your pull up bar resistant to rust by giving it a coat of red oxide.
3.11. Drill it, Baby.
Now that you have your bar and wooden posts ready, it is time to drill holes into the posts where you will put your bar through. This is the part where your meticulousness to precision and keeping your wooden posts aligned throughout the whole ordeal will matter.
If you are using the bar with the welded brackets, hold it up to the posts and mark the spots where you will drill through. Drill holes that are the same length as the thread on your screws.
If you are going the extreme DIY route, hold up the bar to the posts and make sure it is straight and horizontal. Mark the spot where you will drill through the wood and make sure that it is wide enough for your bar to go through but not too wide that your bar will be loose enough to rotate during pull ups or chin ups.
3.12. Attach Your Bar.
Attach your bar to the posts either by winding up the bolts and washers with a spanner or by securing it with cup sockets or end fittings.
3.13. Pull Up Time!
Congratulations! Your pull up bar is now ready for use!
With the right tools and materials plus help from other people, you can certainly make your own pull-up bar at home and never have to worry about going to the gym to build upper body strength!
Did you find this article useful? Are you ready to make your own free standing pull-up bar? Have you made your own pull-up bar? What other tips can you suggest? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article with your family and friends!