To find a pull-up bar worthy of both your workout and your woodwork, we’ve spent 26 total hours researching and testing, completing hundreds of pull-ups to review every grip option on every bar. From start to finish, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro, got great marks—yet didn’t leave any on our molding—and is our pick for best pull-up bar for most people.
The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro, the company’s newer version of our previous pick, hits all the high notes of its predecessor. Like the others we tested, it has multiple grip options—for narrow, neutral, and wide handholds—the last of which are cleverly integrated into the crossbar that rests on the doorframe, a feature not found on any other unit we tested. Even smarter, the rectangular doorframe supports make greater contact with the woodwork or wall than the competitors’ cylindrical bars and are therefore less likely to mar your home. The wide-grip handle position also erases any elbow room issues that could arise during a wide pull-up because the arms are in front of, rather than within, the doorframe, and they are also low-profile; others with grips this wide projected farther out from the unit, expanding the footprint dramatically. Like most of the field, save one, the Multi-Gym Pro is weight-rated up to 300 pounds, which should make heavier people feel more secure, despite a slight sag upon initial grip from the compression of the foam. It also has actually straightforward instructions (many others did not), with a couple of assembly options to better fit various moldings and doorways up to 33 inches wide, and is one of only three that offered any assembly variation to account for woodwork. One note: Those wide-grip handles are extra-wide—27 inches at narrowest, compared with about 20 for the rest—which may be too much for narrower-shouldered people.
With the second-most compact footprint and fully padded projecting handles that can be gripped at basically any spot, the Stamina Doorway Trainer Plus is just right for people under 250 pounds with narrow-to-average shoulders, and is my personal favorite, as a slim, average-height woman. The Stamina bar takes up significantly less space than the others when stored; only one bar, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Sport, has a smaller footprint. It also happens to be the least expensive of the units tested, with a street price lower than $30. The wide overhand grips are significantly narrower than most of the products tested, including the other three picks, but they’re appropriately placed for those with narrow-to-average shoulders (and on a par with the Multi-Gym Sport, which is the unit most comparable in footprint size and price).
With a weight rating of 250 pounds, it maxes out 50 pounds lower than all the other units tested. It also had a noticeable sag upon first hang, even with a 122-pound tester, so we wouldn’t push that.
The one we jokingly refer to as our “Texas” pick, the Ultimate Body Press Elevated Doorway Pull-Up Bar is large, but for several good reasons: The handlebars are the only ones among the models we tested to curve up and in front, providing a substantially greater vertical height from which to execute pull-ups. (From a 7-foot-high doorframe, a 5-foot-5-inch tester dangled from the grips, while a 6-foot-3-inch tester didn’t have to fully bend his knees to pick his feet up off the ground.) The bars themselves are also thicker than the others tested, measuring 1⅜ inch in diameter to the typical 1 inch, providing a thicker grip for larger hands, though not too large for smaller ones. When assembled with the included crossbar extenders, it fits doorways up to 36 inches wide (3 inches wider than most bars out there), yet without them it can install in doorways as narrow as 24 inches with adequate side clearance. Weight-rated up to 300 pounds, it felt rock-solid to my 218-pound tester with very little initial sag. All this size, however, takes up a lot of room to store when not in use, having by far the largest footprint of the test.
Most doorframe cantilever bars are designed only for relatively stationary pull-ups and chin-ups. If you’re looking for a unit that offers a lot more options, including accessories for mounting punching bags, aerial yoga straps, and an indoor playground for kids, and the ability to do swinging, kipping pull-ups, we recommend the Power Fitness Package from Gym1 (formerly Gorilla Gym). It rests above the door like the other contenders but has the added security of adjustable vise clamps that attach on the sides of the doorframe to give the entire thing some serious stability. While all of the other products in this field warn against any swaying motion during use, the folks at Gym1 encourage people to swing around as much as they like. It also has the ASTM safety rating, which guarantees that the product meets rigorous safety demands for children’s play products and fitness equipment. Just be aware that without the pull-up extender installed, the base unit has a lot fewer pull-up grip options than the others. Also, with the clamps, the whole thing is a bit more involved to install and take down.
In addition to being a health-tech staff writer for Wirecutter.com, I am a NASM-certified personal trainer and ACE-certified group fitness instructor in New York City. I’m also a lifelong pull-upper, having requested in elementary school that my father install a chin-up bar (as well as monkey bars) in our backyard, and my first doorway frame tension-style bar shortly thereafter.
I recruited my smart, accomplished personal-trainer friend Adolph Bellamy to help me with the test as well. He has a bachelor’s of science in athletic training from Southern Connecticut State University, was a college football player, and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS)—and significantly larger than myself, at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds.
This being our second review of pull-up bars, I relied heavily on the work done by the previous guide’s writer, Mark Bixby, a multiply-certified personal trainer who narrowed the field considerably on the first go-round both in his analysis and testing.
Pull-ups provide a simple (but not easy) and effective way to increase strength and coordination across multiple joints and muscle groups. Pulling, as a movement pattern for the fitness of the body, is essential for targeting the posterior muscles of the back and shoulders, and is more challenging to create in a body-weight training program than its front-of-body partner, pushing. Therefore, doorway-frame pull-up bars are a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment that makes well-rounded functional fitness accessible at home.
In this guide, in addition to our best-for-most-people pick, you’ll find recommendations for smaller-framed people and larger-framed people, as well as one that’s multi-use for the whole family (with additional accessories sold separately).
As with the previous iteration of the guide, we focused on molding-mounted, cantilever-style pull-up bars: They’re easy to install and uninstall, and don’t require any permanent alteration of your house. Further, they offer a range of grip options, including wide overhand, close horizontal (popular for underhand-grip chin-ups), and narrow neutral grip, which can be safer for people who have shoulder issues. More important, having several options allows people to vary their workouts, which can both alter the strengthening focus toward different muscles and prevent overuse injuries from doing the same movement the same way all the time.
Since we last researched this guide, we learned that many newer leverage models are now weight-rated for people up to 300 pounds, significantly more than the 230 to 250 of previous ones. Designs are also more varied, including curved or angled grips and elevated bars to improve the experience for taller people, who typically have to bend their knees quite a lot at the bottom of the move.
We also cross-referenced reader suggestions on previous versions of the guide with lists on BestProducts.com, GarageGymBuilder.com, and AskMen. Finally, we read through lots of customer reviews, taking into account more strongly the ones that indicated damage to the doorframe.
For each bar, we reviewed ease of assembly, noting the clarity (or lack thereof) of the instructions and the quality (or lack thereof) of any included tools, and whether the bars could be custom-built for a better doorframe fit. In the most recent round, we reviewed how easy it was to install and uninstall the units on two doorframes, 30 inches and 32 inches wide and both 7 feet tall, in a pre-war Queens apartment. We noted if the bars left marks, dents, or chipped paint, with the latter being a considerable issue; given the many coats of paint the apartment’s woodwork has accumulated over the years, it dents and peels from the force of a fingernail.
To see how the bars worked for people of different sizes, we asked a large male trainer to work out with us. He and I hung from each bar, noting if we experienced any initial bowing or sagging, and if we had to bend our knees to get off the ground. (Spoiler alert: At 6-foot-3, he always did, at least to some extent.) Both of us did a minimum of two pull-ups from each grip on every bar, rating each one’s variety, placement, and comfort, including whether there were any elbow-room issues on the way up or down.
Finally, I compared the footprints of each in terms of the amount of storage space needed if you don’t want to keep the thing up all the time.
The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro is our pick because it comes with clear assembly instructions, is easy to setup, can accommodate a wide range of door sizes, and offers three grip positions. It is also gentler on doors compared with all of the other units we tested due to uniquely flat molding contact points, and has a small enough footprint to stow unobtrusively, even in a storage-challenged home.
The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro utilizes the same basic design of the other products: Parallel, L-shaped bars attach to a perpendicular crossbar, which sits inside a metal safety stay that you install between the top molding and the wall. On the exterior of the door, the L-shaped bars attach to the actual pull-up bar, which has cushioned supports that press into the sides of the door’s exterior molding when the user pulls, holding it securely in place.
Out of the bars tested, the three Perfect Fitness products were the easiest to assemble. Their instructions are clearly presented, with both step-by-step pictures and written instructions. They also use just one simple tool—two matching Allen wrenches that store neatly in the back of the molding crossbar, so they’re easily accessible for regular bolt tightenings (this is recommended for all the bars for safety). The Multi-Gym Pro, unlike any of the other bars tested, has two assembly variations to better accommodate different doorframes. We assembled it with greater head clearance and narrower doorframe depth, and it fit well on both a 30- and 32-inch doorframe. The frame rests are flat rather than round pipes, like all of the others, which makes for better contact on the woodwork or wall and a reduced risk of leaving compression-caused dents in the wood overtime.
In terms of grip variation, the Multi-Gym Pro is similarly outfitted to most of the other bars tested, with wide-grip handles for overhand pull-ups, narrow grips for either overhand pull-ups or underhand chin-ups, which put greater emphasis on the biceps, and projecting neutral-grip handles for a palms-facing-each-other pull-up variation that’s kinder to the rotator cuffs. What’s unique is that the wide handles are integrated into the pads that press against the walls for support, which makes the grips both significantly wider than many of the bars and also places them in front of the doorframe, eliminating the risk of banged elbows on the way up. Other bars allow for pull-ups that are just as wide and with elbow clearance—Multi-Gym Elite, Ultimate Body Press, Gym1 with pull-up extender attachment, Easy Effort, and Sportneer—but they all have projecting bars, which make their overall footprints much larger than the Multi-Gym Pro’s.
Those wide grips are really too wide for narrow-shouldered people—when you do a wide pull-up, your hands should be just outside of your shoulders. On the Multi-Gym Pro, hands would be better placed just inside from the wide handles, on the one part of the bar that’s (somewhat inexplicably) lacking a foam covering. That said, they should be fine for most adults and many teens who are larger people.
The product is also designed for up to 33-inch doorways; while it fit on a 32-incher, the pads ended precariously close to the edge of that doorway’s molding, so if not well-aligned, the metal could scrape the trim. On smaller doorways, the Multi-Gym Pro should tuck in as long as the surrounding wall allows for the 38-inch crossbar.
With the second-smallest footprint of the bars we tested, the well-made Doorway Trainer Plus from Stamina is a great value for people who weigh less than 250 pounds, particularly ones who are smaller-framed.
Its U-shaped bars allow for a variety of pull-up grips, as well as greater clearance from the doorframe when pulling up. The foam covers much of the bar, so you can grasp them at any point, and there are two neutral-grip widths where most bars have only one.
The Doorway Trainer Plus’s wide grips are among the narrowest of the bars we tested, with its widest possible holding spot measuring a scant 26 inches compared with the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro’s 32 inches, or the Ultimate Body Press’s massive max grip width of 35 inches. This size should work for most people with average-width or smaller shoulders, as reaching too wide for pull-ups can strain rotator cuffs.
Designed for “standard” doorways, this Stamina bar doesn’t come with a specific door-width recommendation. On my 32-incher, the crossbar sagged the most noticeably at its center when weight was first applied of any bar tested, despite a center bolt that ostensibly provides fortification. If this worries you (it didn’t us, including 218-pound trainer Bellamy), the Perfect Fitness’s Multi-Gym Sport is rated up to 300 pounds and is more sag-proof; for more stability on a budget, go with that one. Otherwise, the variety of grips makes this pick from Stamina our choice for smaller people.
In some situations, bigger is better. If you have a larger doorframe or a larger body frame, you’ll appreciate the larger size of the Ultimate Body Press Elevated Doorway Pull-Up Bar, which comes with expanders to accommodate doorways up to 36 inches wide—that’s 3 inches larger than our top pick, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Pro. Unlike other wide bars we tested, the Ultimate Body Press has an elevated pull-up bar that projects up and out, adding nearly a foot more ground clearance over the rest of the field. With the bar, taller people don’t need to bend up their legs nearly as much at the bottom of the pull-up to get full range of motion. The bars themselves are also thicker—1⅜ inch as opposed to 1 inch for the others tested—for a more comfortable grip in larger hands and a greater feeling of stability, even though it’s weight-rated at 300 pounds, the same as all models we tested except the Stamina.
Aside from being elevated, the high pull-up bar is also angled down slightly, like the bar on a lat pull-down machine. This feature makes it more comfortable in a wide reach and better for muscle activation of the large lat (latissimus dorsi) muscles of the back—and the Ultimate Body Press is the only model we tested to have this. That high bar is a full 36 inches wide, which is great for broader-shouldered people, but is covered with foam starting at about 19 inches, giving it versatility for narrower shoulders, too. The narrow and neutral grips are at about the same width as those of the other products tested, and the lower support bar doubles as a second wide- and narrow-grip pull-up bar that is much easier to reach from the ground for shorter folks like me.
Assembly was a bit of a pain, both because the diagram was hard to follow, and because the included wrench is flimsy and ill-fitting. The latter is a problem with all of the bars that came with wrenches, though that’s better than the Easy Effort, which came with no tools at all. An additional tool set made quicker work of things, but not before we scratched the finish on the bar around a couple of the bolts.
There were a couple of downsides: First, the thing is huge to store away, so you better make room in a closet or get used to the look of having it up all the time—that is, if you can walk under it; the support bar crosses the doorway about 6 inches from the top, depending on how high your top molding is. Second, because the upper bars are so high, smaller people would have to either jump, climb, or step on a stool to reach them. Interestingly, in our case, the last was the best way; when regripping to get into place from a climb or jump, the narrow and neutral foam grips would often twist slightly, requiring a tester of that size to re-grip again. Third, it’s a bit heavy and awkward to lift into place (though you could consider that part of the workout). And, finally, because of the spot where the support bars aligned on the tested molding, we noticed that the foam on the ends began to compress and stay that way from the weight on it. If the foam were to fail, it’d be easy enough to cover in foam grip tape.
The Gym1 Power Fitness Package is on the pricey side, but it’s the only bar that you can swing on and that’s safety rated for use by children by the ASTM. It has a similar design and feel to the other contenders, and also boasts patent-pending vise-grip clamps that anchor the unit to the sides of the doorframe. This vise-grip technology gives the unit a rating of up to 300 pounds, but to show how strong their unit is, the cofounders hung a motorcycle—while seated on top of it—from it.
Though Gym1’s Core Unit, the company’s most basic pull-up bar, is cheaper, it offers only two pull-up grips. We recommend upgrading to the Power Fitness Package, which includes the Core Unit, a pull-up extender, and “bonus” ab straps. This setup provides two narrow grip positions, a neutral grip, and a wide grip, on a par with the options that the better pull-up bars offer.
The Gym1 vise-grip clamps and solid build give a sense of safety and stability that the others just don’t. All of the other contenders put disclaimers in their manuals about not swinging on their products and warn that injury may result from a dislodged unit. The folks at Gym1 want you to swing around on their equipment and 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). It also allows people to do the kipping pull-ups popularized by CrossFit.
There are a few drawbacks to this model. As mentioned, it’s more expensive with the pull-up extender added in if you want to get the same variety of grips as the competitors. It’s time-consuming to assemble with far more pieces, thanks to the vise clamps. The step-by-step manual also has links to video demonstrations of all aspects of assembly (though we didn’t use them). It also takes up a lot more space to store than many of the other products, save the Ultimate Body Press, and with the clamps, is more trouble to install and uninstall. Further, in our testing apartment, we had to use it in a doorway that has a door, as the included clamps only open wide enough to pinch the front molding and the molding along the jamb, rather than clamp around the entire frame of the hallway doorway—extended vise-grip locks are available for additional purchase.
Knowing the dimensions of your doorways, moldings, and even hallways is essential to ordering the right pull-up unit. When the makers of the doorframe leverage bars advertise that their products fit doors 24 to 33 or 36 inches wide, they are measuring the width of the gap in the doorframe. In construction, door width includes the doorjamb, which you can’t see; builders will describe a doorway as 30 inches but be accounting for the internal framework, which effectively shrinks the opening to 28 inches.
The second challenge is that there is no standard molding size. If the molding above the door is taller than 3 inches, you may run into trouble with a few bars that don’t have enough clearance around the top of the frame to effectively be hung up higher on a wider molding. There’s also the issue of the depth of the top lip. My molding is greater than an inch, thanks to the many layers of paint, which meant that in order for the top crossbars to lie flush, they were pushed far in toward the wall. This caused the upright bars to rest against the molding’s face, causing some denting. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend using these on wide or crown molding. If you have typical door trim with a lip that’s more like a half inch, you shouldn’t have this problem.
Third, there’s the door-opening depth, comprised of wall thickness plus trim thickness, as the bars hook on the molding above one side of the door opening and rest on the frame on the other. Mine measures 7 inches, which is on the larger side (typically, this measures 4.75 to 6 inches) and all of the bars fit fine; if you have exceptionally thick walls plus molding, you may run into trouble with some of the more shallowly built bars.
Finally, if you plan to use a hallway door or any other where there isn’t much clearance on either side of the door opening, you may not be able to accommodate the length of the crossbar that anchors the unit in place. The shortest bars measure 36 inches, but you’ll need an inch or so of room to fit them in place. This guide from EasyBuyPal.com can help you understand what you’re looking for in determining the best marriage between pull-up bar and doorframe.
Slightly smaller and similarly priced to our Stamina pick for smaller people, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Sport is a solid basic option if you prefer a higher, 300-pound weight rating. That said, its grips offer among the least variety, and the wide ones may not be wide enough for broader shoulders (whose owners may be among those who’d prefer that higher weight rating).
The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Elite’s rubber (rather than foam) support bumpers are what dropped it out of contention: Without sitting flush on the walls around your door, they won’t make contact on decorative door trim as well as the more moldable foam can. It’s also on the pricier side.
One of the few inexpensive options on Amazon that garnered good and not fake reviews, the Sportneer Multi-Grip Doorway Trainer is well-made but has shorter vertical L supports than most and sits higher up in the doorframe. It was a very tight fit on a thicker-than-average doorway, leaving significant denting under its rubber (not foam) covered support bar.
The Easy Effort Doorway Pullup Bar Universal Door Mount (UD-6) has neutral grips on one set of L support bars that come under the doorframe. The whole thing cants forward and down at an odd angle, and it costs nearly double most of our other picks.
The Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar: Extreme Edition sagged a bit under an 185-pound user. Setup is also comparatively difficult since it comes with picture-only instructions. Customers also complain about black scuffing from the black foam pad, and that the padding deteriorates.
The Stamina Boulder Fit Door Gym’s screws and bolts were difficult to align in the holes. Stamina also claims that the bar works on doors from 24 to 32 inches wide, but when we put the unit on a 28-inch door, we immediately noticed that the end of two cylinder crossbars pushed into the doorframe molding. The black plastic crossbar that sits on the interior, top doorframe molding wouldn’t sit flush against the wall and down on the molding.
The Pro-Grade 12-grip position bar sold by Beachbody was one of our least favorites, because it didn’t work on any of our doors (and we’re not the only ones, apparently). Its safety feature also requires drilling into the drywall over the interior door, top-molding mount position.
The visual similarity of the ProSource Heavy-Duty Easy Gym Doorway Pull-Up Bar to the Beachbody product that chewed into molding made us pass. Even in the FAQs at the top of the Amazon page, a respondent says that it leaves black scuffs and has left a ⅛-inch indentation in his molding from the hard rubber buffer digging into the doorframe.
The Wacces 3-in-1 Fitness Bar looks and works just like the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Gym basic unit, but reviews complained that it didn’t necessarily fit doors as advertised (from 24 to 32 inches).
The GoFit Elevated Chin Up Station was rated for larger doorframes (32 inches and larger, which is on the wider end of your typical interior door width), but with the way leverage worked on these units, it appeared this one would be hard on a doorframe. This customer attests to that being the case.
We disqualified Yes4All Deluxe Chin-Up Bar after just looking at the rubber supports that sit on the right and left molding because they scuff or dig your doorframe (even user reviewers who like this unit otherwise concede this con). People who buffer those right and left supports with fabric or carpet seem to be very happy with use, but again, we didn’t want to recommend a product that needed home modification.
The Rubberbanditz Deluxe Removable Pull-up Bar looks utterly identical to the Beachbody/P90X version, but has very few positive Amazon reviews (though someone reviewing the Beachbody bar says that it was made by Rubberbanditz).
Big Mike’s Fitness 3-in-1 Door Gym and its slightly more expensive “deluxe” version are a lot like the Iron Gym Basic and Iron Gym Extreme models, but they are pricier.
(Photos by Michelle McSwain.)