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Height Recommendation for a Pull-Up Bar

author image Jake Wayne
Jake Wayne has written professionally for more than 12 years, including assignments in business writing, national magazines and book-length projects. He has a psychology degree from the University of Oregon and black belts in three martial arts.

Pull-up chin bars are an inexpensive piece of home workout equipment. When you're installing one, you need to take two factors into account if you want to install it at the correct height. The bar needs to be low enough that you don't bump your head at the top of your repetitions. It also needs to be low enough so you can do full pull-ups without your legs interfering with range of motion.

Pull-up Basics

Oregon-based fitness coach Ben Cohn says that to perform a pull-up correctly, you begin by hanging from the bar with arms straight but not locked. For an overhand pull-up, you grip the bar with your fingers facing away from your face. Bend your arms to pull your body up until your chin is above the bar, or until you gently touch your shoulders to the bar. For an underhand pull-up, grip the bar with your fingers facing your face, then bend your arms until your chin is above the bar.

Pull-Ups and Legs

Legs are a problem with pull-up bars, Cohn says. Unless the bar is mounted quite high, you need to bend your legs during some or all of the motion of a pull-up. If that weren't the case, you would need a stepladder, or to leap up, to grip the bar. Although this is unavoidable, it's also important to mount the bar high enough that you don't have to keep your legs uncomfortably bent while exercising.

Addressing Headroom

Your head is about 1 foot high. Given room for additional motion, this means you should mount your chin-up bar a minimum of 18 inches below the ceiling where your head will be while performing pull-ups. Cohn notes that if you exclusively do shoulder-to-bar pull-ups, this is not as important.

Addressing Clearance

How far off the ground your bar needs to be is a factor of how tall you and the other users are. Cohn, who has set up exercise gear for several programs and clients, recommends mounting a pull-up bar at eye level for the tallest person likely to use the bar.

Expert Insight

When mounting a bar in a doorway, positioning the bar so it's outside the door frame means you will have headroom all the way to the ceiling, not just the door jamb, Cohn says. Cohn also recommends placing bars in doorways that don't see a lot of other use. Pull-up bars in high-traffic doorways cause accidentally bumped heads.

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