When it comes to body weight exercises, it’s hard to beat pull ups. Unless a person has a very strong upper body and/or does pull ups regularly, it can be tough to do even one good one. But, as with anything else, practice makes perfect – we can all get strong enough to do pull ups, we just have to keep working on it. And that calls for some sort of pull up bar.
Really, you can use whatever will support your weight. A tree branch, a beam, a door-mounted pull up bar (we used one of those for years until we finished our basement) – a lot of things will suffice. But it does help if whatever you’re using is somewhat comfortable to grip and conveniently located so that you’re reminded to use it often.
When we finished our basement, we built a gym. We’re absolutely loving it. We’ve got all of our Craigslist gym equipment set up down there, and my walker, along with more free weights (also Craigslist) and huge wall mirrors that we found on the free section of Craigslist. It’s our favorite room in the house right now, and it was all second hand.
One of our favorite things in the gym is the homemade pull up bar that we installed. It was very inexpensive and easy to make, so I thought I’d share some pictures and how we did it, in case any of you have an unfinished basement and a hankering for a spot to do pull ups.
The design we came up with does require that you start with an unfinished ceiling with easy access to the joists. But assuming you have that, the whole thing comes together very quickly.
We started with two scraps of 2×4. We drilled matching holes near one end, just big enough to fit a piece of rebar. Then we attached the other ends to two adjacent joists in the ceiling, running perpendicular to the joists. We used four 3-inch screws in each 2×4 and made sure they were very solidly anchored. The 2x4s extend all the way up to the top of the joists, so there was plenty of space for attaching them.
At that point, we just had the 2x4s sticking down from the joists, with holes in the bottom. The drywall went up over that, with holes cut to fit over the 2x4s. And then we primed and painted the wood the same white that we used on the ceiling.
The bar is just a piece of rebar that we got at the scrap metal yard for two bucks. It was old and beat up, so we spray painted it black and then wrapped it with bike handlebar tape to make it a bit easier to grip (my husband liked the industrial feel of the rebar, but that wasn’t working so well for me – the handlebar tape makes it much better!).
We pushed the rebar through the holes and then added a little superglue to make sure it didn’t wiggle at all. We wrapped the three sections with handlebar tape, superglued the ends of the tape into place, and that was it.
The whole thing cost us about $15, most of which was spent on the handlebar tape. The 2x4s were scraps left over from the basement construction, and the spray paint was already in our garage. We love how this turned out, and it is so much better than the old door-mounted pull up bar that we used to use. (Having to get out the bar, mount it on the door, and then put it away afterwards meant that it didn’t get used nearly as often as this new one does).
If you have an unfinished basement or garage where you could mount a couple of 2x4s, I highly recommend this little project. You could probably use a piece of metal conduit instead of rebar, making the handlebar tape less necessary. If you’ve built your own pull up bar – or any other improvised exercise equipment – please share so that the rest of us can try your idea too!
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