Why was the pull-up bar sad?
Because no one ever hung out with it.
Hi, I’m Steve Hoyles, a personal trainer, and a gym owner…and I suck at one-liners.
But I do know my way around a pull-up bar.
It would be strange if I didn’t…
I bought these for my gym, and I’ve used them with my clients.
I’ve been doing it for over two decades.
About this guide – the numbers tell a story
To create our best free standing pull up bar guide, the team and I compared 73 free-standing bars in 16 quality categories – from materials, height, and size to the finer stuff…like knurling and geometry.
To do it, I teamed up with some of the top industry experts.
I had three goals:
- Pinpoint the free-standing pull-up bars that are worth your money.
- Pinpoint the ones that are a waste of it.
- Pinpoint the potentially dangerous ones.
It did take some sleepless nights looking up obscure Chinese factories and doing pesky math.
But it was worth it.
I learned some stuff that I never would’ve guessed…
My wife says no one’s gonna read it.
Help me prove her wrong…
- 5 best free standing pull up bars
- 1 – Best free-standing pull-up bar overall – the Rogue Mill Pull-up station
- 2 – Best foldable free-standing pull-up bar – Khanh Trinh
- 3 – Best portable free-standing pull-up bar – GoBeast bar and dip station
- 4 – Budget rack for pull-ups – our pick, CAP FM-905Q
- 5 – Budget tower for pull-ups and dips – Sportsroyals Tower with an adjustable pull-up bar
- Buyer’s guide to free-standing pull-up bars
- Methodology – how we assess and rate a free-standing bar
- Other free-standing pull-up bars – close-but-no-cigar
- Best free-standing pull-up bar – resume and key takeaways
5 best free standing pull up bars
|Name||Best in category||Rating (out of 100)||Price||Defining feature/characteristic|
|Rogue Mill Pull-up station||Overall||70.4||$$$$||military-grade build, long bar|
|Khanh Trinh||collapsible||64.1||$$$||no-tool height adjustment|
|GoBeast||portable||63.8||$$||easy to (dis)assemble, light|
|CAP rack||budget racks for pull-ups||63.7||$$||versatile|
|Sportsroyals Tower||tower with dip station||63.1||$$||adjustable height, stability|
1 – Best free-standing pull-up bar overall – the Rogue Mill Pull-up station
Rating: 70.4 out of 100
Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a no-compromise free-standing bar.
- The longest bar I know – 62 inches.
- Military-grade build – 1000 lbs. capacity.
- Adjustable height.
- Good for both indoor and outdoor use.
- Costs more than your average bar.
- No rack functionality.
- Handle kit costs extra.
The Mill is our top pick for three main reasons:
- Unparalleled durability.
- Well-balanced grip/knurling.
1 – Durability
This thing is actually made for the military fitness tests…the Leg Tuck event specifically.
The frame is 11-gauge, which is only rivaled by power racks.
Pair that with the 2×3” cross section, and you get a rugged bar made to take military-grade abuse.
In other words – in a home gym it will last forever.
2 – Longer bar
The bar length is unlike anything out there – the 62 inches are 50-200% longer than other free-standing bars. You can see the length comparison in the graph below.
It’s also why it tops the list over the Rogue racks…the extra 10-15 inches.
3 – Knurling
The knurling is precise and feels grippy. It’s on the aggressive side because it’s made for a fairly static movement, but it translates to pull-ups well.
Our top pick is rarely the most expensive unit on the list, which is the case here.
The Mill is one of those gym pieces that’s not just steel and screws – it’s an heirloom.
|Height (inches)||86 to 90|
|Weight capacity (lbs)||Not specified (estimated to 800+)|
|Length of the bar (inches)||62|
|Weight of the unit (lbs)||146|
2 – Best foldable free-standing pull-up bar – Khanh Trinh
Rating: 64.1 out of 100
Who it’s for: Anyone who needs the extra height and has limited space.
- Fast and easy height adjustment (no tools needed).
- The highest bar here – 100.4 in the top position.
- Light and collapsible.
- Can be too narrow for some exercise if you’re extra tall.
- Not as stable as fixed bars.
Khanh Trinh is unique in a few ways:
- No-tool height adjustments (76.7 to 100.4 inches).
- Well thought-out frame with stabilization in all the right spots.
- The foldable design – you can get it out of the way without dismantling.
It feels more robust in-hand than what you’d assume by looking at it.
Still, the joints and the adjustment points will introduce some lateral instability – although that might encourage better control of your movement (yes, I’m scraping the barrel for reasons why it’s a benefit).
What that means for you
I’d skip the Khanh Trinh in three scenarios:
- You’re an advanced CrossFitter.
- You’re an advanced calis-athlete.
- You’re over 6.2 and wide-grip pull-ups are your staple.
That’s like 3% of people reading this.
Khan Trinh is a unique space-saving option and plenty stable for the vast majority of people. It’s also helpful that it doesn’t require tools – great for the absolute novice DIY-er.
It goes high; it goes low; it collapses on itself.
|Height (inches)||76.7 to 100.4|
|Weight capacity (lbs)||771.6|
|Length of the bar (inches)||39.37|
|Weight of the unit (lbs)||63.9|
3 – Best portable free-standing pull-up bar – GoBeast bar and dip station
Rating: 63.8 out of 100
Who it’s for: Anyone looking to use their pull-up bar in multiple locations.
- Versatile – dips, push-ups and different pull-up variations (including neutral-grip).
- Fast assembly and disassembly.
- Packs light and small.
- Not as stable as fixed bars.
- Might be too thick for some.
- The smooth finish doesn’t take chalk well.
GoBeast is not unique….at least not at first glance.
You’ll see a bunch of similar stations.
Some are identical and are just as good (like the Pull-up mate available in the UK – I owned one for a while, which I bought during lockdown)…
They’re very good. They’re just not great. I bought mine for home workouts during lockdown. I hadn’t built my gym then, so didn’t have access to much equipment.
This served as a decent stop-gap when I had no other option.
Some look the same but aren’t up to par – primarily when it comes to the finishes and joints.
In other words – they might look the same in pictures, but they’re worlds apart in real life.
So, what’s going on here?
I dug deep into this one and looked at factories in China making these.
My conclusion is this – it’s the same geometry, but the quality control makes a difference.
If you stumble upon a bar that looks the same, look at the social proof – the number of reviews and how far back they go.
As a stand alone bar set up, they’re as good as you’ll get for the money, assuming you’re lucky enough to get one of the ones that was well-constructed.
GoBeast ticks both those boxes.
|Weight capacity (lbs)||330.75|
|Length of the bar (inches)||23.62|
|Weight of the unit (lbs)||44|
4 – Budget rack for pull-ups – our pick, CAP FM-905Q
(don’t you just love the creativity behind that name…FM-905Q…so sexy…)
Rating: 63.7 out of 100
Who it’s for: For the conservative buyer looking for functionality and value.
- Cheaper than most racks.
- Thick tubing – 11 and 12 gauge.
- Stable – can be bolted down.
- Lower capacity than most brand-name racks – 500 lbs.
- Pull-up bar not knurled.
If you’re going with a rack instead of a dedicated pull-up station like the Mill, you might as well save some money.
That’s why this CAP rack is our pick in the category…the value.
It costs a fraction of the price of a premium rack and does the job.
Grip of the top bar
The pull-up bar isn’t knurled, so it doesn’t feel as grippy as the Mill, but it’s also not smooth.
To put it simply…
It will be grippy enough on its own for most people, and it takes chalk better than the smooth bars like GoBeast.
This CAP rack is a unicorn in terms of value.
It’s not as beefy as heavier racks, but it can be bolted down, which will make it stable enough for the non-beasts among us.
|Weight capacity (lbs)||500|
|Length of the bar (inches)||42|
|Weight of the unit (lbs)||59.51|
5 – Budget tower for pull-ups and dips – Sportsroyals Tower with an adjustable pull-up bar
Rating: 63.1 out of 100
Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a pull-up and dip station on a budget.
- Solid height adjustment range (64.56 to 88.18).
- Stable base.
- Features a dip and push-up station.
- Limited grips (no neutral).
- Welds could/should be better.
This SportRoyal is our top pick among towers for three reasons:
- It features a full-length pull-up bar.
- The height adjustment range makes it good for most.
- It’s reasonably priced.
How it compares to other towers
Going any cheaper than this comes with some degree of sacrifices in pull-up functionality – be it the grips, the stability of the base, or the height of the bar.
Going with a more expensive tower adds very little.
This Sportsroyals tower exists at the sweet spot between pull-up functionality and price.
In my opinion, it is only two elements away from being a potential class leader – more consistent build quality and a neutral grip pull up option.
Get these right, and this is a great addition to a home gym.
|Height (inches)||64.56 to 88.18|
|Weight capacity (lbs)||440|
|Length of the bar (inches)||41.2|
|Weight of the unit (lbs)||62.83|
Buyer’s guide to free-standing pull-up bars
Below is a complete buyer’s guide on what to look for in a free-standing pull-up bar.
I wrote it to provide two things:
- Insight into how we choose the Top 5.
- Actionable advice on choosing well if you don’t like any of our picks.
Let’s dig in!
10 primary factors to look for in a standalone pull-up bar stand
1 – Types of free-standing pull-up bar
(no specific number of points in our ratings)
We cast a wide net to cover all needs and looked at the different types of free-standing pull-up bars.
The one criterion we maintained is this – we only looked at bars that don’t mount to other stuff like doorways or walls. We researched the best wall mounted pull up bars in a separate guide.
These are the 5 types of standalone pull-up bars to choose from (and when to choose them):
- Classic free-standing bar (like the Mill station).
Choose it if you need a sturdy station for the basic pull-up and ring exercises. For advanced stuff with a lot of momentum, you’ll need to drill and bolt it down.
- Tower combo with a dip station (like the Sportsroyals).
Choose it if you need a pull-up station with a small footprint and you’re not into calisthenics. Good for chin-ups and leg raises. Obviously no room here for muscle-ups, kipping, and that kinda stuff.
- Power rack with a pull-up bar (like CAP).
- Foldable free-standing bar (like the Khanh Trinh).
Choose it if you’re into calisthenics and need something that packs small and light. Skip it if you’re doing a lot of ring work with pulls to the side, like Australian pull-ups. It’s not stable enough for that.
- Portable bars (like the GoBeast).
Choose this if you need something you can throw in your trunk.
2 – Build – stability meets materials and build
(no specific number of points in our ratings)
Stability is the name of the game here.
And stability is the net sum of the bar type and the build quality.
If you’re into calisthenics and CrossFit, you’ll want something that doesn’t flinch.
The three criteria here are:
- It can be bolted down.
- It’s made of heavy-gauge steel.
- The cross-section of the tubing.
Let’s unpack that.
I’ll use the CAP rack as an example – it’s built with 11 and 12-gauge steel and already comes with bolt-down holes.
It will be plenty stable for 90% of people “graduating” from a doorway pull-up bar.
It’s not the sturdiest rack out there.
If you’re a freak of nature or just like the no-going-anywhere-ever feeling, look for an 11 gauge and 6-9 square inches cross-section, like the Rogue Monster Lite (SML-3).
Think about your use. If you’re doing kipping pull ups etc, stability is pretty much numero uno on your list of concerns.
A problem and a solution
The problem is that not all bars list the gauge and the cross section.
The solution is to look at the weight capacity and the weight of the unit itself.
Maximum weight capacity of the bar
If the gauge and cross-section info is not listed, look for the weight capacity.
For regular pull-ups, the weight capacity translates directly – if it’s less than you weigh, skip it (duh!!!.)
If you’re a CrossFitter, look for a bar with a weight capacity of your body weight times two – to account for the kinetic energy of butterfly pull-ups and whatever other madness you might subject the poor thing to.
Here’s a graph that compares the weight capacities of our top picks.
3 – Height of the bar or pull-up stand
(0 to 6.3 points in our ratings)
The height of free-standing pull bars ranges from 75 to 100 inches.
Choosing which of these works for you (and your space) comes down to three factors:
- Your height.
- Your workout plan.
- The ceiling height if you’re using it indoors.
Floor to bar to ceiling
Here’s a good rule of thumb:
Add 8-12 inches to your height, and you get the ideal pull-up bar height.
Based on my experience, I found that to be the sweet spot.
- It gives you enough space for most pull-up variations.
- It allows you to comfortably grab that bar and dismount safely.
- It works with most ceilings.
Kipping pull-ups and gymnastics rings
The angles change when you introduce stuff like kipping and rings, and the “rules” follow.
For kipping, add no less than 25 inches to your height.
No ring pull-ups
That height will work well for gymnastics rings, too….at least for pullups, dips and knee raises.
None of these bars is high enough for ring muscle-ups – you’ll need at least 9 feet of height for that.
But that’s gonna be a problem for 1% of people…and those likely already have a standalone ring setup.
For the rest of us, it’s not a deal breaker.
Options for family home gyms
If more people will be using it, look at a bar that allows for height adjustments.
A case in point is Khanh Trinh – at its lowest; it barely clears 76 inches…at highest; it’s over 100 inches.
Note that the top position is 4 inches higher than the average American ceiling. If you want to extend it to the max, it’ll have to be in the garden!
4 – Length and grips
(0 to 5.1 points in our ratings)
Most of the best free-standing pull-up bars offer about 40 inches of usable bar length.
The exceptions are the towers and the Mill station.
One-piece VS multi-grip
If you’re a ninja warrior and your workouts involve switching grips mid-exercise, like training for a ninja warrior, you’ll want a one-piece bar that allows for it.
That’s the case with most “true” free-standing bars
If your workouts are about packing mass and building a stronger back, you’ll get more use of extra grip angles.
For those with shoulder issues
If you have a history of shoulder issues, you’ll want a pull-up bar with optional neutral grips.
It’s much less taxing on the shoulder joint and will feel more natural because your hands are closer to your center of mass.
If that sounds like you, look into something like this:
5 – Footprint of free-standing pull-up bars – physical vs. used space
(0 to 3.8 points in our ratings)
The size/footprint of a free-standing bar will be in the 6-25 square-feet range (graph below).
Smaller is not (always) better
The trade-off of a small footprint is stability.
If you’re working with a small space, go for a bolt-down unit rather than simply going smaller.
(Sounds commonplace, but you’d be surprised…)
CAP rack has the smallest footprint here. Bolted down, it’s also the most stable.
If you like a bar that can’t be bolted down and you’re unsure about the stability, go with rectangular frames.
Those will be much easier to modify without welding.
In those terms, round tubing will be a bitch.
6 – Finish of the bar – knurled vs. padded
(no specific number of points in our ratings))
Most people will want a bar with some grit, but not knurled in the traditional sense of the word.
Knurling as we know it on barbells will be too abrasive. The grip will be there, but at what cost?
Padding is a plus, but it adds the most value when it’s optional, like on the Khanh Trinh.
Ultimately, your choice should be about these three things:
1 – Type of free-weight exercise you do.
- For “just” pull-ups, any of these bars will do, including the towers with fixed padding.
- For calisthenics, you’ll want medium to low grit (smooth) – like on the Mill and the Khanh Trinh.
- For CrossFit, you’ll want some “bite” on the bar because of the angular momentum on kipping and butterfly pullups – like the bar on the Mill or the CAP rack.
2 – The thickness of the bar
One inch will be comfortable for most, even when the bar is smooth. For thicker bars, you’ll absolutely need some knurling for a good grip.
3 – Factors specific to you – the size of your palms and the grip you prefer.
The section above reads as one giant “it depends,” but it’s as specific as I can be because it really does depend.
7 – Warranty terms of standalone pull-up bars
(0 to 15 points in our ratings)
Free-standing pull-up bars are one of those gym pieces where you’re unlikely to claim the warranty for durability reasons.
Most of it is just steel.
I have three rules, though:
- If you’re paying over $300, make sure you’re getting at least a 5-year warranty.
- If you’re paying over $500, get a bar covered for a Lifetime.
- The more moving/folding parts, the more attention the warranty deserves.
8 – Price of free-standing pull-up bars
(0 to 25 points in our ratings)
A good free-standing pullup bar will set you back anywhere from $150 to $500 (graph below).
Whether the investment into high-end stuff is worth it will depend on your workouts.
- If they’re planned around body-weight exercises, something like the Rogue Mill will be worth every cent.
- If your foundation is weightlifting and you do pull-ups to supplement it, a simple tower will do.
Methodology – how we assess and rate a free-standing bar
Below is an outline of what we did to get the results.
I include it to make two points:
- The Strong Home Gym is about a data-based, transparent approach to rating gym equipment.
- Nothing on this page is random. Behind every bar pick are hours of research, testing and lifetime(s) of personal experience.
The bottom-line goal is simple – deserving and keeping your trust.
Here’s a step-by-step summary of our process:
- We created a list of all free-standing pull-up bars that might be candidates for the top spots – 73 bars from 35 sources.
- We defined the data to collect by looking into 100,000+ personal experiences and in consultations with industry experts.
- We defined the rating factors because not all data points are equally important. We ended up with 16 rating factors, which makes the total number of data points 11,120.
- We created and tweaked the rating formula through 4 iterations and decided on the number of bars to present as top picks.
The goal of that is three-fold – to create a list of bars that is:
1 – Fair and unbiased.
2 – Versatile enough to cover all needs and budgets.
3 – Concise enough to be actionable and clear.
- We stay on top of things and update regularly.
We look into every new free-standing bar that hits the market. We also track any potential quality changes.
The goal is to keep this guide relevant and deserving of your time and, again, trust.
Other free-standing pull-up bars – close-but-no-cigar
- BaseBlocks – a great minimalist setup and an awesome, friendly team behind it. I love the Base bar for L-sit pull and muscle-ups and the Big bar for the classic pull-up.
1 – It should cost 20-30% less to compete for the top spots.
2 – If you’re tall, it might be too small for dead hangs.
- Pull-up Mate – similar to the GoBeast. It’s UK-based, and shipping to the USA is too costly for comfort…it’s about as much as the bar itself.
- The Fit – It’s easy to assemble and stable enough to perform pull-ups in any variation. It’s also overpriced. The long-term durability of the wooden base comes with a question mark…at least in my eyes.
- Gravity Fitness bars – basic but in a good way. Goes out of stock for the US market too often (it’s unavailable through Amazon as I’m writing this).
- Fitness Kit free-standing bars – German brand that makes industrial grade bars. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it but it costs way too much to get steel over the pond.
Best free-standing pull-up bar – resume and key takeaways
I might be tooting my horn, but I’m proud of what we did with this guide.
We found a few clear winners.
We also pinpointed a few “rotten apples” that would be a waste of your money at best and dangerous at worst.
Here’s a recap…
- If you need the bar space, want the prestige, and have the budget for it, the Mill Station is awesomeness embodied.
- The Khanh Trinh is a unique option if you need the extra height (or if more people will be using the bar).
- If you need something you can pack and carry, go with the GoBeast.
If you’re still unsure, click here to skip back to the Top 5.
Bookmark this page and come back later.