It’s no secret that pull-ups are one of the most beneficial exercises we can do for full-body strength and athleticism. And a basement pull up bar is a very useful workout tool for many great exercises.
Pull ups are fantastic for strengthening the back, developing our biceps, and improving grip strength. They are without doubt a top bodyweight exercise.
The best part is that you don’t need access to a gym for effective pull-up training. Instead, all you need is a simple basement pull-up bar, and you’re good to go.
What Makes a Basement Pull-Up Bar So Beneficial?
The most notable benefit of pull-ups is that the exercise strengthens your back, biceps, midsection, forearms, and grip. Another advantage of pull-ups is that the exercise improves your functional fitness, making you more athletic and better able to handle everyday tasks. (1)
Plus, unlike many exercises, pull-ups don’t require any special equipment. All you need is a pull-up bar, which you can buy online, and you’re good to go. Meaning you can perform the exercise in the comfort and privacy of your home.
Pull-ups are also great because of their impeccable overloading potential. You can start with a few pull-ups and gradually build strength and muscle for years. Plus, you can pick from numerous variations and types of pull ups to keep your training fun and fresh.
What to Look For When Buying a Basement Pull-Up Bar?
There are four primary things to look at when choosing a basement pull-up bar: how to mount it, its size, how much weight it can support, and what grips it offers.
Mounting Your Basement Pull-up Bar
The first and most obvious thing to consider is how to mount the bar. Your options include (and are mostly limited to) walls, door frames, or ceilings. You should get clear on where you want to mount your bar and pick the appropriate option for the location. I recommend a mobile pull-up bar if you’re short on space or would love to move its location from time to time.
Size and Functionality of the Bar
The second factor is the bar’s size. There are plenty of options on the market, but don’t rush to get the one you love most before getting clear on where you want to mount it and how much free space you have.
And it’s always a great idea to consider a pull up bar that is multifunctional. So if you can find a pull up bar that is great for pull-ups, but also dips and other body weight exercise, then you have got a real winner.
Load on the Pull-bar
Beyond that, you have to consider how much weight the bar can support. Most bolted bars can support up to 300 kilos of weight (660 lbs), so you should be good. Unsupported bars are usually good for up to 100 kilos (220 lbs), but keep in mind that jerking motions can lead to additional force on the bar.
The final thing worth considering is the configuration of the bar you want to get. Most bars are standard: one horizontal bar you can grab with an over- or underhand grip. Some are fancier and offer two or three grip types, allowing you to experiment with your grip and find what works best for you.
Pull-Ups: Muscles Worked, Frequency, And More
As briefly mentioned above, pull-ups develop a range of small and large muscles in the body. The most notable muscle that benefits from pull-ups is the latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle in the upper body that covers a significant percentage of the upper and middle back. Developing the muscle contributes to the broad and muscular appearance of the back. (2)
Our biceps are the second muscle that develops thanks to pull-ups. The muscle covers the front of our upper arms and produces elbow flexion, which occurs as we pull ourselves up. Similarly, our forearms contribute to elbow flexion and support our grip.
Aside from these muscles, our entire midsection plays a vital role during pull-ups. Our rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, erector spinae, and other core muscles flex isometrically to provide torso support and prevent us from swinging back and forth. (3)
As far as training frequency goes, we recommend doing pull-ups no more than two times per week. Our muscles need time to recover, and doing pull-ups more frequently can get in the way of that.
In addition to pull-ups, it’s beneficial to do other exercises as part of your back and bicep workouts:
- Barbell row
- Lat pulldowns
- Seated cable row
- Lat pullovers
- Bicep curls
- Hammer curls
Your weekly schedule can look like the following:
- Monday – Back + biceps
- Wednesday – Chest + shoulders + triceps
- Friday – Legs + Abs
What If I Can’t Do a Single Pull-Up Repetition?
Not being able to do a single pull-up is a common issue many trainees share. So, the question is, how can you do pull-ups if you can’t pull yourself up even once?
First of all, do not feel in any way defeated by this challenge. Pull ups are very hard and a high majority of people cannot do one pull up. So keep your chin up, and know that it just takes a little work and some practice and you will be there in no time.
Eccentric Pull Ups With Basement Pull Up Bar
One great tactic is to leverage eccentric (negative) pull-ups. The objective with these is to get yourself to the top position somehow––for example, by jumping up or stepping on something. Then, use your back and biceps to lower yourself as slowly as you can.
Eccentrics are a great tactic because you might not be able to pull yourself up, but you can undoubtedly control yourself on the way down, even if for just two seconds. If you can do that, you can build upon it and improve over time.
One option is to go for long and slow lowering phases. Alternatively, control yourself for a predetermined amount of time (e.g., 3 seconds) and perform multiple repetitions.
Safety Considerations For Performing Effective Pull-Ups
Pull-ups might not seem like a big deal, but you have to treat the exercise with respect. Back injuries can occur from pull-ups, so you need to prepare yourself.
Most notably, warm yourself up before doing the exercise. Start with some light cardio to get your blood pumping and move on to dynamic stretching. Various arm swings will mobilize your upper body and keep you safe for the workout.
You can also use a resistance band to perform some pass-throughs, rows, and pulldowns to further warm up your muscles before grabbing the pull-up bar.
Once you’ve gone through the initial sequence, begin performing pull-ups and do each repetition slowly and with reasonable body control. Avoid jerking your body and lowering yourself too fast. Make sure that your muscles do all the work instead of stressing connective tissues and joints.
Click to return to more great bodyweight exercises that can be done in the comfort of your home.
- Chertoff, J. (2019, December 9). 7 benefits of pullups, plus beginner and advanced options. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/benefit-of-pull-up
- MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Latissimus dorsi pain: Symptoms, causes, and exercises for relief. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321623#:~:text=The%20latissimus%20dorsi%20is%20a,referred%20to%20as%20the%20lats.
Abdominal muscles. Physiopedia. (n.d.).