How to Do Pullups With a Squat Rack

How to Do Pullups With a Squat Rack
Photo: Freeman Studio, Shutterstock

There isn’t always a handy pullup bar around, especially if you have a home gym without a good place to put one. I happened upon a solution in my own garage, and it’s one that can also help in some commercial gym situations: Use a barbell.

The steps are simple:

  1. Move the hooks that hold the barbell to their highest setting (or wherever is comfortable).

  2. Put the barbell up there.

  3. Do your pullups from the barbell.

You can also do this in a Smith machine instead of a squat rack.

Photo: Beth Skwarecki Photo: Beth Skwarecki

Now, not all of us need this hack. Many squat racks have a pullup bar already built in, and many houses have a doorway that’s well-suited to a doorway pullup bar.

But a lot of us could use it. For example, I couldn’t buy the squat rack with the built-in pullup bar because my garage’s ceilings aren’t high enough. The nearest doorway that can support a pullup bar is upstairs inside the house. For a while, I was doing pullups from a pair of rings I hung on the kids’ playset, but that had its own logistical challenges (including that I couldn’t use the playset in the rain.) The barbell pullup bar was a perfect solution.

Doing pullups from a barbell is also handy if you’re short and the pullup bars in your gym are all too tall to reach and you don’t have a handy stool. (Always be considerate of others when using shared equipment, though; if somebody is waiting to do squats, don’t monopolize the squat rack if you do have other options.)

When you use a barbell for pullups, you’ll need to bend your knees so your feet don’t hit the floor on each rep. This also opens up possibilities for modifying pullups if you’re not doing sets of full reps: you can get a boost by resting your feet on the floor at the bottom of the movement, or by putting a foot on a bench or plyo box.

     

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