Do you want to buy a ready made free standing pull up bar?
…..or do you want to be able to workout outside, with homemade body weight equipment meeting your own custom design?
This guide will provide you a basic construction approach, which can be used to build DIY :
- Outdoor pull up bars
- Dip bars
- General body weight training equipment
…all to your own custom specs.
Tools & Materials Shopping List
As the guide is intended for a custom setup; this shopping list does not generally specify quantity and sizes but where relevant links to material of most typically used sizes.
Read through the guide once, decide on your design, then come back to this section again. Use this as a handy reference for any tools or materials, which you don’t already have.
Design & Plan Your Homemade Pull Up Bar Rig
This first step is the most important out of the whole process.
What exactly do you want to build?
- Do you want just the one bar or would you like several bars of multiple heights?
- Are you building just a pull up bar or should your rig include some dip bars too?
- What width do you want your bar(s) to be?
- What height do you want the bar(s)
A standard run of the mill outdoor pull up bar is usually around 6′ 10″ high, using 10′ posts with 3′ in the ground with the posts set 4′ apart.
If you want to progress to do muscle ups, it can be useful to have some lower bars too. These allow you to jump into the muscle up position during your early training and typically want to be around chest height.
Here’s a few examples of typical designs to get you thinking.
Draw out your design roughly on a piece of paper and mark down the sizes of the posts and bars.
When ready use this design and the shopping list links above to get all the materials you need.
All posts should have been pressure treated or they will rot very quickly.
To easily work out the height of a bar you can just reach with arms extended, measure the distance from your elbow to middle knuckles then add to your height.
Drill Holes in the Posts for the Pull Up Bar
It’s much easier to drill the posts before you put them in the ground so do this now.
You need a hole for the bar to go through your posts. Measure the required distance down from the top of the post then find the center of the post width ways and make a mark.
For a standard pull up bar this will typically be 4″ from the top of the post, but at a minimum leave 2″ so you don’t weaken the post.
Use a hole saw drill bit with a diameter just a little larger than the diameter of your pull up bar.
Make sure to leave a minimum of a 2″ gap between the top of the post and pull up bar hole.
Drill Hole for Bolt to Secure Pull Up Bar
Next you need to drill a bolt hole in the post. The purpose of this hole is to allow you to put a bolt through the post and pull up bar to secure the bar, preventing it from spinning or moving sideways.
Roll your post over and mark out where you plan to drill a bolt hole.
The bolt hole should be perpendicular to the pull up bar hole and should intersect it.
To line up the holes measure the height from top of the post to center of the pull up bar hole then use the same distance to mark out center of the bolt hole. For this hole you can use a normal large drill bit, so long as you have one slightly thicker than your bolts.
Use a drill with a diameter just a little larger than the diameter of your bolts
Route Bolt Holes in Posts
Below are two types of fixings you can use to fix the bolt, pull up bar and post frame together. You can use either method depending on your preference but in both fixing options you’ll want to use a router so you can counter sink the bolt head and possibly washer and nut.
Bar Fixing Option 1 – Proud washer & nut
This is the simplest of fixing methods.
The bolt and washer will sit proud on one side of the post, while the bolt head will be counter sunk into the other side of the post.
You will use a router to bore the countersink hole slightly larger than the depth and size for the bolt head, for it to sit flush in the post.
Bar Fixing Option 2 – Hidden washer & nut
This fixing option is a little more involved than option 1 but does give a really great concealed fixing that looks like a professional job.
Use your router to bore out the size and depth of your plastic hole plugs following the bolt hole.
Do this on both sides of the post. This will allow you to sink the bolt head and cover it with a plug on one side and the washer and nut and again cover with a plug on the other side of the post.
Check your bolts, washers, nuts and tubing caps all fit nicely then remove them all for later.
The router piece should be the same diameter as the hole plug and drill to the same depth as the plug.
The bolt head, washer and nut should all be small enough to fit within the plug.
When you finally come to do up the nuts and bolts you will need a socket rather than spanner as the nut and bolt will be below the edge of the post
Measure & Set Out Your Posts
Now you’ve finished preparing your posts you can lay them out on the ground with the base just next to where you plan to sink them.
Measure between the posts to get the right distance and line up the base of the posts, this shows you where you should dig. Place a small rock on the ground at the base of each post as a marker.
Dig Holes for Each of the Upright Posts
Follow these steps for each of your post holes, finish one completely then move on to the next. You will find you get better and faster at digging these holes the more you do, the first will be the slowest.
Using a spade mark out a square, 12″ wide around the location of your marker rock then move the rock out of the way
Keeping your spade angled straight down, give it a good stamp down several inches, rock it back and forth then move onto the next side
Once you’ve cut the 4 sides make 2 more cuts forming a cross in the middle – this makes it easier to separate and lift the dirt
Put the spade in one side and rock back and forward to loosen all dirt in the hole
Lift all loose soil with your hands….using your hands is really the easiest and quickest way, so long as you don’t mind getting them dirty 🙂
Continue till you’ve got a hole that’s 3′ deep
Repeat for all other holes
Put the Posts in the Ground
Put your post in the center of the hole and wedge a couple of small rocks between it and the side of the hole to keep the post upright. If you are using a 4″ x 4″ post with a 12″ hole these rocks will need to be about 4″ wide.
The purpose of these rocks it to help hold the post straight while you get it upright and wait for the concrete to set.
Use a spirit level to get your post straight.
Make sure posts that are meant to be at the same height are actually at the same height by putting a large spirit level across the top of them both. If you don’t have a spirit level long enough to span between posts then use the push tacks to pin a piece of string to the top of both posts, making sure the string is tight hold a spirit level against the string.
Repeat this process for each post, measuring the required distance between posts as you go.
If you need to finely adjust the height of posts put a little bit of soil or sand back in a hole and push the post down to the right height.
Staggering the height of the wedging rocks will allow you to fine tune the post angle so you can get it good and straight by simply pushing one rock a bit more.
Fill the Post Holes with Quikrete
Simply pour the Quikcrete around the post, you can leave your wedging rocks in place. Then pour water into the dry mix, you need around 1 gallon per bag of quikrete.
Leave Mixture to Set
The Quikcrete will set hard in around 30 minutes, but you’ll need to leave 2 hours before putting any stress on the posts, so this is a great time to take a break.
Drill Bolt Holes in the Pull Up Bar
Put your pull up bar back through the post frame and get it in the right position.
Using a pen or a long nail pushed through the bolt post hole make a mark on either end of the pull up bar for the bolts to go through.
Remove the bar and drill the bolt holes, put the bar back in place and check the bolts fit through the post and pull up bar correctly.
The holes you drill in the pull up bar should be just larger than the diameter of the bolt.
Secure Pull Up Bar with Bolts and Finish
This is the final step.
With the pull up bar in place and the bolts through both the posts and pull up bar, slide the washer on the other side of the bolt and screw on the nut.
Bar Fixing Option 1 – Proud washer & nut
Bar Fixing Option 2 – Hidden washer & nut
If using the hidden washer & nut you’ll need to use a socket to tighten the nut rather than a spanner. When done push all the plastic hole plugs in place to hide the pull up bar end, bolt & nut.
Job done…..stand back and admire you work
Examples of Outdoor Pull Up Bars Built in a Similar Way
Eric Robson built this very great looking pull up bar as well as a medicine ball with detailed instructions
Here’s an example of a outdoor pull up set from a local park, this uses the hole plugs to hide the bolts.
Now you’ve seen how easy it is. Get started with your design today and become the proud owner of a custom built outdoor body weight gym.