How to Do Pull Ups Without a Bar

You want to do pull ups at home, but you cannot use a bar for a reason? Well, I’m going to show you a few options you can choose from that are not exactly the same as if you were using a pull up bar, but still much better than nothing.

Actually, these are excellent progressive exercises that help to build strength. Therefore, perfect for beginners. On the other hand, if you do high reps, then these practices help to gain muscle and develop endurance.

Anyway, even if you do not use real exercise equipment, these exercises are very similar that you can do with a bar.

Note: Keep in mind that you will need to use the things in your house. Hence, you may damage something. Also, you must be careful when performing these exercises since they are not as safe as if you were using the workout equipment. This is particularly true if you are heavier than average.

Recommended: Check out the best pull up bars for home.

Now here some examples that are also great exercises to help with pull ups.

1. Table Bodyweight Rows (australian pull ups alternative)

Pull Ups Without a Bar

This is almost the same as if you are using a bar. However, because of the grip, it is harder to perform.

The best form is if you straighten your legs so that you can get more resistance. But, if you find it hard, you can bend your knees.

At the starting position hang, then with a controlled technique pull your upper body up until your chest touches the table and you can look over it. Then slowly lower yourself back until your arms are extended.

The lower you go, and the higher you pull yourself, the lengthier the range of motion is. And, that is beneficial for strength development.

Note: Did you know that pull up is called the king of the upper body exercises? This compound training makes your back, shoulders, and biceps really strong.

2. Chair rows

This is almost the same as the previous, but you can grip more tightly so you can focus on your back. For example, you can use a broomstick as a bar. Typical chairs will do since they are high enough to get the required range of motion.

3. Door pull ups

using the door

Well, that is the one that may destroy your door, but if you are light, you may try it. You substitute the pull up bar with the top of the door. This way, you can have a regular pull up. Put foam or a piece of clothes under your hands for more comfort.

Guide: How to do more pull ups

4. Door pulls in

pull ins

Another not so door friendly exercise, but really efficient. Wrap a towel or a band around the handle or the doorknob.

Grab the end of the towel in front of you. You can bend your knees so that you can focus on your lats. Now slowly lean back until your arms are straight. Then, pull yourself back to the starting position until your chest touches the door, and your shoulder blades are as close as possible. Keep your back straight, and your elbows close to your torso during the whole movement.

You can increase the resistance by using a longer towel so that you can go further and deeper. With that more power is required to get back to the starting position. Or, you can even do the single arm version which is pretty tough.

Related: What are the benefits of pull ups?

5. Pull forwards

pull forward

What a creative pull up modification! But it works only if the floor is not so smooth and slippy.

Place a towel under your chest. Stretch your arms with such a width as if you were doing pull ups. And, with the power of your back muscles, pull yourself forward. If you do this fun activity for a few meters, you will see it is not that easy.

6. Pull up alternative with dumbbells

If you have a pair of adjustable dumbbells that gives enough resistance to develop, then you are good to go. Single or double arm dumbbell rows are among the best back exercises without pull up bar.

From the following video, you can learn multiple back exercises at home with dumbbells.

7. Suspension training – My favorite pull up bar alternative

A suspension trainer is a compact and easy to install exercise equipment that you can use to train your back muscles. The exercises are mainly bodyweight rows, similar to the door pull-ins. However, you can adjust the straps as you want and use the comfortable handles instead.

Watch the following video to learn bodyweight exercises.



What muscles do pull ups work?

Well, it is called the king of the upper body exercises and for a good reason. It works a lot of muscles at once, improves the strength and size drastically.

It is the best exercise to target lats, but also for biceps, upper back, and forearms. But, many other stabilizer muscles are also engaged, such as pecs, external oblique, traps, etc.

Any tips for DIY pull up bar?

Well, I have to tell you that I’m bad at such sings, so I do not want to give you any advice by myself. But, here is a good tutorial on how to make a chin-up bar for home.

How to do assisted pull up at home?

At the gym, you can find the assisted pull up machine, which helps to progress. You set the amount of support for your level, and it lifts you a little bit up.

A good at home alternative is the rubber band. You fix the two ends to bar and stop on it. You can use a weaker or stronger band depending on support your need.

More topics:

To conclude

As you see, there are many ways to do pull ups without a bar. Of course, these exercises cannot substitute the doing regular pull ups, but help to build muscle. I suggest you get a doorway pull up bar, which is easy to install and affordable but much more comfortable to workout with.

By the way, you can check out a home back workout without equipment here.

If you have more fitness ideas on how to do pull ups without a bar, share with us below.

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James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.