Bought a pull up bar or planning to get one but are you wondering how high to mount it on the wall? Here’s what you want to know.
A pull up bar should be mounted at least 16” under the ceiling to be able to do full range pull ups without hitting your head. The pull up bar should also be mounted at such a height where you can just grab the bar standing on your toes.
For a more in depth explanation keep reading below.
How far from the ceiling should a pull up bar be mounted?
The correct height for a pull up bar to be mounted depends on how tall you are. That’s because the optimal height is where you can just grab the bar while standing on your toes.
To do a good pull up, you ideally want to keep your legs fully extended but your ankles a little bit in front of your hips. To do this you should contract the core. While at the lowest position, you don’t want your feet touching the floor. So by just being able to grab it while standing on your toes, you won’t touch the floor while keeping your feet flat during a pull up.
How high is this? That obviously depends on how tall you are. A bar that’s at the correct height for someone that’s 5’1 tall the bar is way too low for a person that’s 6’1 tall. So to get the right height, you’ll have to bust out a measuring tape.
Stand next to the wall, make a fist and extend your arms as far up as you can while standing on your toes. Make a little mark at the highest point (something removable or erasable like a post it will do). Then measure how high that is from the floor. That’s the height you want to mount the bar at.
If there are multiple people in your house that want to use the pull up bar, it’s best to make it suitable for the tallest person and let the shorter people use a step stool. Splitting the difference will make it unsuitable for everyone. It’s too low for the tall person and still too high for the shorter person to grab without a stool.
How high from the floor should a pull up bar be mounted?
The consideration of how much space you need from the bar to the ceiling depends less on how tall you are although it still plays a small role.
You need enough space to do a good pull up without hitting your head on the ceiling. I’m 6’1 and I need about 16” of headroom above a pull up bar. That 16” will be correct for most people.
That 16” might seem like a lot but there’s a good reason for that. While most people just get their chin over the bar to do a pull up, to get the full benefits, you actually have to pull to where your sternum hits the bar. That means you don’t only need headroom for your head but also the neck and part of the torso. For me personally, the measurement from the middle of the sternum to the top of the head is almost 14”. It’s best to add 2” on top of that so there is no way I can hit my head on the ceiling.
Of course this measurement can change a little bit if you’re shorter or taller but it won’t be off by more than an inch.
What if your ceiling isn’t high enough?
In many home gyms the ceiling isn’t high enough to accomplish both goals of having your feet from the floor and having enough headroom. What can you do in that case? Do you have to give up on your pull up bar? No, not necessarily but you might have to make some compromises.
You can reduce the height to the ceiling a little but you’ll have to figure out two things;
- To where do you pull?
- How tall are you above that point.
That sounds a bit cryptic so let me explain. Where does the bar sit on your body for the pull up. Just below the chin? Or on the sternum? Measure how much length you have from there to the top of your head. Then add 2” to that measurement to make sure you don’t hit your head.
You should be pulling to a little above the middle of the sternum to do pull ups right. Just getting your chin above the bar leaves some muscle and strength gains on the table.
For most people having 16” of headroom will turn out to be about right but if you have a small head, you might be able to shave an inch off this headroom. That’s still not a big difference so in most cases you’ll have to cut the height from the floor a little bit.
It is best if you can hang from the bar relaxed without your feet touching the floor. However, this is less important than not hitting your head on the ceiling. Ideally you want to be able to do a pull up without your feet touching the floor at the bottom. But if you have really low ceilings, you might have to mount the bar a bit lower and pull up your legs and/or bend your knees.
So mount the bar as high as you can while still keeping the +-16” of headroom above the bar. If that’s lower than ideal, you’ll have to change your form a little bit.
What’s a full range pull up?
You might have noticed the phrase ‘full range pull up’ a few times above. What does that actually mean? Pull ups seem easy enough but actually there are quite a few mistakes you can make.
Many people just pull until their chin is over the bar (maybe even raising the chin to get there) And stop there. That is not a full range pull up. Ideally you want to pull to a little above the middle of your sternum. In that position, you’re getting the best contraction in the back and therefore more strength and muscle building benefits.
At the bottom you should extend the elbows fully. Keep your back tight at the bottom so don’t let your shoulder blades move up but your elbow should be fully extended. Keep some tension on the biceps in the lowest position though.
Favorite home gym tools
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.