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What is a good chin-up bar to buy for home use?

Updated on May 2, 2013

Which Chin-up bar shall I buy?

Having cancelled my gym membership and starting to train at home, I decided to buy a chin-up bar. I figured that I was not using the gym often enough to justify paying for the membership. When they sent me a letter saying that they were increasing prices by 40%, I decided to cancel my membership and start training at home.

This is decision was not as drastic as you think, I'm actually thinking about writing a hub about my experience so far but that's another matter. Back to the story. As part of my home work out routine, I needed to do chin ups (pull ups or chinning as it is known in different parts of the world), which meant I needed to buy and install a chin-up bar.

Now I had seen chin up bars advertised on eBay and in the argos catalogue so I thought it would be a case of finding a cheap one and mounting it into a door frame, that was until I did a search and found out that there are 2 kinds of bars to choose from.

After a bit of research, I found that only 1 kind was suitable for the doors in my house but I did have to read up and ask around. So I have decided to write this piece to explain what the differences between the bars, so that if you are thinking of buying one you do not have to worry too much about buying the wrong thing.

If you are unsure about a workout routing for chin-up bars, then I recommend studying something like P90x. It has some great advice on how to get started using chin-up bars. Also, check out a YouTube Channel called Scoobys Workshop. He has a great tutorial on how to do 8 consective pull-ups. There are also lots free apps for your Andrioid and Apple iPhone smartphones that will help

The Telescopic Chinup bar

These are (as the name suggests) telescopic. You simply have to unscrew it to increase the length - a bit like shower curtain poles. As the length increases, that fight tightly between the door frame, allowing you to do your workout. Note that you have to tighten them fully or you may end up falling off, but they do support your body weight.

Each end of the bar has rubber pads so that you do not damage your door frame when fixing it on. Now this bar requires no assembly or drilling/screwing. However, the particular bar that I purchased, came with optional support brackets. Being a little chicken, I decided to screw them into the frames for extra support. I can assure you that I tested the bar without the brackets and it took my weight no problems. The guidelines indicate that this bar could take 101 Kg weight - but check the one that you wish to buy as it may vary.

Some of you may be finding it hard to visualise this kind of bar, so I have included this handy video to illustrate the concept.

As you can see from the video, this type of bar is very easy to install and use, and once you are done it is extremely portable.

Things to look for when choosing a Telescopic Chin up bar

Don't worry too much about which brand to buy, they are more or less the same. Actually, there are not many things that you need to know, but here are the important ones.

1) Check who wide it is when fully extended - they will fit most doorways, but it's best to check.

2) Check the maximum weight it can support - very important because you could damage your door frame or seriously injure yourself.

3) Make sure it has rubber pads on the ends and for gripping onto - the pads on the ends will save your door frame and the gripping pads will save your hands! (I had to buy a set of gloves because mine did not have pads).


JML Iron Gym - or equivalent

I was ready to by my telescopic chin up bar when I noticed the JML Iron gym. Please note that there are copies of the Iron gym available on eBay and - they are not called the Iron Gym and are not made by JML but they do exactly the same thing. A friend of mine has one and although you don't get any slick manuals or videos with it, it does the job.

The JML Iron Gym or equivalent has to be assembled at home - which is quite simple and then hooks on top of your door frame. Once you have finished with it you simply lift it of and store it away. The added advantage of this type of bar is that you can do many more exercises with it.  It's quite hard to believe that this thing sits on top of your door frame without having to fix it with screws or anything, but it really does work. Again I have a video to demonstrate it, so please watch this.


Things to look out for when buying the JML Iron Gym or equivalent

As I mentioned above, I was ready to buy the telescopic chin up bar when I saw this. I was so impressed with this that I decided to buy this instead. Fortunately for me I had a friend that had one so I borrowed it to test. I found that my door frames were not thick enough for it it to hook onto. This meant that although I could hang it on the door frame, it was not safe to support my weight so I purchased the telescopic bar instead. It's a shame because you can do so much more with this one but maybe I will write about the other kit I had to buy as well.

Well folks, that's it. Both types of bar are excellent for an upper body workout. The JML is better in my opinion buy may not be suitable for some door frames. If you want to play it safe, then get the telescopic kind. If any one has any questions, please feel free to comment or message me. Thanks for reading.

For ideas on home workouts, why not try the Stronglifts 5x5 program? Read more about it here and try it for FREE


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    • BeBrown profile image

      BeBrown 7 years ago

      Pat, thats the shame about the JML - it is not suitable for all doors. I did say in the article that if you want to play it safe go for the telescopic kind. Not to worry though, the telescopic bar works really well, you just have to remove it after use (unless you have really high door ways).

    • profile image

      pat 7 years ago

      Thank you for your post, I bought the JML Iron Gym but unfortunately my door turned out to be too thin for it. I guess am gonna have to go for the telescopic one.

    • profile image

      john 7 years ago

      Personally i prefer the powerbar. Rated to 20 stone and very little chance of damaging your door

    • BeBrown profile image

      BeBrown 7 years ago

      Checkmad7 - Thanks for the comment. If you do go for the JML, make sure that your door frame can handle it.

    • checkmad7 profile image

      checkmad7 7 years ago

      I have tried The Telescopic Chinup bar a couple years ago and I think it is fantastic. I'm just amazed with the Physics concept they use. I just started working out again after a long break and JML Iron Gym is what I really want to buy.