I feel your pain.
I too know what it feels like to want to do pull-ups so bad it hurts.
Being completely bored with mindlessly curling dumbbells but afraid to stop because you fear neglecting that other half of your arm.
If only I had somewhere to put a pull-up bar I could exercise my back, biceps and strengthen my core all in one great compound exercise instead of wasting time isolating my biceps with curls!
There’s a simple solution to doing pull-ups at home without a bar:
Use the natural features of your house or apartment to perform this basic and great exercise.
Learning how to do pull ups at home without a pull up bar is easy if you just look for these few things.
Use the Doorways
If you live in an apartment then doorways are by far your best bet but they’re also a good option for smaller townhouses too.
In order to use doorways for pull-ups you have two good choices:
The overhang on the door frame up top or the actual door itself.
How to Use the Overhang on the Door Frame
The first thing you want to do is make sure that the frame of the door is both strong enough to support your weight and that it sticks out far enough from the wall for you to get a good enough grip on it to hang from.
Grab a small ladder or a chair to stand on and go ahead and try to put some weight on the doorframe.
Slowly lower yourself down to try and hang from it and see how it feels.
If you hear a lot of creaking noises or you start to feel something give way a little bit you might want to go ahead and skip down to option number two for doorways a little further below.
If the frame feels stable, however, then go ahead and try to start doing some pull-ups.
If it feels good then you just found your spot do this great exercise!
(Just don’t blame me if it breaks off and your significant other starts yelling at you…)
The other thing to remember when using the overhang on the door is that you’re going to need a strong grip.
This can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.
It can be a bad thing if you’re just getting started with pull-ups and strength training because it can hold you back from doing some of the exercises comfortably.
The good thing, however, is that your grip strength will improve extremely quickly as your body adapts to the new stresses your putting it through so you don’t have to worry much.
The good thing about focusing on your grip from doing pull-ups on the overhang is that grip strength transfers over into almost everything that you do.
By doing pull-ups in this way you’ll see dramatic improvements in your hand and forearm strength which is often ignored by many people when they do resistance training.
Use the Top of the Door
Using the top of a door to do pull-ups is slightly different than doing them from a completely free hanging position.
The reason for this is that your forearms are braced against the door which changes the leverage your arm uses to pull you up.
This actually makes the movement slightly more difficult but not overly so.
I know from personal experience because I’ve done pull-ups on doors myself countless numbers of times.
The reason being that I don’t fully trust the doorframes where I live to support my weight and my wife would kill me if she came down one morning and saw a piece of our bathroom door lying in the corner of the kitchen.
However, the top of the door is still a great place to safely do a lot of quality pull-ups.
In order to get started you’re going to want to do a few things first:
Be sure to brace the gap under the door between it and the floor with some kind of book or magazine.
This is simply to ensure that the door won’t rip off its’ hinges half way through your work-out and to make sure it doesn’t swing back and forth as you pull yourself up and lower yourself down.
Also, make sure to place some kind of small towel or thick shirt over the top of the door before you begin.
Don’t try to be macho about it because believe me I already tried and there’s no point in digging the edges of a door into your palm while doing your work-out.
It’ll only slow you down and your hands won’t get any tougher from it; they’ll only get beat up.
Anything which can support your weight and that you can hold onto is a potential spot to do some pull-ups.
Take a look at the stairs
If they’re the simple kind with spaces in between the boards then you can go underneath them and safely hang down to bust out some good pull-ups whenever you want.
Another thing to look for is any overhangs or exposed beams around your house.
An outside deck, garage, or basement again is a great place to look for these things and they can offer even better support than a doorway inside.
If you have a yard you can even look for any tree branches which you can hold onto.
The wider grip required will even help you to build your hand and forearm strength more.
Do Inverted Rows Instead
If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the above you can also opt to use your own bodyweight to do inverted rows instead.
This is really the next best thing to doing pull-ups as far as the muscles being worked which make them a great option if you either aren’t quite ready to do your first pull-up yet or you don’t feel comfortable subjecting your household to any of the above options.
The two best options for this which I’ve personally used in the past are:
Use a Broomstick Coupled With Some Chairs
This is by far the most common method that I’ve heard of people using.
Simply take two chairs with the backs facing each other and about one meter of space between them.
Then take a broom or mop handle and lay it across the two chairs.
Try to find some kind of crevice or nook where you can place it where it will be pretty secure.
Now lie down between the two chairs and grasp the broom handle suspended above.
Go ahead and hoist yourself upwards.
Congrats! You are now doing inverted rows which will work great to strengthen your upper back and biceps in a similar manner to pull-ups but with a slightly reduced difficulty.
Use a Table
This is actually my preferred method of doing this as it is so incredibly easy to setup.
All you have to do is lie down underneath a table and reach up to grasp the table top above you.
You now have a secure beam in order to support your weight in order to lift yourself upwards.
I did this exact exercise for a couple of months in order to build up my strength to do more pull-ups and I would recommend it to anyone else who is just getting started.
So if lack of a pull-up bar has been holding you back from implementing this great exercise into your routine you no longer have any excuses.
As with anything, don’t waste time waiting for everything to be perfect before you do it.
Just jump up and start working your way towards a stronger and healthier you.