A power rack allows you to do things you couldn’t do without one. On its own, it’s useless. With the right accessories, it’s the centerpiece of your entire gym!
In fact, when you order a new power rack, an integrated part of the process is selecting the accessories you want. One of those accessories is a pull-up bar attachment.
Which pull-up bar or bars should you get? Thin or fat? Angled or straight? How about one optimized for grip training?
In this article, I’ll take you through the most common pull-up attachments for your power rack, their benefits, and who might enjoy each one. I’ll also hopefully help you select the ideal pull-up bar for your rack.
What’s The Best Pull-Up Bar For a Power Rack?
If you are like me and train for general health, strength, and longevity, you won’t have any specific pull-up needs. If this is the case for you, there is one “best” pull-up bar option for your rack.
The best pull-up bar for power racks is a multi-grip pull-up bar. This bar allows for multiple grip widths as well as multiple grip angles. It’s the most versatile pull-up accessory you can buy and is well-suited for most people training at home in their garage or basement.
That said, a multi-grip bar is, by far, not your only option. There are several other choices.
The “Standard” Straight Pull-up Bar
Every rack worth its salt will include a straight pull-up bar at no additional cost. This bar is typically 1.25″ in diameter and runs the width of your rack.
In some cases, this bar is also structural. It provides support and stabilization at the top of your rack. Going without is not usually an option.
In all cases, this means that if you own a rack, you also own a place to do pull-ups.
Most companies will include a standard pull-up bar with their rack. It’s usually an extra expense if you want something different, and they don’t give you credit for the unused standard bar.
The Fat Pull-up Bar
The fat pull-up bar is the most common upgraded pull-up option for power racks. I can’t think of a single company that makes racks that don’t offer this option.
And that’s for a good reason. A fat pull-up bar has a few key benefits over the standard diameter bar.
At 2″ in diameter, a fat pull-up bar significantly improves your ability to train your grip. The thicker the bar, the more hand strength it takes to hang on.
The thicker bar also better trains arm strength, specifically your forearms. Forearm muscles play a vital role in grip strength, so training grip also trains your forearms.
One last benefit of a fatter bar is that it’s much better suited to people with large hands. I have gigantic hands (I’m 6’6″, 230 lbs, with hands to match).
Using a fat bar with hands this large is more comfortable!
A fat pull-up bar can range from $80 to almost $200. I own this one from Titan Fitness.
The Multi-Grip Pull-up Bar
Now we come to my favorite and most used option, the multi-grip pull-up rack attachment.
A multi-grip pull-up bar provides many different grip positions and angles. It facilitates both wide and narrow grips. It allows pronated and supinated grips. And it uniquely provides multiple neutral grip angles as well.
Pull-ups, while being many people’s least favorite exercise, are one of the best upper-body training movements you can do. They strengthen your:
By simply changing your grip, you can focus the resistance on specific areas of your body.
Want to train your biceps more? Use a neutral grip. Want more lat activation? A wide, overhand grip is what you want. You get the idea.
Adding a multi-grip pull-up attachment to your rack is one of the best things you can add to your upper body training toolkit.
Globe or Sphere Pull-up Attachment
If you take some of the features of the multi-grip pull-up bar and add two pairs of metal spheres (each a different diameter), you have the globe pull-up attachment.
By using the spheres as grips when doing pull-ups, you place much of your training focus on grip strength. Holding on to these spheres while doing pull-ups is challenging, to say the least.
Of all the pull-up accessories, this one is the most challenging.
That said, I’m not a fan. Everyone I know who has purchased this pull-up bar variation hasn’t used the globes beyond the first few weeks.
I also think there are better ways to train your grip. Simply throw a couple of towels over your pull-up bar, grab the towels, and do a pull-up. For me, that’s a much more effective way to train your grip than the globes.
That said, there is one group of people this attachment is ideal for… Climbers. If you are a climber, you’ll definitely want this type of pull-up bar in addition to your fingerboard.
Globe (aka sphere) pull-up attachments are usually your rack’s most expensive option. Make sure you’ll use it if you’re buying one!
This one from Rep Fitness costs $169 and is a lower-priced option.
While this isn’t technically a rack accessory, it is probably the most effective pull-up method for building strength and stability. You can hang them from the pull-up bar that comes with your rack.
Rings allow your arms, shoulders, and elbows to move through their most natural range of motion during pull-ups. Every other accessory listed so far keeps your hands in a fixed position through the movement.
Rings also activate and thus build more muscle. There’s a reason most people can do far fewer ring pull-ups than on a bar. It makes you use muscles you don’t usually recruit when doing pull-ups.
On my rack, I’ve chosen to use a multi-grip bar with a set of rings, and I couldn’t be happier.
Rings are inexpensive gear and one of the most versatile things you can train with. I like this set you can get inexpensively on Amazon link.
If you find yourself choosing between a suspension trainer like a TRX or a set of rings, go with rings. They can do more and cost a lot less. Check out my full article here for more details.
Pretty much all racks will give you a way to do pull-ups. How you do them will be up to you. Whether you go with the included skinny straight bar or the fancy globe attachment, make sure to select the one that meets your specific needs.
If you aren’t sure, go with the multi-grip option. It’s the best option for most people.
The multi-grip pull-up attachment makes my rack too tall for my ceiling height.
Simply turn that attachment upside down in rooms with low ceilings. That might not work if you are really tall, but it’s a good solution for everyone else.
Otherwise, you’ll have to go with a standard bar.
Can you use more than one pull-up bar on a rack?
That depends on the depth of your rack. A 24″ deep rack typically doesn’t have room for more than one pull-up bar (you can’t get your head up past the bar as the second bar is in the way!).
A 36″ deep rack usually accommodates a fat and thin straight pull-up bar. Anything deeper also has room for multiple options.
I’m not strong enough to do pull-ups. Why should I pay for a bar?
If you train correctly, you will be able to do them eventually. Until then, use resistance bands to make them easier and work up to doing them without assistance.
With pull-ups, if you do them daily, you’ll find you make surprisingly fast progress.
Do you have to buy the same brand pull-up bar as your rack?
Because the hole diameter and spacing are different from brand to brand when it comes to racks, it’s always best to buy the same brand pull-up bar as your rack.
That said, some careful measuring can often save you money by mismatching brands. Just measure twice before ordering.