Recommended Heights for Pullup or Chin-Up Bars

Teenage boy swinging from doorjamb

When installing a pullup or chin-up bar, height is an important consideration. Mount the bar too low and you won't be able to get your legs out of the way; mount it too high and you'll have to get a running start to jump up and grab it. No industry standard exists for the proper height of a pullup bar; it depends on the height of the user and the area of installation.

Set the Bar High

Mount your pullup bar no lower than your own height. When performing a pullup, your feet should not touch the floor. The American Council on Exercise recommends bending your knees slightly and crossing your ankles to help stabilize your lower body and reduce swinging. Mounted at your own height, you should have enough clearance to bend your knees and keep your feet and legs from touching the floor. However, if the length of your legs requires you to bend your knees considerably, you should mount the bar higher.

But Not Too High

Don't mount the bar any higher than the tips of your fingers when your arms are extended overhead, otherwise you may have to leap to grab the bar. If it is just above arm's reach, you'll hang freely without your feet touching the ground and still grab the bar with minimal effort. Mounting a pullup bar too high not only makes the bar difficult to reach, but it may cause you headaches -- literally. Performing a complete pullup involves lifting your body until your chin clears the bar. Depending on the height of your ceiling, you may bump your head when you do a full pullup. Give yourself 1.5 to 2 feet of clearance above the bar.

Katie Bar the Door

Doorway chin-up bars mount on a door frame in your home, making for a convenient way to do pullups and chin-ups without going to a gym. The height of this style of bar will be determined by the height of your door. If the bar mounts inside the door frame, position it high enough so you have plenty of leg clearance, but not so high that you hit your head on the top of the doorway when you do a pullup. If possible, mount the bar on the outside of the door frame so this won't be an issue.

Raise the Bar

If several lifters of greatly varying heights will be using the pullup bar, you will have to compromise a little on the height placement. If the bar is set too low, the tallest person may not be able to bend his legs enough to get them above the floor. If set too high, the shortest person may not be able to reach the bar. Because you can only bend your knees so far, the easiest solution is to position the bar for the tallest person and set a stable stool or bench under the bar so the shorter individuals can reach the bar.