In June 2011, after a few years of using a door-frame pullup bar, we decided it was time to build our own outdoor bar.
At the time, we searched far and wide for tutorials on how we could do it ourselves.
Specifically, we were looking to construct an outdoor pullup bar that:
- Would withstand all weather conditions.
- Was high enough (feet must be no where near the ground).
- Would not, under any circumstance, dislodge or move after frequent use. Especially while performing movements with added weight.
- Will last forever.
Unfortunately, we struggled to find a specifications list that met our criteria. We also noticed that many tutorials claimed that it could only be done in a few hours or for under x dollars.
Quality, in our eyes, was paramount.
We did not want to save a few dollars by purchasing sub-par materials, nor saving an hour or two by rushing the process. This would make sure the pullup bar was safe, durable, and reduce the likelihood of us appearing on an online pullup fail video.
Instead of giving up, we decided to build our own over at FitnessFAQs HQ.
Since its construction, our outdoor pullup bar has been used for:
- Dozens of videos on the FitnessFAQs YouTube channel.
- The popular Bodyweight Evolution and Body By Rings training programs.
- Personal training sessions with clients.
- Our own training.
With that being said, I’m extremely confident that this bar will continue to stand for a long time.
Structurally, after six years of frequent use, it remains completely level (horizontally and vertically).
This tutorial will show you the steps we took to build our outdoor pullup bar, and how you can replicate it for your own bodyweight/calisthenics training environment.
Building your outdoor pullup bar
Step 1. Acquire digging equipment
No project begins without access the right equipment.
The following was used to dig the two holes for the two metal posts.
- Post hole digger
- Iron pick
- Drill & hole saw
- Welding gear
- Bricks clamps
- Post leveller
Step 2. Plan your specifications
Here are the specifications we used for our setup, feel free to alter them to suit your own needs.
Dimensions of the in-ground holes:
Width: 500mm x 500mm
Depth: 1.2 meters (4 feet)
0.6m³ concrete mix (25MPA x 14mm stones)
Posts and the distance between them:
2x 3.7m galvanized posts (100mm x 100mm x 4mm)
2x galvanized post caps
4x weld points
Distance between posts: 1.7 meters (5.7 feet)
Height of posts above ground: 2.5 meters (8.2 feet)
Steel bar dimensions (what you’ll be gripping on to – important!):
Length: 2.03 meters (6.8 feet)
Width: 34 – 35mm
For reference, here’s Daniel’s hand gripping the bar.
Step 3. Get to work
This is where the fun happens. The following steps were taken to build our pullup bar:
- Locate a good place for your pullup bar. Flat ground is preferred, with enough room to move around it.
- Dig two holes in the ground (500mm x 500mm x 1.2m)
- Ensure distance between holes will be such that posts sit in the middle of each hole 1.7m apart.
- To make sure posts don’t sink, place them in holes with house brick at bottom.
- Brace both posts with timber and clamps. This ensures they are straight, and remain level.
- Pour concrete into each hole, check levels, and adjust if needed before the concrete sets.
- Let concrete set for at least three days.
- Using a metal hole saw, cut through posts for the bar.
- Insert stainless steel bar and weld at 4 points.
Time and Cost involved
Prices and time taken will vary depending on what you have available to you, and of course – your skillset.
For example, we were able to source all the digging tools through family members to avoid purchasing anything new.
On the other hand, we had to buy the stainless steel bar, galvanized posts and concrete mix separately.
For us, this was a big project because we had little to no experience “building” things in this fashion at the time. If you’re an experienced builder, and have an equally experienced friend (or two) to help out, the total time worked would be much lower.
Cost (in 2011): $589 AUD // $448 USD
Total time worked: 8 hours
Start to finish time: 4 days (including 3 days concrete setting time)
Skills required: Steel cutting, steel welding, mixing concrete, patience, teamwork.
Quality of product: A+ (Unmovable, unbreakable, “a pullup bar for life”)
Specifics detailed in the full cost breakdown (handwritten note)
For more pictures of the construction process, check out the original “how to build pull up bar” video from December 2011.
Readers, have you built your own bodyweight training/calisthenics equipment before? If so, what did you build and how did you do it? Do you plan on attempting the pullup bar build in this article? Could our design be improved? Let us know!
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