9 Exercises You Can Do Using A Pull-Up Bar

If I had to choose only one workout equipment to own, I would definitely pick a pull-up bar.

I didn’t realize the importance of using a pull-up bar when I first started working out 10 years ago. And it’s probably one of the reasons it took me long to see results. Anyway, I have an indoor and outdoor pull-up bar nowadays.


If you don’t have a pull-up bar, get one. Just head over to amazon and buy the doorway pull-up bars that you can hook on any door. Alternatively, you can use goal posts or monkey bars.

And if you can’t do pull ups yet, this article will show you how to do your first pull-up.


Well, a pull-up bar can be used to perform numerous exercises other than pull-ups. If used optimally, it will build your back, arms, chest, abs and oblique muscles. Basically, it’ll give you a full upper body workout.

Note that some of these exercises may be challenging for beginners. Don’t be discouraged, though, just do the ones you can for now and keep progressing.



I talked about this exercise in the grip strength training article. Hanging on a bar will strengthen your grip, forearms, shoulders and back muscles.

All pull-up bar exercises are performed while hanging, so you need to strengthen your grip. In fact, you can perform this exercise every day since it takes less than 5 minutes and it has low-impact on the muscles.


How to perform

  • Just grab a pull-up bar and hang as long as you can. Make sure you time yourself and track your progress.
  • Once you can hang for a minute, start swinging or doing shoulder shrugs while hanging to make the exercise more challenging. And when that becomes easy, start hanging with one arm.
  • Do at least 3 sets every day.

Hanging Knee Raises

Did you know that most ab exercises performed on the floor put pressure on the spine?


Well, guess what? Ab exercises performed while hanging don’t have the same effect on the spine and they’re more effective.

If your grip strength is weak, use hanging elbow straps to perform this exercise. But, don’t settle for them – work on building grip strength.


How to perform

  • Grab the pull-up bar with a shoulder width grip and look forward.
  • Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and keep your abs tight.
  • Then bring the knees up until they touch the chest, or as close as you can. Perform the exercise slowly to avoid swinging the body.
  • Avoid arching your back – curve the back as you bring the knees up.

Hanging Leg Raises

This exercise activates the abs more than hanging knee raises, and it’s also more challenging. Once you do 10-15 reps of hanging knee raises advance to this variation.


Frankly, it’s better to perform a few hanging leg raises than doing hundreds of crunches.

How to perform

  • Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip and keep the core tight.
  • Slowly lift your feet until you touch the bar with your shin, then slowly lower the feet to starting position and repeat.
  • It’s okay if you can’t touch the bar with your feet. Just bring them up as high as you can.
  • Alternatively, you can do half hanging leg raises. Simply raise the legs until they’re parallel to the floor, then slowly lower them and repeat.

Hanging Windshield Wipers

This exercise will build your abs and oblique muscles. It is also quite challenging because it requires a lot of arms, core strength. So, if you’re a beginner start with lying windshield wipers.

How to perform

  • Grab the pull-up bar with a grip wider than shoulder width.
  • Keep the arms bent at a 90-degree angle, then raise the torso until it’s parallel to the floor.
  • Keep the feet together, straight and facing upwards.
  • Now swing them to the left side. Then slowly swing them to the left side and repeat several times.

You can make this exercise less challenging by performing it with the knees bent.


Chin-ups are easier to perform than pull-ups and they engage the biceps more. It’s the best variation for beginners to build pulling strength.

The difference between pull-ups and chin-ups is how you grab the bar. With chin-ups – grab the bar with palms facing you (underhand grip) and when doing pull-ups the palms should be facing away from you (overhand grip).

How to perform

  • Grab the bar with an underhand grip narrower than shoulder width.
  • Look forward and pull yourself up until the chin is above the bar.
  • Then slowly lower yourself until arms are almost straight and repeat.


Pull-ups will strengthen your upper body more than any other bodyweight exercise.

How to perform

  • Grab the pull-up bar with a grip wider than shoulder width.
  • Then pull yourself up until the chin is above the bar.
  • Then slowly lower the body until arms are straight and repeat.
  • Don’t limit yourself to the wide grip variation alone.
  • Try close grip and shoulder-width grip to activate different muscles.

With pull-ups you’ll never lack variety, here are 10 pull up variations1 you can do.

Jumping Pull-Ups

This is a high-intensity exercise which combines, squats, jumping and pull ups. This will give you a full body workout in very few minutes. In fact, the jumping momentum makes it easier to perform the pull-ups and squats.

How to perform

  • Stand below a bar then squat until the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Now jump, grab the bar and quickly do a pull-up.
  • Release the bar as your lower yourself, do a squat again and repeat the movement.

The Hanging L-Sit

You’re probably familiar with the L-sit performed on the floor. Well, a pull-up bar can also be used to perform this isometric exercise.

This exercise will strengthen your abs and core muscles. In fact, you can combine it with the hanging exercise.

How to perform

  • Grab the pull-up bar with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Keep the legs straight and then lift them until they’re parallel to the floor.
  • Hold that position as long as you can and repeat several times.

Hanging Oblique Raises

This exercise is effective for building the oblique muscles.

How to perform

  • Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip and keep the knees bent.
  • Lift the feet to the left side as high as you can.
  • Then lower them and lift them on the right side.

Make sure you tighten the oblique muscles when doing this exercise to engage them more.

Final word

Exercises like the front lever, back lever and muscle ups can also be done using a pull-up bar. But for now, work on building strength with the exercises on this list.

Don’t let not having a pull-up bar be an excuse for not doing these exercises. Buy one or go outside and find a bar you can hang on.

Is there any exercise you would like to see added to this list?