You'll be motivated to get in shape—or stay in shape—when you can exercise at home. A home gym helps save money on commercial gym costs or acts as a great supplement when you don't feel like going out. You'll also be less prone to procrastination when all of your exercise equipment is nearby.
A pull-up bar is an indispensable component of any home gym. Pull-up bars use your body weight to help you tone or build your lats, shoulders, chest, and biceps. Instead of setting up an elaborate floor-mounted pull-up bar, a simple and inexpensive way to add a bar is by mounting it from the ceiling.
Before You Begin
Ceiling-mounted pull-up bars are easily built with galvanized steel plumbing pipe, lag bolts, and a 2x4, all attached to ceiling joists. Just three pieces of threaded galvanized steel pipe fit together to form a rectangle with one open end. This open, long end is against the ceiling, while its opposite long end is the actual pull-up bar. Two smaller threaded pipes (known as nipples) are on each side. Lag bolts attach the pipes to a 2x4 via floor flanges.
The genius of this clean, spare design is the strength of ceiling joists coupled with equally strong lag bolts. Lag bolts take a bit longer than screws to install since you have to use a socket set. But the pay-off is a pull-up bar that is sturdy and exceptionally safe.
Equipment / Tools
- Tape measure
- Power miter saw
- Carpenter's pencil
- Stud finder
- Speed square
- Cordless drill
- Six-foot step ladder
- Socket set
- 1 2x4, 8-foot
- 2 Steel floor flanges, 1/2-inch
- 1 3-foot Steel pipe, 1/2-inch
- 2 18-inch Steel pipe, 1/2-inch
- 8 1 1/2-inch Lag bolts
- 4 3-inch Lag bolts and washers
- 2 Steel elbows, 1/2-inch
Cut the 2x4
With a miter saw, cut the 2x4 at 49 1/2 inches. Even though the joist span is 48 inches, you will need to add an extra 1 1/2 inches to account for the entire span.
Add the Elbows
Screw the threaded elbows into the two shorter pipes.
Add the Pull-Up Bar to the Side Pieces
Hand-turn the long pull-up bar into the elbows. You may wish to use a wrench toward the end, but it is not necessary to over-tighten the bar.
Add the Floor Flanges
Hand-tighten the floor flanges on the 18-inch steel pipes.
Attach the Bar to the 2x4
Measure 1 inch from each end of the 2x4. Mark it with the pencil, then draw a 90-degree line with the speed square. The floor flanges should be mounted so that they do not go beyond the lines (in the direction of the end of the board). This is highly important because two of the ceiling joints are in this area. If the flange happens to be mounted here, you will not be able to secure the pull-up bar to the ceiling with all four lag bolts.
Install the floor flanges to the board with the short lag bolts.
Mark the Ceiling Joists
With the stud finder and pencil, locate and mark four ceiling joists. Ceiling joists are usually 16 inches apart, on-center. This means that a span of four ceiling joists will be 48 inches. Mark the centers of each of the four joists.
Drill Pilot Holes
With the cordless drill, drill a pilot holes on the 2x4 with a bit that is close to the same diameter as the lag bolts. Otherwise, the lag bolts will crack the board. Use the ceiling marks as a guide for the location of the holes in the board.
Change drill bits to one that is approximately 1/2 of the diameter of the lag bolts. Then continue the pilot holes into the ceiling and joists with the smaller bit, this time using the drilled 2x4 and the ceiling marks as a guide.
Avoid pre-drilling the ceiling joists with too large of a bit. Bolts rely on wood material to grab onto. If you remove too much material, you compromise the lag bolts' strength.
Anchor the 2x4 to the Ceiling Joists
Insert one of the 3-inch lag bolts through a washer. Then push the lag bolt into the pre-drilled hole. Turn the lag bolt into place with the socket set until the bolt can no longer turn.
Continue with the other three lag bolts and washers. When finished, you will have two bolts on the outside of the bar supports and two bolts between the supports. All bolts will be 16 inches apart.
Tips For Building a Ceiling-Mounted DIY Pull-Up Bar
- Have an assistant help you hold the pull-up bar assembly against the ceiling or use mechanical support, such as a 2x4.
- When purchasing the pipe, test 1/2-inch pipe against 3/4-inch pipe to see which diameter feels best in your hands.
- If you find the lag bolts difficult to turn into the ceiling joists, it may be because your joists are made of older, harder wood. In this case, use a thin drill bit to drill a pilot hole.
When to Call a Professional
While this is a relatively simple project that is well within the skill set of most homeowners, it does need to be installed with precision to avoid structural failure. If you feel that driving lag bolts into the ceiling joists may be difficult for you, call a handyman service.