Can you get a full body workout with a pull up bar?
Yes, you can.
This article is going to QUICKLY show you what muscles you need to target and what exercises you can perform if you had a doorway pull up bar.
A Full Body Workout Means What Muscles?
There are over 650 muscles in the human body, but for aesthetic, strength and health purposes we only need to target the bigger ones.
- pectoralis muscles (your chest)
- trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles (your back)
- biceps brachii (your biceps)
- triceps brachii (your triceps)
- abdominius muscles (your abs)
- gluteus maximus (your butt)
- quadriceps muscles (your thighs)
- your hamstrings
- your calf muscles
Ensuring that any workout you perform hits at least some of these at some point will ensure overall muscular and strength development and protect against future imbalances.
What Exercises Can You Do To Target Those Muscles?
Not only do doorway pull up bars save you from installing and damaging your walls, they also allow you to just about hit every major muscle.
What follows is a list of exercises that you can perform using just about any doorway pull up bar.
Pushups. Performed by placing the pull up bar level on the ground, grabbing the main bar (or the middle brace), lowering yourself and pushing back up.
The nice thing about pull up bar pushups is that you can go a bit lower than you could doing a regular push up on the floor, giving you a nice, deep stretch in your chest.
Pull ups (of course!). Performed by simply grabbing one of the grips with both hands, dead hanging (no swinging) and using your arms and back muscles to pull yourself up until your chin reaches above the bar where your hands are.
When it comes to pull ups, typically the more grips you have on your pull up bar, the more pull up variations you will be able to do.
Traditional pull ups (hands about shoulder length apart), chin ups (palms facing you), wide grip pull ups and hammer grip (palms facing each other) are all easily done on different bars.
Chin ups. Chin ups (where you place your hands with your palms facing you and then using primarily your biceps to pull yourself up) are a great bicep building exercise.
Pull up bars with hammer grips will allow you to simulate doing hammer curls (done with dumbbells), which can also hit your biceps from a different angle.
These can also be done with one hand for a more intense exercise.
On the advertisement to just about every doorway pull up bar there will probably be a little snippet about being able to perform dips.
This is not true.
You can technically do them, by placing the bar on the ground, sitting over, grabbing the bar with both hands to brace yourself and then using your triceps to lower and push yourself back up but...
...your range of motion is basically non-existent.
Here's a better exercise you can perform instead.
Close-grip push ups using the bar on the ground.
Grab the middle brace and lower yourself down, then push yourself back up. This will not only give you a far, far greater range of motion than the dips, they will also feel a ton better.
Hanging leg raises. These are killer. Simply grab the bar once it's put into place on your door frame, raise your legs and settle into a good dead hang. Then, curl up your legs until they are about parallel.
You can do these in multiple ways; keeping your legs straight as you raise them, keeping them tucked in, raising them and twisting, etc.
These are very good at hitting your lower abs especially. The twisting variants really give your obliques a good workout as well.
Sit ups. You can also do sit ups using the bar as a brace in the doorway. All you have to do is set it up so that the main bar braces against the doorway, and use the device as a brace to keep your feet in place.
There are a million and one variations of sit ups you can perform, but the most popular are; traditional hands behind the neck, arms crossed over in front of you, twisting sit ups, halfway sit ups, etc.
While the leg raises really hit your lower abs, sit ups are better at hitting your upper abs which means you can very easily get a very intense ab session in.
Some pull up bars come with free ab straps as well, to give you a few more different varieties.
The bad news is that just about the only body part you will have difficulty hitting when using a doorway pull up bar would be your legs.
The good news however is that you don't need anything except your own bodyweight in order to get a very good, intense leg workout in. Here are just a few of the exercises you can perform.
Squats. Simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Break with your waist and squat down the crease in your upper thigh is below your knee, and then explode back up again. These are killer.
Lunges. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a longer than usual step forward and, keeping your hind foot in place, bend your knee until it touches the floor. Come back and switch feet. These are great for hitting your glutes and hamstrings.
Calf raises. Stand next to a wall. Use one (or both) of your hands to brace yourself, and pick up one of your legs. Use the calf muscle in your other leg to extend upwards, and then back down again. You can try these on some stairs to get a nice, deep range of motion and really stretch them out.
Pull ups, chin ups, hammer grip pull ups, push ups, close-grip push ups, wide grip push ups, sit ups and hanging leg raises are just some of the exercises that you can perform with most doorway pull up bars.
You can also get creative and add a few twists to these exercises such as static holds, long contractions and more.
Whatever the case, if it's a full body at home workout that you need, a doorway pull up bar is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to take care of your fitness needs.