Exercises for a Pull Up Bar

A pull-up bar is a type of exercise equipment that is often found in gyms and basements. These tools are capable of working every muscle group in your body, including your legs. Whenever you grasp the bar, you are forced to suspend your body weight with your arms. This makes every exercise challenging.

Traditional Pull-ups

Traditional pull-ups work your latissimus dorsi muscles, which give your back the coveted “V” shape. They also work the rhomboids, which are toward the upper middle back. Grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Bend your lower legs and cross them behind your body. Tighten your core and lift yourself toward the bar. Stop when your chest is at the height of the bar, slowly lower yourself down and repeat.


Chin-ups are exercises that have a primary focus on your biceps and a secondary focus on your back muscles. Jump up and grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width, underhand grip. Curl your legs behind your body and pull your chest up to meet the bar. Slowly lower yourself down and repeat.

Leg Raises

Leg raises are abdominal exercises that can be done on the pull-up bar. Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Let your legs hang straight down toward the floor. Keep your upper body as still as possible and lift your legs up in the air. Stop and hold for a second when your legs parallel the floor. Lower them back down in a controlled fashion and repeat. You can also do this exercise by pulling your knees to your chest.

Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are intense ab exercises that put emphasis on your obliques. Grab the pull-up bar with a shoulder-width, overhand grip. Lift your legs up in front of your body so your knees are facing your chest. Lower your legs to your right side as far as possible. Lift them back up and lower them down to your left side as far as possible. Keep going back and forth in a smooth motion.

Burpee to Pull-ups

A burpee to pull-up exercise is intense, explosive and works every muscle in your body. Stand under the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down, place your hands on the floor outside your feet and kick your legs behind your body. Land on your toes, do a push-up and hop your feet back to the starting point. Jump up in the air, grab the bar with an overhand shoulder-width grip and perform a pull-up. Lower yourself back down, hop onto the ground and repeat. You can also do this exercise with a reverse grip on the bar (chin-up style).

About this Author

Kevin Rail has worked in the fitness industry since 2001 and has been writing since 2004. He has professional experience as a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, motivational engineer and freelance fitness writer. He currently writes a monthly column for Ron Jones High-Performance Health. Rail has a bachelor’s degree in sports management: fitness and wellness from California University of Pennsylvania.