The 5 best men’s trail running shoes, perfect for off-road jogs or mountain races

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  • Trail running shoes support and protect your feet from the ever-changing terrain of off-road jogs.
  • Choosing the right pair depends on if you want to run fast, keep your feet dry, or plan to run on pavement and trails.
  • Our top pick, Salomon’s Sense Ride 3, is a durable, neutral trail shoe that fits like a glove and has great traction.

Trail running is an amazing upgrade to road running if you’re looking to log miles with better scenery and a more intense challenge to your body. You’re often running uphill and your feet are constantly having to stabilize against imperfections in the trails like tree roots and rocks. This makes it so both your lungs and your muscles work much harder than a road run.

But because your foot tackles more than just smooth pavement, your shoes have to do more than a typical runner would.

You essentially want your trail running shoes to be akin to a hiking boot in that they’ll protect your feet against rocks, mud, and roots while having enough grip to keep you from skidding on loose terrain. Yet, you also need them to be supported and lightweight like a road running shoe, enough to keep your legs moving fast and feet from absorbing too much shock with each step.

Because there are so many more factors to consider, finding a great pair of trail running shoes can be harder than finding road runners. The right pair can take you on a gorgeous path through the woods and you’ll have a running experience like no other. Pick the wrong ones, however, and you could be in for a rough ride.

There’s certainly plenty to consider and to help, I’ve field-tested a range of different trail shoes fit for a variety of running styles – and I’ve included my five favorites below. At the end of this guide, I’ve also provided some tips on how to shop for trail running shoes, as well as the testing methodology I used in deciding which pairs made the cut.

Here are the best trail running shoes for men:

The best overall

Salomon sense rides trail runners

The Salomon Sense Ride 3 has amazing traction on a variety of terrain, holds up on rough trails again and again, yet is still lightweight enough to keep you moving fast.

Pros: Capable of handling a variety of terrain, outstanding protection and durability, very comfortable with a molded, glove-like fit, superb traction

Cons: Heavier than I expected, unique lacing system takes some getting used to

On one hand, this neutral, everyday trail trainer features some of the best protection and durability of all the shoes I tested. It handled everything I could throw at it during runs that took me over splintery logs, down wet embankments, and through a loose gravel field. After two months of testing the Sense Ride 3, they still looked as good as new and my feet were untouched. Insider’s Health and Fitness Updates Editor Rachael Schultz adds she’s been running in the women’s Sense Ride 3 for two years now and they’re still as reliable underfoot as the first wear.

The shoes performed well on a variety of trails from steep technical inclines to pure slop (it was a rainy spring) with Salomon’s Contragrip MA outsole offering superb traction. The outsole’s diamond-shaped rubber lugs are long enough at 2mm for climbing muddy hills but not so aggressive that they slowed me down or clogged up with dirt afterward.

The Sense Ride 3s were the most comfortable of the shoes I tested, with a smooth contoured fit that seemed to swaddle my feet. There’s an internal sleeve in the shoe, which Salomon calls EndoFit, that’s designed to hug the foot and provide comfort. It delivered as did the molded OrthoLite insole that offered added cushioning. 

The Sense Ride 3’s welded, stitch-free upper is deluxe, producing a glove-like feel with no hotspots. It’s also a gorgeous-looking shoe, with a minimalist design that’s not likely to go out of style.

Salmon’s patented Quicklace system took a little getting used to, however. Featuring thin but strong laces that you pull tight via a sliding button, Quicklace lets you fine-tune the fit to get just the right amount of lace pressure. While this is definitely a learning curve, it makes for quick adjustments if you need to loosen a bit mid-run. Also important to note is there is a hidden pocket on the tongue that you’re supposed to tuck the dangling laces into, as outlined in a short video from Salomon. This may be a pain for some, but honestly, so is lacing a shoe period.

The Sense Ride 3s were heavier than I expected, with my size 11.5 pair weighing in at over 12 ounces per shoe. Part of that is because of the thicker midsole compared to previous versions. The added weight is worth it though because Salomon’s plush Optivibe foam offered great energy return and a smooth ride while the shoe’s rock plate added another layer of protection. The shoe has a moderate 8mm drop, which suited most conditions well.

Put plainly, the Sense Ride 3 is a great all-rounder on the trails.

The best for races

FW20 M Speedgoat 4 Lifestyle.JPG

Hoka One One’s EVO Speedgoat is lightweight and made for going fast while still offering a thick midsole to float you over rough terrain.

Pros: Light and fast, flashy design with a comfortable and durable fit, thick foam midsole for cushioning on terrain

Cons: Some stability issues on rocky, technical trails; high-stack height reduces ground feel

Hoka’s popular Clifton series of road running shoes was named our best cushioned trainer for men, and the brand’s EVO Speedgoat is a bit like a trail version of that highly-stacked shoe. 

The entire Speedgoat line of trail shoes is named after legendary ultramarathoner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer who has more 100-mile race wins than any other runner. There are quite a few key features that make the EVOs, specifically, ideal for speeding down trails:

For one, the EVO Speedgoat’s upper is stitched with a lightweight but tough material called Matryx that blends stretchy Lycra with tough Kevlar for a durable, water-repellent shell. I loved putting on these shoes, too. Their bucket seat design and stretchy laces fit my feet (which suffer from some bunion issues) perfectly, with ample room in the toebox. 

Because this is a Hoka shoe, the EVO’s foam midsole is ample, to say the least. With a stack height of 32mm and a heel (31mm) to toe (27mm) drop of 4mm, these are tall, soft trail shoes designed with Hoka’s slightly curved meta-rocker design. The extra cushioning provides a bigger buffer when running over bumpy terrain and I often felt like I was floating on a cloud in these shoes. There’s almost no ground feel, however, which may not appeal to some runners. I didn’t have an issue, except on more technical trails with large rocks, where I often worried I’d turn an ankle (but didn’t, thankfully).

What I liked most about the EVO Speedgoats is the speed they allow. Weighing around ten ounces, these were one of the lightest shoes I tested and, on less technical trails, I’d flat out fly. Even when I was cruising along, I never felt I’d lose my footing thanks to the Vibram MegaGrip outsole, which features 5mm multidirectional lugs. Traction was superb and because the outsole extends in the back, the EVO Speegoats held their own when running downhill with the rear foam flare providing added stability.

As for the design, they feature a striking bright yellow and black colorway. The EVO Speedgoats are like the splashy sportscar of all the shoes I tested, but one built with the dependable all-wheel drive of a Subaru to help take you off the beaten path.

The best hybrid

Nike Pegasus

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 borrows design points from its beloved road-warrior brother, but is designed to get down and dirty, making it a unique hybrid shoe you’ll be comfortable using on everything from asphalt to mud. 

Pros: A great commuter shoe that can handle both pavement and dirt, Nike’s React foam midsole provided ample cushioning, many highly functional and attractive design elements

Cons: A very heavy shoe, steep heel to toe drop caused some stability issues, couldn’t get a full locked-down fit

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2, as its name suggests, is the trail version of the popular Nike Pegasus road shoe line. The main similarity between the Pegasus Trail 2 and the road Pegasus 37 is the large chunk of Nike’s React foam, which forms the midsole of both models. React is a soft but responsive foam that I’ve liked on Nike’s previous road shoes and it’s a great match for the Trail 2’s city-to-trail design. 

On one of my first runs in this shoe, I ran roughly a mile on the roads to a local park and then sped off down a winding, tree-lined path for a few more miles on soft ground before returning to the pavement to head home. This might not seem like a big deal but if you’ve ever tried to bring a serious trail shoe on the road – or a road shoe on the trails, for that matter – it’s not fun. The Trail 2 handled both surfaces well, though its mountain bike-inspired rubber outsole with 2mm lugs thrives in the dirt. 

The Trail 2 has a stack height of 31mm in the heel and 21mm in the forefoot for a drop of 10mm. That significant drop did help generate forward momentum and I enjoyed being able to put the pedal to the metal with these shoes, particularly on lower-grade downhills. 

As with other highly stacked trail shoes, I experienced some instability on steeper, more treacherous trails, particularly those lined with large rocks. This was particularly true when my legs were tired, which caused the shoes to feel wobbly. On the plus side, the generous amount of foam reduced the stress on my legs during longer runs. 

I also liked the Pegasus Trail 2’s functional design elements including a faux gaiter on the heel collar that prevented dirt and debris from getting inside the shoe. The tough but breathable engineered mesh on the Trail 2’s upper was also a nice touch as was the water-repellent coating on the gusseted tongue and collar that prevented moisture from creeping in. 

In terms of looks, the Pegasus Trail 2 is an eye-catching shoe. The pair I tested had a brash but appealing color scheme of pale yellow on the upper, neon green around the laces and heel counter, and teal on the neoprene tongue and collar. The shoe’s forefoot includes two toe fangs, which are a pair of rubber nubs that add traction when running uphill and look plain fierce. 

The Trail 2’s were the heaviest shoes I tested (over 12 ounces in size 11.5) and while I wasn’t keen on that, a few of my fastest and most enjoyable runs were in them. These shoes perform extremely well both on and off the roads.

The best lightweight

Altra Timp 2.0

If you want a zero-drop shoe to really feel the trail on your runs, the lightweight but well-cushioned Altra Timp 2.0 will keep you safe and moving fast.

Pros: A sleek and fast zero drop shoe that felt natural to run in, significantly lighter than previous version, Quantic foam midsole provides excellent cushioning

Cons: Narrower fit overall might not appeal to previous Timp fans, shoes require a fair amount of breaking in

Altra’s Timp line is a relatively new but beloved series of shoes, and to say that the 2.0 version has divided Timp devotees would be an understatement. The biggest change between Timp 2.0 and Timp 1.5 is the fit, which on the new version is tighter through the mid- and forefoot. In a word, these shoes feel snug. That’s somewhat unusual for Altra since the company has a reputation for creating shoes with a wide toebox that lets you splay out your toes in a way that mimics barefoot walking. You can still do that with the Timp 2.0, but everywhere else feels narrower. 

Altra trimmed the shoe down and shed some of its weight. In my size 11.5s, each Timp 2.0 weighed around 10 ounces, which is equal to the speedy Hoka EVO Speedgoats above. These felt even lighter than the Speedgoats though and, overall, I loved the sleek and fast 2.0, which would make a decent racing shoe. 

They do require some breaking in, however. When I initially put them on, my troublesome right foot with its bunion issue, felt squeezed. After loosening the laces a bit and taking them on a few tempo runs, I was hooked.

Most notably, this is a zero-drop shoe, which means both the heel and the forefoot are the same height off the ground. Despite that, the Timp 2.0 does has significant cushioning with a stack height of around 30mm. Altra uses its Quantic foam – a first for the Timp line – on the 2.0 and its plush but lightweight midsole felt fantastic even on bumpy trails.

The Maxtrac outsole provided decent grip and while the rubber lugs are on the small size (2mm), Altra deploys them in its Trailclaw outlay, which positions them beneath your foot’s metatarsals to provide better traction at toe-off. These weren’t my favorite shoes for wet and muddy conditions, but they certainly held their own on just about everything else.

Overall, I enjoyed the sensation of running in the Timp 2.0s. While zero-drop shoes aren’t for everyone, they do provide an experience more akin to running barefoot. When I padded over rocks or went sideways on steep embankments, I never felt unstable. I could just run, which is what it’s all about.

The best waterproof

Saucony Sneaker

If the trails you plan to run are wet, muddy, and full of river crossings, the best shoe to go with is the Saucony Peregrine 10 GTX which has a Gore-Tex upper and has the best grip of all the models I tested.

Pros: Gore-Tex upper keeps your feet dry even when crossing streams, excellent traction from an aggressive 6mm lug pattern on the outsole, low-to-the-ground profile provided excellent stability

Cons: Snug fit caused me some heel pain after runs, bottom of shoe retains dirt, quite heavy

The Saucony Peregrine 10 GTX is a low-to-the-ground shoe with a minimal heel (22mm) to forefoot (18mm) drop of 4mm. This is another shoe that helps you feel the trail, minus the jolts since they’re well protected. I had no stability issues with the Peregrine 10 GTX and plowed through a variety of terrain in them with confidence, including ankle-deep muck, piles of slippery wet leaves, and a small stream.

The one knock against Gore-Tex on any shoe is that it can cause a shoe’s upper to feel stiff and confining. However, I had no such problem with the Peregrine 10 GTX, which fit my feet like a comfortable glove. The Gore-Tex upper was less supple than some of the other shoes I tested and didn’t breathe as well – you’ll definitely want to air these out after your runs – but I barely noticed it once I hit the trails. 

What I did notice was the superior traction from Saucony’s PWRTRAC outsole, which uses a sticky rubber compound and an aggressive, 6mm hexagonal lug pattern that kept me from slipping even on a rainy run through a field. On the downside, this is definitely not a shoe you’d want to use on the roads and the grippy outsole tended to retain some dirt after trail runs.

The Peregrine 10 GTX is well-cushioned and there’s a rock plate to protect your feet from sharp objects on the trail. Saucony’s FORMFIT design with its reinforced upper cradled my feet snugly if a bit too tightly on my slightly longer right foot. In the past, I’ve had issues with stiff heel cups causing me pain in my right heel after runs and this was the case with the Peregrine 10 GTX. After doing some research, I noticed at least one other reviewer had the same problem with the Peregrine 10, so you might want to consider going up half a size if this is an issue for you.

Other than that, my only other issue was weight. In size 11.5, the Peregrine 10 GTX tipped the scales at over 12 ounces, putting it amongst the heavier shoes I tested. When you consider what you’re getting with this fully featured trail shoe, however, including the waterproof benefits of Gore-Tex, those extra few ounces are worth it. 

A note on fit

The main difference between a men’s and a women’s running shoe regards the exact shape of the foot. Men’s feet are often wider, and their heels tend to be a little bigger, thus the design of a running shoe needs to accommodate for this.

A variation in body mass also impacts the shape of the midsole, and the difference in Q-angles (the angle of incidence between a person’s knee cap and their quad muscle) means cushioning needs will vary, as well.

However, just because these shoes carry the “men’s” label, anyone can (and should) wear any piece of gear that fits them best, above all. 

How to shop for trail running shoes

There are many things to look for in trail shoes but the first question you should ask yourself is, where do you plan on using them? If your runs are on a combination of roads and trails, you’ll want a hybrid shoe that won’t slow you down on concrete while giving you enough grip on dirt to prevent you from slipping.

If you see yourself regularly running on wet, muddy trails, you’ll want shoes with longer rubber lugs on their outsoles for better traction. You may even consider getting waterproof shoes fortified with Gore-Tex if you plan on running in the rain or if your trails have any shallow streams to cross. 

If your local trails are rocky or you favor moving fast through difficult terrain, you may want a shoe with a reinforced toe cap to prevent sharp objects, such as sticks or branches, from piercing the front of your shoe. Also handy are shoes with rock plates, which are slabs of plastic or carbon fiber sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole of the shoe that shield your foot when running over jagged rocks.

Other features are more of a matter of taste: Do you want your trail shoes to have a pronounced drop? This means that the midsole is tilted forward with the heel higher than the toe portion of the shoe. Some runners feel having a heel-to-toe drop of 10 millimeters or more helps their running form by propelling them forward while the added rear foam protects their heels on bumpy trails. 

Other runners, however, prefer zero-drop shoes where the heel and ball of your foot are the same height off the ground. Shoes without drops are typically better for more technical trails and less likely to cause you to turn your ankle on steep, uneven terrain. Some runners even say zero drop shoes help them feel the trail better. 

How we test trail running shoes

Each trail running shoe in this guide went through a series of on-foot and on-trail tests to see how they across these four categories: Fit and comfort, performance, versatility, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into what pairs of trail running shoes ultimately made this guide:

Fit and comfort: Though fit and comfort could be two separate categories, it was easy to lump the two together while testing for this guide. The right pair of trail running shoes should fit snugly across your foot while still leaving a small amount of space between the end of the shoe and your toes. If the shoe fits in this way, you’re likely to also enjoy as much comfort as possible — which is vital for longer runs over uneven and rocky terrain.  

Performance: First and foremost, a trail running shoe should be designed for the trail (however vague the word “trail” might actually be). This means that a shoe built for rocky terrain should have lugs designed to absorb and grip jagged rocks. If it’s a pair meant for mud or other slick surfaces, the grip on the bottom should allow you to avoid taking a spill. And since they’re all running shoes at their core, they should function as a proper runner, too.

Versatility: There may not be a jack-of-all-trades-type trail running shoe that’s built to handle it all, but some do come extremely close. When testing for this, we wanted to see how well the shoes held up transitioning from pavement to trail, or when it went from mud to dirt to sand. We also judged how well the waterproof designation held up not just in rain but when fully submerged, as well. 

Value: Value is essentially the combination of the previous three categories, along with the runner’s sticker price. Proper trail running shoes aren’t often inexpensive but investing in the right pair means you’ll spend less over time (as opposed to buying a budget pair more often and ultimately spending more money). 

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The 6 best Pilates bars of 2021

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  • A Pilates bar challenges and tones the body in dynamic ways, and especially helps strengthen the core. 
  • Our top choice is the Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar for its quality and functionality.
  • We’ve also included options for beginners, those on the go, and more.
  • Read more: The best yoga mats

Pilates was first developed in the 1920s as a low-impact form of exercise specifically designed to strengthen the core, as well as other muscles in the body, and promote postural alignment. As a Pilates instructor, it’s my job to challenge clients in each and every session. Adding equipment to the workout is one way to ramp up the intensity and add new and creative movements. Pilates bars are great tools that can further target the core and work the body in dynamic ways. Lightweight, portable, and with bands for added resistance, the bars will add a strengthening element to your Pilates workout that can help better define your muscles.

Here are the best Pilates bars

Best overall

gaiam pilates bar
Disassembles for easy storage.

The Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar is a high-quality piece of equipment to practice reformer-style movements. 

What we like: Quality, ease of set up, digital workouts included 

This polished and robust Pilates bar has been thoughtfully designed to help you build a strong core, while also increasing flexibility and improving balance. It features two, 30-inch Power Cords and attached foot straps, plus downloadable exercise workouts that guide you through essential Pilates bar movements with proper technique and form. The intensity can be increased simply by rolling the bands around the bar to generate greater resistance. Weighing just two pounds, this lightweight bar is designed for you to flow between reformer-style exercises with grace and ease.

Best on a budget

BQYPOWER pilates bar kit
The eight-character tensioner helps tone the body from all angles.

The BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit is an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

What we like: Price, multi-use, straps hold their stretch 

For those on a budget, the BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit delivers on all fronts without neglecting quality. The strong steel bar is protected with sweat-absorbing foam pads for comfort as you maintain optimum postural alignment, and the straps are made with TPR (thermoplastic rubber) elastic tubes which help them keep their stretch, even after continued use. As a bonus, the kit includes an eight-character tensioner, useful for both strengthening and stretching purposes.

Best for beginners

Viajero Pilates Bar Kit
Easy to increase or decrease resistance.

The Viajero bar is flexible in resistance and comes with a guided e-book for beginners to learn proper technique. 

What we like: Durable, portable, exercise guide included

For beginners, the Viajero bar is an effective addition for your workouts. You can adjust the resistance by simply rolling the tubes around the bar, which is useful for alternating between strength exercises. The bar splits into three sections for easy transport and has two attachable natural latex resistance bands (up to 50 lbs) that can stretch six to 10 times in length without losing resilience. The bar also comes with a handy workout e-book and video to teach you proper form and movement patterns.

Best for strength training

cretee pilates bar
Build muscle with just one piece of equipment.

Adjustable between 60-180 pounds, the Cretee Pilates Bar is best for those who want to build strength.

What we like: Multi-functional, height adaptable, up to 180 pounds of resistance

The Cretee Pilates Bar comes with six bands, varying in resistance from 60 to 180 pounds, with the strap length adjustable depending on your height and the exercise. The bands are made from durable natural latex and can withstand daily exercise sessions without losing elasticity. As a multi-functional bar, the resistance can be reduced for Pilates and more stabilizing-focussed workouts, or increased to challenge the muscles in a strength-training session. 

Best portable

NoviFit Pilates Bar
This band comes with a cooling towel and a storage bag.

The NoviFit Pilates Bar is the best portable option for those working out on the go.

What we like: Adjustable, comes with a carry bag and training guide

The anti-slip NoviFit Pilates Bar has adjustable bands to change both height and resistance, making it suitable for all heights and fitness levels. It also features widening, non-slip foot belts and thick resistance bands for lasting durability. The bar folds up to a compact 19 inches and comes with a cooling towel and waterproof storage bag for workouts on the go. As a bonus, the included workout guide offers a selection of exercises for the entire body. 

Best for added value

CHAMPYA pilates bar
A guided app is included.

With additional straps and a follow-along workout app, the CHAMPYA Pilates Bar offers nice extras.

What we like: Adjustable, sturdy nylon handles, fitness app included

The bar is made from durable materials, including a three-part stick made from sturdy steel, a thick foam exterior, and tough nylon handles to withstand up to 40 pounds of resistance. The adjustable knobs allow you to change the height as desired, and there are two additional foot straps that can be connected for workout variation. Included is access to the Champya App, with a follow-along guide teaching you how to properly stretch, strengthen, and sculpt. 

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The best pull-up bars

  • A proper at-home pull-up bar should be easy to install and able to support your weight without wobbling or bowing – and is a great addition to anyone’s home gym setup
  • Adding a pull-up routine to your weekly workouts helps strengthen your upper body, builds muscle, and improves your grip strength – so long as you’re using the right bar. 
  • We spoke to New York City-based personal trainer, Brad Baldwin, about how to pick out the right pull-up bar, the benefits of doing the workout, and how adding it to your fitness routine can have a major impact. 
  • Our top pick, the Garren Fitness Maximiza pull-up Bar, features comfortable foam grips and unobtrusively fits in any standard doorframe. 

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Pull-ups aren’t for the faint of heart. I remember the days of easily cranking out a dozen or so pull-ups while hardly breaking a sweat. But after years of cheeseburgers and sitting at a computer, easy pull-ups are harder to come by. Fortunately, there are a number of pull-up bars on the market that fit the needs of anyone looking for a new addition to their home gym.

But first, I highly recommend first consulting with a physician before starting any exercise program. I learned this the hard way when I tried to rattle off some pull-ups after years of sedentary living, and quickly tore a muscle in my shoulder. Don’t be like me. 

Why you should start doing pull-ups 

The benefits of incorporating pull-ups into your weekly routine are many. From improving upper body strength to building muscle, pull-ups can have a significant impact on your fitness goals. According to the New York City-based personal trainer, Brad Baldwin, pull-ups are “the king of back exercises.”

“[Pull-ups] force you to work at a higher intensity,” Baldwin told Insider. “They’re great for creating that coveted V-shaped torso and for getting stronger.” 

For anyone looking to begin strength training, it’s smart to start with dips and push-ups on your way to performing a pull-up. You might also try mounting your pull-up bar lower or standing on a box. Pull yourself up to the bar with your feet on the ground at an increasingly difficult angle. Thankfully, the bars I included in this guide are versatile enough to help you work up to your goals. 

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve included some helpful tips on how to shop for an at-home pull-up bar and what to consider, as well as some insight into the testing methodology.

Here are the best pull-up bars:

Updated on 12/15/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on why you should start doing pull-ups, added more to our testing methodology and how to shop for a pull-up bar, checked the availability of all recommended picks, and updated the prices where necessary. 

Best pull-up bar overall

pull up bar 1

The Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull Up Bar is easy on your hands, installs effortlessly, and is made of long-lasting chrome steel.

The Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull Up Bar is made of chrome steel and comes with three sets of mounting hardware, two of which support up to 300 pounds of weight. The medium-duty door mount supports 150 pounds and isn’t recommended for use above waist height.

You can also use the bar without door mounts for sit-up foot support and other light exercises. The bar is adjustable and fits doorways between 26 and 36 inches wide, and can be installed so that a door is still able to close. 

The bar features non-slip, extra-long foam grips. Garren Fitness cautions against using the Maximiza for gymnastics, and they suggest applying your weight cautiously during the first few exercises to ensure the bar is safely installed (a smart practice with any pull up bar.) Garren Fitness provides a full satisfaction guarantee, so you can get a no-questions-asked full refund if you’re not satisfied for any reason.

Pros: Comfortable foam grips, unobtrusive, solidly built

Cons: Installation requires drilling into door jamb, foam grips may wear from heavy-duty use

Best ceiling-mounted pull-up bar

pull up bar 2

If you are interested in doing a variety of pull-ups and you don’t want to use your door frame, the Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar is your best bet.

Pros: Three padded gripping positions, easy installation, sturdy construction

Cons: Some complaints of manufacturer defects

The Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar from Ultimate Body Press has three high-density foam grip positions for standard, wide-grip, and 20-inch parallel-grip pull-ups or chin-ups. This model has a powder-coat finish for added durability. The 14-inch reversible risers are designed to fit either 16- or 24-inch joists.

The mounting kit comes with instructions, a template, and mounting hardware. You will need a drill, tape or pencil, and a step ladder. Ultimate Body Press offers a fairly nebulous 100% satisfaction guarantee with this product. The fact the bars aren’t welded to the mounting brackets could affect long-term durability (though perhaps the satisfaction guarantee would cover it). 

Best pull-up bar for beginners

pull up bar

If you are interested in doing pull-ups but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Iron Gym Pull Up Bar is an excellent solution for beginners.

Pros: Inexpensive, versatile, easy to mount and remove, 300-pound capacity

Cons: Contains plastic parts

The Iron Gym Pull Up Bar works much like the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym. It hangs on a doorframe and stays in place through leverage. You can also remove the pull-up bar to perform sit-ups, push-ups, and dips.

The bar is made of a combination of plastic and steel, and it comes with everything you need to assemble the unit, including a hex open wrench. There are foam grips for standard and wide pull-ups. However, the parallel grip handles are fairly small and awkwardly positioned. Lastly, this model comes with a comprehensive workout and nutrition guide.

Best doorframe pull-up bar

pullup bar 4

If you are looking for a pull-up bar that you can effortlessly attach to your doorframe and take down when you’re done, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar will serve you well.

Pros: Three grip locations, 300-pound capacity, unlikely to damage your doorframe

Cons: Wide grip may be too wide for some, recent quality concerns, doesn’t fit all doorframes

The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar has three padded grip positions for hammer grip, close grip, and normal grip pull-ups. The 300-pound weight capacity makes it so you can use this model with a weight vest. There is some assembly required, and all of the tools needed are included with the bar.

The Multi-Gym Pro adjusts for height and works with doorframes that are up to 6 inches deep and 33 inches wide. The bar can be placed on the floor to assist with push-ups and sit-ups. And, Perfect Fitness stands behind the quality of this model with a one-year warranty.

Best budget pull-up bar

SunnyHealthBar

At under $30, the Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Pull-Up Bar is not only a bargain but a quality pull-up bar that’s easy to install and won’t hinder being able to open or close your door. 

Pros: Securely installs into a doorframe and allows the door to still shut completely, costs less than $30, features padded grips

Cons: Only supports weight up to 220 pounds

The Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Pull-Up Bar may not have many bells and whistles, but it’s basic nature (and wallet-friendly price tag) is what makes this product so attractive. Installing the bar requires drilling a couple of brackets into either side of the doorframe you wish to use it on, then the bar’s telescoping arm extends to fit snugly into place.

Brackets may seem like overkill but they work wonders in making sure you don’t end up slamming into the ground should the bar come loose. Even with the brackets and bar installed, any door is still able to fully shut without being interfered with — which adds even more to this bar’s ease of use. 

It’s worth pointing out that the bar only supports weight up to 220 pounds, and its position on the door could create a situation where hit the top of your head on the doorframe if you’re not careful. With a price tag south of $30, however, these are minor drawbacks to an otherwise impressive budget pull-up bar.

Best freestanding pull-up bar

stamina pull up bar

The Stamina 1690 Power Tower allows you to perform platform push-ups, sit-ups, knee and leg raises, dips, pull-ups, and more.

Pros: Wide range of exercises, easy to assemble — no drilling or door frame needed

Cons: Issues with wobbling, expensive compared to traditional bars, takes up a lot of space

The Stamina 1690 Power Tower is a free-standing full-body workout unit made of durable steel and fitted with padded foam in five sets of grip locations. The overall size of the assembled tower is 49 inches long by 42.5 inches wide by 81 inches high. The base of the tower features no-slip endcaps.

Stamina states that the capacity is 250 pounds, but as noted below, it’s closer to 200 pounds in practice. In addition to pull-ups and chin-ups, this model is designed for tricep dips, sit-ups, push-ups, and leg raises, though there is no backrest to assist with the leg raises.

How to shop for an at-home pull-up bar

At-home pull-up bars aren’t a one-design-fits-all market, as there are several different styles to choose from, each with its own advantages. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common at-home pull-up bar type:

  • Cantilever: One of the most popular pull-up bar variations is the cantilever-style, molding-mounted bars. They don’t require permanent alteration to your home and are easy to install and remove. They feature several grip options, too. However, when shopping for these doorframe pull-up bars, pay attention to the dimensions of the bar and what size frames they work on to ensure you get the proper fit.
  • Mounted: Then there’s a class of pull-up bar that requires drilling and mounting of the unit. We included ceiling-mounted and door-mounted options in our guide. They tend to be rated for heavier weights but are less portable. Wall-mounted bars are also available but we didn’t find any models worth recommending.
  • Power towers: The final group of pull-bars is called power towers. These are freestanding units that do not require drilling and are often compatible with a wide array of exercises. However, power towers typically cost more, have a large footprint, and many models have problems with wobbling when heavier individuals are performing intense workouts.

How we test pull-up bars

Each pull-up bar featured in this guide went through an array of tests to see how well it compared across these four categories: Ease of installation, build quality, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which pull-up bars made this guide:

Ease of installation: How easy an at-home pull-up bar is to install is a vital feature as you not only want to avoid fumbling with a confusing setup, but you also want to be confident that once it’s installed (and installed correctly) that it’ll keep in place. It’s reasonable to doubt the reliability of a pull-up bar that sits precariously in your doorway, so this was one of the first things we assessed when testing. 

Build quality: Relying on a pull-up bar to hold your weight comes down not just to the above category but to its build quality, as well. If it’s susceptible to being easily bent or its components are shoddily built-on and likely to fall off, the pull-up bar will be far less comfortable, and safe, to use.

Versatility: A pull-up bar’s versatility is sort of an extension of its ease of installation as most will require you to take them off if you intend to shut the door whose door frame it resides in. There are some, however, (like our top pick) that allow you to still close the door even after they’re installed. This category also refers to the actual build design and if it allows for multiple grip positions or not.

Value: A pull-up bar’s value comes down to a combination of the three categories above, as well as how much it actually costs. It’s not always about spending the most money to get the best pull-up bar, though it is better to shop for a premium, well-built product. While it may be expensive at first, it does save you the hassle of having to buy several, cheaper options more often. 

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