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Abs & Core Work
Working your abs and core using your own bodyweight is often the most effective way to perform these exercises. Machines using weight plates or weight stacks are not necessary. To work your abs, crunches on the floor are always a staple. You can’t beat hanging knee or leg raises from your chin up bar (yet another reason why they are the best investment for your gym!) to get a serious ab workout.
Hyperextensions are another piece of equipment on which you can do quality exercises where weights are required. This not only strengthens your back, but also allows you stretch it as well.
Glute Ham Developers is a machine that works the entire posterior chain and has gained popularity in recent years. This is a brutal exercise with bodyweight alone.
Suitable for all levels
Bodyweight exercises are generally suitable for all weight trainers, regardless of experience level. For adults starting out, they will generally be carrying a little extra weight and won’t have the necessary strength to complete a chin-up or dip. With the aid of a resistance band, you can perform assisted dips and chin ups or you can just work on the eccentric part of the movement until your strength progresses.
For the serious trainer who has plenty of strength, you can add weight to your dips or chin-ups with a dip belt. For exercises like hyperextensions and glute ham raises, you can use a resistance band or weight plate to add resistance.
Chin UpsFrequently Asked Questions
Are Chin Up Bars Safe?
In general, chin-up bars are very safe and can hold lots of weight. However, the style of chin-ups and pull-ups you’ll be doing will determine the type of chin-up bar that will be safest for you. Some common training styles and the best chin up bar to start with would be:
Basic bodyweight sets and reps: Any type – Doorway Pullup Bar, Wall, Rack or Freestanding Chin up Bar.
Explosive Chin-ups/Pullups, Muscle-ups: Wall or Rack Mounted Chin up Bar.
Weighted Chin-ups/Pullups: Wall, Rack Mounted or Freestanding Pull-up Bar.
Your bodyweight and height will also determine which chin-up bar is best for you. Just make sure that the chin up bar you purchase has a high enough weight capacity for your current and future training goals, as well as having the option to adjust the height of the bar, if needed.
How High should a Chin Up Bar be?
This depends on your own height, goals and available space in your home gym or studio. If you want to be able to hang from the pullup bar without touching your feet on the floor, approximately 10-30cm higher than your standing reach should do the trick. For example, if you are 175cm, anywhere from 185cm-205cm+ would likely work well for you.
If you are very tall, most doorway chin up bars will not be high enough for you to do pullups without crossing your legs, which is OK! Crossed leg pullups/chin-ups will work the same muscles as straight leg pullups/chin-ups – some people just prefer one style over the other. But if you haven’t got the height crossed leg pullups will have to do.
Do Chin Up Bars work?
YES. According to Arnold, and to us, the Chin-up/Pull-up is the ultimate upper body exercise, working your lats, traps, rear delts, biceps, forearms, core, and stabilisers. Chin ups, performed on the chin-up bar, can be progressed infinitely. Meaning you will find a use for this bar throughout your training career. No matter how huge and strong you get.
For example, once you can do 10 pullups, you can add weights to a dip belt to make the chin-ups harder, or focus on different bodyweight progressions, such as Archer Pullups and L-sit Chin-ups. The possibilities are endless, as are the gains!
What Exercises can I do on a Chin Up Bar?
Some of the main exercises you can perform on the chin-up/pull-up bar include:
- Kipping Pull-ups
- Explosive Pullups
- Typewriter Pullups
- Commando Pullups
- Isometric Pullups/Chin-ups
- Gymnastics Ring Rows
- Ring Dips
- Bodyweight Curls
- Front Lever
- Back Lever
- Hanging Ab Raises
- Suspension Training
- Band Pushdowns
- Cable Lat Pulldowns (with attachment)
The possibilities are endless!
How to do Dips without a Bar?
Here’s a few options for those who want to do dips without a set of dip bars:
1. Chairs – you can do dips between a set of sturdy chairs you have at home, if they are heavy enough to not fall over or break under load. Make you sure you thoroughly test your rig first. Don’t dive straight into 70kg weighted dips first!
2. Kitchen countertop – get between the triangle corner gap in your kitchen and bang out some reps while cooking.
3. Park/Playground – there’s usually plenty of playground equipment, such as a bridge, that can mimic parallel bars. Some parks also have dedicated calisthenics equipment, including in-ground dip bars!
4. Rings – a harder variation, but by hanging a pair of gymnastics rings from a chin-up bar, cross beam, branch or anything solid enough – you can do ring dips!
Are straight Dip Bars harder?
Not necessarily, they are just different! Both the angled bar dip and the straight bar dip work your chest, shoulders, and triceps very well. However, the angled bar dip focuses a bit more on your chest, and the parallel dip focuses more on your shoulders and triceps. This is just due to the position of your hands when performing these movements, and the way your body is angled.
If you’re wondering whether to do angled bar dips or parallel bar dips, the answer.. is both! Both will work the same muscles, in a different way. If you only want to pick one, just do which ever you enjoy more, can feel in the muscles more, or you can perform with the equipment you have available.
What exercises can I do on Dip Bars?
Here’s some exercises you can do on Dips Bars:
- Regular Dips
- Chest Dip
- Triceps Dip
- Straight Bar Dips
- Plyometric Dips
- Archer Dips
- L-sit Pullups/Chin-ups
and many more!
How wide should Dip Bars be?
Dip bar width depends on your personal preferences and body structure. In general, you want your hands to be directly under your shoulders, or about shoulder width apart when doing dips. You can bring your hands in closer or wider than shoulder width. Just experiment and see what works for you!
The triangle shaped dip bars you normally see in gyms, or a pair of portable dip bars, are great to experiment with, as you can adjust the width of your hands very easily to find what position works for you! Just be safe and try to pick a width that you can achieve a full range of motion with.
How far apart should Gymnastic Rings be?
The space between your gymnastics rings depends on your current level of strength. Having the rings closer together will generally make the exercise easier, and having the rings further apart will generally make exercises, such as dips and pullups, much harder.
Just like holding a dumbbell out in front of you with straight arms, versus with bent arms. The further away the weight is from our centre of mass, the more difficult it becomes to lift. The further apart the rings are, the more difficult it becomes to pull up or dip yourself down. This is because your hands will be further from your centreline.
In general, a good width recommendation would be from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow. Put your forearm horizontally between the rings and adjust them to this width. Try this width and see how that goes to begin with. Make the necessary adjustments according to your own biomechanics and strength level.
How to hang Gymnastics Rings?
You can hang Gymnastics rings over any straight, overhead object that can hold your bodyweight. Suitable structures are a pull-up/chin-up bar, sturdy tree, or I-Beam in your garage. In general, you will throw the carabiner end of the gymnastics strap over the bar/beam, then run the other end of the strap through the gymnastics ring and then into the carabiner.
Using this method, you have an adjustable strap with the ring hanging at the bottom. Just make sure that you feed the strap into the carabiner correctly, so that when you push down on the ring, it does not move. There’s plenty of tutorials on how to do this, online!
Do gymnastic rings build muscle?
YES! Remember, our body does not know the difference between a barbell, dumbbell, machine, or gymnastics rings – all that it knows is whether we are forcing them to grow bigger and stronger, through exercise! Both bodybuilders and Olympic gymnasts can build impressive amounts of muscle because both styles of training focus on getting better at a certain movement over time.
With weight training, this looks like increasing the weight you use on all exercises (e.g., progressing from a 10kg to a 20kg barbell bicep curl), and with gymnastic ring training, this might look like progressing from 5 pullups to 10 pullups, or being able to hold a static position for a longer amount of time, creating more time under tension (volume). The better you get at any exercise, and therefore the stronger you get, the more muscle you have the potential to grow – assuming you eat well and recover well!
Do I need to do static exercises to Build Muscle?
No! While static exercises can DEFINITELY build muscle and strength, there are many examples of people online who have built muscle on a basic training program (e.g., 3×8-12 per exercises). This was achieved using only basic bodyweight exercises such as pullups, push ups, dips and handstand push ups.
Static exercises, such as L-sits, Front Levers, and Planches are just another form of training you have the option to do. It would be the same as preferring to use dumbbells over barbells – you can use both, and both will help you gain muscle and strength. However you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to! Just focus on having fun and progressing with your training.
How do I learn the Muscle-Up?
There are many ways to learn the muscle-up. While very impressive, muscle-ups are not actually that hard. It’s just about your technique!. There are plenty of tutorials online on how to get your first muscle-up, so I won’t repeat them here, but there are some pre-requisites you should have before learning the muscle-up, just for safety!
1. 5 clean bodyweight pull-ups (no kipping)
2. 5 straight bar dips
3. 1 clean Pull-up with 10-15% of your bodyweight added: e.g., for an 70kg person, 1 rep with 7.5-10kg added. This will help you get used to pulling explosively, which is what you’ll need for the muscle-up!