We have had several requests for details on the construction of the pullup bars we use at CrossFit Flagstaff, so here it is. Please email me, via Lisa, at lisa@crossfitflagstaff, if you have questions.
I (Mike) designed and built all the pullup bars. I am a novice welder; in fact, the first set
of pullup bars we use at the gym, plus the ones I have in the garage at home,
are among the first welding projects I have ever done. They are not always the prettiest, but they
are above all SOLID, so if you are thinking of doing this yourself with limited
experience, I think it is very doable.
The gym has two generations of bars, and I will describe in detail only the second generation.
The bar design I have used requires a strong vertical
surface for mounting. The walls at our
gym are cinder block and the bar frames are bolted to ½” threaded rod that goes
all the way through the wall to metal plates on the back side.
Our bars are 33 feet long. I made five frames and spaced them eight feet apart, letting the bars stick over the ends by six inches. This spacing interval seems to work well, at least with the solid rod I used for the bars. You can fit three people in each eight foot section. At the Cert we had twelve guys jump up simultaneously (three per eight-foot section) and start kipping like mad for the Cindy workout and you could see just a little flex in the bar and no movement at all in the frames.The long vertical members that bolt to the wall are 40" long, the upper angled frame member is 39" long, and the lower angled member is 42" long. This leads to the pullup bar being about 36" from the wall, which seems to leave plenty of room for kipping. The stabilizer that goes out to the side is 15" long, and the smaller angled brace that goes to the frame is 20" long.
The main frames are 1/8” x 2” square tube.
The angled braces are 1/8” x 1” square tube.
We have three diameter bars:
1 ¼” hot-rolled solid rod.
1 1/8” cold-rolled rod.
1” hot-rolled rod.
The hot-rolled is considerable less expensive than the cold-rolled. The finish on the hot-rolled is a little rougher than on the cold, but not so much as to be a problem. I chose the 1” and 1 1/8” diameters because those correspond closely to the diameter of the 15kg and 20kg (“women’s” and “men’s”) Olympic barbells. The 1 1/8” diameter was available to me only in cold-rolled rod. I added some 1 ¼” to the second set of bars because I wanted something a little bigger. Some day I will put up a 2” or bigger bar for variety. I would definitely go with tube or pipe for this. I believe that at CrossFit North Santa Cruz, they used fire sprinkler pipe for all their bars, which seemed to work well. I would look into that if I was doing it again.
The frames were welded up at home, and then bolted to the wall. The bars were then welded onto the frames in situ, making the thing one monolithic structure. One big advantage to the new design is that the individual frames are fairly light and manageable. For the first pullup bars, I had to mount a bolt above the middle of each big frame, then hang a pulley system to maneuver them into place for mounting. Another thing I might change is to make some of the structure bolt together, so that if we ever need to move it, I don't have to cut and re-weld.
Some notes on construction:
- Drill the mounting holes in the frame members before assembling the frames. Once the frames are together, the struts interfere with drilling.
- Make the mounting holes slightly larger than the bolts you plan to hang the bars with to allow for some imprecision in drilling.
- The exact frame dimensions are not as important as that they are all the same. I cut all my frame pieces to length, then laid the big triangle part of one frame out on a flat surface and welded it together. Note that the bottom angled frame member sticks out ½” past the top piece to make a notch for the pullup bar to rest on. Then I laid out another frame and put the first one on top of it to make sure the notch for the pullup bar would end up in the same place.
- Once the triangles were together, I stood one up on the back (wall) side, made sure it was square, and welded on the side piece, making sure that my 1” square tube braces would reach.
- I closed off the open end of the bottom frame with some 1/8” x 2” flat steel.
- Mount the frames on the wall, obviously keeping them at the same height. We hung them so the bar would be eight feet off the deck.
- Weld the pullup bars in place.
- Grind smooth all edges near the pullup bar. The bars themselves can be smoothed with some sandpaper to reduce the roughness a little.
The complete second generation bar:
Detail of one frame:
Another angle on a frame:
Close-up of a brace:
Close up of end of bar:
The older first generation bars. These made for two heights of bar, and remain popular with the more vertically challenged among us:
Drawings I generated for the first-generation bars:
My first welding project, ceiling mounted bars for the garage at home. Sorry about the clutter, our garage is a tight space! I used similar steel to what is described for the bars above: