Homemade Pullup Bar

The week before the COVID Shutdowns happened, I did 350 pullups. I was training for the Brando Fitness Challenge. I had to hit go on a stopwatch, bang out 20 pullups, and then run 4 miles all in 30 minutes. My big test was going to happen on the week after finals…let’s say May 15th. I devised a workout routine where I’d run a mile, jump over to the pullup bar and bang out 10, and then immediately start running. I did this for 4 miles. It’s a hell of a drug once you get used to the Earth turning on its side for about 10 seconds after each pullup set. You have to trust that your body will shut down before you die. I do.

I even model pullup bars in Fusion 360.

In addition to the stupid fitness challenge I made up, I was finishing up my last semester of engineering school where I was sprinting towards a big goal of getting an electrical engineering senior project into a peer-reviewed journal. I was starting at 6am and finishing at 11pm every night. It was surreal. As Julian says in Trailer Park Boys, “Just roll with it.”

Then they took my gym away from me. I desperately whipped up this contraption. It doesn’t feel right and the wood holding the bar is way too darn heavy. However, I’m writing this 10 months after its construction and the dumb thing still works. Let’s just say I’m not doing 70 pullups a day anymore and I can’t imagine doing a single pullup after running a mile.

The DIY Pullup Bar

I bought a steel pipe intended for natural gas from Menards for $10. Just to be clear, this is some heavy-duty stuff. The rest of the project was just scrap lumber.

There are multiple concerns with a pullup bar. Sometimes I get frisky and try to pop myself way up over the bar. Well, I haven’t done that since the COVID Shutdown either. I definitely don’t want to hit my head on the ceiling. Likewise, I definitely don’t want the whole mess to fall down. That could hurt.

The moment of inertia of the big boards (vertical) increases linearly (in meters) as they increase in length. That’s a fancy way of saying if I want plenty of clearance between my head and the ceiling, I need to live with some fairly strong leverage if any forces happen to be applied in the horizontal direction.

To address that, I intended to toss on the cross members to keep the vertical lumber from rotating. Then I found some 2x10s in the garage. They are wide enough to pretty much eliminate rotation as a factor. Solved.

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