Friday, October 17, 2014

Pull Up Rack - The Definitive Guide

The Pull Up Rack is the cornerstone of any gym and deciding on which one is right for your space is an important decision.  Below we outline a bunch of the differences between the two types as well as many of the frequently asked questions we get.

Types - There are two main types of pull up racks for the commercial gym; the Free Standing Unit and the Wall Mounted Unit.  Both of them are constructed of the same pieces - poles, pull-up bars and barbell hooks - and both can be transformed from one style into another with just a few simple modifications.  Quite a number of our customers have begun with one type then as their gym grows, expand to the alternate style.  Neither is wrong. Most find that their decision to pick one over the other depends on the layout of their space.  From a space standpoint, even a large 8 Pole Free Standing Rig takes up only 120 Square Feet.  That's not a lot.

Here's some quick comments on each style with the advantages of both:

The Free Standing Pull Up Rack
  • This type of unit works best in an open space with plenty of room.  22 Feet wide is ideal.  The footprint of the rig is fairly small [6 feet wide by however long] but to make the best use of it, leave a minimum of 8 foot clearance all the way around the rig.  That provides enough room for your athletes to work with a barbell, perform burpees, double unders or box jumps with plenty of room to get back on the rig for pull-ups, toes to bar, etc.
  • The Free Standing Unit provides the best ratio of Squat Stations to Pull Up Stations too.  If racking the bars is going to be a norm in your facility for strength work, then the Free Standing style is going to be a better bet.  In the same foot print as a Wall Mount Unit, the Free Standing Unit offers twice as many locations for racking the bar.
  • This type of unit also frees up the most wall space in your facility too.  So whether you need it for storage of bumpers, kettlebells, medicine balls or maybe for Wall Ball throws and Handstand work, the Free Standing Rig is advantageous.
  • Larger Class Size - With four sides of the rig exposed at all times, the Free Standing Rig is better for larger class sizes as well.  If athletes are scrambling during a met con to get on and off the pull up rack and onto the next movement, finding a spot on the rig is easiest with this style.
The Wall Mounted Unit
  • Ideal for the narrower space, the Wall Mounted Pull Up Rack is perfect for the startup gym.  It's lower cost still delivers all the same great benefits as it's counterpart and should you desire to change the unit into a Free Standing Rig as your gym grows or should your location change, it can be easily done by adding just a few pieces.
  • Anchoring on the wall can seem like a chore but it's really not that big of a deal.  A few 2x6 timbers anchored into each stud along the length of the rig make the perfect mounting point.  And the added stability of anchoring the rig to the wall also stiffens the installation, too.
  • The Wall Mounted Unit, although not having an opposite long side, makes up for it with the usability of the pull-up bars attached to the wall.  With a Free Standing Unit, it can be a challenge to get inside the middle of the rig if athletes are all around the perimeter.  The Wall Mounted Rig provides an easy spot to grab for athletes on the long side as well as on the pull-up bars attached to the wall.
  • Visibility - one distinct advantage the Wall Mounted Unit has is giving the coach the best view of all the athletes.  With the unit anchored to the wall there is less chance of an athlete being completely hidden from the view of the coach.
  • Even Short on Space it's a Winner - For those that are feeling the squeeze in a smaller space, having the unit against the wall is the best spot.  With a surprisingly small footprint, you won't feel like there is no room left.  And at 6 feet away from the wall, there is plenty of room to get athletes in there for Handstand Pushups or Wall Balls.
  • Ideal for the Startup Gym - coming in at a lower first cost, the Wall Mounted Rig is a perfect first pull up rack for the new gym owner.  And there's nothing to sacrifice in the way of available exercises with the Wall Mount Unit so in the end it's still a win.
  1. Should the Pull Up Rack be installed on top of rubber flooring or directly on concrete? Good question.  There is no appreciable difference in rigidity of the rig by installing directly on to the concrete surface versus placing over gym flooring.  And since the overall footprint of the rig is quite small [most are 14x6 or 20x6], it doesn't break the bank to have flooring underneath anyway.  If you are considering leaving the flooring out from under the rig, it can become a dirt trap and a tripping hazard.  Bottom line - install the flooring first then place the rig right on top.
  1. What type of floor anchors do I use and how long should they be?  How about wall anchors too?  If you purchase one of our pull up racks, we furnish all hardware - including floor and wall anchors.  So no worries about choosing what's best - we've done it for you.
  1. What are the most common heights for installing pull-up bars?  Our rig poles provide plenty of adjustment [2" increments] so even if you get everything installed you can always make a change later by removing 6 bolts.  But, we recommend bar heights ranging from 7'4" - 7'11".  The Basic Cross Members in the center of the rig have their bottom bar hanging at 7'6" when installed all the way to the top of the post.  That's ideal for most 5'7" to 5'10" athletes.
  1. Where is the best place to install the rig?  If possible, make sure that the front entryway to your gym is clear and unobstructed with the rig.  That serves a few purposes - it provides good visibility for you and for newcomers.  Also, putting the rig in the center of your space can make it act as a divider.  With a wall mounted pull up rack it isn't as critical as a free standing unit.  But anything that can potentially obstruct your view of your athletes isn't ideal.  Wherever you do place the pull up rack, be sure to allow up to 8 feet all the way around the circumference to make room for barbell work, double unders, box jumps and the like.
  1. What tools do I need to install?  Assuming you've got at least one helper [three installers is ideal], here's what you'll need: a stepladder, an industrial quality hammer drill [anything less and rig install will be 2x], 2 to 3 extra concrete bits [1/2" diameter], an extension cord, a level, adjustable wrenches or a socket set.  Have all this ready to go before you get started.  Making trips to the hardware store after you've started is zero fun.  Remember - all hardware is included with our rack so you'll need tools only.

What is the number one prescribed use for the Pull Up Rack?  Ok, not a trick question here.  It's the pull-up :)  So, you'll want a rig that is super versatile and adjustable for all different heights of athletes.

Height Adjustment - because you've got all heights of athletes that walk in your door, having a ton of versatility in how high your pull-up bars are is important.  Vertical poles that have plenty of adjustment available mean you can raise or lower bars to just the right height.  And here's where that makes a ton of sense - Ever seen or been to a box where athletes are stacking bumpers or plyo boxes underneath their pull-up stations?  It happens all the time and most often because there isn't enough height adjustment in the pull-up bars.  Whenever an athlete grabs a box or a pile of bumpers to help them get to the pull-up bar, that equals equipment you can no longer use for the workout.  In other words...expensive step stools.

Two Pull Up Bars in One - An Offset Pull Up Bar like this one is really two bars in one.  The bar heights differ by six inches so with one of these installed, the shorter athlete can stand inside the rig facing out while a taller athlete could stand outside the rig facing in.  One bar installed with two useable heights.

Roomier Inside the Rig - That outside bar on the Offset Pullup Bar is a full 10" away from the rig poles.  With the aggressive kips that some athletes have, the inside of the rig can become a 'kill zone' ;).  That extra distance that the top bar puts the athletes away from the inside of the rig goes a long way in keeping the inside useable during the workouts.

The Bar Muscle Up - As your athletes make more and more progress, they want new challenges.  The top bar of the Offset Pull Up bar is great for the Bar Muscle Up.  When first learning the movement, it is natural to lean over the bar and with the second bar 10 inches away and 6 inches lower, your athletes stay safe without fear of hitting their head.

Basic Cross Members - The rectangle shaped 'basic' pull-up bars add an amazing amount of rigidity to either style rig but if the two bars aren't spaced far enough apart, that top bar can feel like impending doom to your forehead.  With nearly 12" of inside clearance, problem solved.  And the dog bone center strap wraps the top and bottom bar with more than just a simple seam weld.

Super high ceilings in a space can make it feel more open and are great for mounting Climbing Ropes but can present some challenges for hanging Gymnastic Rings.  With all the variety that gym rings bring to the table, hanging them up from 14 foot bar joists is great for some movements but not for others.  Ring Rows, Ring Pushups and Ring Dips are great exercises to keep in your grab bag but you'll probably not want to have to drag out the ladder  [or boom lift] to take rings up and down.  We've got that little problem solved.

12 Foot Poles are a great idea for hoisting up a set of rings to maintain overhead clearance.  One little problem - they are super expensive to ship.  Anything over 9 feet in length and you are paying a hefty premium.  So how do we solve the dilemma of increasing pole height without emptying your wallet?

Rig Pole Extension Kits - Hanging Gymnastic Rings from even the highest mounted pull-up bars on the standard 9 foot poles doesn't get them up high enough for Muscle Ups and some of the other more advanced movements.  But extending the rig poles by three feet works like a charm.  And these extension kits can be added at any time and easily moved.

Ready to talk to someone about getting a pull-up rack for your gym?  We can help.  Just send us a note here.  Or feel free to give us a call 585-298-1718