T Nation

Pullup Bars

I’ve been noticing that when using a thicker pull up bar, that I can get more reps. I’ve actually been doing them holding onto the "2x4"ish rectangle shaped cross bar on top of the power rack.

Anyone experience the same thing? Anyone know why I’m experiencing this?

I always thought that a fatter grip was harder to handle.

Yes. I know why, but can’t explain it properly in words. I’m not an exercise scientist.

My only reasonable (thought possibly flawed) explanation is that too thin of a bar doesn’t allow for enough activation of hand and forearm muscles which doesn’t allow for strong enough contraction in the upper arms and torso muscles.

Thicker bars will increase difficulty in a lift because of more intensiveness in gripping.

It’s also that a very thin bar puts a lot of stress on the weak finger muscles. Think of how difficult it would be to hang onto thin but stiff wire.

Same with dips. I do better with thicker dip bars - up to a point.

That would explain why my pull ups are stronger when the bar is gripped in my palm rather than in my fingers…

Same reason why dips are more powerful and generally easier on the shoulders than dips/pulls on a narrow bar. You’re forced to recruit more muscles to hang onto the bar, so it activates more of your forearm/bicep flexors to aid in getting more reps.


LOL…sorry Bricknye, I saw you just posted the exact same thing. Shiesters, always ahead of the game. I guess I need to read the whole post b/f posting. Well, anyway, I’ve found thicker bars to be way better for people with shoulder/elbow problems than smaller bars. Ever tried 3" BB chest presses?


I like doing my chins/pullups with a fatter bar as well. I’ve also done them on the rectangular part of various workout apparatus, like the middle beam that runs on top of the cable machine.

strange, def more difficult for me

its like the difference between doing pull ups on a smooth handle, and on a stitched handle

You were doing pullups in a power rack?