If you have watched any of my videos, there is a good chance you have seen me exercising on an outdoor pull-up bar. For example, you can see a demonstration at the 15 second mark within my most recent video.
You can also see a picture of the bar below. I have shared similar images on social media sites such as Instagram. Whenever I post one of these images, my inbox typically fills with questions about how to safely secure a pull-up bar from trees.
For starters, it is worth noting that you will not always need to secure a bar outdoors. A strong tree limb is an ideal alternative. I have used the branch seen below for the past three years. It is still holding up well despite repeated use.
My reason for creating the outdoor pull-up station between trees is because it is located at the top of a hill sprint path that I cleared last year (see here). I enjoy integrating hill sprints with other exercises such as pull-ups and sledgehammer swings. Adding an exercise to the top of a hill sprint makes for a tremendous conditioning challenge.
With that in mind, I needed to secure a pull-up bar to the two trees that are located at the top of the hill. I wanted something that was inexpensive yet durable. My solution was to use eye-bolts and a piece of galvanized iron pipe. To attach the pipe, I secured one eye-bolt into each tree. The bolts are lined up perfectly so that the pipe can run through the opening from each bolt. I then turned each bolt a quarter turn more to prevent the pipe from sliding. If you look closely, you’ll notice how the bolt is slightly angled. The result is a pull-up bar that is completely immobile. I cannot even force it to slide out of the bolts.
As for tree safety, most experts agree that using a single bolt is the preferred solution. A healthy tree will compartmentalize around the wound that is caused by drilling into it. Using multiple screws or nails is more likely to damage the tree. It also becomes more dangerous if the tree is ever cut down. Small nails will eventually become embedded within the tree as new bark grows around it. If you are ever cutting a tree with a chainsaw, the last thing you want is to come across a hidden nail.
In summary, I am not suggesting that anyone copies my approach to creating an outdoor pull-up station. I am simply sharing what has worked well for me. There are certainly other options for outdoor stations, but this inexpensive set-up has proved quite useful and durable.
“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project”. – Napoleon Hill