Pull-ups are one of THE best exercises to transform a skinny back into a broad back.
Any experienced gym-goer knows this.
“Do pull-ups for a wide back and rows for a thick back.”Arnold Schwarzenegger
But to safely and effectively do pull-ups at home, you need the proper equipment (i.e. a pull-up bar).
Using anything else not only increases the risk of serious injury, but awkward grips can cause the wrong target muscles to activate.
For example, using a ceiling beam requires a lot of forearm strength since the thickness makes it hard to grip. And this detracts from back muscle activation.
The great news is there are lots of affordable pull-up bars to choose from.
So which one should you pick?
Having researched and compared 14 different options over the course of 3 months, I finally decided to buy the Sports Royal Power Tower (link for cheapest price). For me, it provides the greatest value for money. The unit can be used to safely and effectively do pull-ups, chin-ups, chest dips, and leg-raises at home. It’s also stable, takes up little space, and is comfortable to use.
If you don’t have $150 and 9 square feet of floor space for a power tower, then I would instead recommend the Prosource Fit Doorway Pull-Up Bar (link for cheapest price). It’s an extremely cheap and space-saving way to do pull-ups at home. However, I would always recommend a power tower over a doorway pull-up bar if you do have the space and money.
Deciding Between A Power Tower Vs Pull-Up Bar
In my opinion, the only reason you should pick a pull-up bar over a power tower is if you really can’t afford the space and cost of the power tower.
If 150 bucks and 9 square feet of space is no big deal for you, then a power tower provides a much greater ROI compared to a simple pull-up bar.
Here’s why I would always choose to spend the extra $100 on a power tower over a pull-up bar:
- Pull-up bars are not very versatile. For me, space is tight so I need my home gym to be as space-effective as possible. This makes it essential that my equipment is multi-functional. You can use a pull up bar to do pull-ups, chin-ups, and leg raises, but that’s about it. I’d rather spend the extra on a power tower which allows me to do chest dips as well (a great exercise for a bigger chest).
- Pull-up bars are not as durable. The pull up bar is designed to be a cheap way for casual lifters to do pull-ups at home. Not only is the steel normally of lower-quality, but the simple design also features less support elements (such as heavy duty welding). And this leads to durability issues over time.
- Don’t want to damage my house. Pull-up bars physically hook or screw themselves into the woodwork of your house. Most doorways aren’t designed to handle a lot of weight and will likely become damaged over time. I’d rather spend an extra 100 bucks on a power tower than a few hundred bucks replacing a door frame.
- Weight capacity is lower on pull-up bars. The reasons mentioned above all contribute to the lower weight capacity of pull-up bars compared to a power tower. Pull-up bars typically only hold around 250-lbs. Many brand’s don’t even state the weight capacity of their bars. Power towers on the other hand, can hold up to 400-lbs.
Why Chose The Sports Royal Power Tower:
Here’s why I chose the Sports Royal Power Tower over competitors:
- 14 gauge heavy-duty steel frame is very durable. The frame supports your entire weight as you do pull-ups. So you bet you want the frame to be made from a strong metal. 14-gauge steel is a common thickness used in home gym equipment such as weight benches and racks. It offers the best balance in price and strength.
- 400-lb weight capacity is more than most peoples needs. The 14-gauge steel frame and structural supports mean this power tower can handle heavy weights. This is important for people of all training levels. Skinny dudes want a high weight capacity for weighted pull-ups to build a stronger back. Average to well-built people want a high weight capacity to support their body weight as well as the flexibility to do weighted pull-ups. A 400-lb capacity is on the higher end of the weight pectrum when it comes to affordable home power towers.
- Long and wide H-base with extended T-ends offer great stability. A well-designed base provides better user-experience and safety. Cheaper towers often have a narrow base and few support points. This causes the tower to wobble when used. Even worse, the entire tower can topple ever. This risk is even greater for inexperienced people doing pull-ups with bad form (e.g. jerking and rocking the body to pull themselves up). The Sports Royal tower is very stable compared to the other towers I’ve tested.
- Well-designed with versatile features. In my opinion, this is one of the better designed mid-range power towers. It’s more than just a pull-up bar. You can also do leg raises, chest dips, tricep dips, and elevated push-ups. It also feels as though the manufacturer put some genuine thought into user-experience. The bars have a good thickness to them, the dip-handles are spaced perfectly, and the arm rests are angled for comfort. Overall, this tower is very comfortable to use.
- Easy assembly even for complete newbs. Dunno about you, but I HATE having to stress over assembling a product. I want to be able to use the product ASAP! The Sports Royal Power Tower only took me 40 minutes to assemble. I like to be careful, and take my time with instructions. But people who are good with their hands could do it in around 20 mins. The product includes most of the tools required for assembly. All you need is a Phillips screwdriver.
- Low foot print doesn’t consume too much space. The frame has a 40″ x 40″ footprint. These are great dimensions in my opinion. It’s not so wide that it takes up too much space. But it’s not so narrow that stability is sacrificed.
- No unnecessary height. This tower is not ridiculously high and will fit in any space with 7.5 feet of ceiling clearance. The height itself is adjustable. The tower stands at just over 7 foot when it’s fully extended. If you’re a shorter dude, you can decrease the height to just under 6 feet.
Things I Like About The Sports Royal Power Tower
Having tested the Sports Royal tower for just under a year, here’s what I like about it:
- The padding is comfortable and well-designed. The backrest and armrest have a low-density foam core lined with faux leather. It’s soft enough to be comfortable but firm enough to not warp under weight. The armrest is also angled slightly inwards. This is a small but neat feature that makes the arm rest comfortable during the leg-raise.
- Decent backrest for leg raises. The backrest can be adjusted with a screw to alter the depth at which it protrudes from the frame. This allows the tower to accommodate different body types for the leg-raise. Skinny people should have the backrest sticking out more, whilst bigger guys should have the backrest sticking in more.
- Effective foot grips prevent sliding. Man this is an important one. I’ve used power towers with no grip at all and it’s a nightmare when it slides about during use. The Sports Royal Tower has 8 points of contact with the floor, and each point features a knurled plastic cap. This prevents it from sliding around on concrete. I’ve not used it on carpet, so can’t comment on that. But I imagine it’s still great.
- Good ground clearance even for tall people. As I mentioned previously, the bar height is adjustable. Depending on your preference, the bar stands between 5- to 7-feet off the ground. This provides enough ground clearance for most people to not have their feet touch the ground during pull-ups. My friend is 6’5″ and he has no issues with this tower.
- Solid armrest provides comfortable user-experience. The armrest doesn’t wobble, unlike the other cheaper towers I’ve tested. The armrest is also 12 inches long, and this is long enough to fit your entire forearm during leg raises.
- Great handlebar design makes it easier to do pull-ups and dips. The pull up bar has a perfect thickness. It’s thick enough to be strong and sturdy, but not so thick that it makes it difficult to grip. The dip handles are also well spaced (not too far apart but not too close either). These ergonomics make the Sports Royal tower awesome to use.
- Almost feels like commercial gym quality. Now, i’m not saying it’s as good as a commercial gym tower. Becuase it’s not. But from my experience, it’s as close as you’ll get without having to spend hundreds on a premium tower. There’s some squeaking and wobbling that seems to be dependent on bodyweight. I’m 160-lbs and there’s minimal wobbling/squeaking when I use it. But my friend is 230-lbs and the squeaks are noticeable but it doesn’t affect function.
- Has a good weight to it. The tower itself weighs 55-lbs. This contributes to the tower’s sturdy and durable feel. In comparison, many of the cheap towers I’ve used in the past feel very flimsy.
The one major gripe I have about this tower is that it squeaks under heavier loads.
From my tests, this problem starts to become noticeable at 200+ pounds of weight.
To be honest, it’s a bit annoying. But it doesn’t affect the function too much (i.e. nothings broken so far).
Additionally, this issue is expected from any tower that’s not been bolted into the ground.
The instructions can also be a bit hard to read (but I’ve seen worse).
It’s a good thing that the tower has a relatively simple design. most of the parts come together intuitively.
What I Do With The Sports Royal Power Tower:
- Pull-ups. These are one of my favourite compound exercises. They’re a great way to simultaneously build a v-shaped back and bigger biceps.
- Chin-ups. Another great compound exercise. Similar to the pull-up but transfers emphasis from the back muscles to the biceps.
- Weighted chest dips. Aside from the bench press, this is arguably one of the greatest chest-builders you can do. In fact, a few bodybuilders have actually advocated the chest dip OVER the bench press. It’s basically a normal-dip with the body leaning forwards.
- Tricep dips. This exercise alone helped me to sculpt my triceps to have that “cut” look. Similar to the chest-dip but your torso is at vertical angle.
- Elevated push-ups. The push-up bars elevate your position. This allows you to get a greater range of movement and go down deeper. As a result, you’ll get a greater pectoral stretch. This will help you get a ripped chest without weights! It’s much easier to do elevated dips using these handles compared to using dumbbells (which roll around).
- Leg raises. One of my favourite ab exercises, since it targets the lower abs which are notoriously difficult to isolate. This exercise is also difficult to do without the armrest and backrest offered by a power tower. You can hang from a bar to do leg raises, but these are extremely hard. And chances are your grip strength will tire before your abs do.
If you have $150 and 9 square feet of space, the Sports Royal Power Tower is a great value buy.
If you’re on a low budget and have minimal space, then the Prosource Fit doorway pull-up bar will do the job.
Just be careful about doorway bars since they can damage your house under heavy weights.
Both will allow you to do pull-ups and chin-ups at home (the power tower will also allow you to do chest dips).
I personally love doing weighted pull-ups to build a broad V-shaped back.
You’ll need a chained weight belt and a dumbbell (or weight plate) for this.
You can find my recommendation for a cheap chained weight belt here.
Or you can check out my recommendation for a heavy and affordable adjustable dumbbell here!
Good luck skinny bros!