A Pull-Up Bar Can Do More Than You Think

The coronavirus pandemic has forced to get creative with at-home workouts. And while there’s nothing wrong with trying some new push-up variations on your bedroom floor or following along with a cardio routine on your phone while trying not to tick off the neighbors below, we’ve found ourselves craving a workout that makes us feel like were a the gym.

Enter the easy-to-install pull-up bar, the kind that leverages a door frame. Blessedly, it seems to be one of the few pieces of home gym equipment that isn’t sold out everywhere.

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Yes, having a bar mounted anywhere semi-public in your place gives off a real Taxi Driver vibe. But you’re not exactly throwing dinner parties at the moment, and luckily the bar slips on and off fairly easily once you’re able to have guests over again.

The other upside of a pull-up bar: getting strong as hell. The pull-up is one of the most effective upper-body exercises around—there’s a good reason it’s so often a measure of overall fitness. Celebrity trainer Don Saladino, owner of NYC’s Drive 495 fitness club, agrees.

“Handling one’s body weight is an important art,” he says. “Iit’ll assist in both overall mobility and improved body composition.” Muscles, in other words. Saladino points out that you can level-up the pull-up bar experience by hanging a suspension trainer—but you should also know that a pull-up bar let’s you do more than just the regular ol’ pull-up. Here, Saladino offers up six different exercises. Feel free to cut your own hair into a low mohawk if if gets you into the groove.

1. Pull-up

You know it, you love it. Since this is at home, and a pull-up starts with a full arm extension, you’ll almost certainly need to bend your knees. Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip (knuckles facing toward you), hands at shoulder-width distance. Back slightly arched, with your shoulders engaged, pull up and get your chin over the bar. Lower in a controlled drop for 1 rep. If you can’t get your chin over the bar yet, or for only a few reps, work on the first part—engaging your shoulders into your arms, and burning your muscles out that way.

2. Chin-up

Same as the above, but with an underhand grip (knuckles facing away). This version will work your biceps more.

3. Mixed-grip pull-up

A twist on a traditional pull-up, this variation will place a greater demand on your core as it tries to navigate a slight rotation. Grab onto the bar with an underhand grip with your right hand and an overhand grip with your left, hands at shoulder-width distance. Pull up toward the bar. Lower back to start for 1 rep. Make sure you do these in matching sets to avoid making you upper body lopsided.

4. Hanging leg raise

Warning: doing this at home requires having doorways as tall as Kevin Durant’s or—more likely—modifying your leg movement. Start in a dead hang using an overhand grip, then engage your core to slowly raise your legs up toward waist height until they are pointed straight ahead. If leg raises feel too challenging, switch over to a knee raise, bringing both knees up toward the waist. Keep control as you lower them back to start for 1 rep. To adjust for having a closer-than-the-gym’s floor, extend your legs out in front of you at about a 30-degree angle, like in this video.

5. Hanging scapula retraction

Keeping your arms fully extended, start in a full dead hang using an overhand grip with hands at shoulder-width distance. Engage your lats, and shrug your head upwards, pulling your shoulder blades down and back. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Lower back to start for 1 rep.

6. Ice cream maker

If you’ve got Simone-Biles levels of full-body strength and control, here’s your movie. Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip, hands at shoulder-width distance. Pull yourself up to chin height, then straighten your arms and lean backward as if you were going to do a backward flip, keeping your legs and core straight in a full pike. When you are parallel with the ground, drop back to the hanging position, with your head over the bar. Repeat without lowering, keeping your back straight and core engaged.

More GQ Workout Guides:

The Best No-Equipment Workouts

4 Ways to Freshen Up Your Bodyweight Workouts

The Ultimate Guide to Six-Pack Abs

The Best Back Exercises for Getting That Perfect V-Shaped Torso

Originally Appeared on GQ

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