Push-up: no equipment

I don't need any equipment for push-ups. I can do that almost everywhere. It strengthens specific muscles very effectively.

Pull-up: requires a bar

Pull-up needs a bar that is fixed reliably. And that's a problem. You cannot do it everywhere and in any situation.


Is there any exercise that strengthens the same muscles that are focused by pull-up, but without the need for any equipment? Just curious...

  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because it is not specific to martial arts and should go in another stackexchange site.
    – Steve Weigand
    Aug 24, 2023 at 22:49
  • 1
    I voted to close this on the grounds that it's not specific enough for martial arts. But, that being said, I think you should look into inverted rows under a nice, sturdy table to closely approximate a pull-up. You might have to watch videos to see how it's done.
    – Steve Weigand
    Aug 24, 2023 at 22:51
  • 1
    @SteveWeigand Thanks. Looks like inverted rows under table is what I was looking for :) It requires a table, but you can find a table in many situations I guess.
    – Megidd
    Aug 24, 2023 at 23:52
  • 2
    Fitness Stack Exchange would be a match
    – Sean Duggan
    Aug 25, 2023 at 10:39

3 Answers 3


@SteveWeigand suggested an acceptable workout:

... I think you should look into inverted rows under a nice, sturdy table to closely approximate a pull-up.

More explanation here:

There aren't that many options for pulling exercises at home with nothing but your body weight, yet including pulling exercises is vitally important. Doing too many pushing exercises (like only focusing only on push ups), without pulling exercises, can lead to muscular imbalances.

The inverted row is a challenging and effective exercise for building muscle and strength, just like pull-ups. ... The difference is that inverted rows are a bit easier than pull-ups, so it's a good place to start with body weight pulling exercises.



Challenging your framing slightly, if you have a door, you can do pull-ups. A towel across the top of an open door is enough to avoid hurting your hand on the edges of the door, and a properly hung door can easily hold the weight of an adult. It's a bit imperfect in that you're not hanging freely, which means you'll be experiencing the friction of your body against the door, which slightly increases the effort of pulling yourself up, but also partially supports you on the way back down.

I've done it on a few doors in my house before and it works fairly well. At first, I was worried that the door would move during the pull-up, or that the hinges will pull out of the frame, but if your door doesn't normally wiggle in the frame, it's set pretty firmly, and the distance between the door and the frame is small enough that, as your weight pulls down, the bottom of the door pushes against the frame, supporting your weight as a sort of lever.

  • 1
    I can see this eventually wearing away at the hinges of the door. Probably a better approach is to use one of those $30 door frame pull-up bars that are so popular. But the OP did ask for minimal use of equipment. So your answer is appropriate. I like that you mention the towel. Towels require a specific grip that isn't the typical grip that you use during a pull-up bar kind of technique. It uses more of the fingers and a tightened fist. Perfect for martial arts, which is where this question originated. Good answer. Aug 26, 2023 at 3:57

Similarly to Sean I have used a door for that. But I didn't hang on the door itself, but jammed some bit of cloth (some thin trousers) into the door by draping it over it and then closing it. This is very stable and gives you a movement like pulling on rings or a rope. You can then vary your body angle and make it as strenuous as you wish to. It is not a pure pull-up motion, more a front pull, but better than nothing when traveling.

It is probably wise to make sure that nobody can open the door from the other side (i.e. do not do it in a door that opens to some public space where someone could come in anytime...).

This is quite nice even in hotels and basically everywhere you have a towel or a pair of robust trousers etc.

At home I have hung a "fingerboard" (a.k.a. "hangboard") over a door frame. I am training for rock climbing, but I guess anyone could use those - even if you do not want to train your small forearm muscles you can find some that have big holds ("jugs"), and they are great for pullups; you can also simply DIY some wooden blocks for that (make them round and only semi-smooth, not too much that you slip, but so that they don't hurt your fingers). By screwing those on the wall above the open door (with very substantial screws, possibly heavy duty anchors), you get the full benefit of hanging and pulling freely on one or two hands, without requiring an actual pullup bar somewhere.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.