Stall Bars / Swedish Ladders: 2019 Guide & Reviews
Stall bars (also called wall bars, stall walls, Swedish ladders, and Swedish walls) are pieces of gymnastics equipment featured in many professional and home gyms. They’re a convenient way to work out with only your bodyweight, and are relatively inexpensive compared to other gym equipment.
Variations of stall bars have been around for over 200 years, and their calisthenic appeal is just as popular as ever. These Swedish ladders are great for improving lots of athletic abilities, from strength to flexibility to coordination.
Stall Bars History: Sprossenwände & Swedish Ladders
There are three people behind the invention of what we call stall bars or wall bars today. Here’s a brief history.
Johann Friedrich GutsMuths (1759-1839), a German educator often called the the “grandfather of gymnastics,” invented an early precursor to the Swedish Ladder in the late 1700s. He built a 20-foot tall wooden frame with bars and ropes and ladders to encourage German boys and young men to be more physically active.
Not long afterward, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852), another German educator called the “father of gymnastics,” became inspired by GutsMuths’ exercise invention. So in order to encourage physical fitness among men in his Prussian homeland, he built an even larger version.
Jahn’s Swedish ladder predecessor was a large wooden structure stationed outdoors. He placed more emphasis on the gymnastics stall bars, developing exercises and workout programs for them. As these stall bars grew more popular, gyms started fastening them directly to walls indoors.
These German Sprossenwände (“wall bars”) grew increasingly popular, but Germany wasn’t the only country behind the spread of stall bars.
Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839), a Swedish physical educator, is the man behind the Swedish ladder as we know it. He founded Stockholm’s Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in 1813, and invented several pieces of equipment to populate the institute. Among these was the famed Swedish ladder.
From these humble beginnings in Germany and Sweden, the once-lowly stall bars spread across the globe. From the late 1800s onward, they started appearing in high school and college gyms, eventually making their way to YMCA gyms as well.
Top 8 Best Stall Bars
To save you time, we’ve done all the research on the specs, features, and reviews of the best stall bars for home and professional use. After analyzing all the options, we selected these 8 stall bars sets worth considering.
This is a robust, multifunctional stall bar set with lots of customizable components. With the inclusion of a trapeze bar, gymnastics rings, rope ladder, climbing rope, and plank, there are near endless possibilities for Swedish wall bar exercises.
This Swedish ladder is a combination of sturdy beech and pine, all treated with a moisture-resistant varnish. That means that no matter how intense and sweaty your workouts may get, you don’t have worry about your home stall bars’ durability.
This is a great mid- to high-end stall bar set perfect for any athletic goal.
This stall bar set is a little more minimalist than the last, but it’s rated to support nearly 50 pounds more. And at 26 inches deep, the pull up bar sticks out farther than that last options, making it easier to perform pull ups and muscle ups. As a bonus, it’s also a little more inexpensive.
While it doesn’t come with a Swedish ladder plank, that’s not a deal breaker for most people. It still has plenty of options and plenty of robust support to ensure you can safely get your stall bars workouts in.
If you’re looking for a better value stall bar set rated for a fairly high weight load, this is an excellent option.
This stall bar set has all the bells and whistle. It comes with gymnastics rings, a trapeze, a rope ladder, a plank, and detachable horizontal struts. In addition to being great for stall bar workouts, it’s a great option for a kids’ playset. It’s like a little jungle gym!
For families, this a great option. The colorful accents dotted throughout the Swedish ladder’s design give it an attractive, playful vibe without being too loud and gaudy.
This fully-equipped, playful Swedish ladder set is a great option for families.
This stall bars set features adjust bars that can be added or removed to alter the distance between rungs. For some exercises, you don’t need every single rung, and this stall bar set makes those adjustments quick and easy.
As a bonus, this wall bars set is available in three different height configurations: 74″, 82″, and 90″ tall. It’s also one of the most inexpensive stall bars sets on this list, making it a very attractive option. As a bonus, it comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
Available in three heights, this stall bar set features adjustable rungs for fully customizable workouts.
Hoping not to break the bank? This Swedish ladder has you covered! It’s a robust yet elegant eucalyptus stall bar set rated for up to 250 pounds. It doesn’t come with all the bonus equipment you might get with other sets, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal.
Since this is one of the most inexpensive stall bar sets on Amazon, it’s also one of the most popular. And the reviews are pretty solid! It’s a great pick if you’re looking to save a little money.
This is one of the best value options on this list of best stall bars.
Not everyone is a fan of the natural wood look. For some design aesthetics, you may want something that matches a little better or gives the room a little more pop.
This stall bar set comes in eight different color variations. If natural wood or minimalist white aren’t exactly your cup of tea, MebliLine has quite a few different options. And with three different height options, you’re likely to find one that can easily fit your home gym or kids’ room.
With eight color variations including minimalist white, this is a super stylish stall bars set.
For professionals looking to set up some stall bars, Vita Vibe is the way to go. This is a super heavy-duty, heavy-gauge steel stall bar set with a rated weight capacity of up to 400 pounds. It’s an incredibly safe and sturdy option.
In addition, this hardy Swedish ladder is built with powder-coated steel rungs to ensure a solid group. The coating has an anti-microbial finish that helps to maintain cleaner, more sterile bars. It’s perfect for gyms, physical therapy clinics, and other professional settings.
This heavy-gauge steel, 400-pound-rated stall bar set is a great pick for professionals and serious athletes.
Benefits of Stall Bars
Wall bars can be used to improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and more. From Olympic athletes to amateurs, they’re a great option for fitness training.
Stall Bars Are Versatile
Gymnasts use stall bars to improve flexibility and dexterity, similarly to how ballerinas use a stationary barre for stretches and exercises. In fact, even Olympic gymnasts sometimes use stall bars. By leveraging the bars at different levels, they can more efficiently improve their form.
Yoga practitioners can use stall bars to take their yoga poses to the next level. For example, there are stall bar yoga poses that can’t simply be performed on the ground. These can help to fill strength and mobility gaps. As such, wall bars can be used to build up a greater level of strength and flexibility than otherwise possible with bodyweight alone.
CrossFit athletes can make great use of Swedish ladders as well. In addition to being great for improving isometric strength (like working on your flagpole), stall bars are also a great tool for explosive plyometric and bodyweight exercises often featured in CrossFit workouts. Many wall bars also feature a pull up bar with enough distance to perform muscle ups.
Strength athletes can install stall bars for home use to supplement traditional weight training. For example, by placing your feet at different heights on wall bars, you can ramp up the intensity of push ups. For Swedish ladders with an extended pull up bar, pull ups and muscle ups are another great exercise.
Stall Bars Are Customizable
While stall bars were once little more than a stationary ladder, they’ve since become quite customizable. Many Swedish ladder sets come with various components that can be attached for advanced exercises.
For example, Dani’s fully-loaded stall bars set featured in our reviews comes equipped with gymnastics rings, a trapeze, a rope ladder, a plank, and detachable horizontal struts. These can all be attached and removed for various exercises as needed.
Some athletes will also tie bodyweight training bands to their stall bars to take their workouts to the next level. With the right home stall bar set and complementary equipment, your home gym can give you everything you need.
Stall Bars Are Cost-Effective
While many of these types of exercise can be performed on other equipment as well, Swedish ladders can be a convenient and price-effective alternative. For example, buying Olympic weightlifting equipment can add up to thousands of dollars. On the other hand, performing bodyweight exercises on stall bars for home use will only cost a fraction of that price.
For some people, stall bars can also be more advantageous than a gym membership. On average, a gym membership costs roughly $60 per month. At that price, it only takes a few months for stall bars for home use to end up being cheaper.
That means that if they can replace most of your gym workouts, stall bars can actually save you money.
The Science of Stall Bars
Research has shown that bodyweight exercises and stretches can be a great way to improve your health. Stall bars can help you take these fitness benefits to the next level.
Stall bars can be a great tool for improve strength, flexibility, and coordination. But for those who are new to them, crafting a stall bars workout routine can be a little daunting.
Fear not! Stall bars have been around for a long time, and there are plenty and videos and guides online that can help you build a stall bars workout routine. With a little research and creativity, you can make your own customized stall bar exercises routine in no time!
With all that in mind, here are some great stall bars exercises resources:
75 Calisthenic Stall Bar Movements
This video is an awesome go-to for a whole bunch of different stall bar exercises. In just three and a half minutes, fitness trainer Eric Klauss goes through:
Active and passive stretches
Functional fitness exercises
Core strengthening exercises
If you want to build your own stall bars workout program, this video is a great toolset.
Flexibility and Mobility
For those wanting to improve flexibility and mobility, this video is a great guide on some creative active and passive stretches. Fitness trainer Eero Westerberg of VAHVA Fitness goes through stall bar exercises for stretching out these muscle groups:
Lats and traps
Upper and low back
Glutes and hips
Some of these stall bar exercises for flexibility are a little advanced. To avoid injury, make sure not to try anything too far beyond your current athletic level. Work your way up to it!
Isometric Upper Body // Core Strengthening
In this video, the same trainer, Eero Westerberg of VAHVA Fitness, demonstrates several exercises for isometric upper body strength and dynamic core strength, such as:
Isometric arm and shoulder exercises
Flagpole progression isometrics
Leg lowering for core strengthening
Hanging leg raises
These are fantastic stall bar exercises for working on your six pack and improving your back support with core strengthening. And there’s a little something for all fitness levels!
These are only a handful of stall bars exercises. With only a little research, you can make your own customized stall bars workout routines!
Side Note: Pro vs. DIY Stall Bars
Which is better, buying a professional Swedish ladder or just making some DIY stall bars on your own?
For some people, it can be tough to fork out the cash for a professionally-crafted stall bar set. But making a set of DIY stall bars isn’t as easy as you might think.
For some insight into the process, check out this video of Irish woodworker Tommy Down crafting a set of stall bars from scratch:
As an experienced craftsman, he makes it look pretty simple! But for someone without the equipment, materials, and skills, this would be a much bigger undertaking. And this is an all-wood Swedish ladder without any extra components. If you wanted to use steel or add on some rope swings or gymnastics rings, that would add a lot of time and effort.
In the end, the time and money you would spend trying to make a set of DIY stall bars would likely be much more than if you were to just buy a ready-to-build set. And that’s without even taking safety into account. Stalls bars need to be incredibly sturdy so as not to break under the weight of a fully-grown adult.
For most people, all things considered, making a set of DIY stall bars will take more time and money than simply buying one. With regard to time, money, and safety, it’s best not to risk it, and simply leave the manufacturing to the professionals.
Swedish ladders in all their variations are fantastic fitness tools. By equipping your home or gym with a solid set of stall bars, you’re opening up a whole new class of workout options.