- Target Muscle Group
- Exercise TypeStrength
- Equipment RequiredBodyweight
- Force TypePull (Bilateral)
- Experience LevelBeginner
- Secondary Muscles
Abs, Biceps, Shoulders, Upper Back
Pull Up Overview
The pull up is a classic exercise and one used to target the upper back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi.
Vertical pulling movements, such as the pull up, are foundational movements that should be included in your workout routines. So, once you’ve found a variation you like and feels comfortable to you, master it as it will benefit you from a strength and aesthetic standpoint.
Pull Up Instructions
- Using a pronated grip, grasp the pull bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip.
- Take a deep breath, squeeze your glutes and brace your abs. Depress the shoulder blades and then drive the elbows straight down to the floor while activating the lats.
- Pull your chin towards the bar until the lats are fully contracted, then slowly lower yourself back to the start position and repeat for the assigned number of repetitions.
Pull Up Tips
- To decrease bicep involvement, use a false (thumbless) grip.
- Try to keep a neutral head position (looking straight ahead or slightly up) as hyperextending the neck can lead to compensations throughout the spine.
- If the bar is high enough, keep the legs straight and in front of the body in a hollow body position.
- Avoid falling into overextension of the lumbar spine by squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs.
- The pullup is completed when the lats are fully flexed, don’t continue pulling and compensate with the pecs. When this occurs, the elbows will flare up behind the body, the shoulder will round forward, and you’ll begin to feel pressure in the front of your shoulders.
- A lifter’s segment length will determine whether or not they can actually get their chin over the bar, it’s not an absolute for everyone.
- Lower to almost full extension of the elbow but avoid locking out completely as this can place excessive strain on the ligamentous structures within the elbow and shoulder.
- If you can’t complete a single bodyweight pullup, start with slow negatives (add weight when these can be accomplished under control) or flexed arm hangs in the top position.
- Ditch the straps and kips, neither one is necessary or recommended.