Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBodyweight
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Biceps, Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Lats Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Wide Grip Pull Up Overview

The wide grip pull up is a variation of the pull up and an exercise used to target the upper back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi.

Vertical pulling movements, such as the wide grip 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.

The wide grip pull up can be incorporated into back workouts, pull workouts, upper body workouts, or full body workouts.

Wide Grip Pull Up Instructions

  1. Using a pronated grip, grasp the pull bar with a wider than shoulder width grip.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Wide Grip Pull Up Tips

  1. To decrease bicep involvement, use a false (thumbless grip).
  2. Try to keep a neutral head position (looking straight ahead or slightly up) as hyperextending the neck can lead to compensations throughout the spine.
  3. If the bar is high enough, keep the legs straight and in front of the body in a hollow body position.
  4. Avoid falling into overextension of the lumbar spine by squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Ditch the straps and kips, neither one is necessary or recommended.
Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2024 - 10:10

What else can I do if I am obese and cannot do 1 pull up?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/20/2024 - 08:32

Hi Alex, are you training in a gym or at home? I want to provide you with the best answer possible.

Posted on: Sun, 06/23/2024 - 20:39

I'm working out at a gym.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/24/2024 - 06:21

Great. Start with lat pulldowns and work your way up on strength. Once you feel you are strong enough, then make your way over to a pull up bar and see what you can do.

Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 02:50

I have feeling that I’m stuck at five reps, my strength increased I was only able to do 2-3 reps now it’s 5-6 … but I’ve been stuck there for some time. Should I start using band again,add weight for negatives? Or just carry on ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 20:54

Hi, Pav. All of the above.

Warmup with bands, do your normal sets, then add one set of negatives with the extra weight. Make sure you really pay attention to that form and maximize that grip. Hope all of this helps.

Posted on: Sun, 06/19/2022 - 13:07

What does 12 down to 6 mean?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/22/2022 - 19:54

Typically, it means start with 12 reps and work your way to 6 over the course of a few sets by adding weight or doing the exercise slower to make it more challenging. Can you share where you saw that? That might help me give the best answer if it's something different.

Posted on: Mon, 07/12/2021 - 20:08

Lat pull down is a decent alternative

Posted on: Mon, 07/06/2020 - 18:11

What if I don't have access to a pull up machine or bar?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 08/14/2020 - 09:42

Hey Jon

I recommend finding a good stable tree branch, or if there's a park nearby you can use the monkey bars.

David Brathwaite
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 00:34

And how would that fit in with the routine described, especially for someone who wishes to workout at home?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 18:47

Hi, David, can you elaborate on what routine is described? This is only instructional for form. The branch version that Yoshi described could be used in place for any back or pulling workout.

Posted on: Fri, 07/26/2019 - 00:54

This is my first time starting gym and I can't even do 1 pull up so what should I do now? Please help, thanks

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 05:38

You can use a resistance band under you foot to assist with your pull up. In the gym I go to, there is an assisted pull up machine which has adjustable counterbalance weights. Maybe see if there's a gym close to where you live which has one of those machines. Also, look for pull up tutorial video's on YouTube. You will usually find training videos on how to achieve your first pull up

Elio Espinal
Posted on: Mon, 09/26/2016 - 17:34

I don't know why the videos are not loading on my iPhone. Is there a problem with the server?

Posted on: Sat, 06/06/2015 - 00:16

There is no real dumbbell substitute for wide grip pullups but one arm dumbbell rows hit the lats well with a good stretch. Good luck.

John B
Posted on: Fri, 09/30/2016 - 06:31

NONE of the videos are working!

Posted on: Sat, 12/20/2014 - 05:36

dumbbell lying row

Posted on: Sat, 06/07/2014 - 11:29

i love this back exercises since the first time that i saw it,
i like to do this back workout on a chin up station.

Posted on: Sun, 01/12/2014 - 12:49

Too weak to pump one out:

5'5", 178lbs, 30" waist..... I can DL 3 plates and squat 2, but I can't even bench one unfortunately.

Any good substitutes til I get my strength up?

David Rice
Posted on: Fri, 11/22/2013 - 14:43

what can i sub for wide pull ups

Posted on: Mon, 10/21/2013 - 12:38

How much weight of dumbbell/barbell i shall increase every week ?

Posted on: Wed, 05/27/2015 - 09:31

u have increas per week only 10%in dumbell.

Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 23:25

Hmm I am a beginner and I tried this excercise today. Sorry but it's impossible... I can't handle 1 pull up. Notice that I did some biceps excercises and 1 back-excercise(seated cable row) before.

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 05:40

Try a resistance band under your foot to help you lift your weight

Posted on: Mon, 08/28/2023 - 18:52

I tried that too. Didn’t work. Is lat pull down a decent alternative??

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/29/2023 - 06:54

Yes, lat pulldown is a good alternative.

Posted on: Tue, 08/27/2013 - 13:04

Thanks a lot

Posted on: Wed, 05/01/2013 - 14:47

Is the workout a failure if i cant do 15 pull-ups? Because i am strict with my form and find that im only getting 8-10 done.

Project Pull-Up
Posted on: Wed, 05/15/2013 - 14:19

Hey Henry - not at all. Pull-Ups are very taxing on the body and the cns. Dont think for a second that your 8 reps are a failure. I train pull-ups at least twice a week for both volume and strength and Im very happy for my sets to be between 8 and 10. It all depends what you are using the pull-up for - what are you training?

Posted on: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 06:24

What other ways can you do this at home if you don't have a bar or barbell and rack??

Posted on: Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:51

I meant to ask earlier what negative pull-ups are

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/22/2013 - 16:22

Use a bench or chair to get your chin up over the bar. Then lower yourself as slowly as possible. This way all the work is done during the "negative" portion of the pull up.

Posted on: Tue, 01/22/2013 - 11:31

Pull-ups are my worst and most challenging excercise. Not sure how to begin

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:11

Assisted pull-ups and negative pull-ups are great alternatives. Keep at them either way!

Posted on: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:15

I'm 53, started the 5 day a week workout routine at home, simple 110 lbs barbell/dumbell set with a simple incline decline bench. I don't have anything to do the pullup or chin ups on ...is there an exercise that I can do to replace anything that requires such a device? thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 16:20

You could try doing bent-over barbell rows if you're not set up for wide-grip pullups.

Posted on: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 05:24

Can I use the lat pull down in my home gym instead of the wide grip pull up? It has a wide bar as well

Posted on: Thu, 11/08/2012 - 19:03

Can lat pull downs be substituted for wg pull-ups? I'm a big guy and can't do many pull ups

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2012 - 00:16


Posted on: Sat, 10/13/2012 - 00:48

When doing pull-ups and other back exercises my elbow pops/cracks. I've tried resting it for long periods, but still have the problem. Is there anything I can do?

Posted on: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 23:38

What is the website that makes it east to understand blog sites and also podcasts? I can't present an ipod devices, really does the fact that really make a difference?

max peters
Posted on: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 03:32

awesome form dude

Posted on: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 00:04

Hi Steve. Listen I bought a book for increasing pull ups and a push up book. I have to do pull ups 3 times a week and push ups 3 times a week. Can I alternate days one for pull ups the next one for push ups? or do I do both push ups and pull ups the same day 3 times a week?


Posted on: Sun, 09/09/2012 - 10:23

which one is the negative pull-up that is mentioned? Is it just the traditional chin up with palms facing towards your body?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/11/2012 - 12:28

Hey Jason, "negative" pull-ups are when you use a stool to pull your chin above the bar and then slowly lower yourself, focusing on the "negative" part of the motion.

Posted on: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 04:13

U can do lat pulldowns until u hv d strength to knock down pullups.

Posted on: Sat, 09/01/2012 - 05:39

It is too hard to do for me, is there any tips and tricks to do easly?

Posted on: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 13:17

I only have dumbbells. Is there an alternative to this exercise?