Primary Muscle Group: Latimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscle Group: Shoulders, Biceps
Equipment Needed: Pull Up Bar
The Benefits of Pull Ups
The pull-up is a multi-joint bodyweight exercise that builds strength and muscle in the upper back, biceps, and core. It is often used as a measurement tool in military or tactical fitness tests, and is an excellent gauge of “relative strength” which is strength in relation to bodyweight. Bodybuilders also add weight to the exercise as part of a routine to build a bigger and wider looking back.
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.
The pull up exercise can be incorporated into back workouts, pull workouts, upper body workouts, or full body workouts.
Some key benefits of pull ups are;
Strengthens the muscles of the lats (latissimus dorsi), biceps, upper back, core, and grip.
Requires no equipment other than a bar.
Can build absolute strength for low reps, or strength endurance for higher reps.
Easy to alter grip style and width to target different muscles or rep ranges.
If you are looking for new and exciting workouts you can download a free workout plan or purchase one of our Workout Plans that comes with access to your own fitness advisor for the duration.
If you are looking for other exercises that are the best for building muscle or wanting to lose body fat then you should check our Free Workout Plan or our Workout Plans With Coaching for professionally designed workout plans that have been proven to get results.
The Risks of doing Pull Ups
Pull-ups can be classified as a high intensity exercise, and you will find that it is your shoulders that seem to take a great deal of strain, especially if your technique isn’t 100% correct.
Subsequently shoulder injuries, particularly rotator cuff injuries, are very common when performing pull-ups, and are one of the reasons why many people are forced to stop doing pull-ups at some point.
So before giving Pull Ups a go, here's exactly how to do them without risking pain or injury.
How To Do Pull Ups
1. Grab a bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your hands facing away from you.
2. Hang all the way down.
3. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar and pause for a second.
4. Slowly, lower yourself all the way back down to the starting position.
For Perfect Technique
To decrease your 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.
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.
Once you have mastered the Pull Up Exercise you can try alternative exercises that target similar muscle groups such as;
How To Do Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
1. Attach a wide grip handle to the lat pulldown machine and assume a seated position.
2. Grasp the handle with a pronated grip (double overhand) and initiate the movement by depressing the shoulder blade and then flexing the elbow while extending the shoulder.
3. Pull the handle towards your body until the elbows are in line with your torso and then slowly lower the handle back to the starting position under control.
4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
How To Do Deadlifts
1. Position the bar over the top of your feet and assume a hip width stance.
2. Push your hips back and hinge forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor.
3. Reach down and grasp the bar using a shoulder width, double overhand grip.
4. Inhale and pull up slightly on the bar while allowing your hips to drop slightly.
5. As you drop the hips and pull up on the bar, set the lats (imagine you’re trying to hold a tennis ball under your armpits) and ensure your armpits are positioned directly over the bar.
6. Drive through the whole foot and focus on pushing away from the floor.
7. Ensure the bar tracks in a straight line as you extend the knees and hips.
8. Once you have locked out the hips, reverse the movement by pushing the hips back and hinging forward.
9. Return the bar to the floor, reset, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.