Pull-ups are a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups while building functional strength and a powerful grip. Besides, all you need is your own body and something to hang on to.
Whether we’re looking to do our first pull-up or learn more advanced variations to improve training, there are many types of pull-ups.
Pull-ups according to the grip
The grip is a fundamental part of any strength exercise to work the muscles at different angles.
To do a chin-up, grab the pull-up bar shoulder-width apart with your palms facing your face. This grip is also known as a supinated or supinated grip . An easy way to remember this is that the palms are close to the chin. To do it correctly:
- From a suspended position, we will lift the body up until the chin passes over the bar.
- We will avoid swinging, kicking, moving the body to go over the bar or other pull-up mistakes.
- We’ll pause at the top, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
Unlike pull-ups, chin-ups focus the effort on the biceps while working part of the chest at the same time. Since the pectoral muscles of the chest are so large, this means that this exercise is usually the easiest for beginners.
classic pull up
The pull-up takes the same form as the chin-up, but instead of the palms facing inward, the palms face away from the body. This grip is also known as the pronated or overhand grip .
If we notice that the jump from chin-up to pull-up is dramatic, we will transition with negative pull-ups. This can help build the strength needed to do a full pull-up. We will simply use a box or stool to get to the top position of the pull-up. While keeping the core tight, we will lower into a hanging position.
Compared to the chin-up, the pull-up hits the lower trapezius and lats better, making it less of a chest and arm workout and more of a back workout.
Also known as a parallel grip, with this movement we do a pull-up while the palms face each other. Many gyms don’t have the right style of pull up bar to accommodate this move, but the pull up/dip bar does.
A hammer grip pull-up is harder than a chin-up but easier than a pull-up. It is ideal if we have weak shoulders or if we have injured our shoulders before. This neutral grip puts less pressure on your shoulders and reduces pressure on your wrists. Plus, it emphasizes the biceps, making it perfect for arm day.
Narrow and wide grip
Once we have mastered the basics, we can level up. It is only enough to change the distance between the arms and the pull-up bar.
If we want to activate the chest muscles and strengthen the pectorals, we will bring our hands closer. The tighter the grip, the more we use our chest muscles. Those who like to do weighted pull-ups also tend to use close-grip hand positions because your chest is stronger and allows you to lift a heavier load.
If we want to work the back more, we will separate the hands. A wider grip takes the focus off the pecs and burns more of the back muscles. Wide-grip pull-ups induce the upper lats to come out.
In a mixed-grip pull-up, one hand faces out and the other faces in. This combination allows more of the different muscle groups to be activated, reducing fatigue and allowing for even more weight to be added if we are using a weight belt.
If we do this variation, we will change hands every two sets to avoid creating a muscular imbalance. The arm with the overhand grip normally works harder than the arm below to lift the body. This is a two-in-one move that adds a lot of mass to your biceps and back; In addition, the abdomen is forced to stabilize the torso and keep it straight, so it will also work the core a little.
- Start with your left hand in an overhand grip and your right hand in an underhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Pull towards the bar so that it grazes the bottom of the neck.
- Lower until arms are straight, then repeat.
Other types of pull-ups
Beyond the grip, there are more versions of the pull-up that compromise the ability and effort of the exercise. Many of these cannot be done in beginning athletes.
If we want to develop the muscles of the arms, back and core, the towel grip pull-up is one of the most effective exercises to improve grip strength. We really have to work hard to keep our hands from slipping off the towel as we complete each rep.
- We will place a towel on the bar so that both sides are the same length.
- We will reach as high as we can on both sides of the towel, then lift the body up while maintaining the grip.
We will use a towel that is thick enough so that it does not break. We can imagine the consequences of not following this advice. Most small gym towels will rip so we can use a couple of them at a time.
If we really want to work the abdomen, the L pull-ups are the best alternative. The move essentially consists of lifting your legs and holding an L position while doing pull-ups at the same time. The combined upper body movement and isometric core hold will train the body to remain rigid against all kinds of pressures.
We will try to maintain the perfect L position. We will gradually integrate the pull-up to complete the exercise.
- We will hang from a bar with an overhand grip and hands shoulder-width apart.
- We will raise the legs so that they are parallel to the ground and perpendicular to the torso.
- While keeping our legs straight, we’ll pull up on the bar, just high enough so the bar grazes the bottom of our neck, then lower back down and repeat the desired number of reps.
just one arm
One-arm pull-ups are perhaps the ultimate test of superhuman strength. Unilateral upper body stability will grow tremendously when we can add this movement to our routine. That’s not to mention the core strength it takes to maintain proper position throughout the movement, and it will only get stronger the more you practice it.
We can use a resistance band during the later stages of learning this movement (and also later on, if we want to increase the volume).
- Grab the bar with your right hand using a neutral grip.
- While hanging with only the right arm, we will lift the right hip to reduce the distance between the right shoulder and the right hip.
- Now, we will strongly pull the body towards the bar using the dorsal and core muscles, not the arm.
- We will drop and repeat with the left arm.
These are called “archers” for the reason you might expect: the movement resembles that of an archer shooting a bow and arrow. From a standstill, we pull to the side with the other arm extended straight. This move is an immediate precursor to the one-arm pull-up and will help your body get used to the rigor of the unilateral upper-body pull.
- Using a wide, overhand grip, we’ll lift the body (high enough so that the upper chest is in line with the bar), then bring the body into the right hand while extending the left arm out to the side.
- We’ll repeat this to the left side, extending the right arm out to the side, then lower back down.