The pull-up is an excellent compound exercise which builds muscle and strength in the back muscles. But, the biceps and forearms also receive stimulation as secondary movers in the exercise. Now, most of the time the pull-up is not suitable for beginners as you do need sufficient upper body strength to yourself up to the bar.
But, thankfully most gyms have pull-up assist machines which can be a great alternative until enough strength is developed to do bodyweight only pull-up. You can also do negative pull-ups to build sufficient strength.
It’s best to do the pull-up at the beginning of a workout since a lot of energy and strength is required to perform sufficient sets/reps. So, include the pull-up in your routine and you’ll definitely see improved back development.
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: All back muscles (Lattisimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Erector Spinae, Trapezius)
- Type: Strength
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Pull-up bar
- Difficulty: Intermediate/advanced
- Grip the pull-up bar/s with a pronated (Overhand) hand position slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart.
- Then, allow your body to hang straight down with arms fully extended.
- Now, pull yourself up to the bar as high as you can while keeping your chest up. Exhale during this portion of the exercise.
- Hold for 2 seconds.
- Then, slowly lower your body back down but don’t lock your elbows. Inhale during this portion of the exercise.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Variations & Tips:
- Use a pull-up assist machine if you don’t have the adequate upper body strength to do a bodyweight pull-up.
- The lat pull-down is a good variation to build strength for those who cannot yet do a pull-up.
- You can implement different variations once you’re more advanced (See the second video).
- Negative pull-ups are also a great way to build up to doing a full, bodyweight pull-up. (See the third video).
- Avoid swinging your legs but using a little momentum is acceptable.
- The pull-up differs from the chin-up because you’re using an overhand grip rather than an underhand grip.
- The pull-up works all back muscles but the biceps and forearms get worked secondarily.