The pull up is perhaps the best exercise you can do if you want to build a strong, lean upper body. All you need is a bar that will support your weight.

The Pull Up

The Pull Up

How to do pull ups

  1. Hang from a bar with a pronated (palms facing away) grip. Place your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Pull up and raise your body until your chin reaches the same height as the bar. Avoid swinging or kipping as you pull.
  3.  Lower yourself back to the starting position. Make sure you fully extend your arms.

Muscles used in pull ups

The pull ups is known as a back exercises for good reason. Your latissimus dorsi (“lats”) and trapezius (“traps”) are heavily involved in the pull up movement. Not only do these muscles aid in a whole range of functional movements, they are the most visible muscles in your back. Improving your pull ups is a great way to build a powerful looking back. The pull up also engages your biceps are a secondary muscle.

Pull up video


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Pull up substitutions

Pull ups are very effective, but they are also difficult to perform If you are still struggling with your pull ups, then you have several options to decrease the difficulty slightly. These methods still provide a great workout and will help you build the strength to do normal pull ups.

Negatives: Using something to boost yourself, get to the “up” position of the pull up. Step off your support and hang with your arms flexed for as long as you can. Lower yourself down as slowly as you can.

Chair Assisted: Place a chair or similar object about a foot in front of your pull up bar. As you pull, push-off on the chair with one or both of your feet to aid you up. Perform a negative as you lower yourself down with your feet off the chair.

Partner Assisted: Have a friend give you a slight boost to get you to the top of the pull up. You can push with your feet against  your partners hands, like with the chair assisted pull ups, or your friend can stand behind you push up on your back.

Body Rows (aka Aussie or inverted pull ups): Find something you can hang from that is roughly waist-high. Straighten your body and extend it down in front of you with your feet touching the ground. Pull up and try to get your chest to the same level as your hands.

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