Wide arm pull ups are a great addition to any workout routine. Just find a pull up bar and you’re ready to go. These intermediate level pull ups place a greater emphasis on your lats and traps as opposed to your biceps, making it a great back exercise.

Wide Arm Pull Ups

Notice the wider-than-shoulder-width grip.

How to do wide arm pull ups

  1. Grab the bar with your hands wider than shoulder width apart and palms facing forward.
  2. Without kicking or swinging, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Keep your lower body still and vertical.
  3. Slowly lower yourself down. Pause for a moment at the bottom. This ensures that your muscles, not your momentum, are lifting you back up on your next repetition.

Wide arm pull up video

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Muscles used in wide arm pull ups

The wide grip forces your back muscles (lats and traps) to do most of the work. The wider you place your arms, the less your biceps help in the movement. This makes it a great back exercise, but the wider grip also lowers your range of motion during the pull up. With your biceps playing only a small supporting role, this exercise will seem more difficult. As your back muscles grow, they will become easier.

Substitutions for wide arm pull ups

If you are having trouble doing a full bodyweight pull up, here are a few ways to lighten the load as your strength grows.

Wide Arm Negatives: With a wide grip, hang with your chin above the bar for as long as you can. Lower yourself down very slowly.

Wide Arm Assisted: Get a boost from either a buddy or a chair to help you pull up. Perform a negative once you get to the top.

Wide Arm Body Rows: Performed just like normal body rows, except use an extra wide grip.

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