Commando pull ups are an intermediate pull up variation. They are a fun addition to your workout routine because they require a little athleticism to complete without banging your head.

How to do commando pull ups

Commando Pull Ups

Commando Pull Ups

  1. Stand with your body facing the end of the pull up bar and grab it with both palms facing in.
  2. As you pull up, keep your body perpendicular to the bar. Move your head to one side as you bring your shoulder as close to the bar as you can.
  3. Slowly lower yourself down.
  4. With each new  repetition, alternate with side of the bar you move your head.
  5. Switch hand positions (which hand is in front) each set.

Commando pull up video

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Muscles used in commando pull ups

The narrow, supinated (palms in) grip means your biceps are heavily involved during the pulling motion as well as your back muscles (primarily your lats and traps). Your core muscles act to stabilize your lower body.

Substitutions for commando pull ups

If you are struggling to complete a repetition, whether it is because you are a beginner or just worn out from your workout, there are several ways to modify the commando pull up so you can finish your routine.

  • Commando grip negatives:  Step up or jump into the “up” position and hold that pose for as long as can. Slowly lower yourself down.
  • Partner-assisted: Have your workout buddy give you a little boost as you pull up.
  • Chair-assisted: Push off from a chair to help get you to the top of the bar.

Mastered commando pull ups?

Once you can consistently knock out a dozen or two, then you are ready for the commando pull up walk. Instead of staying at one spot along the bar, try moving hand-over-hand along the bar with each repetition. Start in the “up” position. As you start to drop down, let go with your rear hand and quickly move it to the front. Pull yourself back up and repeat the process. Try to develop a rhythm as you move. A longer pull up bar works better for this exercise, but you can always turn around mid-set if you have limited room. Aim to cover a greater amount of distance each time.