WORK IT OUT: Five great pull-up variations

Pull-ups can lead to body-wide strength gains.

PHOTOGRAPH by GETTY IMAGES                                                                                        People do think it: There’s something cool about pulling your own weight at the gym. But you know the benefits of pull-ups go beyond how they look.

Adding pull-ups to your workouts provides them with multiple benefits. Along with working the latissimus dorsi and biceps, pull-ups utilize movements over several joints and can increase grip strength, which can lead to strength gains throughout the body.

Here are the proper technique for a basic pull-up and four variations to help clients see additional benefits.

Basic Pull-Up
Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width, palms facing out. At the starting position, elbows are fully extended. As you pull up, squeeze your glutes and abs and exhale until your chin is over the bar. Slowly lower to the starting position.

3 Tips for Beginners
• Don’t cross your feet. That will decrease the amount your abs can contribute to the exercise.
• Start with a resistance band.
• Don’t swing your body or tuck your knees up. To avoid swinging, tighten your abs and glutes.

Chin Up

Flip your hands around, so the palms face toward you. Then, follow the pull-up steps. This grip increases the work done by the biceps.

Neutral Grip

On a TRX rack or elevated dip bar, position your palms facing each other about shoulder-width apart. This grip works the back muscles more than a standard pull-up.

With a Band

A resistance band can provide assistance at the bottom of the move where a client is weakest; good for those new to pull-ups. Secure the ends of the band on the bar and slip a knee or foot into the loop.


Attach a dumbbell, kettlebell, or plate to a weight belt for an added challenge. This should only be done by those who can already do sets of 12 to 15 regular pull-ups.


One thought on “WORK IT OUT: Five great pull-up variations

  1. Pingback: WORK IT OUT: Five great pull-up variations - Reynolds Performance Club

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