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Back Exercises - Pull Ups

Exercise Name: Pull Ups

Purpose: Develop the back muscles. Widen the back.

Target Muscle Group(s): The primary muscle group being worked is the back muscles, specifically the latissimus dorsi, teres major, rhomboid major, and rhomboid minor.

Secondary muscle groups being worked are the forearms (brachioradialis) and the biceps (biceps brachii and brachialis).

pull ups

Instructions: Proper Pull Up Technique 

1. Grip the chin-up bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you), hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
2. Hang from the bar.
3. Cross your feet at the ankles.
4. Start pulling yourself up.
5. When you reach half way look straight up to the ceiling to create an arch on your back (important for proper contraction of the back muscles at the top of the movement).
6. Try to touch the bar with your chest. It's ok if you can't, most people can only get their chest a few inches from the bar.
7. At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together (you should still be looking up).
8. Lower yourself to the starting position. You should be looking straight ahead now, instead of up at the ceiling.

Additional Comments And Tips: 

1. Inhale as you pull your chest towards the bar. Exhale towards the end of the movement.
2. Contract your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
3. Don't use your biceps to "curl" yourself up, instead visualize your lats pulling you up.
4. The wider the grip, the more you work your upper lats; the closer the grip, the more you work your lower lats.
5. This exercise may be tough for beginners, in this case I recommend you do lat pull-downs or use the chin-up machine.

Also Known As: Chin Up
Exercise Type: Building Muscle, Strength Training, Toning, Sports Training
Force: Pull
Exercise Level: Intermediate
Mechanics Type: Compound Exercise

Pull Up Variations: Wide-grip, medium-grip, close-grip triangle device, overhand-grip, two hand underhand-grip, weighted (using special belt), spotter assisted, chin-up machine, behind the neck pull ups.

Safety Precautions:

1. Often times the bar is quite high, be sure you're able to reach it and get down safely.

Alternatives/Substitutions: List of Similar Back Exercises
  • Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Downs to the front
  • Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Downs to the back of the neck
  • Reverse Pull Ups

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