King of BWE (Bodyweight Exercises)

The Pull-Up is an upper body exercise that works most of your forearm, arm (biceps brachii) and upper back muscles (latissimus dorsi, trapezius), depending on the variation you are using.

A Pull-Up can be done in different ways, overhand (pronated), underhand (supinated), neutral or rotating hand position. The unterhand (supinated) Pull Up is mostly referred to as a chin-up. The neutral grip Pull-Up is sometimes referred to as a Commando Chin-Up or Commando Pull-Up.

Pull-Ups are often used as a component of fitness tests and as a conditioning activity for some sports.

Pull-Ups are a closed-chain, compound movement involving multiple joints.

Different Pull-Ups


Beginning by hanging from the bar, the body is pulled up, and finished by lowering the body until arms and shoulders are fully extended. The end range of motion at the top end may be chin over bar or higher, such as chest to bar.


To increase the difficulty, weights are added using a dip beltweight vest, or other means.

One Arm

A one arm pull-up is performed by using only one arm to lift the body; another variation is using only one finger.


An easier version in which momentum is built by swinging the legs. Kipping pull-ups have lower muscle activation in the upper body but greater activation in the lower body and core; it is possible to perform them faster and complete more repetitions before encountering upper-body fatigue. Kipping pull-ups are considered high risk for injury and are a major cause of shoulder injury in CrossFit athletes



A pull-up that transitions to a dip; it is more difficult than a pull-up and requires significant strength and technique to execute. Originating in gymnastics, it is also popular in CrossFit where it may be performed with kipping.


The effective weight of the participant is reduced by such means as resistance band, counterweight, or resting the feet on a surface to make the exercise easier. Assisted pull-ups can be used to increase pulling strength among those who cannot do an unassisted pull-up.


Beginning from the top position of the pull-up, the participant gradually lowers herself into the dead hang position. This can be used as a progression to performing a standard pull-up. You can jump up and lower yourself. This will make you stronger.

Beginner options

If you are new to training, you can still work on the foundations to get you ready to do a full Pull-Up.

  • Start by hanging from the pullup bar for time. At first this will be only possible for a short time, but you will strengthen the muscles in your arms and back that are needed to complete a pull-up.
  • When you are able to hang for 10 to 30 seconds try using the assisted or eccentric pull up.

Advanced options

If you’re an advanced athlete or have been doing pullups successfully for a long time, you can still challenge your muscles. You can:

  • Try adding weight with a weight belt or vest.
  • Do pullups one-handed.
  • Do a pull-up and touch your shoulder between reps, while hanging.

These variations will keep your muscles challenged. They keep you from plateauing, so you can continue to build up strength.

The takeaway

Adding the Pull-Up and it’s variations to your workout routine is an essential part of getting strong and being able to move.

Try combining pullups with other upper body exercises, like pushups, chinups, tricep extensions, and bicep curls, to round out your routine. You can do this routine two to three times a week.