Pulling up strengthens the muscles of the chest, arms and the entire shoulder girdle. By changing the grip on the horizontal bar, you can work more actively with each of these areas. We tell you how to do it.
What muscles work in pull-ups?
Pull-ups combine strength and functional loading by engaging multiple muscle groups at once. The correct technique for this exercise is the synergistic work of the muscles of the shoulder girdle, back, abdomen and chest. Pull-ups work different muscle groups: back muscles, shoulder muscles, biceps and triceps. Each muscle group is the main group in a specific movement (during the positive and negative phases of muscle contractions during pull-ups).
The load during movement is redistributed. The muscles of the back and shoulder girdle are actively working. When hanging, the back muscles are tightened, and when the body is raised, the arm and shoulder muscles are connected. The peak voltage phase occurs when the case is at its highest point. The main muscles involved in pull-ups are the latissimus dorsi, round dorsi, rhomboid, dentata anterior, posterior delta, biceps.
When doing pull-ups, the pectorals and press are also involved – they help stabilize the body position.
How the load is distributed depending on the socket
Depending on the position of the hand on the horizontal strip, the main types of handles are distinguished:
- Direct grip (with the back of the hand facing you)
- Reverse grip (the backs of the hands face each other)
- Narrow grip (hands are already shoulder-width apart)
- Medium grip (hands shoulder-width apart)
- Wide grip (palms wider than shoulders)
Resting your hand on the bar affects the distribution of the load between the muscles during pull-ups. What is the load difference? The difference is when we switch grips, we switch to different muscle groups. When we work with a direct grip, we mainly work with the back muscles. When moving backward, the back muscles are also involved, but the emphasis is on the biceps. Therefore, reverse grip pull-ups are usually used to exercise the shoulder biceps.
The direct grip works mainly on the back and the reverse grip mainly on the arm muscles. The change in grip causes the redistribution of the load from one muscle to the other: with the reverse grip, most of the load falls on the biceps.
The reverse grip is used to “load” the arms, especially the biceps. The latissimus back muscles are also involved, but very often when it comes to arm training, inverted grip pull-ups are activated during training.
When pulling with a wide grip, most of the load is “taken” by the broadest back.
Tight chin-ups are more active in the muscles of the arms and shoulders.
Which grip to choose for beginners and experienced athletes
Pull-ups are a pretty difficult exercise. For beginners, it is not immediately given, mastering it in its “pure” form can be difficult, which is why trainers often advise starting classes with additional equipment – a gravitron or expanders. They make training easier by “taking over” part of the load.
How do you put your hands on a horizontal bar? Best of all – slightly wider than shoulder height with an inverted grip (fingers “watch” you). Direct-grip pull-ups work the brachioradialis muscle more, and reverse-grip biceps. Beginners should therefore start with reverse pull-ups, since the auxiliary muscle in these exercises is the biceps, which a priori is larger and stronger than the brachiocephalic muscle. This makes reverse-grip pull-ups easier.
Once you master this type of pull, you can move on to others—like direct grip exercises. Trained athletes should use the direct grip, whereby the load should be directed more towards the back muscles.
Would you like to increase the load? Try narrow-grip or wide-grip pull-ups, use weights (belts, dumbbells), change leg positions (throw them up), etc.
Good pulling technique
We offer to master pull-ups with a medium rear grip – this is the basic version of the exercise for beginners.
Grasp the horizontal bar with a reverse grip and place your palms shoulder-width apart. Hang from the horizontal bar, relax your lower body and feel your back and arm muscles work. As you exhale, bend your elbows, engage your arm, back, and chest muscles, and pull your torso up. Don’t slouch, tilt your head back, try to keep your body straight.
Touch the bar against your chest, then slowly lower your body.
Biggest Traction Mistakes
Most often, beginners make such shortcomings:
Connecting lower body muscles. With pull-ups, you don’t need to work with your legs, like swinging them. This will only interfere with the proper work of the muscles of the body and the shoulder girdle.
Jerks. Ideally, the pull-up involves a slight upward movement of the body. Due to the weakness of the muscles, it is often not easy for beginners, many want to quickly “skip” the difficult phase of the movement. Therefore, they are pulled sharply. This hinders muscle growth and increases the risk of injury.
Full arm extension in starting position. The elbows should remain slightly bent during the pull as the load on them will increase as the exercise progresses. To avoid injury, be careful not to fully extend your arms during the exercise.
Follow these tips to do pull-ups safely and effectively.