Pull ups are a great exercise. They should be a staple of any fitness routine whether you are an athlete, bodybuilder, or even a weekend warrior. Why are they so wonderful? To start with, they are natural, performing a function that is useful. Plus there are a ton of variations which makes this a versatile exercise to have in your arsenal. Finally they are one of the best exercises for building a strong, muscular back.
Most people just perform a standard wide grip pull-up, if they even do pullups at all. Far too many people are content with pulldowns and variations of machine pullups. Honestly those are passable, but none compare to the muscle and strength building capabilities of the pull-up.
Instead of being one of those people who avoids the pull-up, strive to be one who builds a fantastic body with them. Let’s look at the some of the great variations available with pullups so you can see which version fits best into your current routine.
The Wide Range of Pullups
In most cases variations are based on hand position in relation to the pull. There are a few other variations that we will cover as well. Note that all versions can be done with bodyweight or by adding weight.
- Wide Grip Pull-up – This is the most common exercise. You grab a set of high handles and pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.
- Arched Pullups – For these it is just like a regular pull-up, except you arch your back during the movement and pull your sternum towards the bar. This version activates your muscles more intensely than a standard version.
- Underhand Pull ups – You grab the bar with an underhand grip, either shoulder-width or closer, and pull your chin up over the bar. This exercise is a bit easier to start with and is a great bicep builder.
- Single Arm Pull ups – The same as above but using one-arm at a time. For balance you can place the free hand on the wrist of the pulling arm.
- Parallel Bar Pull-up – For this you grab the pegs that are shoulder width apart and perform a pull-up. Again this is more of an arm workout compared to the back because the angle of the pull. The hands stay in a neutral grip.
- Close Grip Pull ups – Doing pullups to a close-grip attachment like you use for low cable rows. This is a great back builder.
- Cliffhangers – Start under the bar and reach up to grab underhand with your left hand and overhand with your right. The right should be in front of the left. Now pull yourself up keeping the bar to the left of your head. This movement isolates one side and then the other of the body and is a great strength builder.
- Muscle-Ups – This is an odd move. You do a pull-up as explosively as possible because you are trying to get your entire upper body over the bar and into a straight arm position. It is a mix of a pull-up into a dip. Then you have to reverse the motion without knocking your chin on the way down.
- Rope Handle Pull-ups – You can also do this with a towel over a bar. The handles are harder to grip and they move a little creating added work to the back to stabilize your body.
More than likely there are more options than this for doing pull ups. The move is so versatile that you can mix and match it into a variety of situations depending on what you have available. The changes in grip and arm position dictate muscles worked. No matter what, you should be including some variation of the pull-up into your routine because it is so effective at building strength and size in the back and upper body.