A pull-up is an upper body compound pulling exercise where the body is suspended by extended arms, gripping a fixed bar[1], then pulled up until the elbows are bent and the head is higher than the hands, utilizing an overhand (pronated) grip. A traditional pull-up relies on upper body strength with no swinging or "kipping"[2] (using a forceful initial movement of the legs in order to gain momentum). The exercise targets mainly the Latissimus Dorsi muscle in the back along with many other assisting muscles.‎ Pull-ups are similar to chin-ups, which are distinct due to the underhand (supinated) grip. The difference is that palms are facing away from you in pull-ups, while in chin-ups the palms face yourself. When your arms are not fully extended when doing a pull-up, it is still considered a pull-up.

Tips on techniqueEdit

'Forget' about your arms because this exercise is really aimed at your back. Try to think of your entire back, from neck to tailbone, tensing as a single unit while you do the movement. You may notice a little forward movement of your hips at the same time, which should be limited. It may help to look up a little. You will soon notice the arms are secondary.

List of variationsEdit

Example Type


Standard dead-hang pull up is grasped with an overhand grip. Then the body is pulled up until the chin clears the bar, and finished by lowering the body until arms and shoulders are fully extended. Stricter standards would only consider a full repetition to be one in which the elbows pass behind the coronal plane.[3]



Weight is added using a dipping belt, or grasping a dumbbell with the feet.


Behind-the-neck pull-up

The chin is dropped. The goal of the pull-up is to touch the bar with the back of the neck.

Animation of a one arm pull-up

One arm

A one arm pull-up is performed by grasping the bar with only one hand while pulling up. Due to its difficulty, it requires considerable strength.

Animation of a muscle-up


The muscle-up is performed by pulling up, but rather than stopping with the chin or chest touching the bar, the arms are straightened, raising the body above the bar. Generally the initial pull-up uses an overhand grip to make the switch easier and is more explosive in order to use the momentum to make the exercise easier.

Supine row

Sometimes called an "Australian pull-up", "reverse push-up", "inclined pull-up" or "inverted row", this is performed with the bar 2 to 3 feet off the floor. The user lies on the ground under the bar, face-up, and grasps the bar with extended arms. The exercise is performed by pulling the chest up to the bar. The body is held in a rigid plank position while the heels remain on the floor.

Mixed grip

One hand is placed in the overhand (pronated) position and the other is placed in the underhand (supinated) position to provide variation on the standard pull-up (and chin-up).

See alsoEdit


  1. Types of chin/pull-ups bars for home gyms
  2. Eva teaches the kipping pull-up at
  3. Gym Jones: Quality

External linksEdit