The pull up is one of the most impressive exercises that you can perform, a demonstration of your strength and mobility. Pull ups have huge benefits and work a large number of muscles. They are efficient, effective, and highly versatile.
What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work?
Pull Ups work the following back muscles:
- Lats (Latissimus dorsi) – Primary
- Teres Major
- Traps (Trapezius)
- Pecs (pectoralis major)
- Upper back
Including the pull-up move in your exercise routine allows you to work multiple muscle groups. Many are under the impression that it is used mainly to develop the biceps, but the exercise also works your shoulders, back, and arm muscle groups.
The latissimus dorsi, or lats, are the large upper back muscles whose function is to pull your arms towards your pelvis. The lats are the broadest muscle in your upper back. Latissimus (or latissimi) literally means broadest and dorsi means back.
The lats are the primary muscle worked during a pull up. They provide the most pulling power of all the muscles and are used to drag your body up to that pull up bar.
The teres major attaches from your shoulder blade to your upper arm, its function is to pull down your arm and it is often seen as an ally to the lats. As your lats are pulling you up, the teres major assists with this by helping to pull your arms down and towards your pelvis.
The trapezius muscle (traps) consists of the upper, middle, and lower parts. The role of the trapezius during a pull up is to keep your shoulder blades stable. The traps provide stability during the pulling up and descending movements. The upper back muscles work harder with a Wide Grip pull-up.
The pectoral muscles are engaged a little bit during pull ups, particularly when you have a shoulder-width grip. Studies have shown that the pectorals are activated slightly during the concentric phase of a pull up (pulling yourself upwards) and slightly more during the eccentric phase of a pull up (lowering yourself back down).
Your rhomboids are located behind the trapezius, like the trapezius, they provide stability for the shoulder and the scapula. They are useful for rotation, adduction, and elevation of the scapula, which are all useful when performing a pull up.
Scapular and Shoulder Stabilisers
The pull up exercise uses the full spectrum of your shoulder and scapular muscles. These muscle groups help stabilise you. The rotator cuff muscles, which are the teres minor and the infraspinatus, pull your arms back when the elbows are to the side. Using a wide neutral grip will increase activation of these muscles.
The biceps get a lot of activation during a pull up, more so than any muscle other than the lats. In fact, if you are performing chin ups rather than pull ups there is more bicep activation during the concentric part than there is lat activation.
The triceps don’t seem like an obvious muscle to be worked during a pull up, but they are actually quite useful. There is quite a lot of tricep activation during the eccentric (lowering) part of the pull up. They help to stabilise you during the pull up. They also help to flex your elbow.
With the pull-up exercise, you use the forearm muscles extensively. Grasping the pull-up bar will immediately tighten the forearm muscles to grip the bar securely. To maximise your pull-up workout, you can increase the width of the bar, as the thicker the bar, the more the forearm muscles will need to work to maintain a firm grip.
You can increase the thickness of the bar by wrapping non-slip workout tape around the bar until you achieve the desired width. Alternatively, you can wrap a towel around the bar for a temporary solution, or should the bar not be in your home.
The forearm muscles will need to work more when you use a Narrow Grip pull-up. A Narrow Grip pull-up means you place your hands closer together on the bar.
The abdominal muscles are used a lot during pull ups. They work to keep your torso and legs stable during the concentric and eccentric phase of the pull up. During low-rep sets, the abdominals are activated more than any other muscle.
What are Pull Ups?
Pull ups fall under the category of compound exercises, meaning the exercise involves more than one muscle group. The pull up allows you to work multiple muscle groups including the back, biceps, shoulders, and abdominals. Strong abdominal muscles will help you pull yourself up to achieve the perfect pull-up move.
The pull up is a great exercise that can be performed in most places all you need is a pull up bar and some daily inspiration.
Including the pull up move in your exercise routine allows you to work multiple muscle groups. Many are under the impression that it is used mainly to develop the biceps, but the exercise also works your shoulders, back, and arm muscle groups.
There are many variations of the pull up, by simply tweaking your hand grip you put more emphasis on different muscles. It is also important you use the correct pull up bar that can facilitate the grip requirement.
Benefits of Pull Ups
Pull-ups can be daunting at first, but once you increase your strength and technique, the pull-up is an amazing exercise. It is advised to start with a negative pull-up and build up as you improve your strength.
Here are 5 benefits of pull-ups:
- Compound exercises for a full workout
- Strengthen your grip
- Improve your posture and back muscle strength.
- Convenient and versatile
- Many variations
we will go through each point in detail below.
Compound Exercises for a Full Workout
An exercise using more than one muscle group or joints at the same time are called compound exercises. Compound exercises use a maximum amount of muscle fibers and will help you gain muscle mass rapidly.
During a pull-up exercise, you will use and work all the back, chest, arms, and shoulder muscles, as well as your abdominals at the same time.
Strengthen your Grip
Pull-ups are an amazing exercise to strengthen your back, arms, and abdominals. They are also great for improving the strength of your grip. A strong grip is helpful to martial artists and climbers, as it improves the ability to pull downward.
The pull-up exercise helps you to develop strong and powerful forearms, as well as improve your finger and hand strength.
Improve your Posture and Back Muscle Strength.
Pull ups are great for strengthening your back muscles. Strong and toned back muscles not only look good, but they also help with maintaining proper posture.
Incorrect posture is the leading cause of chronic back pain. Constant back pain is not something anyone want to live with. A strong back and proper posture will lead to a much healthier lifestyle.
Convenient and Versatile
The pull up exercise is one of the most convenient exercises around. You can do it at home, outdoors and at the gym. All you need is a solid and stable bar. Ensure that the bar is strong enough to hold your weight, as well as stable enough to avoid any accidents.
Doing the same workout day in and day out can quickly become boring. The pull-up has a host of variations to improve your workout and to keep it interesting enough for you to not get bored.
The variation can range from spacing your hands, changing the direction of your grip and increasing the width of the pole.
Compound exercises, such as the pull-up, are a great way for overall fitness and to rapidly increase your strength and muscle mass. A well-defined torso looks good and makes you feel good.
As far as exercise trends go, the pull-up has stood up to the test of time and have long been delivering excellent results for those determined to increase their strength, health, and overall well-being.
There is no better, convenient, and versatile exercise like the pull-up. Grab a bar today and get started, there is nothing to lose, only gains to be made.