Pull Ups
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Wide Grip Pull Ups

The wide-grip pull up is an upper-body strengthening exercise that isolates your lats whilst working on the back, biceps,  shoulders, and chest in addition to the core muscles.

Performing a pull up is often a challenge for beginners and even experienced athletes. The wide-grip pull up is harder to perform than a standard pull up because your hands will be further away from the centre of your body which makes the exercise the more difficult. 

The wide grip pull up increases strength, thickness and width of your back, specifically your lats. The lats are what influences back width and forms the “V” in the upper back.

Wide Grip Pull Ups Muscles Worked

Wide Grip - Pull ups muscles worked

The wide grip pull up is one of the best exercise for developing you lats and back muscles.

Here are the muscles wide grip pull ups target:

  • Lats (Latissimus dorsi) – Primary 
  • Traps (Trapezius)
  • Upper Back
  • Abdominals
  • Biceps
  • Shoulders

One of the most commonly asked questions is “why are wide pull ups harder?” It could be because you have to lift or pull your body weight using your lats and other back muscles in order to pull off the exercise.

These pull ups also assists you in performing other exercises including the shoulder press and the lat pull down. 

Wide Grip Pull Ups Benefits

Here are the benefits of doing wide grip pull ups:

  • Targets multiple muscle groups including your back, shoulders and arms
  • Increases strength to perform other movements
  • Improves core strength
  • Improves forearm and hand grip strength
  • Can be performed nearly anywhere

The wide grip pull-up is a challenging exercise but one that can build significant strength and muscle. This motion is better at recruiting the latissimus dorsi and also involves the shoulders along with the back. The wide grip pull-up is also a full upper body exercise as it works the biceps, chest, and core.

How To Do A Wide Grip Pull Up

How to do wide grip pull ups

Here are the steps on performing a wide grip pull up:

  1. Begin the pull up by standing up in front of the pull up bar.
  2. Keeping the back straight, reach up and grab the bar so that your palms grasp the bar (palms down). Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width, arms fully extracted.
  3. Breathe in, squeeze and hold your abs and glutes.
  4. You’ll know if you’re doing them correctly by noticing your form. If your body looks like a “Y,” you’re on point. If not, reposition your body so it’s at a 30-45-degree angle. (However, don’t go any further than a 45-degree angle as this can cause injury.)
  5. Start by keeping your head straight, shoulders pressed down. Pull yourself up by pushing your elbows down while lifting your body up until your chin is slightly above the bar.
  6. Take a slight pause and then lower your body down to the starting position.

Wide Grip Pull Up Tips

wide grip pull up benefits

These are a much tougher exercise than regular pull-ups so you want to make sure you can perform at least 6 to 8 regular ones.

Performing assisted wide-grip pull-ups can also help you build up more strength to perform them on your own.

To make sure you’re using the right form on the wide-grip pull-ups, you want to have your hands positioned wider than usual. When hanging, your arms should form a ‘Y’ in relation to your upper body. You want to make sure your thumbs are pointing towards each other when gripping the bar. As long as your hands are wider than your body, you should be in a good position. This will engage the lats much more than traditional pull-ups because of this wider grip.

  • Refrain from hyper-extending your neck by keeping your head straight and in line with the back and spine. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abs also to avoid overextending the lumbar spine.
  • You may want to only do a few reps if you’re just starting out. However, if you’re having difficulty completing your first pull up, try a wide grip pull up machine or practice doing a negative pull up.
  • You can also use a weight-assisted pull up machine, but make sure you’re comfortable with the weight. You can adjust the weights as performing the pull up becomes easier. 
  • When you can pull up your body weight, you can move on to a wide grip pull up on the bar.

Adnan Munye

A certified personal trainer, Adnan specialises in weight loss, muscle building, body conditioning, core strengthening and injury rehabilitation. Adnan comes from a sporting background, where he has played football, badminton, rugby, and swimming all at various levels.

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