Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
  • Synergists: Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Biceps Brachii, Teres Major, Posterior Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Rhomboids, Teres Minor, Middle and Lower Trapezii, Levator Scapulae
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Grasp the bar with a wide pronated (overhand) grip and hang with your arms and shoulders fully extended.


  1. Exhale as you pull your body up until your chin rises above the bar.
  2. Hold for a count of two.
  3. Inhale as you lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended.
  4. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Avoid swinging.
  • Make the exercise easier by bending your knees and getting someone to hold your feet. You can also use an assisted pull-up machine.
  • Make the exercise more difficult by wearing a weighted vest or dip belt, by holding a dumbbell between your feet, or by trying some of the numerous advanced pull-up variations (see second video).
  • The pull-up is a compound exercise that will help you to develop major functional upper-body strength. Since the wide grip places emphasis on your teres major and especially the upper fibers of your latissimus dorsi, the exercise will also help you to develop a wide tapering back. If doing lat pull-downs, your goal should be to graduate to pull-ups at some point. The pull-up is more beneficial than the pull-down because it gets your core more involved, and is more functional and much more versatile.
  • If you can’t do pull-ups, keep increasing the amount of weight that you pull down until it nears your own weight. Then, practice the negative pull-up (see third video), which will help you to develop the strength necessary to perform proper pull-ups.
  • If you use a supinated (underhand) grip, it becomes a chin-up.


Pull-up instructions

Advanced variations

Negative pull-up


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