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11 Pull Up Variations Every Athlete Needs to Know

It’s a good idea to understand the respective benefits of every single one of the following pull up variations. 

If there’s one upper body exercise every strength athlete should include in their training program, it’s pull-ups.

I like to think of pull-ups as squats for the upper body; no other exercise gives you as much bang for your buck, so to speak. The pull up is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups while at the same time developing functional strength as well as a powerful grip.

Plus, they’re convenient; all you need to do them is your own body and something to hang from!

Add these pull up variations to your training routine if you want to challenge your body in different ways.

1. Chin Up

To do a chin-up, grab the pull-up bar a shoulder’s width apart with your palms facing inward towards your face. This grip is also known as supinated grip or underhand grip. One easy way to remember this is that your palms are near your chin, hence the name!

From a hanging position, pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar. Avoid swinging, kicking, swaying your body to get yourself over the bar or other pull-up mistakes. Pause at the top, then lower yourself down slowly to the starting position.

Unlike the pull-up, which we’ll discuss further down in this article, the chin-up focuses the effort on your biceps while also recruiting some of your chest. Because the chest’s pectoral muscles are so large, this means this exercise is often the easiest for beginners.

2. Classic Pull Up

The pull-up takes the same form as the chin-up, but instead of your palms facing inward, your palms face away from your body. This grip is also known as a pronated grip or overhand grip.

If you find the jump from chin-up to pull-up to dramatic, ease into the transition with negative pull-ups. This can help you to build up the strength needed to do a complete pull-up. Simply use a box or step stool to get into the top position of a pull-up. While keeping your core tight, lower yourself down into a hanging position.

Compared to the chin-up, the pull-up hits your lower trapezius and your lats better, making it less of a chest and arms workout and more of a back workout.

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