Muscles that pull ups work

muscles that pull ups work
What Muscles does pull ups work

Pull ups can be very challenging when just starting out. However, it is a good way to build strength and muscle in your upper body if the right techniques are used. In addition, knowing which muscles are activated when doing pull up is important in making a choice when you add this particular exercise (or one of its many variations) to your regular training routine. In this article we will look at the muscles used when doing pull ups, how they work together, and how different variations of pull up exercise stimulates some muscles more than others.

Muscles that pull up works

The reason pull ups is very essential in an upper body workout is due to their ability to target multiple muscles all at once. Check out the muscles worked by pull ups down below;

Latissimus dorsi

Latissimus Dorsi, also known as the lats muscle, is the flat muscle in your back that extends to the sides of the body. It is shaped like a triangle and half of it is covered in the middle of your back by the trapezius muscles. One of the main roles this muscle play is to move your upper arms closer to your body when doing pull ups. This can be considered as one of the biggest actions taken during an important workout so that you can pull yourself up on the pull bar. When you do a pull up, the muscles of the lats pull on the upper arms, bringing them closer to the body. As a result, your body is able to move up to the bar.


Doing a pull up engages your biceps as it is a large muscle used to pull yourself up at the bar. They work in conjunction with your lats muscles for example when you lower your body down. Doing a pull up alone may not be enough to do a full biceps exercise but it is definitely a start.


When you do a pull up you use your trapezius muscles again. Building this muscle requires a person to make straight movements that strengthen it. located in the middle of the upper back, the trapezius, and your lats muscle, are the main muscles that carry the load when you do a pull up exercise.


The pull up exercise also works the deltoid muscle; it also stimulates the posterior delts in your back (e.g. depending on your grip). Using a wide grip on the bar can stimulate your deltoid muscles for example, giving your shoulders a better workout. Using a neutral grip also works your muscles as it puts less strain on your joints while engaging your deltoids.

Pec muscles

The large pectoralis, or more commonly known as the pecs muscle, forms the bulk of your chest muscles. It may not be visible but your pecs muscles also play a role in helping your lats muscles during pull ups Along with the coracobrachialis, which begins in front of the shoulder blade and extends the upper arm, it assists the arms in pulling your upper arms to the body.

Teres Major, Infraspinatus and Teres Minor

The Teres major muscle is located above the latissimus dorsi muscle and attaches to the scapula and humerus. The infraspinatus muscle on the other hand cuts across the entire back of your shoulder and extends to the upper arms. Below the infraspinatus there you will find the teres minor which is above the teres major. Together, these three muscles also help your lats when you do a pull.

Now that you have a good idea of ​​which muscles are involved when you do a pull, let’s also look at several different types of pull up along with some handgrips and how they can influence other muscles more.

Muscles that pull ups work

“chin up” by LookBetterNaked is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Doing chin-ups on the pull bar causes you to stimulate your biceps muscles. In fact, they help you to pull your entire body up and lower it slowly. This is a big difference compared to regular pull up where your biceps will help to do some lifting instead.

Hammer or neutrality grip

muscles that pull ups work

Unlike regular stretching, a neutral pullup stimulates your biceps and lats muscles. Using a neutral grip when doing a pull up also causes you to use your biceps more when pulling your body, compared to doing a chin-up. This is because the brachialis are also targeted. Using a neutral grip also stimulates the muscles in your arms, thus enhancing greater strength in this area as well.

 Leg raise

Performing a leg raise during the pull up causes you to use all of your abdominal muscles and your thigh muscles to hold the position as you pull your body upwards and pull it back down from the bar. In fact, Leg raises works all of your core muscles. It is worth noting that there are a variety of leg raise exercises that will strengthen or focus on one particular or more muscle.

Muscle up

“muscle up / CALIsthenics / Awaken” by WILLPOWER STUDIOS is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Muscle-up is a complex variation of pull up exercises that activates the muscles of your arm, especially in the final phase of pushing your body up the bar. In addition to the arms, muscle ups also demand more from your chest and triceps muscles. Therefore, it is an interesting variation of working in certain areas such as the arms and / or chest.

Benefits of pull up

The pull up comes with a ton of benefits and if done regularly, these benefits only increase.

  1. Bigger, stronger back

Pull up can also improve the width of your back muscles and back strength, as it is a simple movement to provide progressive overload.

  1. Carryover to other lifts

Pull-back-trained back muscles can play a major role in carryover in other of your major lifts. For example, pullups can have an indirect carryover to your squat and deadlifts due to the lats and traps involve during pull ups and these muscles are essential for your squats and deadlifts.

  1. Improve grip strength

Pullups also help improve grip strength. Grip strength is important when lifting weights. It can also improve performance in many sports such as golf, tennis, rock climbing, and bowling. In your daily life, strength is also important in performing tasks such as carrying groceries, walking your dog with a leash.

  1. Improve overall body strength and stamina

Strength or resistance can increase your level of resilience. When you do a pullup, you lift your whole body in motion. This can greatly enhance your body strength and improve your stamina.

  1. Improve physical health

Strength training or resistance training such as pullups can also improve your overall physical health. It can also help reduce blood pressure relief and can reduce back pain and discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia. Talk to your doctor before starting any strength training, as it may not be safe for you.

  1. Improve mental health

Strength or resistance training helps your mental health. The 2010 review of studies found a good correlation between strength training and the following:

  • Reduce anxiety symptoms
  • Improve mental performance
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve self-confidence

While the evidence looks good, more research is needed to confirm these results.

  1. Challenge your muscles

Pullups are a challenging exercise for strength training. Challenging your muscles with pull ups can improve your level of fitness too. If you have never done pullups before, putting them into your routine can improve the way you feel and look.

If you do the same exercises over and over again, your body may start to get used to it and plateau after a while. But by adding new challenges such as pullups, you can see significant improvements in your strengths.

Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Doing pull ups
  1. Using Momentum

Most people do pull up in the wrong way. They grab the bar and use momentum to pull their body up swinging their bodies back and forth.

  1. Not Controlling Lower Movement

Or they lower their body too fast. This is incorrect. The most important thing is to lower your body slow and controlled.

  1.  Doing behind the neck pull ups

Another thing I see a lot of people doing is the behind the neck pull ups. This practice involves a serious risk to your shoulder health.

  1. Using a very wide grip for wider lats

Wide grip is not equal to wide lats. In addition, very wide grip can cause injury to the shoulder. Excessive wide grip reduces the range of motion while increasing the risk of shoulder injury. People often think that using a very wide grip will activate the lats, that is not always true. I would suggest using a grip little bit wider than shoulder grip.


So, you have it! We have gone through the muscles that are worked on different pull up exercises. As you have seen, some types of pull up exercise certainly affect different muscles more than others.

If you intend to build muscle only in certain areas, e.g. arms or chest, then it would be wise to choose from the variations that specifically stimulate the right muscles. Therefore, we hope that the information presented in this article will be useful to you in regard to learning about different muscles that pull ups work

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