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7 Different Types of Pull-Ups Grips & Exercise Variations

When it comes to building strength and developing a well-rounded physique, few exercises are as versatile and effective as pull-ups. Pull-ups offer a wide range of benefits, targeting various muscle groups and promoting overall upper-body strength. Within this all-encompassing guide, we will delve deep into different types of pull-ups, exploring their unique grips and positions and understanding how each variation targets specific muscles. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out as beginner on your fitness journey or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, incorporating pull-ups into your training routine can take your strength gains to new heights.

7 Different Types of Pull Ups

1. Standard Grip Pull-Ups

Standard grip pull-ups serve as the foundation for mastering this challenging exercise. You can effectively engage multiple muscle groups with proper form and hand placement. Grasp the pull-up bar with determination, ensuring a firm hold as your palms face away from you, positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This grip primarily emphasizes the muscles of the back, biceps, and shoulders.

When executing the standard grip pull-up, it’s crucial to maintain a straight body position, avoiding excessive swinging or kipping. Engage your core muscles and pull your body upward, driving your elbows toward the ground. As you reach the top of the movement, pause momentarily before lowering yourself back down with control.

Standard grip pull-ups can be modified to suit your fitness level and goals. For beginners, using an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands can provide the necessary support to build strength and improve technique. As you proper, gradually reduce the assistance until you can execute unassisted pull-ups with impeccable form.

2. Wide Grip Pull-Ups

Widening your hand placement on the pull-up bar introduces a new challenge to your training routine. Wide grip pull-ups primarily target the lats, back, and shoulders, providing a fantastic opportunity to develop width and thickness in the upper body. To perform a wide grip pull-up, position your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar, with your palms facing away from you.

As with any pull-up variation, maintaining proper form is essential. Engage your back muscles and initiate the movement by driving your elbows toward the ground, pulling your body upward until your chin reaches or clears the bar. Lower yourself down in a controlled manner, feeling a deep stretch in your lats and upper back.

To add variety and challenge, you can explore different wide-grip pull-up variations. One such variation is the wide grip pull-up with a leg lift, where you raise your legs in front of you as you perform the pull-up, engaging your core and further intensifying the exercise. Another option is the wide grip pull-up with a slow negative, focusing on the eccentric phase of the movement by lowering yourself down slowly and under control.

3. Close Grip Pull-Ups

Narrowing your hand placement on the pull-up bar shifts the emphasis to different muscle groups, particularly the biceps, forearms, and middle back. Close-grip pull-ups are excellent for targeting these areas and building upper body strength. Begin by positioning your hands closer together on the bar, slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.

Maintaining proper form during close grip pull-ups is crucial for optimal results. As you initiate the movement, focus on engaging your biceps and middle back. Pull your body upward, directing your elbows towards the ground while keeping your torso stable and avoiding excessive swinging. At the top of the movement, squeeze your back muscles and pause briefly before lowering yourself back down with control.

Close-grip pull-ups offer several benefits beyond muscle development. They also enhance grip strength, which can be advantageous for various sports and activities that require a strong grip. To further challenge yourself, you can incorporate weighted vests or belts to increase resistance and promote additional strength gains.

4. Mixed Grip Pull-Ups

The mixed grip pull-up introduces an interesting twist by utilizing different hand positions on the pull-up bar. In this variation, one hand assumes an overhand grip while the other takes an underhand grip. This grip combination primarily targets the biceps, lats, and forearms, offering a unique training stimulus.

To perform a mixed grip pull-up, position one hand with the palm facing away from you and the other hand with the palm facing towards you. Grip the bar firmly and maintain a shoulder-width hand placement. Initiate the movement by pulling your body upward, focusing on engaging your biceps, lats, and forearms. Keep your body stable as you ascend and avoid excessive twisting or leaning to one side. Lower yourself down under control, feeling the muscles of your upper body working in unison.

It’s important to note that mixed grip pull-ups can create imbalances if performed exclusively in one grip combination. To promote muscle symmetry and prevent overuse injuries, it’s recommended to alternate the grip with each set or training session. This approach ensures balanced development and recruits muscles from different angles, fostering overall upper-body strength.

5. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

Neutral grip pull-ups offer a joint-friendly alternative to the traditional pull-up, reducing stress on the wrists and shoulders. This variation involves using parallel bars or specialized handles with palms facing each other. By utilizing a neutral grip, you can effectively target the biceps, shoulders, and middle back muscles.

To perform a neutral grip pull-up, position yourself between the parallel bars or grasp the neutral grip handles. Your palms should face each other, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Initiate the movement by engaging your upper body muscles, pulling your body upward until your chin clears the bar. Lower yourself down with control, feeling the muscles of your biceps, shoulders, and middle back working in synergy.

Neutral grip pull-ups provide an excellent option for individuals with wrist or shoulder issues, allowing them to engage in vertical pulling exercises without discomfort. Additionally, this variation can be further modified by incorporating tempo changes, pauses at the top or bottom, or even weighted vests to increase the challenge.

6. Commando Pull-Ups

Commando pull-ups fit the bill for those seeking a demanding variation that targets multiple muscle groups. This challenging exercise involves alternating hand positions between overhand and underhand grips, creating a dynamic movement that engages various back and arm muscles.

To perform commando pull-ups, begin with an overhand grip on one side of the bar and an underhand grip on the other side. Ensure that your hand placement extends just beyond shoulder-width, providing a comfortable and effective grip on the pull-up bar. Initiate the movement by pulling your body upward, alternating your hand positions with each repetition. This exercise recruits the muscles of your back, biceps, and forearms uniquely, enhancing both strength and stability.

Commando pull-ups require considerable upper-body strength and control. If you’re a beginner, developing a solid foundation with the other pull-up variations is advisable before attempting this advanced exercise. As you progress, gradually incorporate commando pull-ups into your routine, focusing on maintaining proper form and avoiding excessive swinging or momentum.

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7. Muscle-Up

The muscle-up represents the pinnacle of pull-up mastery, combining a pull-up with a transition into a dip position. This advanced exercise targets a comprehensive range of upper body muscles, including the back, chest, shoulders, and arms. Mastering the muscle-up requires technique, strength, and coordination.

To perform a muscle-up, start with an overhand grip on the pull-up bar, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Initiate the movement by pulling your body upward, as in a regular pull-up. Once your chin clears the bar, quickly transition your movement by pushing your body upward and forward, allowing your elbows to bend and creating a dip-like motion. This transition requires explosive strength and a coordinated effort between the upper body muscles.

As you ascend into the dip position, continue to press your body upward until your arms are fully extended. At this point, you have completed a full muscle-up. To lower yourself back down, reverse the movement by bending your elbows and descending with control.

Mastering the muscle-up takes time and practice. It’s essential to focus on developing the necessary strength in your back, arms, and chest through progressive pull-up variations and dips. Additionally, improving your grip strength and body control will contribute to a successful muscle-up.

Read more: Australian Pull-Ups Guide


In conclusion, pull-ups offer an array of variations that target different muscle groups and provide unique benefits. You can customize your training routine and maximize your results by incorporating different grip positions and hand placements. Remember to prioritize proper form, gradually progress in difficulty, and listen to your body to avoid overexertion or injury.

To optimize your pull-up training, it’s crucial to focus on individualization and progression. Understand your current fitness level and tailor the pull-up variations to suit your abilities. Additionally, prioritize strength gains, muscular balance, and overall upper body development.

Incorporating pull-ups into a well-rounded strength training routine can yield impressive results. Whether your goal is to build strength, improve muscle definition, or enhance athletic performance, mastering the different types of pull-ups will undoubtedly take your fitness journey to new heights.

In summary, the different types of pull-ups covered in this article include:

  • Standard grip pull-ups.
  • Wide grip pull-ups.
  • Close grip pull-ups.
  • Mixed grip pull-ups.
  • Neutral grip pull-ups.
  • Commando pull-ups.
  • Muscle-ups.

Each variation targets specific muscle groups and offers unique challenges. By incorporating these variations into your training regimen, you can achieve a well-rounded upper body strength and develop functional muscles that support you in various activities.

Remember, proper form, gradual progression, and individualization are key to getting the most out of your pull-up training. Embrace the versatility of pull-ups and reap the benefits of a strong and resilient upper body.

Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey as a beginner or a seasoned athlete aiming to elevate your training to new heights, don’t overlook the power of pull-ups. With dedication, consistency, and a commitment to proper technique, you’ll undoubtedly conquer the different types of pull-ups and unlock the strength within you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are pull-ups suitable for beginners?

Yes, pull-ups can be modified to accommodate beginners. Utilizing assistance from bands or an assisted pull-up machine can help build strength and improve technique until unassisted pull-ups become achievable.

How many pull-ups should I do in a workout?

The number of pull-ups you should do in a workout depends on your fitness level and goals. It’s important to focus on quality over quantity and gradually increase the repetitions as you progress. Start with a number that challenges you without compromising form, and gradually work your way up.

Can pull-ups be done every day?

It’s generally recommended to allow for rest and recovery between pull-up workouts. Aim for two to three sessions per week, allowing your muscles time to repair and grow stronger. Overtraining can lead to fatigue and increased risk of injury, so listen to your body and prioritize rest days.

How long does it take to master the muscle-up?

The time it takes to master the muscle-up varies from person to person, depending on factors such as strength, body weight, and training consistency. Achieving a full muscle-up may take several months of dedicated practice and progressive training. Patience, persistence, and proper technique are key.

Can I do pull-ups if I have shoulder or wrist issues?

Pull-ups can put a strain on the shoulders and wrists, especially when performed with improper form. Suppose you have pre-existing shoulder or wrist issues. In that case, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness trainer to determine the suitability of pull-ups for your specific condition. They may recommend modifications or alternative exercises to minimize discomfort.

Can women benefit from pull-ups?

Absolutely! Pull-ups are an excellent exercise for women, promoting upper body strength, muscle definition, and overall fitness. Women can modify pull-ups using resistance bands or assisted machines to gradually build strength and work towards unassisted pull-ups.

Are pull-ups better than lat pulldowns?

Pull-ups and lat pulldowns target the back and arms muscles, but pull-ups engage additional stabilizer muscles and require more overall body strength. Pull-ups are considered a more functional and challenging exercise. At the same time, lat pulldowns can be a suitable alternative or supplemental exercise, particularly beneficial for beginners or individuals with restricted upper body strength.

Can pull-ups help with weight loss?

Pull-ups primarily focus on building strength and muscle but also contribute to calorie burning and metabolic stimulation. Incorporating pull-ups into a well-rounded fitness routine, proper nutrition, and cardiovascular exercise can support weight loss efforts by increasing overall calorie expenditure and promoting muscle development.

Remember, if you have any specific concerns or medical conditions, it’s always best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer before incorporating any of these seven different types of pull-ups or any new exercise into your routine.

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