It’s no secret that pull-ups are my favorite exercise. There are an endless number of ways in which you can alter or modify the classic pull-up – and I love them all!
Still, the question remains: What are the very best pull-up variations for building strength and muscle?
Though all types of pull-ups work the entire upper-body (including the abdominal muscles), the following 5 variations are the very best for building strength and size:
The classic overhand pull-up has been a strength training staple for as long as the concept of “working out” has existed. Focus on driving your elbows toward your hips to fully engage your lats.
This underhand version of the classic pull-up is a great way to add emphasis to the biceps. It can also be a less difficult variation for beginners who struggle to perform pull-ups with the overhand grip.
For this variation you will grasp the bar with your hands facing one another in a close grip, and your body positioned in line with the bar. This means you will have to pull yourself toward the side on the way up, which creates a unique challenge. Make sure to alternate which side of the bar your head passes with each rep.
The L-sit pull-up is a fantastic way to increase the demand on your abs, while also increasing the strength and muscle building potential for your entire upper body. Due to the change in leverage, all of your muscles will have to work harder than in a standard pull-up.
The archer pull-up is an advanced variation that involves keeping one arm straight while relying primarily on the opposite side to do the bulk of the pulling. Begin like you’re performing a very wide pull-up, but bend only one of your arms as you pull your chin over the bar. This means your torso will shift toward that side while the opposite arm stays straight. The hand of your straight arm may need to open and roll over the bar at the top of the range of motion, depending on your wrist mobility.
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