Pull Up Variations for a Stronger Upper Body

Pull Up Variations for a Stronger Upper Body STB-98005 Standard Pullups

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by MarcyPro

When it comes to convenient home workouts, it’s hard to beat the pull up. This classic body weight exercise requires nothing but a bar and a desire to get fit. Benefits such as core strength, ripped physique, a stronger grip and a healthier back make this an essential exercise to incorporate into your upper body strength training routine.

For those who have mastered the pull up and want to expand their upper body strength and muscle, below are some exhilarating variations that will get the same muscles popping in no time.

For those who have not built the right muscles to start doing pull exercises like those below, here are some tips for getting your muscle groups ready:

  • Lat Pulls: lat pulldowns are your best bet for slowly building up the same muscles worked during pull ups or any of their variations. If you have a home gym or anything with a pulley, you can workout your lats with pulldowns.
  • Dead Hangs: if you have anything to get in to hanging position, hanging from the bar will build your forearm muscles / grip strength.
  • Additional exercises: There are a number of exercises that will target the same muscle groups, but here are a few in case you need inspiration:
    • Rows (Seated Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Barbell Rows, etc)
    • Dumbbell Arm Exercises (Dumbbell Hammer Curls, Dumbbell Curls, Tricep Curls etc.)
    • Core Exercises (Sit Ups, Planks, etc.)

Assisted pull up and chin up

If you are new to pull ups and chin ups you might want to start by using a resistance band for assistance before trying to lift your full body weight on your own. To perform this assisted exercise, simply anchor a resistance band to the bar and loop the other end of the band around your knees.

Bionic Body Super Bands come in a variety of different resistance levels so you can customize your amount of resistance to fit your own fitness needs. Once you have the band in place, try performing either of the following two exercises:

Chin up

If you are new to shoulder / back exercises we recommend trying to master the chin up first. It is essentially the same movement as a standard pull up; the only difference is that your palms are facing toward you rather than away from you. This movement will offer a similar effect as biceps curls but without all the weightlifting equipment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab the bar with an underhand grip (also known as a supinated grip)
  • Position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Make sure that your arms are fully extended
  • From start position, pick yourself up until the top of your chin is at bar level
  • Lower your body slowly
  • Repeat

Pull up

Once you have mastered the chin up, the next step is to switch up your grip to overhand and start doing some pull ups. This simple exercise will work your arms, shoulders, chest and back while you work up the strength to try out some of the following pull up alternatives. To do a pull up, follow the same steps as you would for a chin up but make sure that your palms are facing out rather than in.

Wide-grip pull up

Once you have gotten comfortable with the standard version, we recommend trying out some slightly more challenging variations such as widening your grip. In this alternative, your muscles will not have quite as much leverage as they would with your normal grip, so you will be giving your upper back a more intense workout.

To perform the wide grip variation, simply widen your grip width and perform a pull up as you normally would. The wide-grip variation can also be used for chin ups as well for a more well-rounded upper body workout.

Weighted pull up

The weighted pull up is a great alternative for those who want to take their back workout to the next level without simply doing more reps. A weighted pull up involves using additional weights to increase resistance during your exercise.

 There are a variety of methods and fitness accessories for adding weight, but we suggest trying the dumbbell method. Place a dumbbell between your legs and squeeze them together in order to hold the weight in place. Once the dumbbell is secure you are ready to start performing a standard pull up or chin up.

Resistance band pull up

The best way to perform a resistance band pull up is to place a heavy dumbbell on the floor and attach one end of a resistance band to the handle. Loop the other end of the resistance band around your waist and start performing either pull ups or chin ups..

Rope pull up

The rope pull up works the same muscles as the standard version; however, it also incorporates the arms, hands and back a little bit more. This variation will make your lats and biceps pop like never before if performed correctly. To do this, put a rope or even a towel over your pull up bar and follow these steps:

  • Grab each side of the rope or towel
  • Pull your body upwards until your chin is a fist-length above the bar.
  • Lower yourself back down
  • Repeat

One-arm pull up

Now we are getting into the more advanced versions of these bodyweight exercises. Before trying the one-arm pull up or the following two other variations we recommend mastering the basic exercises first so you have the necessary strength required.

This exercise is as simple as it sounds: grasp the bar with one hand, either over handed or under handed, and perform a pull up movement. It isn’t easy to just jump right into doing a lot of one-arm pull up reps in a row as this variation takes plenty of practice, but once you master this exercise, your upper body will look strong and toned in no time.

Clapping pull up

This is another extreme variation that you will need to work your strength up for. Only the most experienced strength trainers are able to perform the this muscle straining exercise properly for multiple reps, but once you have mastered the movement you will feel like the pull up king. To do this, perform a normal pull up and once you reach the top let go of the bar, quickly clap your hands together and then catch the bar on your way back down.

Kipping pull up

The is a popular variation, especially for Crossfit gym-goers. It incorporates the entire body in one fluid movement. To perform a kipping pull up you must gain momentum by swinging your lower body to gain enough momentum to pull your chin up above the bar. Make sure you’re using the full range of motion through your exercise (as you should with any, actually.)


There are plenty of economical and portable chin up bars available on the home gym market today. However, if you are serious about getting fit and trying out some of these pull up variations we highly recommend using some of our sturdy home gym equipment products for a safer and more efficient pull up experience. The SteelBody Monster Cage, SteelBody Full Rack/Utility Trainer and SteelBody Power Tower all offer safe and sturdy pull up stations to maximize your performance and strengthen your entire body.

Interested in learning more about grip variations? Check out this awesome blog!

Sources: [1],[2][3][4]

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