Pull Up Variations for a Stronger Upper Body

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

Last Updated on October 9, 2017 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 possibilities, here are some exhilarating pull up variations that will get those muscles popping in no time:

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 entire body weight on your own. To perform an assisted pull up or sit up simply anchor a resistance band to the pull up 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 assisted pull ups 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 pull ups 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
  • Position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Make sure that your arms are fully extended
  • Pull 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 doing standard pull ups, we recommend trying out some slightly more challenging variations such as the wide-grip pull up. In this alternative to standard pull ups, your muscles will not have quite as much leverage as they would in a normal pull up so you will be giving your upper back a more intense workout. Performing the wide-grip pull up is as simple as the name suggests; 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 pull ups to the next level without simply doing more reps. A weighted pull up involves the same exact movement as a regular pull up, only this time the trainer is using additional weights to increase strength. There are a variety of methods and fitness accessories for adding weight to your pull ups but we suggest trying the dumbbell method: simply 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

Similar to the weighted pull up, this iteration also involves adding additional weight and resistance to a standard pull up or chin up execution. 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 a standard pull up does; 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 upwards until your chin is above fist-level
  • Lower yourself back down
  • Repeat

One-arm pull up

Now we are getting into the more advanced pull up iterations. 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. The one-arm pull up is as simple as it sounds: just 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 the one-arm pull up your upper body will be looking strong and tone in no time.

Clapping pull up

This is another extreme pull up variation that you will need to work your strength up for. Only the most experienced strength trainers are able to perform the clapping pull up 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 kipping pull up is a common strength and conditioning workout that 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.


There are plenty of economical and portable pull 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 that will allow you to maximize your pull up performance and strengthen your entire body.

Sources: [1],[2][3][4]

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