Since I’ve begun doing bodyweight training, I’ve learned quite a bit about the power of pull-ups and chin-ups. These exercises can do an amazing job at working different muscles of your body and shaping your physique.
I’ve already written an article on 5 different types of chin-up exercises, which you can read here. So, today, you’ll learn about 5 different types of pull-up exercises you can do from home, the gym, or anywhere with access to a pull up bar. Videos are included so that you can make sure to have the proper form when you do these workouts.
The main difference between chin-ups and pull-ups is in the way you grip the bar during your workout. For chin-ups, your palms are facing towards you, and for pull-ups, your palms are facing away from you.
Below, you’ll learn 5 different types of pull up exercises, what muscles they work, and how to do the workouts with proper form. These workouts are all part of an amazing home calisthenics workout program I follow, which you can learn about here.
These are the kind of pull-ups you had to do in gym class when you were a kid. For me, it was so embarrassing whenever we had to do these for our routine fitness test each year, cause I could never even get a single one in. Today, these are easy peasy, because I’ve developed the strength to do them.
The classic pull-up hits your lats and your lower traps, making it a fantastic workout for your back.
- HOW TO DO CLASSIC PULL UPS:
Place your hands shoulder-width apart, and jump up to grip the bar, palms facing away from you. Make sure that you keep your core engaged and your shoulders back during this exercise. Pull yourself slowly upward until your chin is above the bar. Then lower yourself down slowly until your arms are extended. Repeat.
- VIDEO:This video shows how to do a classic pull-up with perfect form.
Commando pull ups are a unique variation of the pull up and requires you to use a narrow (palms in) grip. It challenges the biceps because it’s an outer grip exercise. In addition to being a fantastic outer bicep workout, it also targets your lats, traps, and core muscles. Because your body is going to want to twist when you pull yourself up, you will want to engage your core to keep your body straight.
- HOW TO DO COMMANDO PULL-UPS:If you have a straight pull-up bar, you want to grab it with both palms side by side and facing in. Or, if you have parallel bars, you can grab both bars, with palms facing each other. From an extended hanging position, pull your body up to one side of the bar. Then lower yourself to an extended position. Repeat by pulling your body up to the other side of the bar.
- VIDEO:This short video explains how to do commando pull-ups with proper form using a standard pull up bar.
Explosive pull-ups work a variety of muscles, due to the explosive pull of the exercise. It works the back and biceps incredibly well. If you get good at this workout, you will eventually want to progress to a muscle-up, which is where you push your entire body over the bar. A muscle-up works your entire upper body, from your back, biceps, triceps, chest, and shoulders.
- HOW TO DO EXPLOSIVE PULL-UPS:Start in a hanging position with arms extended as you would when doing a classic pull-up. Make sure your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width. Create a small arch in your back while looking slightly upward. In a fast and explosive pulling movement, you will pull your entire body up to the bar until it reaches the center of your chest. Lower yourself back down to a hang. Repeat.
- VIDEO:This video (at the 2:30 mark) demonstrates how to do an explosive pull-up with proper form.
Before getting into this workout, I want to stress that if you have any shoulder, or rotator cuff issues, or any disc issues in your neck, you may be better off avoiding this exercise altogether, or at the very least, proceed with caution.
Behind the back, pull-ups are fantastic at working your mid and lower traps as well as your rhomboids.
- HOW TO DO BEHIND THE NECK PULL-UPS:Grab the pull-up bar with a wide grip. Pull yourself up with a controlled motion to about neck level, with the bar behind your head. Lower yourself to an extended position. Repeat.
- VIDEO:Go to 3:33 in this video to see proper form for behind-the-neck pull-ups. The rest of the video explains some of the cautions you should use when doing behind-the-neck exercises in general.
Hammer grip pull-ups do a great job at working your upper back, biceps, forearms, shoulders, and core muscles. This exercise requires that you have a set of parallel bars. Many pull-up bars that install directly onto your door frame have these included.
- HOW TO DO HAMMER GRIP PULL-UPS:Start from a hanging position, with your hands holding onto the parallel bars. Pull yourself up with your elbows held in towards the side of your body. Pause for a moment at the top position. Then lower yourself to the original hanging position. Repeat.
- VIDEO:This video shows you how to do hammer grip pull-ups with proper form.
I hope you found these pull-up exercises to be useful. The amazing thing about pull up and chin up exercises is just how well they can work multiple muscle groups in your body to truly help shape your physique.
I used to believe that they only targeted your back, but with the right combination of exercises, you can get an amazing workout for your chest, shoulders, arms, core, and triceps as well.
These exercises are part of a full-body calisthenics workout routine that I personally follow. I believe it’s the best home workout program you can find if you’re truly serious about building lean muscle and burning off unwanted fat.
In just 3 months, I transformed my physique, and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what a home workout program is capable of.
If you’d like to learn more, visit this page here, which explains the exact plan I follow in detail. You’ll find before and after pics of various people who have gone through the program themselves, and it’s very inspiring. As happy as I am with my results, I often pick the brains of other guys in the program to learn some of their own tips and tricks.
I really appreciate you being here and learning about these different pull-up exercises. If you have any questions or comments regarding any of the exercises listed here, please leave them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!