What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work

pull ups

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Pull Ups

Pull ups are compound body weight exercises that targets the upper body. If you know me, I’m all about efficiency. Therefore, wouldn’t it make more sense to do an exercise that targets multiple muscle groups?

(See my post on the best exercises for building muscle and also on powerlifting which talks more about different compound exercises.)

The pull up is also known as the king of back development. Is it the tapered V look that you’re after? Or would you like to have a smaller waist? Did you know that having a more developed back will give the illusion of a tiny waist?


Pull ups targets the following group of muscles:

  • Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Abs

Standard Pull Ups

Grip: palms facing away from you

Hands: slightly wider than shoulder width apart

Start by hanging from the bar, chest out, slowly pull your torso until chin is above bar or parallel to bar. Then slowly move back down to start position.

As a beginner, you may not be able to do a full pull up and that’s ok. We all had to start from somewhere. If you are unable to complete one, then do a negative pull up.

Negative Pull Ups

These are half of a standard pull up. In a negative pull up, your starting position is when your chin is just above the bar (get a stool to assist you to get your chin over the bar) and then slowly lower yourself. Therefore, it’s the latter part of the standard pull up (hence why it’s half of a standard pull up).

Neutral Grip Pull Ups

This compound exercise targets the biceps more. Here your palms are facing each other and your hands are shoulder width apart.

It is great for the development of the upper body, where usually, most of us females unfortunately neglect. It helps with posture and with poor posture there’s a higher risk of health issues (ie. respiratory, back, joint, etc.). So why not start today with one pull up and continue to master it one day at a time. Like any strength exercise, it gets easier with practice and soon you’ll develop your back muscles and strength!


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