Pull-Up Variations to Get Over The Bar

Pull-ups are one of the most straightforward calisthenics exercises - pull your bodyweight up, lower yourself back down. Sounds simple enough, right? Well if you ever tried to do them, you know that their straightforwardness can be exceeded by their intensity and many variations. 

The pull-up is a bodyweight move that is known for building upper body strength. You start in a dead hang position and pull your body up.

There’s always room to add more pull-up tips to your belt so that you can improve your pull-ups, pulling movement and this bodyweight move. But if you’re getting bored and have mastered the standard pull-up, try some of these pull-up variations below.

Pull-ups with legs raised are one of the most challenging pull-up variations due to the core strength needed to perform one. This variation is excellent for anyone looking to improve pull-up control.

Start by hanging from the bar in a dead hang position with an underhand grip, you then raise your feet out in front of you until they are parallel to the floor, making a right angle. Once your feet are raised and parallel to the floor, pull your body up. Lower your legs before lowering the rest of your body. Repeat until failure or can't keep legs raised.

This pull-up variation/bodyweight move will help you build control and core strength, as you have to hold a static L-sit position while pulling yourself up. A pull-up tip for this variation is to make sure you engage your glutes and thighs and keep your knees locked and toes pointed. By keeping your legs engaged your core won't have to work as much.

The side-to-side pull-up variation can be deceiving. This variation is great for keeping your arms toned as it brings some variety to your arm pull and pull-up routine.

Grab a chin-up bar with an overhand grip wider than shoulder-width apart. In the dead hang position, start by pulling yourself to the right with the goal of bringing your chin to your right hand. From there, lower yourself back down and then pull yourself to your left side.

A pull-up tip for this variation is to make sure you breathe. Take a breath right before you pull yourself up and then breathe out as soon as you reach the top of the pull-up. This will help keep your core and body tight making it easier to control the movement. Using this pull-up tip with any pull-up variation will help you improve pull-up control and stamina during the pulling movement.

A towel grip pull-up will test your grip. This pull-up variation is very grip intensive, making the whole movement harder.

The how-to for this variation is pretty much what you would expect. Grab two towels and drape them over a pull-up bar shoulder width apart. Grab the towels with each hand and pull your body up.

The towel grip pull-up is an excellent exercise for any weightlifting athlete, as it helps build grip strength for lifts and bar movements. The hand position for the towel pull-up keeps the wrists neutral, which strengthens the wrists and forearms without an uncomfortable twisting.

A pull-up tip for this variation is to make sure to keep your chest up, shoulders back, and to drive your elbows behind you to prevent pulling through your wrists.

The kipping pull-up variation uses your body's momentum to pull yourself up. We recommend that you don't perform kipping pull-ups until you've mastered strict pull-ups, as it is important to build strict pull strength first.

Kipping pull-ups are performed by swinging your body back and forth to gain momentum to pull yourself up. When swinging your body back and forth, you must make sure to keep your legs and core tight. The tighter the kip, the more reps you'll be able to perform.

To help improve pull-ups, try doing the kipping pull-up at high-intensity. But be careful not to rip your hands while doing them, as high rep kipping pull-ups tend to create bar friction causing your hands to rip.

If you're looking to improve your pull-up coordination while developing a strong core, try out the Tarzan pull-up variation.

Start with an overhand grip on the middle of the bar with both hands almost touching. Pull yourself up to the right, lower yourself, and then repeat to the left side.

The Tarzan pull-up is an excellent option for someone looking to emphasize the muscles in their arms. However, you still activate your traps, lats, and serratus posterior superior muscles although at a significantly lower degree compared to the muscles in your arms.

Advanced Variations

One arm pull-up:
This is simply what it sounds like. Pull yourself up by only using one arm. The one arm pull-up is definitely not for beginners and requires complete body control when performing.

Commando pull-up:
In the commando pull-up, you grasp the bar with your hands facing one another in a narrow, palms-facing grip. With this unusual hand placement, your body will wind up positioned in line with the bar me so you’ll have to pull yourself toward the side of the bar on the way up in order to avoid hitting your head. The commando pull-up challenges your core strength and as well as your grip due to the increased lateral instability.

Archer pull-up:
The archer pull-up is an advanced variation that involves keeping one arm straight while relying primarily on the other arm to do the bulk of the pulling. When performing this, your torso will shift away from the extended arm as you pull, with the top position resembling an archer getting ready to fire an arrow. In other words, the archer pull-up is basically like a one arm pull-up but with a self-assist.

To begin this variation, start with a wide grip, but aim to bend only one of your arms as you pull yourself over the bar. You straight arm may need to roll over the bar at the top, depending on your wrist mobility.

Now that you know all the different pulling movements, let's go over different grips.

Neutral grip pull-up:
The neutral grip is when your palms face each other as they grip protruding handles or crossbars on a pull-up bar. This grip is also known as the hammer grip, as your hands will be gripping the bar like if you were to grip a hammer. The neutral grip pull-up strengthens the lats, biceps, back, and forearms.

Negative grip pull-up:
The negative grip pull-up is often used for building strength. You begin by performing a regular strict pull-up, but once you’re at the top, you slowly lower yourself down, aiming for a 3-5 second negative until your arms are fully extended. This grip variation is great for building strength in your lats.

Wide grip pull-up:
The wide grip pull-up is exactly what it sounds like, a pull-up with a wide grip on the bar. Wide grip pull-ups are excellent for putting emphasis on your upper lats.

The above pull-up and grip variations are great accessory work options for building pull and grip strength for powerlifting, bodybuilding, weightlifting, and fitness athletes. They also add some variety to your boring pull-up routine. Now hit the gym and get ready to challenge yourself with these new strength movements! Don't forget to take Progenex Recovery after each workout session. Recovery is critical to lock in your gains and prepare you to tackle tomorrow's session. 

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