The Best Pull Up Bar Workouts

The Best Pull Up Bar Workouts

Whether you just want to get shredded or feel like making people jealous with advanced Calisthenic flips, you have to start somewhere. This pull up bar workout is designed to help you maximize your reps and get from “0 to hero.”

We are going to:

  1. Explain how to do them
  2. Tell you what number of reps and sets you should be aiming for (based on your skill level)
  3. Give you tips and tricks for getting the most out of each one.

Note: If you can’t even get a single pull-up: Click here.

 

 Exercise #1: The Basic Pull Up

Don’t skip this one because you think you already know it. This is one of the most misunderstood and poorly performed exercises in the world.

 

Step 1: Set up and Alignment

Align your body with the pull up bar and raise your hands so that they are just wider than shoulder-width apart. If you don’t know what that is simply put your arms straight up and then estimate a 1 ½ whole hand widths more apart from each other.

We’ve all seen people doing the pull-up with a wide grip or a close grip but this is not what you are aiming for with this exercise. You want to get basic, clean, well-performed reps.

Make sure that you keep your body straight and your feet close to one another. Curling up in a ball or favoring one side may seem enticing, but it is not going to get you your desired result. If you are too tall for a bar bend your knees as if you were keeling straight on the ground. If you bend inwards your abs are going to want relief and you are going to curl into fetal position.

Hop up onto the pull-up bar with your legs in the same position and get make sure to get a good overhand grip. Underhanded-grip is for chin-ups targeting your shoulders and biceps. Pull-ups are mainly targeting those shoulders and lats, for that chiseled V-shape back.

Note that a firm grip is essential in order to get your forearm muscles helping you. There is a debate with what is the best Bench press grip, but there is no debate that with a pull-up, your thumbs should curl up around the bar for maximum performance.

Also, make sure that your chest remains out and you are looking up during each pull. This prevents you from breaking form

 

Step 2: Action and Performance

Everything in this step happens so fast that when you are watching the pros do it, you probably don’t even notice what they are doing. It appears to be in one motion

First, pull your lateral back muscles, and squeeze your abs

Next, pull yourself up to the bar until you reach your chin or preferably closer to your collarbones. Make sure that you maintain your form and do not ball up.

 

Step 3:  The Finish

The negative movement of the pull up is arguably the most important.

Come down slow enough to feel the burn but not slow to the point of feeling like your body is giant nail scraping against a chalkboard. Keep in mind that you may get fewer reps in doing it this way, but you are going to progress so much faster than if you don’t.

Come down all of the way until your elbows almost lock. You may have seen people you thought were pros that do not do this. Some people even put weight vest on and only come down halfway. Don’t follow them! You’re going for a clean rep.

 

How Many you should do:

Basic
 # of Reps # of Sets Variation
5 3 Static hold for 5-10 sec

 

Intermediate-Advance
# of Reps # of Sets Variation
10-20 3 1. Add a weight-vest

2. Come all the way to your chest as opposed to your chin or collar-bone

 

 

Exercise #2: The Scapula Pull Up

 

This one is actually less-involved, but at the same time, great exercises for building up consistent strength and a shredded shoulder physique. You may be surprised as to how much of a difference this makes as far as your ability to perform more reps.

 

Step 1: Set up and Alignment

This is the same set up for the regular pull up, but we’ll give you a summary here:

Align yourself with your arms raised and your firm hand grip just wider than shoulder width.

Make sure that you keep your body straight and that your feet are close to one another.

Hop up onto the pull-up bar with your legs and arms in the same position.

Also, make sure that your chest remains out and you are looking up to prevent breaking form.

 

Step 2: Action and Performance

This is step involves a shoulder/lateral squeeze while hanging.

First, pull your shoulders and lateral muscles back as if you were doing a normal row exercise or pulling open a door or cupboard. Breathe out while performing this to allow for maximum stretch.

Squeeze and hold that position for 1 second. Not that you are not pulling your whole body up or using a lot of arm muscles. This is all in your shoulders. Once again, make sure that your chest remains out and that you are looking up to prevent breaking form.

 

Step 3:  The Finish

The negative movement should be slow and controlled releasing that tight squeeze and pull.

This is a short yet powerful exercise and is one of the secret exercises that set apart those who can do 10 pull-ups straight and those who can do 25+.

 

How Many you should do:

Beginner
 # of Reps # of Sets
10 (broken up) 3

 

Intermediate-Advance
# of Reps # of Sets Variation
15-20 3 Add a Weighted Vest

 

 

Exercise #3: Close-Grip Pull-Ups

 

The funny thing about pull-ups is: the wider the grip the more inner muscles are engaged to compensate. If you’ve ever done triangle Push-ups you can completely understand. When your grip is more inward, you tend to engage and build exterior/outer muscle groups.

 

Step 1: Set up and Alignment

This is almost the same set up for the regular pull up; but instead of having your arms raised up with your grip wider than shoulder width apart, you are going to bring that grip into the point at which you could only stick the famous acorn from “Ice Age” in between.

Make sure that you keep your body straight and that your feet are close to one another.

It is going to be harder with this one, but try to make sure that your chest remains out and that you are looking up.

 

Step 2: Action and Performance

As with all pull-ups, first, squeeze those shoulders in.

Next, pull yourself up slow and controlled so that you can get your chin to the bar. It will help if you breathe out while performing this exercise.

Also, people typically favor one side/arm while performing this exercise note which side you favor and adjust so that your weight is evenly distributed.

 

Step 3:  The Finish

The negative movement should be just as slow and controlled as the upward/positive movement.

Make sure that you do not favor one side as you come down. You want a clean rep to strengthen both arms.

 

 

How Many you should do:

Beginner
 # of Reps # of Sets
5 3

 

Intermediate-Advance
# of Reps # of Sets Variation
10-20 3 Add a Weighted Vest

 

Exercise #4 The Chin up

 

Opposed to popular belief, a Chin up and a pull up are two completely different exercises. They have a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences.

 

Step 1: Set up and Alignment

Align your body with the pull-up bar and raise your hands so that they are shoulder-width apart. This grip alone makes this exercise different than the pull-up.

Keep your body straight and your feet close to one another. Avoid Curling up in a ball, which is even more common with these exercises. Once again, this will only slow your progress. It is better to get fewer clean reps in than to get a lot of poor reps in.

If you are too tall for the bar, first of all, congrats- not everyone can be as tall as you. And secondly, make sure you bend your knees as if you were keeling down on the ground. If you bend your knees inward your abs are not going to get the benefit out of this exercise

Get up onto the pull-up bar with your legs in the same position and get make sure that your grip is underhand. With the underhanded grip, make sure that your wrists are not too high or low on the bar. Typically, your most comfortable hold is the best with these, but some people will need to adjust.

In order to get your forearms and biceps engaged, tighten your grip.

Also, as with all of these, make sure that your chest remains slightly out and that you are looking up toward the sky/ceiling during each curl.

 

Step 2: Action and Performance

For most people, this comes naturally. Everything that happens in this step involves things you are most likely familiar with in a bicep curl. The only difference is you are performing it with your own body weight.

Make sure that your lateral back muscles and shoulders are tight and bring your body into the curl until your chin reaches the bar.  Make sure that you maintain your form and keep those legs as straight as possible.

 

Step 3:  The Finish

Come down all the way for a burning negative movement. The slower you go, the more your biceps will sizzle like a healthy steak on a barbeque.

Try to focus on evenly distributing your weight in between both arms.

 

How Many you should do:

Beginner
 # of Reps # of Sets Variation
5 3 Static hold for 5-10 sec

 

Intermediate-Advance
# of Reps # of Sets Variation
10-20 3 Add a weight-vest

 

 

Exercise #5 The Wide Grip Pull-Up

 

Think about when you are holding an object out in front of you with your arms completely extended. You start to feel it in your shoulders, right? The wider the grip the more inner muscles have to be engaged in order to compensate. It’s physics.

What we are going to do is use physics to our advantage to work those tight-crevasse muscle groups.

 

Step 1: Set up and Alignment

You guessed it. This is almost the same set up for the regular pull up; but instead of having your arms raised up with your grip wider than shoulder width apart, you are simply going to widen your grip to about the same width as when you form a Y for the YMCA song.

Make sure that you keep your body straight and that your feet are close to one another.

Puff your chest out a little and maintain a fixed focus just about the bar.

 

Step 2: Action and Performance

I know it sounds like I’m a parrot, but I’m trying to help you progress faster than everyone else. Make sure to first squeeze those shoulders.

Pull yourself up so that your head and your arms form a really wide W.

Also, people typically favor one side/arm while performing this exercise. This is helpful for Archer Pull-ups but not for the classic Wide-grip pull-ups. Note which side you favor and adjust accordingly.

 

Step 3:  The Finish

To really get the most out of this exercise, emphasize the negative movement when you come down. Your elbows should come very close to locking but not lock all the way.

Make sure that, as you come down, no one arm is doing all of the work.

 

How Many you should do:

Beginner
 # of Reps # of Sets
5 3

 

Intermediate-Advance
# of Reps # of Sets Variation
10-20 3 Add a Weighted Vest

 

 

Final Thoughts

Verdict:  Just remember that most of the “Pull Up Gurus” out there were once where you are now. Don’t get discouraged by how many reps you can do. As with most workouts, pull up bar exercises come with progression and time. Just start with these and we’ll help you get to the next level from there. Follow us on social media for updates, motivation, tips, and tricks.

Also, if you are looking for a great at-home pull up bar: click here. We’ve compiled a list of the best ones out there. You should have a way to do pull ups frequently and most of the time, that means squeezing reps in while you are at home.

Thanks so much,

To your success.

 

 

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