Pull-ups, Not to be confused with Chin-up.
The chin-up (also known as a chin or chin up) is a strength training exercise often using a chin up bar but can be done using a pull up bar. People frequently do this exercise with the intention of strengthening muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and biceps, which extend the shoulder and flex the elbow, respectively. In this maneuver, the palms are faced towards the body.
It is a form of pull-up in which the range of motion is established in relation to a person’s chin.
A pull-up is an upper-body strength exercise. The pull-up is where your body is suspended by the hands and pulled up vertically. As this happens, the elbows flex and the shoulders adduct and extend to bring the elbows to the body.
A chin-up traditionally refers to a pull-up with the chin brought over the top of a bar, with an overhand or hands facing away from you, or underhand, or hands facing away from you, this grip is called a “reverse-grip” chin-up.
Both Pull-ups and Chin-ups use many different muscles of the upper body, including the latissimus dorsi and the biceps brachii.
In past decades, the term pull-up also referred to open kinetic chain pulling exercises done with a barbell. However, in the ’50s these exercises were known as bent-over row and upright row (in the 1970s).
Some have associated a “pull-up” with utilizing an overhand (pronated; palms facing away) grip. This includes by the Boy Scouts of America, Guinness World Records “makes a difference between” pull-ups and chin-ups according to grip.
Organizations such as the United States Marine Corps and the World Pull-Up Organization, however, see pull-ups including both the overhand and underhand grips.
Variations of pull-ups, apart from being named for their grip, can also be named based on how high the body rises, by naming it after the body part that either comes into contact with or passes over the top of the bar. A “chest-up” or “sternum-up” for example, indicates that the chest or sternum meets the bar, requiring extra scapular adduction and depression.
As a physical test
Pull-ups are a common way to measure the upper body strength of the “pulling muscles”. They are used by the United States Marine Corps as a part of the Physical Fitness Test, although marines may also choose to substitute push-ups. Just about all sports teams use pull-ups and chin-ups as part of their physical training.
Pull-ups can be done with a supinated, neutral, or pronated grip (often called “chin-ups”, “hammer grip pull-ups”, and “pull-ups”, respectively). Grips may match each other or be different (mixed grip). Grips may also rotate throughout the movement, such as by doing them on rings, rotating handles (false grip) or pull up handles. The range of motion used by trainers can vary. The fullest possible range is with straight arms overhead (elbow directly above shoulder), to pulling when the arms are at the sides (elbow directly below shoulder). People sometimes only train portions, such as avoiding locking out the arms at the bottom, or stopping when the head/chin/neck touches the bar. Positions within the range are also trained isometrically, as in flexed-arm and straight-arm hangs for time.
The width of the grip may also differ. When grabbing and holding the bar during the pull-up, the hands can be apart at shoulder-width, or wider, or narrower enough to touch each other. This may make the pull-up more difficult and may limit the range of motion compared to the shoulder-width grip. The newer pull-up bars available have different angled grips to assist with individual muscle group exercises.
Extension, adduction, and transverse abduction of the shoulder
- Latissimus dorsi
- Deltoid (posterior)
- Pectoralis major
- Teres major
- Teres minor
- Triceps brachii (long head)
Adduction and inferior rotation of the scapula
- Trapezius (lower and middle fibers)
- Levator scapulae
- Pectoralis minor
Flexion of the elbow
Isometric flexion of the fingers
- Flexor digitorum profundus
- Flexor digitorum superficialis
- Flexor pollicis longus
- Flexor pollicis brevis
- Flexor digiti minimi brevis
Isometric anti-extension and anti-rotation of the spine
Organizations such as the American Council on Exercise give advice such as “care should be taken not to unduly put stress on your shoulder during this exercise”. Elbow pain due to tendonitis, bursitis, and ulnar nerve entrapment can occur as a result of excessive pull-ups and improper technique.
A standard dead-hang pull-up is grasped with an overhand/underhand/alternative-hand grip. Then the body is pulled up until the chin clears the bar, and finished by lowering the body until arms and shoulders are fully extended. Stricter standards would only consider a full repetition to be one in which the elbows pass behind the coronal plane.
Weight is added using a dipping belt or grasping a dumbbell with the feet, or weight vest/shorts. Caution should be demonstrated when using weights, ensure you don’t exceed the weight limit of the bar you’re using. Particularly if you’re using doorframe pull-up bars.
The chin is dropped forward through cervical flexion. The goal of the pull-up is to touch the bar with the back of the neck.
One hand is placed in the overhand (pronated) position and the other is placed in the underhand (supinated) position to provide a variation on the elbow flexors used.
Also called the cliffhanger pullup, the body is held sideways to the bar, hands right next to each other, one hand pronated and the other supinated, and the body is raised as far as possible (until one shoulder touches the bar). This variation emphasizes one arm, and can be used as a progression towards the one arm pullup.
A one-arm pull-up is performed by grasping the bar with only one hand while pulling up. This is difficult due to the considerable strength required.
An easier version of the one-arm pull-up: a pull-up where one hand grips the other arm just below the wrist.
A pull-up staying as close as possible to one side; typically the arm doing the majority of the work is alternated each repetition. In the most advanced version of this, one arm is kept fully straight; this is called the archer pullup. In an alternative version called the typewriter pullup or around the world pullup, the trainee comes up on one side, moves horizontally across to the other side while holding at the top, and then down on that side.
An easier version in which the body is bent dynamically to help propel the athlete upward. The hips swing first forward and then back as the legs swing forward. Finally, the legs swing downward again, pushing the torso upward. The fastest version where the head follows an elliptical path, moving backward at the bottom of the motion and forward at the top, is sometimes called a butterfly pull-up.
A pull-up with a longer range of motion, finishing with the bar touching the sternum.
A pull-up with a maximal range of motion, transitioning to a dip. Generally, the initial pull-up uses an overhand grip to make the switch easier and is more explosive to take advantage of the momentum from the first half of the exercise to aid in the second half.
A pull-up band is a large rubber band that is tied around the pull-up bar, then you place either a foot or a knee in the open “loop” hanging from the bar as you do your pull-ups. The band will assist you by taking on some of the bodyweight load and allowing your muscles to complete the pull-up movement at a more manageable weight.
Sometimes called an “Australian pull-up”, “reverse push-up”, “inclined pull-up” or “inverted row”, this is performed with the bar 2 to 3 feet off the floor. The trainee lies on the ground under the bar, face-up, and grasps the bar with extended arms. The exercise is performed by pulling the chest up to the bar. The body is held in a rigid plank position while the heels remain on the floor. “Supine” refers to the body being face-up, not to the grip: supine rows can be done with prone, neutral or supinated hands.
Guinness World Records
Guinness records in all divisions, male and female can be found at Guinness World Records
They cover all categories including but not limited to
Number of pull-ups in 24 hours, 1 hour, 1 minute
Pull-ups and Chin-ups by
- Bodyweight (variations)
- Heaviest weighted pull-up total: 402 lbs by Steven Proto (USA) on 28 April 2011
- Most pull-ups with a 45 lb plate: 18 by Damien Longley (USA) on 28 March 2011