How to do a pull up

How to do a Pull up & Its Variations

How to do a Pull up & Its Variations

Pull-ups are a popular gym exercise when trying to build strength in your upper body. This particular exercise engages many muscle groups which can help improve functional strength and a strong grip. Form can differ depending on the athlete and the end goal of the individual. Whether you are a beginner or have mastered your technique, this exercise is very versatile. So lets jump into how to do a pull up & its variations.

Assisted Machine

If you train at a commercial gym, you’ve probably seen this machine. This machine has an easy set up, you use a pin to select the weight you want the machine to assist with. The heavier the weight, the more assistance the machine is providing. This is a great variation for beginners to build strength for a non assisted.

Eccentric Pull Ups

This variation is great for beginners.  It will help develop grip strength and build strength in the arms and back which are essential. You’ll want to start by getting yourself over the bar, or in other words, the pull up position with your chin over the bar. If you are not able to complete a standard pull up, place a box underneath the bar. Once in your starting position you’ll slowly descend to a dead hang. The stronger you get the more prolonged your reps will be. 

Band Assisted 

Whether you are building strength or tuning your technique, this is another great variation for a beginner. Find a resistance band durable enough to support your body weight, and loop one around the bar. The other loop that hangs towards the floor is where you slip your foot. After gripping the bar and attempting a pull up, you will feel a boost.

The Pull up

To complete you start with your hands on the bar a little further than shoulder-width apart with your palms facing forward in a dead hang. Focusing on using your back you will pull yourself up towards the bar until your chin is at or above it. This requires muscles of your upper back like your Latissimus dorsi, Trapezius, Thoracic erector spinae, and other muscles to work extremely hard. You will also feel some fatigue in areas other than your back which is why these are a great upper body exercise. They are suggested if you are trying to build a muscular back.


The chin-up works the same muscles as the pull up, but because of the orientation of your grip, the chin up highlights the pectoralis major and your bicep brachialis. Just like our standard, you will start with your hands shoulder-width apart but with your palms facing towards you. Hand placement is opposite of the pull-up. Starting in a dead hang, pull your body up towards the bar aiming to get your chin at or above the bar. If you are a beginner the chin up is better to start with as it is much easier to perform than the pull up.  


Butterfly Pull-ups, also known as chest to bars, are a popular variation of the pull-up performed by most Crossfitters. This exercise uses momentum from your swing to converse energy and time in order to complete more reps. The hand placement is the orientation of the pull-up but wider than shoulder width apart. It is also suggested to place your thumbs around the bar for a better grip.

This exercise is started at a dead hang. Kipping your chest to the bar you will get into an arched position and pull up at the top of the exercise and let go of the arch at the bottom. Once you get into the rhythm this allows you to complete more reps than you could in a standard pull-up. However, you will feel quite fatigued in many places other than your upper body. Your abs, hip flexors and overall energy is also required to complete a successful set of these variations of pull-ups. These are also not recommended to others who are not crossfitters because the only benefit is the completion of faster reps and can be very challenging to learn.

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