Imagine watching the Olympics and seeing a gymnast on the rings pass by. He powders his hands and takes a few breaths to prepare before starting his routine. He jumps to the rings and begins to pull himself up. He makes it look easy, but we all know how hard it is. It’s the result of mastering traction and advancing it to the most extreme levels. Don’t worry, we’re not going to teach you how to become an Olympic gymnast in this article, but we will explain the benefits of pull-ups and how to do them, regardless of your skill level.

Some people think pull-ups are too hard and don’t even want to get into them, but rest assured, there are ways to make them easier to start with, so you can eventually progress to full bodyweight pull-ups. . There are simple ways to get started so you can start your pull-up journey, no matter what your current fitness level.

What is a pull?

A pull-up is an exercise in which you pull yourself up from a suspended position, usually holding onto a bar designed for this purpose. The pull-up motion activates several back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius (traps), rhomboids, biceps and requires stabilization of the core (abdominals) to keep everything stable. Think of a superhero movie. It’s not the case with all superhero movies, but in some of them there is a moment when the character is suspended on the edge of a cliff, inches from his doom. Then, he gathers his will, grunts, and eventually heaves himself off the ledge to safety. This general movement, which goes from the suspension to the rise, is the basis of what a traction is.


Now that you know that pull-ups are necessary for superheroes, why do them? There are many reasons why pull-ups are great for us and our bodies, but we can summarize them here in just four reasons.

1. Pull-ups create strong structure and body

In our society, many of us hunker down at work and tap away at our computers. We also over-emphasize push-ups and chest exercises, which can create muscle imbalances in the upper torso if we don’t stretch, make sure to implement corrective training, and strengthen the opposite muscle group.

When we’re hunched over at our computer and doing lots of chest tightening exercises, we run into a problem called upper muscle crossover syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the muscles in the neck, upper back, and chest are out of balance and are either too tight or overstretched. The head protrudes and the upper back sags. Pull-ups can help with crossed upper back syndrome, slumped shoulders, and poor posture to build a strong body and frame. As traction requires the activation of several back muscles, it helps to develop the powerful posterior chain (muscles located at the back of the body) to allow us to stand straight, reduce our muscle imbalances and lay the foundations for further growth.

2. Pull-ups work multiple muscle groups at once

A pull-up uses multiple muscle groups to achieve the desired result of pulling the body upwards. This is another great benefit of pulling up as it requires core activation in addition to all the back muscles that are being worked. This is a good thing because we can work multiple muscles in one exercise, allowing us to get a better workout for the time and effort invested.

A study of 41 uninjured men and women to determine which muscles were most activated during pull-up variations. They found that in the standard pull-up exercise, the rectus abdominis (abs) were most activated, followed by the biceps, lats, and traps, in that order. It shows that multiple muscle groups are activated during the pull-up and that’s one of the reasons I love doing it so much.

3. Multiple variations to choose what works best

A pull-up is a varied exercise that allows for freedom, creativity, and customization. A standard pull-up involves gripping the barbell overhand (overhead) with a grip wider than the shoulders. However, the hands can also approach the center of the body, in supination (under the hand) and it is not necessary to start with the weight of the body; it is possible to start with a traction machine.
The reason a pull-up has so many variations is that it doesn’t require a seated position, cables, machines, presses, and so many other body-limiting obstacles.

4. For beginners and experts

To get started with pull-ups, you can start with the pull-up machine which will help you reduce the weight you have to lift. Then, as you get stronger, you can lower the weight of the machine more and more until you can do eccentric bodyweight pull-ups. Eccentric bodyweight pull-ups are done either by jumping or using a bench to stand over the bar in a normal pull-up position. Then you allow yourself to slowly return to the starting point, which is to say, you hang yourself in a position ready to do pull-ups. You jump or use the bench to pull yourself over the bar and repeat. This will help you build the strength you need to eventually progress to bodyweight pull-ups.

After moving on to bodyweight pull-ups, you can move on to weighted pull-ups. As you get stronger, you can start doing calisthenics.
Calisthenics is a style of exercise that uses body weight to train. Examples of calisthenics exercises include doing muscle-ups (chin-ups that involve lifting the torso over the bar) and jumping over the pull-up bar. Another example is the forward lever, which sees athletes start in a pull-up position and then hang horizontally with their legs forward and their torso tilted back. And most of those moves start with mastering the pull.

How to do a pull-up correctly

Now that you know what a pull-up is, what it is for and what freedom it offers, how do you do a pull-up correctly?

First, know that the pull-up is a back exercise that should use the lats, middle traps, and rhomboids to lift you up, with the biceps for support. Visualization here is not pulling yourself up with your forearms and elbows, but squeezing yourself together by bringing your elbows towards your back.

Start by grabbing the bar above you, spreading it a bit shoulder-width apart.
Stabilize the core, lower back and glutes to maintain a solid base.
Make sure your elbows are pointing to the side and not forward.
Raise your body and remember to squeeze your elbows down.
Keep your neck vertical and your eyes straight.
When you get to the top, be sure to keep your head neutral, not lifting your chin to climb higher.
Once you reach the top of the pull-up bar, your eyes and chin should be slightly above the bar.
Slowly lower back to the starting point, letting your arms reach 95% of their full extension.
To avoid: Go down halfway and then go up. You won’t be working the full range of motion; to progress, you must ensure good form.

Because a pull-up offers great freedom, there is also a great margin for error. A pull-up can easily be performed with poor form by using more biceps while underusing the lats, middle traps, rhomboids, and then swinging to gain momentum. Just be sure to do it in a controlled manner and with good form, using a machine first if you can’t do bodyweight pull-ups yet.

Pull-ups or chin-ups

There seems to be some confusion between pull-ups and pull-ups. These are different exercises that focus on similar muscle groups, but each is good for different reasons.

A pull-up is performed with an overhand grip (overhead) and hands wider than shoulder-width apart. It primarily focuses on using the lats, middle traps, and rhomboids to lift the body with the added help of the biceps. This exercise is beneficial for people who want to get more width in their back to achieve a V-shape.

The chin-up has an underhand (underhand) grip with hands shoulder-width apart or closer facing you. It primarily focuses on using the lats and biceps muscles to lift the body, with additional help from the core muscles, rhomboids, large and small teres, and posterior deltoids. This exercise is beneficial for people who want to build their biceps rather than widen their back. It is also easier than a pull-up and is a good starting point for progressing to a bodyweight pull-up.

To start

To start, you can try machine pull-ups and choose a weight that makes it easy for you to do pull-ups to get comfortable with them. If you don’t have a pull-up machine in your gym, you can take a bench, place it under the pull-up bar, and do eccentric pull-ups (helping you lift over the bar and back down slowly) to build strength to progress to bodyweight pull-ups.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.