Pull Up Muscles Worked. The Main Movers!
The graphic below shows the pull up muscles worked. The pull up is one of the primary pulling exercises for training the majority of the back muscles including:
- Latissimus Dorsi as you move your arm from an overhead position down by your side.
- Trapezius as you retract or pull back your shoulder blades and they slide up and down your rib cage with each pull up (Now there’s an image for you!)
- Teres Major: The small little muscle found at the bottom side of the shoulder blade. This will assist your much large lat muscle during the start of each rep. Similar to how a tug boat helps guide a ship out of the dock. Choo…CHOO!!!
wait, no…..HONK! HONK!
- The Bicep is also a primary mover in this exercise as you flex or bend the elbow. Part of your bicep muscle actually crosses over at the shoulder joint too so there is a good argument for pull-ups being superior for Bicep growth than an actual barbell bicep curl. Here is a link to a great discussion on the starting strength forums.
- The Core will be responsible for preventing spine extension. Which is the difference between having a nice posture during your pull up or doing a pull up with your back in the shape of the letter ‘C’.
How To Do A Pull Up With Proper Form
How To Do A Pull Up With Correct Form
- Use An Overhand Grip
When doing the pull up you should grip a bar using an overhand grip. Technically, this grip position is what makes the exercise a “Pull up” as opposed to a “Chin Up”.
- Select The Right Grip Width
The wider apart you place your hands the more emphasis you will place on your lat’s as opposed to your biceps. The best grip position is when you equally share the load between the large lat muscles and the bicep muscles. For most people, this will be just wider than shoulder-width.
- Keep a tight ‘Core’ and pull yourself up
You should start to lift your own body weight up using an “active hang”. See the video below for a great visual demo. You might feel the desire to allow your legs to curl back, or kick forward at the end of the rep. This practice should be avoided. This is your brain’s way of trying to assist you with momentum through the weaker parts of the range.
- Use a full range of motion
The end of the range of motion for this exercise is when your elbows are fully down by your sides. The bar will usually end up somewhere between your chin and upper chest. Equally as important is the end of the range of motion when you go to the bottom of the rep. You should go to a “dead hang” position to complete the rep.