Pull-Ups Guide: Benefits, Muscles Worked, & How-To

Is there a more classic bodyweight movement than the pull up? It has history dating back to Roman Solider training days. It’s used by athletes of all sports and it’s a goal of many new gym goers. They are simple, yet incredibly empowering. Not too many better feelings than to be able pull your own body weight up.

This guide aims to break down all things pull ups so you’ll understand the benefits, targeted muscles, and to perform them with proper form.

What is a Pull Up?

A basic pull up is an upper body movement that involves hanging from a horizontal bar which can be straight or slightly angled down with your palms facing away from you. You then simply pull yourself up using your until your chin is above the bar.

Pull Up Benefits

Pull-Ups are fantastic for:

  • Building muscle (hypertrophy)
  • Building back and arm strength
  • Improving grip strength
  • Mastering your own bodyweight
  • Simple and safe to do (but not easy)


What Muscles do Pull Ups Work?

There’s a lot of muscles involved to help stabilitize you during this closed-chained exercise, but here are the primary muscle targets of pull ups:

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Major/Minor Terese
  • Rhomboids
  • Middle & Lower Traps
  • Biceps & Forearms

muscles worked in pull ups

How to Do a Pull Up

Grab the bar with a dead hang

Engage your core to help reduce swinging

Retract your scapula (shoulders away from your ears)

Pull yourself up so your chin clears the bar

Lower yourself in a controlled fashion back to the starting position

Pull Up Demonstration

Check Out our Pull Up Alternatives

We also have a guide on pull up alternatives for those who might not be able to complete a regular pull up at this point in their fitness journey. Learn more in the article below!