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HomeFitness NewsGet Ripped with 16 Unique Pull-Up Grips for an Enviable Physique

Get Ripped with 16 Unique Pull-Up Grips for an Enviable Physique

16 Different Pull-Up Grips & Variations You Must Master

Pull-ups are a compound movement that engages almost every muscle group in your upper body. It is one of the most versatile exercises, and you can program it into any workout, depending on your training objectives. Whether your goal is to build muscle and strength or improve your overall functionality, pull-ups can help you get there. The effectiveness of pull-ups makes them a staple in calisthenics training. This article is a treasure trove for exercisers who want a list of the best pull-up variations.

Why Use Different Pull-Up Grips?

Many exercisers stick to a single pull-up grip and question the need for switching hand positions. The conventional shoulder-wide pull-up primarily engages the lats while also engaging other muscle groups like the biceps, forearms, and upper back musculature, including the rhomboids, traps, and teres major and minor. Different pull-up grips comprise unique lines and angles of pull and involve a varying degree of elbow flexion and extension. It can help target your muscles from different angles, improving overall growth and development. Also, some pull-up grips are more difficult to execute, which ensures you are constantly learning new skills. Changing your pull-up grips can help you avoid and break through strength and muscle plateaus.

Besides covering different pull-up grips, we will also delve into some of the most effective pull-up variations, which will help you take your gains to the next level.

Shoulder Wide Pull-Up

This is the most popular pull-up grip and is the one taught to newbies. Drilling the conventional pull-up before moving on to other variations will help you build a solid base.

1. Stand on an elevated platform like an aerobic step under a pull-up bar.
2. Grab the pull-up bar with a shoulder-wide overhand grip. Wrap your thumbs around your fingers.
3. Step off the elevated platform. Your body should be in a straight line.
4. Brace your core and pull your chin over the bar by driving your elbows toward the floor and into your sides while contracting your lats.
5. Pause and squeeze your lats at the top of the motion.
6. Slowly return to the starting position.
7. Repeat for the recommended reps.

Pro Tip: Focus on your lats by ensuring you’re not using momentum by swinging your body. Contract your latissimus dorsi muscles throughout the range of motion.

Wide Grip Pull-Up

The wide-grip pull-up results in much greater upper and lowers lats and trapezius muscle engagement than the conventional pull-up. However, holding the bar with a wider grip makes the exercise harder.

1. Grab the pull-up bar with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
2. Keeping your chest proud and back slightly arched, lift your chest to the pull-up bar by flexing your elbows and driving through your lats.
3. Hold the isometric contraction at the top.
4. Slowly return to the start position.
5. Rinse and repeat.

Pro Tip: Push your chest out and up during the concentric phase (upward movement) and return to the upright position during eccentrics for optimal lat engagement.

Behind-the-Neck Pull-Up

This pull-up variation involves the same hand placement as the wide-grip pull-up. However, the angle of pull will change slightly. During the conventional wide-grip pull-up, you stand facing the pull-up bar, whereas you’ll be standing under the bar in this exercise.

1. While standing under a pull-up bar, grab the bar with a wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip.
2. Brace your core, lean forward slightly, and pull the back of your neck to the pull-up bar.
3. Slowly return to the starting position.
4. Your mobility can be a limiting factor in his pull-up variation. Ensure that you are adequately warmed up before performing this exercise.

Pro Tip: Bending your knees so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor can help you maintain your torso at a slight angle.

Narrow Grip Pull-Up

This is an advanced pull-up variation. Holding the bar close together increases your range of motion, requiring greater elbow and shoulder extension and flexion. You will also have to work harder to hold the lats in the shortened position at the top of the range of motion.

1. Grab the pull-up bar with a narrow (close-than-shoulder-width) overhand grip.
2. Keeping your elbows parallel, begin the movement by flexing your elbows. Your body will move in a slight arc while performing this exercise.
3. Hold the isometric contraction at the top.

Pro Tip: Expect a greater biceps engagement in this pull-up variation because of the amount of elbow flexion and extension involved.

Neutral Grip Pull-Up

Some lifters find the overhand grip taxing on their wrists and forearms. The neutral-grip pull-ups, also known as the hammer-grip pull-ups, can solve this problem. However, you will need a pull-up bar with parallel bars for this exercise.

1. Grab the parallel bars using a neutral (palms facing inward) grip.
2. Keeping your elbows pinned, raise your chin over the bar by flexing your elbows.
3. Pause and contract your lats at the top of the range of motion.
4. Slowly return to the starting position.

Pro Tip: The neutral-grip pull-ups can help improve your arm size and thickness as it works the biceps brachialis and brachioradialis. Use thicker parallel bars for greater forearm and biceps engagement.

Underhand Grip Pull-Up

Also known as the chin-up, this exercise also targets the biceps. Many exercisers use ‘chin-ups’ and ‘pull-ups’ interchangeably; however, these are different exercises. The primary difference between the two is that pull-ups involve an overhand grip, whereas chin-ups involve an underhand grip.

1. Grasp a pull-up bar with a shoulder-wide underhand grip.
2. Maintain a slight arch in your back to bias your lats.
3. Keeping your upper arms parallel, raise your chin over the bar.
4. Hold the isometric contraction at the top.
5. Slowly return to the starting position.
6. Use slow eccentrics to focus on your biceps.

Pro Tip: Grabbing the bar with a narrow grip will target the long biceps head, whereas holding it with a wider grip will bias the short head.

False-Grip Pull-Up

Many exercisers struggle with grip strength during pull-ups. The false-grip pull-up can help address this issue by allowing you to grip the bar with your palms facing towards you.

1. Grasp the pull-up bar with your palms facing towards you, similar to how you would grip a tennis racket.
2. Keep your wrists neutral and your thumbs on top of the bar.
3. Perform the pull-up by driving your elbows towards the floor and contracting your lats.
4. Hold the isometric contraction at the top.
5. Slowly return to the starting position.

Pro Tip: False-grip pull-ups can be challenging, so start with a thicker bar or use gymnastic rings to make it easier on your wrists.


Incorporating different pull-up grips and variations into your training routine can help you target different muscle groups and avoid plateaus. Experiment with these 16 pull-up grips and variations to take your gains to the next level. Remember to focus on proper form and gradually increase the difficulty as you progress. Happy pulling!

Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn, the founder of "The Body Builder" and formerly Body Guider, isn't just a business owner – he embodies the spirit of holistic fitness. With a degree in sports nutrition, Stan blends academic knowledge with practical expertise, ensuring that his gym members receive not just physical training but also nutritional guidance tailored to their unique needs. Over the years, Stan's passion for fitness has extended beyond the gym's walls. As a fervent sports enthusiast, he understands the intricacies of athletic performance and is dedicated to helping both amateur athletes and fitness novices achieve their goals. Under his leadership, "The Body Builder" has grown from a mere gym to a comprehensive fitness hub where every member feels empowered, educated, and inspired. Stan's commitment to excellence, combined with his in-depth understanding of sports nutrition, makes him a revered figure in the fitness community.

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