How to do pull ups for beginners and what muscles do pull ups work? Pull ups is a really great exercise that has some very good benefits. It’s one of the best exercises for working the Latissimus Dorsi or Lats for short (this is the muscle responsible for giving your back width) and it’s also very effective at working the biceps.

You do need a strong upper body to perform them properly, however your strength will improve with time and repetition. There are various different techniques for giving assistance when performing pull ups. Use a weight assisted pull up machine if you have trouble performing the exercise.

Pull Ups Muscles Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi – Back
  • Traps
  • Deltoids – Shoulders
  • Biceps

Equipment needed to perform the pull up

Pull up bar

You can buy pull up bars for the home that you can fit inside a door frame, others fit over the door frame, resting on the top of the frame. Different types of pull up bars are available, some have angled grips that allow for a more natural hand position, they’re often found in gyms. Other types of bars are straight, both are very effective.

Pull up variationsDifferent grips can be used

Palms facing forward

  • Normal width – Hands just wider than shoulder width, good focus on your upper back muscles.
  • Wide width – You can go as wide with the grip as you comfortably can, very difficult to perform, a wider grip is useful if the normal grip is too easy, plus it will focus even more on your lats.

Palms facing inward

  • Narrow grip – also known as the chin up, much easier to perform than the palms facing forward version, it has less focus on your upper back(Lats) and more focus on the biceps.

Pull ups for beginners – assistance machine

This machine has a pad for you to place your knees on, this pad offers you assistance during the pull up, it has an adjustable weight which is used to aid you during the exercise.

Struggling to perform the exercise?

If you don’t have access to one of the above machines however you struggle to perform the exercise without assistance. You can place an object beneath you, for example a chair, table or bench and then you can push up with you legs to assist you, until you have the necessary strength to perform the exercise without assistance.

You can also use a spotter to grab your legs and give you a little help.

Are normal pull ups too easy for you?

If doing pull ups using only your body weight becomes too easy, there is various equipment that can be used to add weight.

  • Belt and chain – Special belt and chain that you can attach weights to.
  • Belt hook – The hook can be attached to a weight belt, you can add weighted plates to the base of the hook.

Behind the neck

The exercise can also be performed by having your head forward so the bar touches the back of your neck, however this is not recommended because it puts unnatural pressure on your shoulders. It’s basically bad for your rotator cuffs, so it should be avoided.

How to do pull ups for beginners

  • Grip the pull up bar just wider than shoulder width, with your palms facing forward.
  • Now pull yourself up slowly until your chin is about in line with the bar, keep your legs as still as possible, cross your feet and bend your knees for stability.
  • Hold for a short moment and then slowly lower yourself back down and repeat, don’t fully straighten your arms to keep the tension on your muscles.

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