There is a single exercise, using only your bodyweight, that can make your entire upper body grow. Yeah, you guessed it right: THE PULLUPS.
Pullups are a popular compound bodyweight exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, especially the back, shoulders and biceps, which makes them an essential part of any training routine. They’re also very versatile – once you’ve mastered the regular pull-up, you can experiment with the grip width in order to achieve specific results.
That being said, the target muscle of both wide-grip and close-grip pull-ups is the latissimus dorsi that runs from the side of the torso to your spine, but the wider the hand position, the stronger the emphasis on the outer lats. And no matter how you feel about them, it’s a fact that close-grip pulls are one of the best ways to work your lower lats.
A pull-up is an upper-body compound pulling exercise. Although it can be performed with any grip, in recent years some have used the term to refer more specifically to a pull-up performed with a palms-forward position.
The term chin-up, traditionally referring to a pull-up with the chin brought over top of a bar, was used in the 1980s to refer to a palms-away (overhand/pronated) grip, with a palms-toward (underhand/supinated) grip being called a “reverse-grip” chin-up.
The most popular current meaning refers to a closed-chain bodyweight movement where the body is suspended by the arms, gripping something, and pulls up. As this happens, the wrists remain in neutral (straight, neither flexed nor extended) position, the elbows flex and the shoulder adducts and/or extends to bring the elbows to or sometimes behind the torso. The knees may be bent by choice or if the bar is not high enough. Bending the knees may reduce pendulum-type swinging.
A traditional pull-up relies on upper body strength with no swinging or “kipping” (using a forceful initial movement of the legs in order to gain momentum). The exercise mostly targets the latissimus dorsi muscle of the back along with other assisting muscles.
You can always interchange the grips, try and use them all: close-grip, wide-grip, pronated, supinated, they all work wonders for your whole upper body.
So let’s see how the pullups work on your whole upper body:
1. Wide-grip pullups:
The muscles involved: lats, biceps, middle-back.
How to execute: Take a wide grip on a pull-up bar, hanging freely with your arms extended. This will be your starting position. Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows and adducting the glenohumeral joint. Do not swing or use momentum to complete the movement. Attempt to get your chin above your hands. Pause at the top of the motion before lowering yourself to the starting position.
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