The Benefits of Pull Ups

Pull ups is an awesome exercise that strengthens your muscles in the arms and back. The cool thing about pull ups is that it doesn’t require any free weights or machines; as long as you have a pull up bar in your home, then that is all you need.

You can pick up a pull up bar at any sporting goods store; they typically run around 20-30 dollars. Most of them are compatible with a typical door frame. Some require brackets to be screwed on to the door frame while others use the frame itself for support. Whatever kind of bar you get, it is a worthy investment.

photo by Joe Shlabotnick

Pull ups can be done in many ways, and you can target different areas of your muscles by placing your grip at different points on the bar. Using a wide grip position places more of the emphasis on your lats while a close grip position works mostly the lower lats and biceps.

You can focus purely on bodyweight pull ups and focus on increasing the number of reps. You can also add more resistance by using some weights. Just strap on a backpack with some weight plates in it. If you don’t have any plates, then you can improvise by using textbooks or filled water bottles.

If you want to make the exercise harder without adding weights, then try placing the emphasis on one arm. The way to do this is by looping a towel over one side and gripping the towel with one hand. Because the hand holding the towel will be lower than the hand holding the bar, the hand gripping the bar will have to work harder to pull your weight up. As you get better at this exercise, you can make it more difficult by lowering the position of the hand holding the towel.

Pull ups can benefit anyone no matter their current level of fitness. It is one of my favorite exercises just because it is so convenient to do from my own home. I highly recommend adding it to your workouts if you already haven’t done so.

22 Responses to The Benefits of Pull Ups

  1. It is true that pull ups provide a great way to workout your arm and back muscles. As you have mentioned, there are things you can do to mix up your pull ups a bit and make them more challenging. This is something you can do from home without spending a lot of money since pull up bars are so inexpensive..

  2. Well I agree that Pull Ups are great to do. It is beneficial to be able to lift your own weight, especially if you are climbing. I wish that I could do a pull up but I am not at that level. I do hang for as long as I can though. My two year old loves the pull-up bar over the bedroom door frame and does almost a full pull up before just hanging on.

    • It took me awhile to be able to do a full pull up. I am a lady and sometimes I think it can be a little easier for a man to do these. It just took me some time and patience as I gained more strength in my upper body.

      • I don’t think that’s uncommon. It’s a lot more difficult for women to build upper body strength. You’re probably in a pretty small minority of women that can do a pull up. It’s impressive, keep it up.

  3. If you want to build upper body strength, you can’t beat pullups. They are also great for building broad shoulders too. But it took me a long time to be able to do them because I just didn’t have the strength to do them.

  4. As a woman, I love doing pull ups to increase my upper body strength. I feel great after doing them and feel like it helps me build more lean muscles (which help my arms look great!)

    • This is true. As a girl who uses pull-ups, I also see good results. I like my arms to have nice muscles without looking bulky and am able to achieve these results in part with pull ups.

  5. I started doing pullups a few months ago and I love it. I can definitely feel the difference in my arms and back. I even hang from the bar and lift my legs, twist etc. Plus, just hanging from the bar really feels great. I feel I can get a good deep stretch in my shoulders/back. Everyone should add pullups into their normal routine.

  6. What I love about pullups is the convenience and how it really builds up your arm and back muscles. You can do a few pullups sets from the comfort of your home and still build on your muscles!

  7. I started doing pullups five years ago when I joined a tennis team. The coach recommended this exercise to me to increase my upper body strength. I have to say that it has worked wonders. The first few pullups took me a while, as I was unused to the difficulty of them, but after a few days, I could finally do 5 in a row. As time went on, I could do more and more, and my tennis skills also increased with it. I realized that the more pullups I could do, the faster I could swing my racket and the more powerful the blow would be.

    I would definitely recommend this exercise to anyone who just wants to tone up, or for anyone who is looking for body strength exercises to give them a kick in sports.

  8. That photo reminds me of campus days. Pullups come handy while working out before a Karate lesson; used to do them a lot. They also ideal for those who are busy during the day and only have around thirty minutes to workout in the morning or evening.

  9. Pull ups are definitely a great exercise. I got an Iron Gym Extreme bar a couple years ago and love it. I think it was around $30-40 and it’s been great. Along with having a variety of grips to use, it can also be used on the ground for push ups. Normally I can’t do push ups on the ground because of an issue with my wrist, but it’s not an issue if I’m using the bar for push ups.

    I really suggest people look into it if they want a pull up bar.

  10. I wish I was able to do a pull up. I have never been able to build my upper body strength to the point where I could actually lift my own body weight. My 18-month old son is able to do pull ups, which is adorable to me. Sometimes I wonder if he is too strong for his own good.

  11. I was walking along the track the a couple of days ago and saw a man dong pull ups on one of the pieces of equipment in the park. I was amazed by how well he did them and how many. I doubt that I could do even one but I am going to give it a try.

  12. I have a question I have been working out a lot in my pole dance for fitness class about eight hours a week but I must favor one arm when holding my weight up and I have big muscles in my left arm and not in my right. Do you think if I got a pull up bar for my home and did the exercise you talk about for one arm I could get the right arm in sync with the left arm. I think I look kind of silly but can’t seem to correct it in class.

    • Hi sundcarrie,

      My left arm is also slightly bigger than my right just simply because my left is my dominant arm. If there is clearly a disproportion in size, then you can definitely give the pull up workout a try. It may give your right arm the stimulation it needs to increase in mass and even out in size with your left.

      • Thanks I think I will head out and get one of those bars today or order one from Amazon. I could also use a break from leg work sometimes since I broke my hip a few years ago and it would be great to keep my legs out of the work out. Thanks for the tips again I will be keeping up with this website.

  13. I haven’t done pull ups lately because every time I execute them my hands get all sore and bruised. Should I wear gloves? Am I doing proper pull-ups? I did feel the burn on my shoulders and back.

    • hi Siriusboi,

      You may choose to wear workout gloves if it helps with your grip. However, I prefer to go without them. I actually have calluses on my fingers and palms, which shows that my hands are adapting to handle the stress of lifting.

  14. Thanks for all of the advise! My hubby installed the bar and he was embarrassed because I could do more than he could. I love it and there are so many things I can do on the bar for my arms and my abs and it takes the pressure off my back for the ab workout.

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