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Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, and Variations


Both pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent upper body exercises that strengthen muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids, traps, pectorals, among others. To perform the pull-up, start by hanging onto a fixed bar with a pronated grip (palms facing away from you) and your body fully extended; pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar, then lower to the starting position and pull up again. Do the same to perform the chin-up but holding the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing you).   

Pull-ups and chin-ups are functional exercises because, in addition to increasing upper body strength, these exercises increase grip strength, which is important in sports that require a strong grip (e.g., baseball, golf, tennis) and home activities such as opening jars or shoveling.

Here are some variations:

  • Sternum Pull-Up: This exercise consists of pulling the body up until the chest touches the bar. It is especially good for developing the latissimus dorsi muscle.
  • Close-Grip Chin-Up: To perform this chin-up variation, your hands must be placed about 3 inches apart. This exercise primarily targets the biceps and forearms.
  • Wide-Grip Pull-Up: Hold the bar with your hands wide apart so that your arms and torso form a Y. This pull-up variation mainly strengthens the arms and shoulders.
  • Mixed Grip Chin-Up: Holding the bar with one palm facing you and the other facing away from you, perform some reps, and then alternate grips. It combines the benefits of both pull-ups and chin-ups.

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