Pullups and Chinups

Pullups are a pure power exercise. Some reasonably fit people can’t do them unassisted–a little too much body weight for the development of their arms and shoulders. No problem–work on doing them with less and less assist and pretty soon you’ll be banging them out.


Start each repetition hanging with straight elbows. Raise up until your chin clears the bar. Breathe at the bottom, but don’t take a big breath and hold it, just a normal breath. Keep your chest pushed forward, don’t roll your shoulders forward. Look up at the bar. It helps to cross your feet and squeeze your butt as you pull.

Get a full range of motion, from dead hang to chin over the bar.

Basic Pullup/Chinup


Pullups and chinups look the same, but they engage different muscle groups. A pullup is done with your palms facing way from you which engages your back muscles more. Most people find pullups to be harder than chinups. A chinup is done with your palms facing you which engages your biceps more.

Leg Assisted Pullup


You can do the assist in two ways–a friend can support your feet so you can engage your legs in the exercise, or you can position a chair or log so you can hook your toes onto it and assist yourself that way. Just be sure to discipline yourself to apply less and less assist.


Grip Variations


You can do lots of grip variations to engage different muscles. Hands close together, shoulder width, or wide apart. You can also do a thumb-less grip, towel or rope asymmetrical grip where one hand holds a wrapped towel or rope while the other holds the bar

Knees to Elbows


Hang from the pole and roll up so your knees touch your elbows

L Pullup and Seated pullup


Extend your legs in front of you like you were sitting on a floor, hold for a second in the L position, repeat. Seated pullup you come to the L position and then do a pullup with each rep. As a variation you can sit as if you were in a chair with your legs forward and knees bent and do pullups.


Big Boy pullup


Use a branch or pole close to the ground. Increase difficulty by getting angle closer to the ground. this exercise is counter to a pushup–a rowing action. You can do it as a chinup–hands forward over the branch, or as a pullup–hands coming from the back of the branch. As with standard pullups you can do variations of hand width to engage your muscles differently. Wide, standard, military and close.