9 Best Pull Up Bar Exercises That Can Really Help Build Muscle And Strength

Pull up bar exercises are great for strengthening your back while engaging your midsection and honing your arms. Add these to your training regimen to help you build muscle, strength, and stamina

pull up bar exercises

The pull up bar is a fantastic tool to build muscle, strength, and stamina. I keep one in my bedroom doorway where I can do a vast number of exercises that target my back, core, and biceps.

One of the most effective and popular pull up bar exercises is, of course, the pull up. It’s incredible for strengthening your back while engaging your midsection and honing your arms.

main doing pull up bar exercises - inverted row alternative exercise

You can use a pull up bar for more than just sculpting your back. There are many powerful pull up bar exercises that can target different parts of your body, like your shoulders, chest, and even your triceps.

Including pull up bar exercises into your weekly training sessions will give you many amazing benefits. Thus, it should be an integral part of any fitness regimen for anyone hoping to build muscle and stamina.

Key Benefits of Pull Up Bar Exercises

  • Strength and Endurance
    Exercises performed with weights and bands are typically isolated to one muscle group or restrict your range of motion. Pull up bar exercises will allow you to train your entire mid and upper body, often at the same time. This puts greater stress on your body as it works various muscle groups together, quickly raising your heart rate and testing your endurance.
  • Grip strength
    Pull up bar exercises can dramatically increase your grip strength. This is because you hold and lift 100% of your own body weight.
  • Exercises Multiple Muscles Groups
    While one of the most famous pull up bar exercises is the pull-ups, you can use the bar for more than just honing your back. You can perform many different exercises and moves that will help you to target your wrists, core, shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps.
  • Improves Posture
    Many of the pull up bar exercises involve your mid and upper body. This opens your chest, and tightens your back, shoulders, and core muscles. They can also elongate your spine to encourage and give better posture.
  • Customized to Your Fitness Level
    You can adjust most pull up bar exercises to suit your fitness level. For example, if you’re a beginner, using a resistance band can help you knock out your first set of pull ups. Or, if you’re more advanced, strap on extra weights or train towards single-arm chin-ups.
  • Improve full-body control
    Having complete physical control over your body can be satisfying. Mastering techniques and drills on the pull up bar using only your body weight as resistance can bring you one step closer if that’s your goal.

Below are some of the best pull up bar exercises that can help you target muscles in various parts of your body.

You will need a pull-up bar or a power tower for all the pull up bar exercises listed here.

Take a look at our recommended pull-up bar if you have not yet installed one in your home gym.

On the other hand, check our top Power Towers for Home Gym out if that is your preference.

Best pull up bar exercises for back

Classic pull-ups

pull-ups - pull up bar exercises

Classic pull up bar exercises are compound exercises. They are one of the most effective methods for building lean and functional back muscles. It also improves grip strength, which is beneficial if you play sports like tennis, racquetball, bowling, and rock climbing.

Target Muscles: Lats, traps
Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate

Steps to Follow

  • Hold the pull up bar a little wider than shoulder-width, palms facing away from you
  • With your back slightly arched, engage your shoulders and core
  • Pull yourself up so your chin is over the bar
  • Lower yourself with control to the starting position

Variations to the classic pull up bar exercises:

Beginner:

  • Flex Arm hangs
    If you can’t do a single pull up yet, that’s all right! The flex arm hang is a brilliant progression exercise that builds your back, biceps, and core. When you can hold the position for over 10 seconds, move on to negative pull ups.
  • Negatives
    This move allows you to increase the strength needed for a pull up. It works your forearms, improves grip, and engages your primary back muscles. Jump or use a box to hoist yourself to the top of the pull up bar, then slowly lower yourself until you’re dangling with fully extended arms to complete one rep.
  • Band Assisted
    This is the final step to a full, unassisted pull up. Using resistance bands allows you to go through the motions of a complete pull up while keeping your form in check.

Intermediate:

  • Wide Grip
    This is a regular pull up with a wider hand position that puts more emphasis on your lats.
    Close Grip
    A close grip pull up focuses more on your arms while still engaging your back muscles.
  • Mixed- Grip
    This is the two-in-one muscle builder for biceps and a more defined back. Combining an overhand grip with an underhand grip adds a rotational element to the exercise that challenges your midsection.

Advanced:

  • Around the World
    The around the world exercise is one of the more difficult variations. This gives individual attention to each of your shoulders, biceps, and each side of your lats.
  • Single-arm Pull up
    Single-arm pull ups are tough to master since you’re lifting your entire body with just one arm. But, aside from building a solid back, they’ll also develop your chest, forearms, and grip strength.

Classic Chin-Up

chin ups pull up bar exercises

Like the classic pull-ups, the chin-up is another compound exercise.

The primary benefits of doing chin-ups are increasing muscle definition and strength. Some find chin ups easier to do than pull up bar exercises. The reason is you actively use your biceps when doing chin-ups. Your shoulders are also in a position that’s easier for them to rotate and assist with the move.

Target Muscles: Lats and biceps
Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate

Steps to Follow

  • Take the bar with hands at shoulder-width, palms facing you
  • Dead hang with straight arms
  • With chest up and shoulders back, pull yourself up so your chin is over the bar
  • Slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended in the dead hang starting position

Best pull up bar exercises for abs

Hanging Leg Raises

hanging leg raises pull up bar exercises

Hanging leg raises are pull up bar exercises that work your entire abdominal muscle group and quads.

Take the simple knee raise to the next level by keeping your legs straight as you lift from the waist.

Target Muscles: Abs, quads, obliques, hip flexors
Experience Level: Intermediate

Steps to Follow

  • Hang from the bar with hands at shoulder width
  • Keep your arms stretched and your trunk stable
  • Lift your legs until parallel with the floor, keeping your legs straight the entire time
  • Hold for 1 second, contracting your abs
  • Slowly lower your legs back to your starting point

Variations to leg raises:

  • Hanging Bicycles
    The hanging bicycle crunch is effective because it reaches the usual abs plus the deeper abs and obliques as you peddle your feet in the air.
  • Toes to Bar
    As one of the hardest abs exercises, toes to bar isn’t something to take lightly. Start as a hanging leg raise. Instead of stopping when your legs are parallel to the floor, continue the motion up until your toes touch the bar above your head.
  • Windshield Wipers
    The mixture of control and agility required to perform this move brings every abdominal muscle into action. Bring your legs up to the peak of the toes-to-bar move and start rotating your torso back and forth, pretending like your legs are wipers on a windshield.

L-Hang

L-hang pull up bar exercises

Like the L-sit exercise you do on the floor, the L-hang is a static exercise. Ig can help you build strength and endurance in your core, upper body, and legs.

Target Muscles: Abs, hip flexors, obliques, quads
Experience Level: Intermediate-Advanced

Steps to Follow

  • Dead hang from the bar with hands at shoulder width
  • Raise your legs until they’re pointed straight out from you, parallel with the floor
  • Hold the position until failure

Variations:

L-hang Siders
These will engage your oblique muscles and build a stronger core as you rotate your hips back and forth, twisting your legs with the motion.

Hanging Upside-Down Crunches

Also known as upside-down sit-ups, hanging crunches can be challenging. By completely changing the angle of your body when doing this pull up bar exercise, you encourage the use of deeper, rarely used abdominal muscles that you likely didn’t even know you had.

Target Muscles: Abs
Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate

Steps to Follow

  • Grab the pull-up bar
  • Hoist your legs into the air and let your torso tilt back
  • Kick your legs through your arms and loop them over the top of the pull up bar
  • Lock yourself into position with the backs of your knees
  • Once you feel secure, release your hands
  • Lower your upper body toward the floor so you are hanging upside-down by your knees
  • Engaging your abs, reach your arms toward the sky and curl your torso up toward the bar in a crunch
  • Lower yourself back to an upside-down hanging position

Variations to the upside-down hanging crunches:

Decline Crunches
If you can’t do an upside-down hanging crunch yet, this exercise will help you build the strength and endurance for it. You’ll need a declining bench for this.

Best pull up bar exercises for shoulders

Hanging Shoulder Shrugs

Hanging shrugs are great pull up bar exercises to develop your middle back and improve your overall form. They can also help to prevent shoulder injury by strengthening your traps and delts.

Target Muscles: Shoulders, forearms, grip
Experience Level: Beginner

Steps to Follow

  • Hang from the pull-up bar or power tower with hands at shoulder width
  • Shrug your shoulders down and away from your head

Dead Hang

dead hang pull up bar exercise

The dead hang helps to stretch and decompress your spine, which is excellent if you work a job that involves sitting. Aside from that, your grip strength will improve as you struggle to hold on for as long as possible. Finally, engage your biceps by raising yourself slightly so your arms aren’t locked.

Target Muscles: Forearms, grip
Experience Level: Beginner

Steps to Follow

  • Hang from the bar with hands at shoulder width
  • Hang with straight arms until failure
  • Keep your shoulders and back engaged

Variations to the dead hang pull up bar exercises:

Weighted
If you find the dead hang too easy and don’t want to hang for more than 5 minutes, add some weight to increase the intensity.

Best Pull up Bar Exercise for Chest and Triceps

Straight Bar Dips

straight bar dips

Straight bar dips are different from traditional parallel dips because your hands and the pull-up bar are in front of the body instead of the sides. This type of dips can increase coordination mobility, and strength in your upper body.

Also, if you’re interested in doing a muscle-up someday, these will serve as an excellent in-between step to getting there.

Target Muscles: Chest and triceps
Experience Level: Advanced

Steps to Follow (Chest Focused)

  • Pull yourself up onto the bar (use a box or stool if needed)
  • Lock your elbows in a straight arm position, the bar even with your waist, your legs dangling
  • Shift your hands until they are a bit wider than your hips
  • While leaning forward slightly, unlock your elbows and lower yourself until your chest touches the bar
  • Push yourself back up, returning to the starting position

Tip:

  • If your goal is to build your triceps, narrow the distance between your hands when you grip the bar. The closer your hands are, the more focus will be on your triceps
  • Wear a weighted vest or tie weights around your waist with a chain or rope to add greater resistance to your dips.

Band assisted pull-ups

You will need a resistance band for the assisted pull up bar exercises

Steps to Follow

  • Secure a resistance band of appropriate length to a pull-up bar
  • Place your feet or knees into the loop
  • Using the resistance band for support, and to help you maintain proper form, go through the regular or classic pull-ups as described above
Final Words from LiveLife

Like it is with all strength training, pull up bar exercises have many benefits. They could also be very challenging to do. You must have patience, dedication, and determination to master the exercises and get them right.

You need to use proper form to reduce and eliminate the possible risk of any injury to your body. While pull-ups are not a must-do exercises, you will not be disappointed if you master the exercises and incorporate them into your fitness routine.

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