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What Muscle Groups Does A Pull Up Bar Work

Updated on April 12, 2011

Standard Pull Up and Chin Up Bars

What Muscle Groups Does A Pull Up Bar Work

During a pull up bar workout the muscle groups that are mainly engaged are those of the upper body and the arms. It is important to know exactly what muscle groups are engaged in an exercise, because it allows you to effectively plan complimentary exercises that will help to develop a whole body workout instead. For easy planning and being informed, let’s take a look through the main muscles and groups that are engaged during a pull up.

Let’s look at what muscle groups we use while excising on the wall mounted pull up bar.

Primary Muscles:
Latissimus Dorsi – Commonly referred to as your lats, these run from your pelvic girdle all the way up to your upper arm bone. It is one the largest back muscles found on your body and is attached to your spinal column. Developing this muscle ensures great posture. This muscle is heavily engaged during the exercise as it pulls the body up. For extra emphasis on your lats during your pull up you can widen your grip for a fuller workout on these muscles.

Secondary Muscles:
Trapezius – Better known as your traps, these are the triangular muscles that sit between your shoulders and neck. This muscle is engaged during the pull up when raising your scapula (shoulder blades) as you lift your body up.

Rhomboids – These are the muscles that attach your shoulder blades to your spinal cord. During a pull up they are engaged in two ways; by rotating your shoulder blades downward and bringing the scapulars together as you lift your body.

Biceps & Triceps – The biceps and triceps act as stabilizing muscles during the course of a pull up. The biceps are involved with the elbow flexion during the exercise but play a small role. The triceps are engaged throughout the exercise as they are attached to two muscles, including the scapula, functioning in a similar manner to that of the lats.

Brachioradialis – These are the largest muscles in your forearms and are heavily engaged during the beginning of a pull up. You can see that they are clearly engaged as they instantly begin to bulge when you start the exercise. They are crucial to assisting the elbow flexion during the exercise.

Pectoralis Muscles – Both the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor are used during the exercise. Your pectoralis muscles are located in the front of your body and are more commonly known as your pecs. The pectoralis major is used to aid shoulder rotation and the pectoralis minor helps in bringing the scapula forward.

Through the use of pull ups you will find that all of the above muscles are worked and developed throughout the exercise with your lats receiving the majority of the workout. It is important to remember that heavy back training could possibly lead to injury by tearing the long tail of the triceps. This is likely to happen when your lats become fatigued and shift the work onto your triceps. It is therefore vital you pay attention to your body during any workout and act accordingly as your muscles fatigue.


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