The 17 Best Variations of Pull Ups

Pull-ups is a calisthenics exercise that targets multiple muscle groups all at once developing a powerful grip as well as functional strength, this exercise also builds a strong core and are also great for measuring strength to bodyweight ratio. Whether it’s changing your hand position, grip width or range of motion, switch it up and try out some of these variations of pull ups to spice up your training routine.

17 variations of pull ups;
  1. Kipping pull ups

Kipping pullup uses momentum to help move your body. This movement is such a highly technical one so it can be a little bit tricky, but this is a very good exercise for the upper body. Once mastered, kipping pullups are a great way to build strong lats, broad shoulders, and strong grip.

How to do it:
  • With an overhand grip, your hands separated shoulder width apart, pull your legs back so that your body forms an arc backwards.
  • After that, swing your body to produce momentum as you swing your body up to the bar.
  • Repeat for desired number of reps.
  1. Around the world pull up

This is the most effective form of exercise and is worldwide the most challenging basic exercise. This exercise is very challenging for the core, it requires strength for you to hold moving it sideways and downwards in a controlled manner.

How to do it:
  • With an overhand grip, your hands about six to 12 inches wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your body up, then to your right side, then pull laterally to your left side.
  • Lower yourself down to the starting position.
  1. Weighted pull up

variations of pull ups

Weighted Pull Ups is also a great way to increase the total amount of pull you can do to break a plateau. If you can do regular pull ups without much stress, extra weight will challenge your muscles to grow bigger and stronger.

There are different ways to do the weighted pullup. A weighted vest can be used, a weight belt with a chain to hang the plates on, or hold a dumbbell.

  1. Close-grip pull ups


This is one the best variations of pull ups you can do If you’re looking to target more of your pecs and arms. With this pull up, you can go with a close grip. And don’t worry, you’re still going to hit the back muscles as well. Though, they may not be emphasized as much as your as your pecs or arms but they will still be activated.

How to do it:
  • With an overhand grip, hold the bar with a slightly closer grip. Pull yourself up to the bar so the bar touches your chest.
  • Pause at the top for a second, then lower yourself down slowly.
  • Repeat with the desired number of reps.
  1. Wide-grip pull up

The wide-grip is one of the best variations of pull ups for building a wide back, this is because of the shorter range of motion involved which places more emphasis on your back as opposed to a close grip pull up.

How to do it:
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip, your hands wider than shoulder width. Pull your body up untill your chest touches the bar.
  • Pause at the top for a second, then lower yourself slow and controlled.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  1. Muscle-Ups

variations of pull ups

Muscle up is a challenging variation of pull up because you have to lift your entire torso over the bar so that it is high enough to fully extend the arms.

People who can do 10 pullups may not be able to do one muscle up because it requires such a large amount of pulling. This technique is difficult to master, but you will learn how to move your hips, shoulders,  chest, and triceps once you have perfected it.

How to do it:
  • With an overhand grip, grab the bar wider than shoulder width. Pull back your legs slightly, then forcefully pull yourself up over the bar.
  • As your chest goes above the bar, extend your arms straight so that your waist is almost aligned with the bar and your body is still above it.
  • Drop down back, then repeat for desired number of reps.
  1. Towel pull up

The towel pull ups is a great exercise as it will build the muscles in your back, arm and strengthen your grip. To do this exercise you have to get a couple of strong, sturdy towels. This also targets the core to a greater degree too because of the instability of holding onto the towels as opposed to the bar.

How to do it:
  • Wrap two towels over the bar and hold one with each hand shoulder width apart.
  • With a tight grip, pull your body up to the bar before lowering them slowly and controlled.
  1. L-sit pull ups

L-sit pull ups is a great way to increase demand on your abs, while also increasing strength and building muscle throughout your upper body. Due to the flexibility of this lift, all of your muscles will have to work harder than in a normal pull up.

How to do it:
  • With your hands shoulder width apart, grab the bar using an overhand grip. Raise your legs so that they are perpendicular to your torso and parallel to the ground.
  • While keeping your legs straight, pull yourself up to the bar – high enough for your neck to touch the bar slightly.
  • Then lower yourself down and repeat for the desired number of reps.
  1. Clapping pull up

Just like the muscle ups, you really need a large amount of pulling strength to get your body to the bar with enough energy to release your hands at the top of the movement, and then hold the bar on the way down. This is a great test of explosive power.

How to do it:
  • Take a slightly wider grip than the shoulder width apart. Forcefully pull yourself up to the bar as quickly as possible.
  • Slightly pull your hands out of the bar to clap your hands, then hold the bar as you go down; repeat for the desired number of reps.
  1. Mixed grip

Mixed Grip Pull-Up is just what it sounds like – one hand in an underhand grip, the other hand in an overhand grip. This position allows for improved grip strength more than other variations of pull ups. It works the same muscles as with the standard pull ups just that it places more emphasis on the forearms.

Just make to switch things up, so you can perform the same number of reps for both hands.

How to do it:
  • Start with your right hand in overhand grip and your left hand in an underhand grip. Pull yourself up to the bar letting your chest touch the bar.
  •  Lower yourself down in a slow and controlled manner, then repeat for desired reps. Be sure to alternate sets for each hand.
  1. Eccentric pull ups

variations of pull ups

This exercise slows down the downward phase of the pullup, which taxes the muscles to a great extent.

How to do it:
  • Using an overhand grip or underhand grip, pull yourself up to the bar so your chest touches the bar.
  • Then lower your body slow and controlled. Repeat the desired number of reps.
  1. One arm pull-up

A single arm pullup is the hardest of all variations, because — obviously — only one arm pulls the weight of your entire body to the bar. You can do this in two ways: Hold the wrist of the arm holding the bar, then use both to pull yourself up, or use one arm without assistance. Just know that this is very difficult.

How to do it:

Hold the bar with your right hand using a neutral grip. While hanging with your right arm, pull your body till your chest touches the bar just as in a standard pullup.

How to do it:
  • Lower your body in a controlled manner and repeat with the left arm.
  • Repeat the desired number of reps.
  1. Archer pull up

This variation of pullup involves using a wide range of grip and bending only one elbow as you pull yourself up. The other arm stays straight. At the top of the rep it looks like you are drawing a bow and arrow. This exercise is a great way to help you practice one arm pull ups.

How to do it
  • Using overhand grip with your arms shoulder width apart. Pull your body upwards (high enough to keep your upper chest aligned with the bar).
  • Then bring your body to your right as you extend your left arm straight to the side. Repeat this on your left side, extend your right arm straight to the side, and back down.
  • Repeat the desired number of reps.
14.Cliff-hanger pull up

A cliff hanger pullup requires both your hands to take a neutral position on the bar. If you have a bar open on both sides, it can be done on both sides. If not, (you can only pull to one side), consider putting the hand of the side you want to pull first closer to you, and then put your other hand behind it.

How to do it:
  • Start with your right hand next to you, hold the bar in a neutral grip, with your left hand behind it.
  • Pull your yourself up to the right side of the bar.
  • Lower back down, then pull your head to the left side of the bar.
  • Then drop back down again. Repeat for desired number of reps.
  1. Chin-Up

variations of pull ups

This is one of the easiest variations of pull ups where you use an underhand grip, similar to the pull ups just that in the chin ups, your arms are facing you. Using an underhand grip targets the biceps more and also working the lower part of your lats which helps creates more thickness in the back. The chin up is the easiest pull up of all pullup variations

How to do it:
  • To do a chin-up, hold the pull-up bar shoulder width apart with an underhand grip.
  • From where you hang, pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Avoid throwing, kicking, moving your body to get yourself above the bar.
  • Pause at the top, then lower yourself slightly to the starting position.
16.Hammer grip pull-up

variations of pull ups

Hammer or Neutral Grip Pull-Up is another wonderful pullup variation, but it requires a set of parallel handles. Doing this variation of pull up requires your palms to face each other.

It is best for those who have weak shoulders or have injured your shoulders in the past. This reduces the pressure on your wrists and also build the biceps.

  1. Two-finger pull ups

If you really want to challenge your grip strength, then this pull up is for you. Just as in a standard pullup with the only difference is you use only your index and middle finger. grasp it fully and instead try to do a hanging pull with your index and middle fingers. Try doing it slowly for an added challenge.

If you can’t properly do a pull up, try these to help power your pull up.
  • Lat pull-down

This machine mimics a pull up and also targets the same muscles as in a pull up. In this exercise your hands are wider at the bar, then pulling the bar to your chest in a slow and controlled manner.

  • Face pull

This also helps improve your pull ups as it works the same muscles required in a pull up. It also improves your posture as well. Do 3 simple sets 15 times after your back or shoulder session.

Proper form for pull up
  • Squeeze the glutes

Although, the pull up is an upper body exercise but squeezing the glutes help recruit many more muscle fibers when doing this.

  • Full range of motion

Using a full range motion allows you to really engage more muscle fibers. Hang from the bar with both hands so that your arms are completely straight. This is the starting and ending position. Keep the reps slow and controlled.

  • Brace your core

Bracing your core will involve the stabilizing muscles, making it easier to manage your weight. Keep your chest up your abs and glutes tight.

  • Squeeze at the top

Squeezing your muscle helps recruits that target muscle. During a pullup once your chins clears the bar, you squeeze the back muscles recruiting more muscle fibers for better gains and performance.

  • Vary your grip

Changing grips; close, wide and neutral helps recruits more muscle fibers and correct any muscle imbalances.


Here you go, the best variations of pull ups you need to spice up your routine and be a pull up guru.