Which Muscles Do Pull-Ups Work?


Quick Answer

The pull-up primarily works the latissimus dorsi, which is the primary muscle group of the upper back. Muscles that assist in the exercise include the deltoids, biceps and trapezius. Because they work so many muscles in the torso, pull-ups are considered a strong indicator of upper body strength.

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Full Answer

Variations of the pull-up can target specific muscle groups more strongly. Moving the hands closer or farther apart than the standard pull-up range shifts more focus to the latissimus dorsi. Using an underhand grip shifts more focus to the biceps. Bringing the knees closer to the chest utilizes more abdominal muscles. If the pull-up is too easy, a person can strap weight to himself with a belt and chain to increase the difficulty. If the exercise is too difficult, he can use an assisted pull-up machine, which acts as a counterweight to reduce the load to lift.

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