- Target Muscle Group
- Exercise TypeStrength
- Equipment RequiredBodyweight
- Force TypePull (Bilateral)
- Experience LevelBeginner
- Secondary Muscles
Abs, Biceps, Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group
Close Grip Pull Up Overview
The close grip pull up is a pull up variation and an exercise used to build the muscle of the back and arms. Specifically, the close grip pull up is used to build the lats and biceps.
The hand positioning of the close grip pull up assists in alleviating unnecessary strain on the shoulder that some experience when performing its wide grip counterpart. However, the closer grip does result in slightly more bicep involvement, which can take away emphasis placed on the lats.
Close Grip Pull Up Instructions
- Using a pronated grip, grasp the pull bar with a shoulder width grip.
- Take a deep breath, squeeze your glutes and brace your abs. Depress the shoulder blades and then drive the elbows straight down to the floor while activating the lats.
- Pull your chin towards the bar until the lats are fully contracted, then slowly lower yourself back to the start position and repeat for the assigned number of repetitions.
Close Grip Pull Up Tips
- To decrease bicep involvement, use a false (thumbless grip).
- Try to keep a neutral head position (looking straight ahead or slightly up) as hyperextending the neck can lead to compensations throughout the spine.
- If the bar is high enough, keep the legs straight and in front of the body in a hollow body position.
- Avoid falling into overextension of the lumbar spine by squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs.
- The pullup is completed when the lats are fully flexed, don’t continue pulling and compensate with the pecs. When this occurs, the elbows will flare up behind the body, the shoulder will round forward, and you’ll begin to feel pressure in the front of your shoulders.
- A lifter’s segment length will determine whether or not they can actually get their chin over the bar, it’s not an absolute for everyone.
- Lower to almost full extension of the elbow but avoid locking out completely as this can place excessive strain on the ligamentous structures within the elbow and shoulder.
- If you can’t complete a single bodyweight pullup, start with slow negatives (add weight when these can be accomplished under control) or flexed arm hangs in the top position.
- Ditch the straps and kips, neither one is necessary or recommended.
Will getting better with chin ups help with your pull ups?
Would I be able to substitute this with close grip lat pull down