There are more exercises you can perform on a pull-up bar besides pull-ups and chin-ups.
This piece of equipment is one of the most underused pieces of apparatus that can be found in the gym, which is unfortunate, as it is also one of the most effective ways to building a strong upper body.
A pull-up bar can help build muscle mass in your back, biceps, triceps, and shoulders, but how?
The following are some of the best pull-up bar exercises you can perform. Make sure you add a couple to your next training session. [toc]
Top Pull Up Bar Exercises
#1: Assisted Pull-Ups
It is an unfortunate fact that when you first decide to perform pull-ups that you may not have the strength, nor the technique to perform them correctly.
This is where assisted pull-ups could help.
They are perfect for beginners and for those looking to add a few extra reps to their usual routine.
Standard pull-ups help work your back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps, and the assisted pull up is no different.
To perform this exercise you will need a resistance band. I would suggest using a stronger one when you first start off, but over time as your strength and form improves you can use a weaker one. Eventually, you won’t need one at all while smashing out those reps.
All you have to do is wrap a resistance band around the bar securely and then hook it around either your foot or knee. You will then perform the exercise using the same form as a standard pull-up.
#2: Negative Pull-Ups
If you are struggling to complete a single normal pull-up repetition then you may want to consider some negative pull-ups.
With this exercise, you are only performing the downward half of the movement.
It helps teach you the technique needed to complete a pull-up, while also simultaneously helping to build strength in your muscles and improve your grip strength. Both of which are incredibly important aspects needed for standard pull-ups.
To perform this movement you will need a bench, chair, or something tall enough for you to reach the top of the pull-up bar without having to pull yourself up. Another option would be to jump up with each rep, but this is not the best option available.
When you are at the top of the bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width part you will be slowly lowering yourself until your arms are fully extended. You will then be returning back to the start position.
#3: Standard Pull-Up
This is a compound exercise meaning it works multiple muscles. It is especially effective at building the muscles in your back.
To perform a standard pull-up you should grab the bar with an overhand grip, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Leave your body hang with your arms fully extended, then pull up while squeezing your lats until your chin is over the bar. Once at the top slowly lower yourself to the start position to complete a single repetition.
To increase the size of your biceps, chin-ups are one of the best exercises you can perform.
This is a bodyweight exercise that gives your biceps an intense workout that could be far more intense than using free weights.
To perform a chin-up you will need to grasp the bar using an underhand or supinated grip. This means that your palms will be facing your body.
Your grip should be shoulder-width apart, perhaps even closer together depending on preference.
Straighten your arms and cross your legs, retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself up towards the top of the bar. Your chin should be level with the bar. Try to keep your body stable and core engaged throughout.
Once you reach the top of the bar, hold for a second before slowly lowering yourself down to the starting position. This is a single rep.
#5: Hanging Knee Raises
If you want to strengthen your core, perhaps help build a six-pack then you may be focusing your attention on exercises such as the sit-up or crunches.
The problem with both of these exercises is that they focus on the upper part of your abs, neglecting your lower abs. Hanging knee raises are a great way to help build up those neglected lower abs.
To perform this exercise you will need to hold onto a pull-up bar with an overhand grip with your body hanging straight.
Bend your knees and raise them until your thighs are parallel to the ground. The repetition is completed once you slowly lower your legs to the starting position.
A more advanced version of this exercise would involve you lifting your legs until they are parallel to the floor while keeping them straight throughout the entire exercise.
#6: Knees To Elbows
If you want to give yourself an even bigger abdominal burn then you should consider coupling this exercise with the previous one.
Knees to elbows can be performed by hanging from the bar with your palms facing away from your body. You should then pull your shoulder blades down and back.
Next, tuck your knees up towards your elbows before slowly returning to the starting position.
#7: Muscle Ups
Those who are a fan of CrossFit will no doubt know about muscle-ups. They are essentially a progression of the standard pull-up.
One additional benefit of the muscle-up is that when performed at a fast pace they can also boost your overall fitness levels as well as your strength and power.
They can be performed by hanging from the bar with our palms facing away from your body, making sure to squeeze down your lats and shoulders.
You will then need to initiate a kip swing. This involves tensing your glutes, abs, and core. You will need to go into a “hollow position”, which would involve having your legs in front of your body.
Next, pull yourself up using your back and shoulders until both head and chest are above the bar.
To give yourself the momentum to get up and over the bar, you will need to lift explosively, while trying to lift your hips towards your hands.
Once your chest is above the bar you will need to try and push your body up using your arms until your arms are straight.
The final step is to slowly lower yourself down to the starting position.
#8: Windscreen Wipers
If you are a beginner then this exercise is probably best avoided, however as your strength increases you may want to consider adding it to your training schedule.
This exercise primarily works your obliques, but they will also help improve your overall fitness too.
You will need to hang from the pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Your shoulders should be shoulder-width apart, with your arms fully extended.
Next, pull your legs up towards the bar while keeping them straight. While in this position you will need to rotate your torso from 90 degrees on the left to 90 degrees on the right.
#9: Burpee Pull-Up
Everyone hates burpees as they are incredibly tough to perform. What could make them even harder? Let’s throw in some pull-ups too.
To perform a burpee pull-up you will need to stand underneath a bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Drop into a squat position and place your hands beside your feet. Jump your feet back so that you are in a press-up position.
Perform a press-up before then jumping back up to the squat position. You will then grab the bar above and perform a standard pull-up.
#10: Lat Pulldowns
You don’t need a cable machine to perform lat pulldowns. All you need is a pull-up bar and a resistance band.
Simply tie a resistance band to the bar and sit or kneel on the floor while holding onto the band.
With your chest elevated throughout, pull the band down and towards your chest. As your hands reach your chest, make sure to squeeze your shoulders together.
This exercise is a compound movement, so works multiple muscles. These include the latissimus dorsi, which is the broad muscle that covers the back of your torso, as well as your biceps and triceps.
In Conclusion: Can Pull Up Bars Build Muscle?
The answer to this question is yes, you can build muscle using a pull-up bar.
As you can see above there are a variety of exercises that can be performed. If you want a stronger upper body then you should consider adding some of these movements to your workout routine.
One of the biggest benefits of these exercises is that many of them can be performed in the comfort of your own home. So there really is no reason why they cannot be performed on a regular basis.