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The pullup is a closed kinetic chain calisthenic upperbody exercise that works the Latissimus Dorsi and biceps muscles primarily, as well as several other muscles, such as the midsection. It is considered the gold standard for working the back (for bodyweight). The pullup utilizes a pronated, or overhand, grip, as opposed to the chinup which is similar in nature but utilizes a supinated (underhand) grip.

Video Demo


While it is unclear as to the exact origins of this exercise, known variations have been probably in existence for centuries.[citation needed]

  • Origin: 1850–55; n. use of v. phrase pull up.[1]

Muscles Activated

Latissimus dorsi

The Latissimus dorsi muscle, highlighted in red.

Pull-ups primarily target the Latissimus Dorsi muscle group in the back, though many other muscles are involved in the movement. These assisting muscles include the Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Biceps Brachii, Teres Major, Deltoid muscle, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Rhomboids, Levator Scapulae, Trapezius Lower, Trapezius Middle, and Pectoralis Minor. [2]

Since multiple joints are utilized, pull-ups are known as a compound exercise.


Variable Grips

See Also


  1. Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House (2006). pull-up. Retrieved on 2008-04-08.
  2. ExRx (n.d.). Weighted Pull-up. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.

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