Top 16 Muscles Worked During Pull Ups You Don’t Know

     One of the reasons why the pull-up is the undisputed King of all upper body exercises, is the fact that pull-ups work so many muscle groups. Pull-ups and chin-ups work the largest muscle groups in the back, but also the biceps and forearms muscles are worked.  The aim of a pull up is to work certain muscles in the body. And in this article, we are going to look at the certain muscles that a pull up works to increase the overall effectiveness of this useful exercise.

Pull Ups Muscles Worked :

The upper body can easily be divided into five parts namely: the trunk, the arms, the shoulders, the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor.  These parts contain muscles that work together during the pull ups exercise to achieve the desired goal. Knowing each muscle will help in determining what type of muscles to work on. Here are pull ups muscles worked explained below:


1.The trunk: also known as the torso. The trunk is the central part of the body. And in the trunk, the muscle worked is known as the latissimus dorsi. The latissimus dorsi is the muscle connecting the upper extremity of the body to the vertebrae. It is also known as the boldest muscle of the back. The latissimus dorsi are commonly known as the lats.

2.The arms: hands and forearms are important in doing pull ups because they are responsible in holding the overall body weight and in the process improving the strength of fingers and forearm muscular structures.  This in turn facilitates in creating a strong isometric contraction, whereby the angle of the joints and the length of the muscles do not change.  The arms have a number of muscles as well.  These include the brachialis and the brachioradialis. These two muscles are located near the elbow and are responsible for moving the forearm.
The brachialis is a muscle that is found in the upper arm and is useful in flexing the elbow joint.
The brachioradialis is a muscle found on the forearm and is useful in flexing the forearm at the elbow.

3. The bicep brachii: simply known as the biceps, these muscles run across the elbow and shoulder joints and are useful in flexing the elbow joint during pull ups. The functions of the biceps run from the shoulders to the forearm. The biceps get worked more when an individual is using a sapine grip.

4. Triceps: by crossing the shoulder joints, the triceps also help the shoulders move towards the mid line in a process called adduction.

5. The shoulders: are an important part in any pull up exercise. The shoulders also get worked during a pull up. A number of muscles found in the shoulder region work together to facilitate this kind of exercise.

6. The teres major: this is basically a muscle that helps the lats in working the humerus downwards and backward. It also helps in extending the humerus. However, the Teres major do not help in the over extension of the humerus. The humerus is generally the long bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow.

7. Rhomboid muscles: mainly responsible for the retraction of the scapula, the rhomboids are the muscles that are connected to the spine and to the scapula. The scapula is also known as the shoulder blade.

8. The trapezius: resembling a trapezoid, the trapezius runs along the spine and the shoulder. The trapezius’s main function is to stabilize and move the shoulder blades when one is doing the pulls up and, or descending from a high angle. They also help in the movement of the shoulder blades when the spine is stable.

9. Levator scapulae: just as the name vaguely suggests, the levator scapulae runs along the side of the neck and it’s main function is to raise the shoulder blade. These muscles connect the vertebrae and the shoulder blades. This muscles also get worked when one is doing pull ups.

10. The deltoid muscles: the deltoid muscles are also known as the common shoulder muscles or the delts. These muscles are known as the main movers of the arm. The rounded contour that forms on the shoulder is formed by the deltoid muscles. They too get worked when pulling up.

11. Abdominal muscles: the abdominal muscles also get worked during pull ups because their main work is to stabilize the torso or the trunk. They do this important task by linking the rib cage to the pelvis. There are a number of abdominal muscles that get worked up during pull ups.

12. The rectus abdominis: the rectus abdominis muscles are commonly known as the abs. They are flat and run along the surface of the abdomen. These muscles generate a force that lifts the lower body when forcefully using the legs to gain momentum. This is usually called kipping. These muscles are used in the initial stages of pulling up. They also help in stabilizing the front of the pelvic region and prevents it from swinging away from the sternum or breastbone.

13. The erector spinae: these are a group of muscles that help in keeping the spine straight as well as during its rotation. The spine is an important part in any pull up session. Without the erector spinae, the spine would easily drift apart from the back.

14. External and internal obliques: these muscles are useful they prevent side swinging. They also prevent twisting and, or generate such motions as well.

15. Transverse abdominis: thought to be the most important parts of the core, the transverse abnominis encourages neutral positions during pull ups. Most instructors emphasize on this muscle group.

16. The pelvic floor: during pull up exercises, the internal organs need to be held in place. And this is the work of the pelvic floor which also stabilizes the pelvis.


The first excuse is very much besides the truth: nobody is too tall or too heavy to do pull-ups. However, a lot of people are indeed too weak to do pull-ups. The second excuse is only partly true, and shows the lack of knowledge about which muscles pull-ups work. Wide grip pull-ups mostly work the muscles of the back, in particular pull-ups work the teres major, the latissimus dorsi, the trapezius (inferior) and the rhomboideus. The lats (latissimus dorsi) are the biggest muscles worked by pull-ups, but moreover the following muscles groups in the arms are involved: the biceps brachii, the brachioradialis and the brachialis. In short: pull-ups mainly work the muscles in the back but also the biceps and the forearms muscles. The biggest muscle of the chest, the pectoralis major, also comes into action during a pull-up, but the pecs are by no means worked out in the way they would be during a pushing movement like a push-up or a dip.

If the pull-up exercise is performed in the most safe way, moving the chin over the bar, the inner parts and upper parts of the lats are mostly worked. When the pull-up exercise is performed in the more complicated way, with the bar moving towards the neck, the outer parts and lower parts of the lats are more involved. Learn Bar Brothers Workout with lazar novovic .

The pull ups  muscles worked while doing  pull-ups and chin-ups are mostly the back muscles the teres major and the latissimus dorsi, and the arm muscles the biceps brachii and the brachialis. However, the role of the latter two arm muscle groups is larger than while doing pull-ups. This is why pull ups are ideal to create a V-shaped back, while chin-ups or weighted chin-ups should be the exercise of your choice if you want to work on your biceps while building overall upper body strength as well.

What a lot of people do not realize is that both pull-ups and chin-ups can be used quite well as an exercise to work the abdominal muscles. Especially if you are new to pull-ups, you will realize that if you tighten your abdominal muscles while performing the pull-up or chin-up, the exercise becomes easier. This is because your abs are stabilizing muscles and they help you to keep your body straight and in correct posture when doing the pull-ups or chin-ups.

Pull ups have for long been used people as part of exercise. Whether done in the wrong way or in the correct manner, the motive among these people is always the same: They are looking to improve parts of their bodies and when done correctly, pull ups can be very beneficial. Getting the knowledge on what muscles get worked during pull ups will easily avoid the wrong kind of pull ups.

Just like most kids who go to a gym these days, he is used to work out without breaking a sweat, and only focused on getting buff. What he doesn’t realize, is that you can get quite buff, without getting much stronger. The only strength the poor kid developed in the gym, is rather limited and can basically only be shown on certain machines in his gym. Real, functional strength is what is lacking here. The usual excuse we hear after this painful showdown, is either ‘I am too tall for this machine’ or ‘I need to train my arms more!’.