Pull ups are infamous for being a challenging part of intense exercise regimens. Even fitness enthusiasts often find themselves dreading it if it’s a set with many other reps. Yes, it’s a tough and painful workout. But the gains are also way more than most other moderate routines. But how exactly do they help you? Are pull ups good for your abs? And are pull ups good for back muscles?
The short answer is, yes, they are! But the gains and effect will vary depending on your consistency, technique, and combination with other reps and workouts. Today, we’ll take you through all that pull ups are good for and a lot more.
What are pull ups, anyway?
For starters, let’s get a rough definition going because pull ups can come with enough variations to confuse gym-newbies or casual trainees.
So, a pull up is when you hang on a bar, with a grip that has your palms facing away and pull your extended body up as high as you can. The key here is how you grip the bar. If you grip the bar with your palms facing towards you, that’s a chin up! Chin ups are relatively easier, and the gains are mostly in your biceps and anterior muscles.
Pull ups work everything from your arms and abs to your shoulders and back. So, it may be difficult at first, but it’s surely worth sticking with it in the long run.
Are Pull ups good for back muscles?
Pull ups are incredibly effective when it comes to developing the muscles in your back. It engages multiple muscle groups with unmatched intensity. So, if you’ve ever asked the question, ‘Are pull ups good for back muscles?’, The answer is, ‘You bet!’.
Back Muscles worked in Pull ups
Few other workouts can work the entirety of all the following back muscles:
- The Lats, or Latissimus dorsi if you’re trying to be fancy, are the long v-shaped muscles that connect your vertebrae to your arms.
- Rear Deltoids are the shoulder muscles at the back.
- Trapezius, are the triangular muscles that extend from your neck and spine and narrows out to your shoulders.
- Thoracic erector spinae are the long vertical muscles that run alongside the length of your spine.
- Infraspinatus are the muscles in your shoulder blades.
As you hang with your extended body and pull your entire body weight up, each of these muscles gets a core workout throughout the action. With uniform reps across a consistent schedule, your back muscles will not only look better but grow stronger.
Are Pull ups enough for back muscles?
For the average gym-goer, we’d say that pull ups are quite enough for back muscles if your set includes reps with more variety.
However, there are a lot of other moves you can put into work specific areas of your back. Moves like dumbbell rows, bodyweight rows, dead-lifts, planks, kettle-bell swings, farmer’s walks, etc., are all good examples. Consult with your trainer before deciding what combination of workouts you need for your body type and end goal.
So, are pull ups enough for back muscles? If you’re into competitive body-building, you may need a few more other moves in your sets. But if you have to pick a single exercise for your back muscles, no other move comes close to the pull up.
Are Pull ups good for your abs?
We’ll be honest with you; classic pull ups aren’t really the go-to workouts when it comes to working your abs. You’re better off relying on crunches and other core workouts if you want sets that specifically target your abs.
However, that doesn’t mean that pull ups won’t help the cause. Also, there are variations of pull ups that can work for your abs too. For instance, the leg raise or knee raise moves are great additions to any pull up routine if you want to work your core along with other muscles. These workouts also have the pull up grip as the starting position, so it’s also a type of pull up.
Variations aside, are pull ups good for your abs along with core workouts? Certainly! With the right core training, pull ups can add a more comprehensive approach to not just your abs but your overall core strength.
Are Pull ups good for arms?
Pull ups are great for your arms, and the benefits come in multiple ways. You don’t just build your arms’ muscles; you also increase your strength and improve your grip.
Pulling up close to 100% of your body weight is no mean feat when you first start out. In the process, your palms and fingers naturally develop a better and firmer grip. And holding up your entire weight invariably adds strength to your arms.
As far as muscles go, there are no areas a pull up doesn’t improve. Yes, chin ups may work your biceps better. That’s because the inward-facing palms allow you to leverage your biceps to pull yourself up. But pull ups evenly work your Brachioradials (forearms), Brachialis (underarms), and deltoids (shoulders). It’s about as close to a complete arm workout you can get without fancy dumbbells in your kit.
What else are pull ups good for?
We’ve already covered the vital muscle systems that pull ups work on. But there’s more! Variations like the leg raise, ‘around the world,’ and ‘toes to bar,’ are a few examples of how you can fit in a leg workout and core workout into any pull up set. Gains on your overall fitness, grip strength, and body balance are a few more general benefits you get with pull ups.
There’s probably no other single workout that can move, work, and flex as many muscle systems as the pull up does. It’s truly a compound exercise that works your body in its entirety (some muscles more than others).
So, going back to the questions we started with – Are pull ups good for back muscles? Or are pull ups good for your abs? We know now that pull ups indeed are great for all those muscle systems. So, the next time you’re at the gym and you come across a pull up bar, give the thing a go! And know that you’re performing a strenuous yet incredibly rewarding exercise for your entire body!