How To Do Barbell Pull Up Properly

Barbell pull up is an advanced workout that requires some level of training experience for you to effectively execute it.

For you to do a barbell pull up workout, be sure that your fitness form will enable you to pull your bodyweight up and down continuously.

If you hit the gym and see somebody going so hard on pull ups, you might look down upon yourself and probably start wondering where you’re missing out.

The difference between you and whoever you see is time. When you let time furnish your efforts, it will manifest in your physical form.

So however little the effort you put might be, when you do it consistently you will gain the required fitness form and soon the barbell pull up will become a piece of cake.

Nevertheless, if you are in proper form and you are confident that you can do it, spring up and give it a try.

However, before you kick it, note that you might have the strength to pull yourself up and down comfortably but you don’t know how to do it right.

In that case, you will either need a fitness instructor or maybe a friend who has a better experience to assess you.

Remember this is an advanced workout that you don’t want to do wrong otherwise you may end up with aches and pain in your body.

So, despite your workout experience, you might want to read through this article to the end so you can ‘eat’ not only the meat but also pick up on the nitty gritty’s that are associated with the barbell pull up.


Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do barbell pull ups properly.

  • Take your position and stand squarely below the barbell. Reach for the barbell above you and hold it shoulder-width with an overgrip that is, with your palms face forward. If you are a pro, you can make it more challenging by spreading your hands farther apart.
  • With your hands stretched above the rest of your body, and your shoulders pushed back, and your chest popped out, raise up your chin up. This is the starting position.
  • Engage your abdominals and your back muscles then pull yourself up until your head goes above the barbell to touch your upper chest. Breathe out when you get to the top.
  • Lower yourself down slowly to the original position as you breathe in. You can choose if you want to drop back to a dead hang or if you will just jerk yourself up again before you get to a dead hang. No matter your choice, consider that up and down movement as a rep.
  • You can go for as much reps as your form permits but remember to take little breaks in between. If it makes you more comfortable, stretch back your legs so that they form a right angle at your knees when pulling yourself up, then let one leg cross over the other.


Hoping you’re not one of those people who jump into exercises without the knowledge of what muscles they work.

With the right knowledge of the targeted muscles, you can easily choose an alternative for a given workout.

For now, If you’re one of those culprits consider yourself forgiven but then, here are the specific muscles worked by barbell pull ups.


The traps are located right behind your neck and they stretch down to your shoulders. Trapezius helps to support the shoulder blade.

The upper traps support the arm weight whereas the middle and lower parts basically help to move the shoulder blade.


Infraspinatus muscle is smaller in size but it plays a crucial role in the muscles located in your rotator cuff. It helps with the humerus bone movement and it also offers support to the shoulder joint.

When this muscle is strengthened, it may help to minimize pain and to avoid injuries in the joints of your upper body.


Latissimus dorsi is a large muscle in the upper body that helps in shoulder movements and also in the movement of the lumbar spine. It works together with other stabilizer muscles it helps activate your deltoid muscles and the long head of your triceps.



The barbell pull ups is a very effective exercise that works out the back muscles.

The back muscle is one of the big muscles in the body so when it is worked out well, it helps to boost your general functional strength as well as improve your balance and posture.


Barbell pull ups will strengthen your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, and the erector spinae in the thoracic region.

Since the barbell pull up is an upper body exercise, it engages not only your back muscles but also your core muscles, shoulders, pecs, and forearms to make them stronger.


When you are consistent with pull ups, you will have well-toned muscles and they will also improve in definition.


Since the pull-ups involve pulling your body weight up and down with a firm grip on the barbell, it improves your grip strength.

Apart from playing a vital role in fitness activities that involves heavy weights, grip strength also aids in our daily activities such as opening a jar.

The traditional pull-ups are an ideal exercise for strengthening your hands and improving your grip strength.

When your hands and grip become strong enough, you will have an easy time in other workouts such as in bench presses, deadlift, flipping tires and many more.


There are many variations to the traditional barbell pull ups. You can change your grip style by using a reverse grip on one hand and a forward grip on the other.

Another slight variation is by taking isometric pauses when you are at the top of the move. There are pull up variations that don’t require a barbell at all.

One of such is by lying beneath a strong table and with your body laying diagonally on the ground, stretch your hands to the top sides of the table and pull yourself up and down.


  • Avoid loosening your shoulders after lowering your body, this may bring about problems with the shoulder.
  • Do not cave in your back, let it straight or else you will be using much strength to actually hurt yourself.
  • When you pull yourself up, let your chest take the lead targeting that the bar touches somewhere across your middle chest.
  • When your hands are narrowly placed on the bar you will be working a different muscle other than the one you intended.