Pull-ups are a perfect way to strengthen your entire upper body. With only a bar, you can work your back, shoulders, chest, arms, and core. The classic pull-up has a simple premise — hang straight down from a bar, and pull yourself up until your chin gets clears it. But according to Adam Griffin, a Denver-based strength coach and owner of online fitness community Bodeefit there’s a little more to it. How Griffin suggests you crank one out: Hold the pull-up bar with an overhand grip (if you have an underhand grip you’re doing a chin-up, which is typically easier because you’re also using your biceps to pull you up), hands shoulder-width apart. Hang with your core engaged, feet together, and toes pointed slightly ahead of you (what Griffin calls a banana position). Don’t hang like a dead fish it puts unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joints. Engage your lats by pulling them down toward your lower back, and at the same time, pull up with your arms until you get your chin over the bar. As you lower to your starting position, maintain control of your body the entire way. The end of a single rep is when your elbows are fully extended at the bottom.
Whether you need to get stronger to complete the classic, or you’re more advanced and want a new challenge, Griffin has 10 pull-up variations to test drive.