What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work?




One of the reasons that pull-up is the best upper-body exercise is because it works out many upper body muscles at the same time. Here is a look at the muscles that pull-ups work and use:

Primary Muscles

Latissimus dorsi

This muscle is commonly referred to as ‘lats‘. It is a large and broad muscle in the back that is used in moving shoulders.

Biceps brachii

This muscle is commonly referred to as biceps. It is a flexor muscle that is located in front of the upper arm that flexes the forearm.

Secondary Muscles


This muscle is commonly referred to as ‘traps‘. It is a large muscle that runs through the neck, shoulders and upper back.


This is a muscle of the upper forearm.


This is a thick triangular muscle that covers the shoulder joint.

Teres Major

This is a broad muscle that lies behind the Latissimus dorsi


Muscles in the upper back that help in the movement of the shoulder blade.

Rectus Abdominis

This is a large, long and flat muscle that runs along both sides of the abdomen.


These are muscles on either side of the torso.

Pectoralis Major

A thick muscle located at the chest.

Triceps brachii

This is commonly referred to as triceps. It is a large muscle located on the back of the upper arm.

Different types of pull-ups put different degree of emphasis on different muscles:

Chin-Up and Neutral-Grip Pull-Up:

These pull-ups put more emphasis on the biceps.

Standard Pull-Up

A standard pull-up works out the back, biceps, shoulders and chest. But it does not stress as much on the lats as a wide-grip pull-up.

Wide-Grip Pull-Up

A wide-grip pull up differs from a standard pull-up in the grip that is used. In a wide-grip pull-up, the distance between both the hands is wider. This puts more emphasis on the lats.

If you are not aware of what these pull-ups are and how they are performed, read our article on different types of pull-ups.


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