How to Do Reverse Grip Pull-Ups: Benefits, Tips, Techniques and Variations

Reverse grip pull-ups are an effective back exercise. (Photo via Pexels/RODNAE Productions)
Reverse grip pull-ups are an effective back exercise. (Photo via Pexels/RODNAE Productions)

The reverse grip pull-ups are a variation of the standard grip pull-up, done with an inverse grip. Reverse grip pull-ups can enhance your contraction and mind-muscle connection and also offer a better stretch during negatives.

Reverse grip pull-ups not only target the back muscles but are effective in other areas as well. That includes teres major, latissimus dorsi, deltoid posterior, levator scapulae, pectoralis major sternal head, brachialis, core, and brachioradialis.


How to Perform Reverse Grip Pull-ups?

How to perform reverse pull-ups. (Image via Freepik)
How to perform reverse pull-ups. (Image via Freepik)

To avoid pain and injury and to make the most out of the reverse grip pull-ups , follow these steps to perform the reverse grip pull-ups correctly:

  • Stand on an elevated surface, such as a box or chair, and grab the pull-up bar with your hands.
  • Make sure to keep your hands shoulder-distance apart, and use an underhand grip, i.e. ensure that your palms are facing towards your body.
  • Hang on the pull-up bar with your arms fully extended, and pull your shoulder blades down. This position will ensure the safe movement of your scapula throughout the exercise.
  • Keep your legs together and fully extended, and bend at your butts to lift your legs in front of your body. That will prevent the loss of energy that might affect your strength during the pull-up movement.
  • Slightly lean your torso; engage your core, and tighten your lats to optimize the movement.
  • Bring your elbows down towards your hips, and pull yourself down on the pull-up bar till your chin reaches the level of the bar.
  • Lower yourself down till your lats get stretched, and prepare yourself for the next rep.

Important Tips to Consider

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when doing reverse grip pull-ups:

  • Do not use a grip that’s wider than shoulder width, as that can put a lot of pressure on the shoulder joints.
  • When initiating the pull-up movement, keep your head stable. Do not allow it to sink into your shoulders, as that can strain your neck.
  • Lower yourself slowly and at a controlled pace. Do not jerk or jump down. Always remember that the slower you lower yourself, the more effective the reverse pull-up will be.

Primary Benefits of Reverse Grip Pull-ups

Benefits of reverse grip pull-ups. (Image via Unsplash/ Gheorghe Catalin)
Benefits of reverse grip pull-ups. (Image via Unsplash/ Gheorghe Catalin)

Pull-ups are considered the king of upper body workouts and are best for developing strength. Reverse grip pull-ups offer much of the same benefits.

Here are some of the benefits of reverse grip pull-ups:

Develops Strong and Healthy Posterior Chain

A strong and well-shaped back is one of the best things about an appealing physique. Various studies suggest that pull-ups target the lat muscles better compared to any other back exercise. The lats or latissimus dorsi are a group of large muscles that play a key role in shaping the back.

Builds Massive Back Strength

Back strength is of utmost importance for overall functional fitness, injury prevention, and health. The reverse grip pull-ups target some major upper back muscles, such as the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and infraspinatus, and prevent poor posture and back pain. You can also superset traditional pull-ups with reverse grip pull-ups for maximum back growth.

Excellent Arm Exercise

While the exercise works wonders on the back muscles, it also offers great arm exercise by targeting the biceps, brachioradialis, and brachialis.


Variations of Reverse Grip Pull-ups

Reverse grip pull-up variations. (Image via Unsplash J M)
Reverse grip pull-up variations. (Image via Unsplash J M)

While reverse grip pull-ups are undoubtedly a productive upper body exercise, there are variations that work the same way while allowing you to have variety in your workout training. Moreover, it also prevents boredom and keeps your session exciting.

Here are some variations of the reverse grip pull-ups you must try:

1) Close Grip Reverse Pull-ups

A close grip reverse pull-up strengthens the back, core, and arms, and also helps build the inner lats.

This exercise focuses on chest and biceps, making it a superb upper body development exercise. To perform this variation, just bring your hands in with a few inches of space in between, and perform a few reps of pull-ups.


2) Assisted Reverse Grip Pull-up

This variation is ideal if you do not have enough upper body strength to do too many reps of reverse pull-ups. You can use this exercise to develop strength and eventually perform more reps without the use of any assistance.


3) Australian Pull-up

Australian pull-ups involve the same muscles as conventional ones, but it's an easier version, as you only have to lift a portion of your body weight.

Moreover, you can even adjust the resistance of the exercise by simply switching to a different body angle.


If your goal is to develop more muscle and boost strength, you must incorporate reverse grip pull-ups into your back workout session. Reverse grip pull-ups are an amazing variation of the standard back builder pull-up and is possibly one of the best upper body posterior chain and compound exercises.

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Edited by Bhargav