Wide grip pull-ups: How to, muscles worked, and benefits

Wide grip pull ups (Photo via Lawrence Crayton/Unsplash)
Wide grip pull ups (Photo via Lawrence Crayton/Unsplash)

Wide grip pull-ups are a variation of the traditional pull-up exercise that targets your upper back, shoulders, and arms. In this exercise, your hands are positioned wider than shoulder-width apart on the pull-up bar. This hand placement engages the muscles in your back and shoulders to a greater extent.

Steps to perform wide grip pull-ups

How to do pull ups? (Photo via Anastase Maragos/Unsplash)
How to do pull ups? (Photo via Anastase Maragos/Unsplash)

Here's what you should do for pull-ups

  1. Find a pull-up bar or any sturdy overhead bar that can support your weight.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, placing your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your palms facing outwards.
  3. Hang from the bar while keeping your arms completely extended and feet on the ground. This is your starting position.
  4. Engage your core muscles for stability and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
  5. Pull yourself up by flexing your elbows and bringing your chest towards the bar. Keep your body straight and avoid swinging or using momentum.
  6. Continue pulling until your chin clears the bar or reaches the same level as the bar.
  7. Hold the top position for a moment, focusing on contracting your back muscles.
  8. Slowly lower yourselfto the starting position while controlling the motion.

Weighted wide grip pull-ups are an advanced variation of the wide grip pull-up exercise. They involve adding external resistance to increase the intensity and challenge of the movement, further promoting strength and muscle development.

Which are the wide grip pull ups muscles worked?

Pull-ups (Photo via Richard R/Unsplash
Pull-ups (Photo via Richard R/Unsplash

This exercise primarily targets the following muscle groups:

Latissimus dorsi

The wide grip emphasizes the activation of the latissimus dorsi, commonly known as the "lats."

These are the large muscles that give your back a V-shaped appearance. They are responsible for the downward pull of your arms during the exercise.


The rhomboids are located between your shoulder blades and play a crucial role in retracting and stabilizing the scapulae. They are heavily engaged during wide grip pull-ups.


The trapezius muscles, particularly the middle and lower fibers, are involved in the pulling motion of the exercise. They assist in the retraction and depression of the shoulder blades.

Biceps brachii

The biceps brachii, located on the front of your upper arms, are actively engaged during wide grip pull-ups. They assist in elbow flexion as you pull your body up.

Brachialis and brachioradialis

These muscles, located in the upper arms, work synergistically with the biceps to assist in elbow flexion during the exercise.

Forearm muscles

The muscles in your forearms, such as the brachioradialis, flexor carpi radialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris, are engaged to stabilize the grip on the bar and assist in the pulling motion.

Posterior deltoids

While the primary emphasis is on the back muscles, the posterior deltoids (rear shoulder muscles) are also involved to some extent during wide grip pull-ups.

Benefits of wide grip pull ups

Benefits of pull-ups (Photo via Roberto Shumski/Unsplash)
Benefits of pull-ups (Photo via Roberto Shumski/Unsplash)

Wide grip pull-ups offer several benefits for your strength and physique:

Upper body strength

The exercise engages multiple muscles in your upper body, including the lats, rhomboids, trapezius, biceps, and forearms. Regularly performing wide grip pull-ups can significantly increase your upper body strength and overall pulling power.

Back development

The exercise primarily targets the latissimus dorsi, which is the largest muscle in your back. By incorporating this exercise into your routine, you can effectively develop and strengthen your back muscles, leading to improved posture and a more defined back appearance.

Shoulder stability

Pull-ups require the stabilization of your shoulder blades, engaging the rhomboids and trapezius muscles. This helps improve shoulder stability and control, reducing the risk of shoulder injuries and promoting better overall shoulder health.

Increased grip strength

Holding onto the bar with a wider grip during pull-ups challenges your grip strength and forearm muscles. Over time, this can lead to improved grip strength, which is beneficial for various exercises and daily activities that involve gripping and holding objects.

Core engagement

Wide grip pull-ups require core stability to maintain proper form and prevent excessive swinging. Your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, work to stabilize your body throughout the exercise, promoting core strength and stability.

Functional strength

Pull-ups mimic pulling motions that you might encounter in everyday life or sports activities. By strengthening the muscles involved in these movements, you enhance your functional strength, making it easier to perform tasks such as lifting, pulling, and climbing.

Versatility and scalability

Wide grip pull-ups can be modified to suit your fitness level. If you're a beginner, you can start with assisted variations, such as using a band or an assisted pull-up machine, and gradually progress to unassisted pull-ups. This exercise can be adapted to your strength and gradually increased in intensity as you become more proficient.

Incorporating wide grip pull-ups into your workout routine can offer a wide range of benefits, promoting upper body strength, muscle development, and functional fitness. It's important to practice proper form, gradually increase the intensity, and listen to your body to prevent injury and achieve optimal results.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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