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Back Workout (7) – Horizontal Pull-Up

June 3rd, 2010 · 4 Comments ·


Pull-ups or chin-ups are fantastic workout for upper-body strength and development. Recently, I have tried this new variation of this exercise – horizontal pull-up. It is actually a combination of a row and a pullup. You may think that this workout is very simple. It is deceiving because it is quite difficult to do it right even it is just a body weight workout. The key differentiator of horizontal and vertical pull up is that the former requires you to keep your abs and lower-back muscles very tight as you pull with lats, biceps, and forearms.

Steps of doing horizontal pull up:

  1. Go beneath the bar of the Smith machine. Set the bar high enough so that when you hang from it with arms straight, your upper back will not touch the ground.
  2. Grip the bar with both hands at slightly wider than shoulder width.
  3. For beginner, you can bend your knee and have your feet on the ground.
  4. Straighten your upper body and pull your chest to the bar. Think of pulling your shoulder blades together and pushing your chest forward.
  5. At the top of the position, hold yourself there for a second or two if possible.

For advanced users:

  • Once you are strong enough, straighten your legs.
  • As you grow even stronger, you can elevate your feet by putting them on the bench or step board. The higher the feet, the more of your bodyweight you are lifting, and the harder the exercise will be.Later, you might try using an underhand grip.
  • If you want the ultimate challenge, try the pull-up with one arm!
    • Grab the bar with one arm extended over the center of your body.
    • Reach your free arm up toward the ceiling, as if punching up as shown in the picture below.





Category: Back

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4 responses so far ↓
  • Ian // Jun 13, 2010 at 4:19 PM


    Horizontal pullups are no joke! They really blast the back and biceps.

    I have been doing them for a while with my EXF rings, which is a little different then using the bar, but same idea.

    Another option would be to use a sturdy table, or if you have a few minutes and some strong rope and pvc pipe laying around, make your own homemade suspension trainer.

    The great thing about this setup is that you can hang it pretty much anywhere: from an overhead beam, tree branch, or even a door.

    What book is that, by the way?

    Keep up the good work!

  • Mun // Jul 1, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    Hi Ian, it is from Men’s Health.

  • Kelly // Jul 8, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    Like Ian said, this is a great exercise to do with a rope making your own suspension trainer. I currently have a rope set up on a beam in my basement for some body weight exercises like this. It’s also a nice change of scenery to take the rope outside and hang it on a tree branch when the weather is nice.

  • idiotgear // Sep 24, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    These are great and keeps you from hurting your back like upright rows can.

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