If traditional pull ups are too easy, too difficult or too boring for you, you should definitely try these pull ups variations. Challanging, with a little help, with one arm or as a support for other sports; There are so many pull ups and each variation has a specific purpose. In this article we show you all the main variations and explain step by step how to perform them.

What you will learn in this article:

Pull ups variations for Beginners

Negative Pull Up

Negative pull up - variations for beginner

When you do the negative pull up you just use the negative part of the movement because it’s much easier than doing a complete rep. Negatives are our number one choice to build up strength for a complete pull up so if you are able to do them start right away.

Band Assisted Pull Up

Band assisted pull up - most important variations

Band assited pull ups are like normal pull ups with the difference that the band supports the movement and makes it easier. The downside is that the band supports you more in the lower part of the movement than in the upper one. Usually, the lower is also the easiest part of the pull up while the upper is the hardest one, so this is a downside of band pull ups.

Sitting Pull Up

  • Sitting pull up
  • Beginner pull ups variation

The last beginner varition is when you put your feet on a box or on a bench. Your feet will support the movement making it a little bit easier. Here it is really important you hold your upper body in a vertical and upright position and do a Pull Up motion and not a bodyrow.

Pull ups variations for Intermediate

If you able to do a couple of beginners level pull ups you can try different variations. Besides from different grips, there are 2 variations of the basic pull up which are completely different but very effective for different muscle groups. Here we got the arched back and the hollow body pull up. Both will activate your lats  arms, and the lower part of your traps but thats the only similarity.

Arched Back Pull Up

Arched back pull up

When you do the arched back pull up you try to arch your back and legs as much as possible to do some kind of row movement. This will activate your middle traps, your rhomboids, your erector spinae and even your glutes and hamstrings. Don’t worry about your spine, the arched back is an active movement and as long as you hang, you will have no negative impact on your spine.

Hollow Body Pull Up

Hollow body pull up

When you do the hollow body pull up you engange your abs and hold your body very tight in a slight C shaped curve. This will activate your anterior chain, which are muscles like your chest, abs and even quads.

Pull Ups Variations for Explosive Strength

Explosive Chest to Bar Pull Up

Explosive chest to bar pull up

With the explosive chest to bar pull up you simply try to pull as explosive as possible. Keep in mind to not let yourself fall down in the negative part. Do it quick but controlled and don’t smash into your joints.

Waist Pull Up

Waist pull up

The second explosive pull up variation is perfect for muscle up training. Here you pull the bar to your stomach or your waist. Im comparsion to the chest to bar variation you now pull yourself up in a curved line to be able to pass the bar. If you can pull yourself high enough you will be able to do a muscle up by just changing the grip and lean a bit forward.

Pull Ups Variations for Mobility & Specifics

L-Hang Chin Up

L-Hang chin up

When it comes to the perfect pull up varition for mobility and ab activation we suggest you the L-Hang Chin Up. Here you train your pull strength, your abs and your straight leg strength at the same time. When you raise your legs hold them extended and as high as possible for the whole time. This is very hard especially in the lowest part, so don’t compensate it by not extending your arms or leaning yourself back with your upper body. 

Frenchy Pull Up

  • Frenchy pull up
  • Pull up variation intermediate

If you want to increase your strength for climbing we suggest you the frenchy pull up. This exercise combines dynamic pull ups with holds, making it perhaps the best basic pull exercise for climbers. The payoffs are significant in terms of more lock-off strength and in your general pull-up ability. Adding a hold at the top, at 90° elbow angle and at the bottom is the best option to get the most out of this variation. Of course you aim for an active and not an passive hang in the bottom position. You can add the holds on the way up, on the way down or even both. You can also vary the time you hold these positions. We suggest a holding time between 2 and 5 seconds. 

Towel Pull Up

Towel pull up

Another variation which is also good for climbing is the towel pull up. Here it’s more about grip strength. Doing pull ups on a towel is much harder than on a bar or on rings. If you lack in grip strength and want to improve it, this is one of the best basic variations you can do.

False Grip Pull Up

False grip

False grip pull ups are also great if you want to build up strong wrists and forearms. This movement is good if you want to learn ring muscle ups, slow bar muscle ups or improve your parkour skills when you want to climb a wall. Always take care that your wrist is above the bar. 

Unilateral Focus Pull Ups Variations

Now we move on to the unilateral, uneven and archer movements. All these variations have one thing in common: They are making the basic pull up harder by focusing more on one arm.



When you do the Typewriter you start with a normal pull up and move your body in the upper positon from left to right. The more your extend your arm the more weight the bent arm has to hold while the straight arm only supports the movement. 

Archer Pull Up

The archer pull up follows the same principle, but is much harder because you pull yourself up with one straight and one bent arm. Here you have to overcome gravity from the bottom instead of switching the arm position on the top. For both movements we suggest rings instead of a pull up, bar because rings can adapt to your joint movements, making the exercise as best and healthy as possible. 

Uneven Pull Up

Uneven pull up

When it comes to the uneven pull up you simply increase the distance between one arm and the other. The more you increase the distance the more the upper arm has to work. You can do this with rings, a towel, a band and even with a pull up bar itself.

One Arm Pull Ups Variations

One arm pull up - most important variations expert

The hardest pull up varition of this group is the one arm pull up. Until now nearly all shown varitions are vertical pull movements but it’s also possible to do pull ups in a horizontal body position. 

Horizontal Pull Ups Variations

Front Lever Pull Ups

Front lever pull ups - most important variations expert

Tucked & L- Lever Pull Ups

  • L-lever pull ups
  • Pull up variation hard

Here we choose frontlever pull ups and it’s variations. A full frontlever pull up is very hard so we suggest you choose an easier progression in the beginning. Here you can do Tucked or L- Lever pull ups . When you do the tucked version on the bar you can’t use full range of motion so choose rings or parallel bars for this kind of movement.

Ice Cream Maker

  • Ice cream makers
  • Ice cream makers pull up

A mix between horizontal and vertical pull are Ice Cream Makers. Here you switch from the basic pull up position on the top to a Frontlever. Always do this movement controlled and without momentum. If you can’t hold a frontlever position with straight arms just decrease the lever. You can do one leg or tucked icecreamakers to build up strength for the full version.

Weighted Pull Ups

Weighted pull ups - most important variations expert

The last variation are weighted pull ups. This is quite simple: Just add weight to your body to make the basic pull up exercise harder. This is really good if you are able to do a lot of pull ups and want to train in a lower rep range. Now you can choose the right variation for your goal and start your training. Of course you should also implement push and leg exercises into your workout. Our workout programs offer you a complete guide for your whole body. They are a good mix between training for strength, preparing skills and building up muscles. Just choose your level and start now.

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