Letter from Santa Claus

What is a pull-up?

“A pull-up is an upper body compound pulling exercise where the body is suspended by extended arms, then pulled up until the elbows are bent and the head is higher than the hands, utilizing an overhand (pronated) grip. A traditional pull-up relies on upper body strength and swinging or “kipping” (using a forceful initial movement of the legs in order to gain momentum) making the exercise a power and conditioning movement as opposed to a pure strength one. The exercise targets mainly the Latissimus Dorsi muscle in the back along with many other assisting muscles.? Pull-ups are similar to chin-ups, which are distinct due to the underhand (supinated) grip.” Wikipedia

Exercise execution

The key to increasing strength in pull-ups is to get and maintain proper form. As with any upper back exercise, form should start with shoulder blades retracted and depressed - to facilitate this, stick out your chest and arch your upper back by pulling your shoulders back. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together. Next, try to minimize forearm and bicep involvement by relaxing your grip. Begin each repetition by contracting your lats (the muscles underneath your armpit from the rear) and pulling down the shoulder blades. Lead the movement by pulling with the elbow - not the hand. The elbow should lead the movement while the forearm/hand just follow along.


The exercise targets the following muscle groups:

  • Primary: Latissimus Dorsi
  • Assisting: Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Biceps Brachii, Teres Major, Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Rhomboids, Levator Scapulae, Trapezius Lower, Trapezius Middle, and Pectoralis Minor.

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