6 Amazing Benefits Of Pull-ups

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Pull-ups are one of the top choices when it comes to bodyweight exercises. Discover the benefits of implementing this movement in your routine.

Keep in mind that you still want to be able to do pull-ups for enough repetitions to get their full benefits. Many people will need to start with assisted versions.

1. Pull-ups work a few muscles

Pull-ups are a resistance training exercise which means they can help you grow and strengthen your muscles.

Very advanced individuals may even be able to use pull-ups as a muscle endurance exercise.

Some of the main muscles you work with pull-ups include:

  • Latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back)
  • Biceps
  • Forearm grip muscles
  • To some extent trapezius and other scapular muscles

How many pull-ups you should do to actually grow and strengthen these muscles depends on your current strength level.

One of the facts about pull-ups is that many people can only do a few or none of them. These individuals likely need to start with assisted pull-ups or exercise alternatives to get good results.

On the flip side, very advanced individuals and people who want to focus more on strength may need to do weighted pull-ups to make the movement hard enough.

This involves carrying extra weight, for example a heavy backpack, a weighted vest, or a dip belt while doing pull-ups.

When it comes to reps and sets for something like muscle growth, you want to do about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 pull-ups with an amount of resistance (or assistance weight) where these numbers are challenging.

2. Pull-ups can make your back bigger

Your latissimus dorsi is the main back muscle pull-ups work.

This muscle runs along the middle of your back, under your arms, and is responsible for the V-shaped look many people strive for.

Since pull-ups can help you grow your latissimus dorsi, they can also help make you look bigger.

Many people do not only do resistance training for the health benefits. A more visually appealing look is a nice positive effect too.

If you are interested in this benefit but want to switch things up, there are many other vertical pull exercises you can consider too.

3. Pull-ups can improve your bone density

Not many people know this but your bones are actually part of your “living” body in the sense that they can adapt to the way you challenge them.

More specifically, putting more pressure on your arm and shoulder bones than usual with pull-ups can improve their density (1, 2, 3).

This can help you avoid broken bones when falling down or other brusque impacts on your arms.

While this tends to be a bigger issue for older people, younger individuals may want to pay attention to this too.

This is because as you get older, it becomes harder and harder to improve bone density.

By strengthening your bones right now with pull-ups and other exercises, you reduce the risk of issues for your future self.

If you are interested in this benefit, it could be worth working your way up to weighted pull-ups.

Additionally, you don’t want to forget your bone density in other areas like your legs. Pull-ups will not help with this.

4. Pull-ups can benefit weight loss

The availability of food in modern life makes it easy to gain excess weight. This is not a good thing since it increases your risk of a variety of conditions.

Luckily, having excess body fat is not a permanent issue. There are many ways you can get healthier again.

For example, pull-ups can help you lose weight by increasing your energy usage during the workout and helping you build muscle.

You can even roughly estimate how many calories pull-ups burn to get an idea of what you can expect in this area.

A 155-pound (70 kg) person will burn around 70 calories while doing pull-ups for 15 minutes.

The extra calorie burning you get from the extra muscle mass is hard to put into numbers. Partly because muscle mass gains from pull-ups can vary so much.

Something to keep in mind is that just doing pull-ups is not always enough to lose weight. You may need to make other positive lifestyle changes too.

5. Pull-ups offer a lot of resistance without weights

As briefly mentioned, pull-ups are relatively challenging. Only a small amount of people can do more than 10 repetitions in a row.

For resistance training beginners, this aspect of pull-ups can be a big downside. You still want to be able to do enough repetitions to see optimal results.

On the flip side, certain advanced lifters may find this a benefit since pull-ups allow them to work their strong back muscles a lot without investing in extra weights.

6. Pull-up technique is relatively easy

There are many exercises and sports that have a technique or rulebook that requires some time to get used to.

While this can also be a fun aspect of the workout, it also means that you will have to spend some time before you can get the full health benefits and/or do the exercise safely.

Additionally, some people do not enjoy the extra learning aspect.

That being said, pull-ups are relatively easy in this area.

There are not really any big mistakes you can make besides not warming up before weighted and explosive pull-up workouts.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.