Get ready to switch up your pull-up routine because there’s a new player in town: the neutral grip pull up! While wide grip and close grip pull ups and chin ups are all popular variations, the neutral grip is quickly gaining popularity for its unique benefits. Not only does this grip help prevent repetitive strain injuries, but it also works wonders for your forearms.
In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about neutral grip pull ups, including their benefits, proper form, and which muscles they target. We’ll also offer tips on avoiding common mistakes and finding alternatives that can provide similar benefits. So grab a sturdy bar and get ready to pull your way to stronger, toned arms!
What Is Neutral Grip Pull Up?
When it comes to pull-ups, there are a variety of different grips you can use to target different muscles in your upper body. One such grip is the neutral grip pull-up. So, what is a neutral grip pull-up? This type of pull-up is performed with your palms facing each other, much like the grip you would use for a hammer curl.
This grip is often recommended for beginners as it can be easier to perform more repetitions than other, more challenging pull-up variations. To perform a neutral grip pull-up, your hands should be shoulder-width apart or closer, depending on the spacing between the bars, and you’ll need a pull-up bar with a set of neutral handles attached.
It’s worth noting that there are three main types of grip when it comes to pull-ups: the pronated (overhand) grip, the supinated (underhand) grip, and the semi-supinated (neutral) grip. Each of these grips targets slightly different muscles in your upper body, so it’s important to do your research and pay attention to which grip works best for your fitness goals.
The pronated grip is great for functional strength and carryover to activities like climbing, gymnastics, and Olympic weightlifting. The supinated grip works the biceps and chest more than the pronated grip. And the semi-supinated grip, or neutral grip, is a good all-rounder and can be a great starting point for those just beginning their pull-up journey.
How To Do Neutral Grip Pull Up?
The following are the steps on how to perform a neutral grip pull-up properly:
- Step 1: Find a pull-up bar with parallel handles attached, and reach up to grab them firmly with your palms facing each other. Ensure that your thumbs and fingers wrap around the bar to have a secure grip.
- Step 2: In the starting position, hang from the bar with your arms straight, shoulders pulled down, and back. Lift your chest and look up towards the bar.
- Step 3: Bend your legs and cross your ankles if you prefer.
- Step 4: Without swinging or kicking, smoothly bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar, keeping your chest up throughout. Inhale as you ascend.
- Step 5: Extend your arms and lower yourself back down slowly while maintaining control. Avoid dropping down suddenly. Exhale as you descend.
- Step 6: Pause for a second at the bottom of your rep before starting the next rep.
It is important to perform neutral grip pull-ups correctly to maximize their effectiveness and avoid injury. By following these steps, you can perform neutral grip pull-ups with proper form, which will help you build strength and endurance over time.
Neutral Grip Pull Ups Benefits
Neutral grip pull-ups are a fantastic exercise that offer numerous benefits. With a few variations to your routine, you can experience an entirely different range of muscles working hard, making your workouts more enjoyable and effective.
Recruit Different Muscles with Neutral Grip Pull-Ups
Unlike traditional pull-ups that use an overhand grip, neutral grip pull-ups require gripping parallel handles. This grip variation recruits different muscles, such as the lats, biceps, upper back, core, and grip. Many people find neutral grip pull-ups easier than straight-bar pull-ups, making them an excellent starting point for beginners.
Avoid Plateaus and Repetitive Strain Injuries with Variation
Doing the same exercise repeatedly can lead to muscle adaptation, where the body adapts to the movement, resulting in a plateau in strength and muscle gain. However, neutral grip pull-ups provide a unique variation that can help avoid this. Switching things up with neutral grip pull-ups can also help you avoid repetitive strain injuries like tennis elbow, making your workouts safer.
Build Forearm and Wrist Strength with Neutral Grip Pull-Ups
Neutral grip pull-ups require grip strength, which can build forearm and wrist strength, improving grip strength for other exercises like deadlifts and barbell rows. Incorporating neutral grip pull-ups into your routine can help you lift heavier weights while reducing the risk of injuries.
Other Benefits of Pull-Ups
Neutral grip pull-ups offer the same benefits as any form of pull-up, (like Australian pull ups or scapular pull ups) including improved abdominal and core strength, upper back development, and bigger biceps.
Neutral Grip Pull-Up Muscles Worked
Neutral grip pull-ups are a highly functional exercise that tests your upper body strength. The muscles worked include the latissimus dorsi, biceps, trapezius, teres major, brachioradialis, brachialis, deltoids, rotator cuff, pectorals, rectus abdominis, obliques, and triceps. Compared to other pull-up variations, neutral grip pull-ups place more emphasis on the biceps, brachialis, and forearms. Additionally, they are a great exercise for developing core strength, upper back development, and bigger biceps.
Studies have shown that the abdominal muscles are highly activated during any form of pull-up, making it an excellent core exercise. Neutral grip pull-ups are easier on the shoulders than other variations due to the inward-facing hand position, making them a suitable option for people with shoulder instability. Engaging your core is crucial when performing this exercise, as it helps to maintain stability throughout the motion. Overall, neutral grip pull-ups are an effective way to work multiple muscles in the upper body while improving athleticism and coordination.
Pull-ups vs Chin-ups
Pull-ups and chin-ups may appear similar, but there are important differences to note. Both exercises work the same pulling muscles, but the difference lies in the hand position, which affects the pulling motion and arm action.
Chin-ups use a supinated grip, or palms up hand position, with a shoulder-width grip. This grip places the biceps in an advantageous position, making it easier for many to perform more reps than pull-ups. The movement of the exercise results in the extension of the shoulder joint, bringing the upper arm down and back close to the side of the body.
On the other hand, pull-ups use a pronated grip, or palms away overhand grip, with a wider-than shoulder-width grip. This grip is not as efficient for pulling, making it more challenging. The most challenging version of pull-ups is the wide grip, where the hands are placed well outside shoulder-width apart. The movement of the exercise involves shoulder adduction, which means the arms are drawn down and towards the body’s midline from the side.
Overall, while both exercises target similar muscle groups, the differences in grip placement and movement can affect the emphasis on certain muscles and the overall difficulty of the exercise.
Neutral Grip Pull Ups vs Pull Ups
When comparing neutral grip pull-ups to regular pull-ups, there are a few key differences to consider. The neutral grip pull-up allows for the performer to achieve more reps, target the brachialis muscle, and achieve a deeper stretch in the bottom position.
The position of the hands during a neutral grip pull-up allows for the large brachialis muscle to become involved, making this variation easier and more comfortable on the shoulders. Additionally, the neutral grip pull-up provides a deep lat and shoulder stretch that is even more pronounced than what is achieved with a pronated grip.
Which Grip Is Easiest For Pull Ups?
The easiest pull-up grip for beginners is the supinated or underhand position. This grip allows for the recruitment of the biceps to assist the lats in the pull-up motion. However, with more training and experience, the neutral grip becomes the easiest of all the pull-up variations.
Pull-ups and their variations are great exercises to improve upper body strength and functional fitness. Pull-ups and chin-ups work similar muscles, but the position of the hands and the grip can make a significant difference in the specific muscles targeted and the level of difficulty.
The neutral grip pull-up, with the palms facing each other, is a comfortable and effective variation that targets the brachialis muscle and allows for a deeper stretch in the bottom position. Additionally, it is easier on the shoulders compared to other grips, making it an ideal option for individuals with shoulder instability.
For complete beginners, the supinated or underhand grip is the easiest grip for pull-ups, as it allows the biceps to assist the lats. Overall, incorporating pull-ups and their variations in your workout routine can lead to improved upper body strength, athleticism, coordination, and core engagement.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.