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August 09, 2021 9 min read

Pull-ups are a classic, calisthenic bodyweight exercise for building upper body strength. Not only are they one of the most popular exercises for regular gym-goers, but they are also one of the most popular in CrossFit and bodybuilding.

The reason pull-ups are so popular is they have a long list of benefits, including rapidly stimulating muscle growth. With that said, what would happen if you did pull-ups every day? 

To answer that question, we are sharing five things that will happen to you if you do pull-ups every day (which we highly recommend doing). By the end of this, you will want to put together a daily pull-up routine right away!

1. You Will Gain Serious Muscle Mass in Your Primary Mover Muscles

Pull-ups are a compound exercise, meaning that they work several muscle groups at once. Therefore, pull-ups are very efficient because you build strength in several parts of the body in one single exercise.

The muscle groups that pull-ups work include the:

  • Back
  • Chest
  • Arms

If you do pull-ups together with lower body exercises, you get a full-body workout. For example, if you do squats and lunges with pull-ups, you target muscles from your head to your toes.

Pull-ups target primary mover muscles in each of the muscle groups. Primary mover muscles are the muscles that initiate movements from your joints. Most of the largest muscles in the body are primary movers. The stronger they are, the more heavy weights you can lift.

back muscles anatomy chart

The primary mover muscles that pull-ups target include the:

  • Latissimus dorsi (the lats)
  • Deltoids (the delts)
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Pectorals (the pecs)
  • Arms - biceps and triceps

First off, the lats, delts, trapezius, and rhomboids are all upper back and middle back muscles. They do most of the work in pull-ups and get some help from the pecs and arms.

Of the back muscles, the lats do most of the heavy lifting. They are the largest muscles in your back and the second-largest muscles in your entire body. They run the length of your middle and lower back, and they wrap around the sides of your body. Essentially, the lats cover almost your entire back! The way to target your lats is to pull your shoulder blades down and back as you do in pull-ups.

In addition to the lats, the delts, trapezius, and rhomboids are also primary mover muscles in the back. Unlike the lats, each is located higher up in the back near the neck and shoulders. While they are not as dominant as the lats, pull-ups are perhaps the best upper body exercises for targeting these three muscles.

Next up, the pecs are the largest muscles in your chest. They balance out the pulling motion initiated by the back muscles. You want to have a balanced back-to-chest to keep your upper body at its strongest and looking its best. With that said, do not forget to squeeze your chest muscles when pulling yourself up to the bar.

Lastly, pull-ups work the arm muscles, including the biceps and triceps. While the back and chest do most of the work, the arms help get your chin over the bar at the end. As you pull your elbows and shoulders down, squeeze your arm muscles to help pull you up.

However, some people overestimate how much work their arm muscles should be doing. To avoid overdoing it with your arms, be conscious of targeting your back and chest throughout the movement! 

2. Your Will Strengthen Your Stabilizer Muscles

In addition to primary mover muscles, you also have stabilizer muscles. Stabilizers are muscles that stabilize certain joints while movements are initiated from other joints. They help keep your body steady, stable, and upright.

While they aren't as big as primary movers, they are just as essential, if not more essential. Without them, none of your primary movers would function properly. It is important to note that your body has some muscles that function purely as stabilizers and others that go back and forth between acting as movers and stabilizers.

In pull-ups, both types of stabilizer muscles are working for you. There are a couple of stabilizer muscles that assist the primary movers in pull-ups, including the:

  • Erector spinae
  • Core and abdominals

First off, the erector spinae is a muscle that lies deep within your back and runs the length of your spinal column. It helps stabilize the entire spine as well as assist with spinal movements. During pull-ups, it stabilizes the spine so the primary mover back muscles can initiate the upward pull.

While it is a lesser-known muscle, it is one of the most crucial muscles to keep strong and healthy. In many ways, the health of your erector spinae is an indicator of the health of your entire back. Do pull-ups to fire up the erector spinae and keep your back in good shape!

Second, the core and abdominal muscles help keep your midsection stable as your upper body does its job. The midsection is the root of the lats, and it needs a stable foundation to help do the pull-up.  The core muscles are always stabilizers, while the abs jump back and forth between being stabilizers and movers.

Did you know that your core and abs are not the same things? Your core is an extensive group of muscles that includes those in your pelvis, hips, lower back, and abdominal areas. On the other hand, your abs are a muscle group that initiates movement from the trunk.

Like the erector spinae, the abs and core are two of the most important muscle groups in the entire body. Thankfully, pull-ups work both the core and abs!

3. You Will Get That Signature V-Shape Upper Back

As a strength training exercise, pull-ups make your body look amazing! If your goal is to get a better-looking body, pull-ups are for you. Perhaps the best thing that pull-ups do for your body is giving you that signature v-shaped upper body look.

By that, we mean broad shoulders and upper back with a lean lower back and midsection. This type of body shape is often considered to be part of the ideal male body proportions.

At Steel Supplements, we are all about getting you to not only feel your best but also look your best. Therefore, we suggest doing pull-ups every day to do just that!

4. Your Joint Health Will Improve

Resistance training is the key to building a stronger body. And, traditional weight training is the most common way that people do resistance training. However, weight training can take a toll on your body over time. The part of your body that it takes the most significant toll on is usually the joints.

Classic weight training that utilizes dumbbells and barbells can compress your joints.

Poor joint health is associated with:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Disk problems
  • Back, hip, and knee pain

Thankfully, pull-ups are a resistance training exercise that does not use free weights for resistance. Instead, they use your own bodyweight for resistance. Therefore, they do not take such a toll on your joint health.

If you substitute pull-ups every day in place of other upper body exercises, you should see an improvement in your joint health. The healthier your joints are, the better your entire body will feel!

5. Your Grip Strength Improves

You may be asking yourself if grip strength is important or not. We are here to tell you that having solid grip strength may be more important than you think it is.

One particular study completed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association shows that grip strength is a reliable indicator of muscular strength and endurance.

There are a couple of reasons why this is so, with the most important one being that a firm grip helps you increase your max lifting load.

When you are lifting free weights, such as dumbbells, your primary mover and stabilizer muscles aren't the only things working. You also need your grip to fire up to keep a firm hold on the dumbbells. If you can't hold the weights tight enough, you will only be able to do so many reps.

With that said, you need to increase your grip strength to keep up with the strength of your muscles. If you neglect to work on your grip strength, you will not be able to keep increasing the weight of your dumbbells because you can only grip so much weight.

Moreover, your grip strength will increase if you do pull-ups every day. With greater grip strength, you will see improvements in your everyday weight training performance, thanks to a stronger grip.

How to Do Pull-Ups With Proper Form

We can't give you all the details on pull-ups without sharing how to do them! Like other popular bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups and chin-ups, many people assume they are doing them correctly.

However, just because they are common doesn't mean they are easy to do with proper form. If you want to reap the benefits of pull-ups and avoid potential injuries, you need to do them properly!

With that said, here is how to do pull-ups with proper form:

  1. Stand directly underneath a pull-up bar, then jump up and grab the bar with an overhand grip. Spread your hands to a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Dead hang from the bar, and make sure that your feet are not touching the floor.
  1. When you are ready, exhale and squeeze your back muscles, chest, and arms to pull your chin over the bar. Imagine pulling your elbows down to hoist your upper body.
  1. Once your chin is over the bar, hold for one to two seconds. Then, slowly release your muscle squeeze to drop back down to a dead hang.
  1. Repeat! Do two to three sets of six to twelve repetitions. Or, do as many as you can to build muscular endurance!

While pull-ups are a straightforward exercise, you still must keep good form in the front of your mind. As we always say, form is king!

Therefore, keep these essential form tips in mind when doing pull-ups:

  1. Do not jolt or kick your lower body: Pull-ups are a slow and controlled movement. It is a pure pulling movement initiated by the upper body muscles. However, some people attempt to cheat the pull by swinging their lower body to help hoist themselves over the bar. To achieve maximum hypertrophy, you must keep your lower body still. That way, your upper body muscles will have to do all of the work (as they should)!

  2. ​Keep your elbows under your wrists: As you do your pull-ups, your hands, wrists, and elbows should all stay stacked on top of one another. Try to create one long line from your hands to your elbows. Keeping this line helps reinforce the proper form.

  3. Keep your shoulders back: From the moment you jump up to the pull-up bar, keep your shoulders held back - do not hunch! Holding your shoulders back helps you target the correct muscles and prevents back injuries. Instead of pinching your shoulder blades together, imagine drawing them down and back.

Pull-Up Variations

Pull-ups are a fantastic exercise that we recommend doing each day to build muscles. But, an even better way to do pull-ups is to mix up your pull-up routine with different pull-up variations. In addition to these variations, we also suggest doing other upper back exercises to cross-train for pull-ups.

Some of the best cross-training exercises are lat pull-downs, resistance band deadlifts, and bent-over rows.

Here are some of the most popular pull-up variations:

1. Weighted Pull-Ups

The most simple pull-up variation is weighted pull-ups. Weighted pull-ups help you increase muscle mass and build upper back strength in the least amount of time. All you need to do is wrap a weighted belt around your waistline and do regular pull-ups.

Man doing pull up exercise

At first, you won't be able to do as many repetitions. However, as you progressively overload your muscles, you will eventually be able to do more repetitions with the belt on.

2. Wide Grip Pull-Ups

The wide-grip pull-up is a challenging conventional pull-up variation. Because you move your grip away from the midline of your body, it is more difficult for your back muscles. To do them, you follow all of the same steps as regular pull-ups, except you spread your hands out farther on the pull-up bar.

3. Close Grip Pull-Ups

Close-grip pull-ups are the opposite of wide-grip pull-ups. You place your grip in towards the midline of the body instead of outward from the midline. The close grip adds a layer of difficulty to the biceps and triceps. At the same time, it takes some of the work off of your back muscles. To do them, you follow all of the same steps as regular pull-ups, except you pull your hands in towards one another on the pull-up bar.

4. Pull-Up Machine Pulses

If you are new to pull-ups, the assisted pull-up machine is a perfect tool for building upper body strength and getting proper pull-up form down. Another way to use the pull-up machine is to do pull-up pulses. Pull-up pulses help you develop muscular endurance, which allows you to do more repetitions in a single set.

Kneel on the pull-up machine and grip the handlebars overhand. When you are ready, exhale and pull yourself up until your arms bend to a 90-degree angle. Hold yourself up at that angle, then do quick upward pulses about one to two inches. Keep pulsing yourself up and down for about 20 seconds, then slowly drop back to starting position.

Final Thoughts

If you want to level up your workout routine and crush your fitness goals faster, then we highly suggest doing pull-ups every day! Grow stronger, look better, and get into a solid workout routine to improve yourself physically and mentally. Do not hesitate! Start doing pull-ups every day to become a better version of yourself.

Bonus tip:  Don't stop here! Get better at pull-ups by increasing your back strength with these top 10 upper back exercises!