As you become more advanced with calisthenics, you’ll have to gradually add more variety into your training – otherwise, your progress may stall.
But searching for new exercise variations to challenge yourself can be quite tiring.
For this reason, I decided to make a list of all the pull-up variations I’m aware of.
Every time you’d like to test a different pull-up variation, you can use this post as a reference guide.
More specifically, in this post, you’ll find 50 pull up variations that will help you:
- Add more variety to your training – no more boring workouts
- Build more muscle
- Increase your strength
- Become more explosive
- Increase your grip strength
- Develop more control
The pull up variations are divided into 6 categories as follows:
- Intermediate (Level 1 & 2)
- Explosive Variations
- Grip Focused
So, without any further ado…
Table of Contents
The 3 Basic Pull Up Grip Variations
There are 3 main positions in which you can place your hands to perform a pull up:
- Underhand grip (palms facing you)
- Overhand grip (palms facing away from you)
- Neutral grip (palms facing each other)
Even though underhand, overhand and neutral pull-ups can be considered different variations, I didn’t include them as such.
The reason is this…
The small change in the grip can be applied to almost all the pull-up variations.
For example, I could have L-sit pull-ups with underhand and overhand grip as different variations.
But that would be pointless…
So, instead of adding them, I just let you know that you can use any grip you want in most of the pull-up variations below.
Beginner Pull-Up Variations
In this section belong the easiest pull-up variations.
A beginner is someone who can do less than 5 consecutive pull-ups.
If you’re a beginner, these variations will help you achieve your first pull-up (in case you can’t already) and to increase your total reps.
Keep in mind that even though these variations are aimed at beginners, you can still train with them even if you’re an intermediate or advanced trainee – ie. If you want to increase your endurance.
Pull Up Variation #1: Body Rows (aka Horizontal Pull Ups)
You can make body rows easier or harder by increasing or decreasing the incline respectively.
Pull Up Variation #2: Kipping Pull Ups
Some hardcore calisthenics trainees will hate me for including this exercise in the list.
Heck, I don’t like it either.
However, it’s still a pull-up variation and even though kipping pull-ups are easier (in terms of strength) from regular pull-ups, they require a little more skill.
Pull Up Variation #3: Regular Pull Ups
To perform a regular pull up, your arms should approximately shoulder width apart.
Pull Up Variation #4: Butterfly Pull Ups
This can be considered a more advanced variation of the kipping pull-up.
If you ever decide to train with this move, you should be very mindful of your shoulders.
Intermediate Pull Up Variations (Level 1)
In this section, you’ll find pull up variations aimed at trainees who just graduated from the beginner level.
An intermediate (level 1) trainee is someone that can easily do more than 5 consecutive pull ups but no more than 12.
Pull Up Variation #5: Close Grip Body Rows
Pull Up Variation #6: Wide Grip Body Rows
Pull Up Variation #7: Close Grip Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #8: Wide Grip Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #9: Commando Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #10: Mixed Grip Pull Ups
Make sure to work both sides evenly.
Pull Up Variation #11: Ring Pull-Ups/ Body Rows
Performing the movement on rings adds an extra stability factor making the exercise slightly more difficult.
Pull Up Variation #12: Tornado Pull Up
Pull Up Variation #13: Archer Body Rows
This variation can help you progress towards the one arm body row.
Pull Up Variation #14: One Arm Body Rows
This is the hardest body row variation in terms of strength.
Great for overal back development.
Pull Up Variation #15: Bodyweight Face Pulls
This variation is really important, because as a bodyweight trainee it can be hard to target your rear delts with other exercises.
Pull Up Variation #16: Head Banger Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #17: Bodyweight Curls
Intermediate Pull Up Variations (Level 2)
In this section, you’ll find harder intermediate variations.
Pull Up Variation #18: Archer Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #19: Around The World Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #20: Typewriter Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #21: L-sit Pull Ups
In this variation, Hannibal is doing a combination of the l-sit pull up with the high pull up and with a narrow grip.
Great for strengthening your core.
Pull Up Variation #22: V-Sit Pull Ups
More advanced version of the L-sit pull up.
Pull Up Variation #23: Muscle Ups
Pull Up Variation #24: Uneven Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #25: Frenchies
This is very good for developing control and strength in the whole pull-up range of motion.
Pull Up Variation #26: High Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #27: Weighted Pull Ups
You can add weight with a backpack, a weighted vest or a weight-belt.
Advanced Pull Up Variations
In this section, you’ll find the most advanced variations of pull ups.
To train with these movements, you should be already an advanced calisthenics trainee that can perform movements like:
- The human flag
- The front lever
- The back lever
Or you’ve mastered some of the variations in the previous section.
Pull Up Variation #28: Assisted One Arm Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #29: One Arm Chin Up
This is one of the hardest bodyweight exercises and a great goal to aim for.
Pull Up Variation #30: Ice-cream Makers
Pull Up Variation #31: Front Lever Pull Ups
If you can’t hold of full front lever yet, you can make the exercise easier by using a front lever progression (ie. front lever tuck).
Pull Up Variation #32: Back Lever Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #33: Behind The Neck Pull Ups
This variation is very strenuous to the shoulder joint and you should be very careful when training with it.
Pull Up Variation #34: Human Flag Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #35: Hefesto
Pull Up Variations For Grip Strength
Here you’ll find pull up variations that will help you strengthen your grip.
You can start experimenting with some of these variations once you’ve completed the beginner level.
Note: Some of the variations below can be applied to most pull up variations.
Pull Up Variation #36: Rope Pull Ups
Rope pull-ups can become harder or easier depending on the thickness of the rope.
For best results, you should vary the thickness of the rope (if possible).
You can also use a towel (or more), if you don’t have a rope.
Pull Up Variation #37: Rope Climbing
Rope climbing is a harder progression of rope pull-ups.
Your goal with rope climbing is to climb to the top as fast as possible.
Pull Up Variation #38: Inverted Rope Climbing
This is an even harder variation of rope climbing.
Pull Up Variation #39: Fat Bar/Grip Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #40: Tennis-ball Pull ups
Pull Up Variation #41: False Grip Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #42: One Arm Rope Climbing
Pull Up Variation #43: Fingertip Pull Ups
You can start training with this variation by gradually removing fingers from your grip.
You should remove fingers in both hands to maintain the balance in both sides.
Don’t progress too fast with this one – give time to your fingers to adapt to the training stimulus.
Pull Up Variation #44: One Arm Finger Pull Up
Explosive Pull Up Variations
Here you’ll find the explosive pull up variations.
These variations will help you increase your speed, coordination, and explosiveness.
You should be able to do at least 12 consecutive pull ups before training with any of these variations.
Pull Up Variation #45: Plyometric Body Rows
Pull Up Variation #46: Clapping Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #47: Switch Grip Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #48: Behind-the-back Clap Pull Ups
Pull Up Variation #49: 360 Swing
Pull Up Variation #50: Toe Touch Pull Ups
Even More Pull Up Variations
If you’ve read so far, you probably noticed that some of the variations are very simple and that you could easily create others with different combinations.
You can perform fat grip underhand close L-sit pull-ups or fat grip L-sit typewriters.
With that said, here’s a bonus variation:
Bonus Pull Up Variation: Walking Pull Ups
In this post, I tried to include all of the known pull-up variations.
So, my question to you is this…
What variation are you gonna try next?
Let me know in the comments below!
photo credit: p1