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Pull up variations

50 Pull Up Variations For Muscle, Strength & Explosiveness

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:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate (Level 1 & 2)
  • Advanced
  • Explosive Variations
  • Grip Focused

So, without any further ado…

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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)
  • Over hand 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.

If you don’t have a low pull up bar, you can perform body rows using a table or a bed-sheet.

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 neither.

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.

An intermediate (level 2) trainee is someone who can do more than 12 pull ups with ease.

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

Hard:

Harder:

Even harder:

Pull Up Variation #27: Weighted Pull Ups

You can add weight with a backpack, a weighted vest or a weight-belt.

Wanna Increase Your Pull Ups?

Then download The Pull Up Cheat Sheet and discover
15 different ways to increase your pull ups!

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.

For example:

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

Wanna Increase Your Pull Ups?

Then download The Pull Up Cheat Sheet and discover
15 different ways to increase your pull ups!

Final Thoughts

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!

~Nick

photo credit: p1