You would be hard-pressed to find a more challenging, yet rewarding and beneficial exercise than a pull-up.
This historical drill not only pulverizes your lats, rhomboids and biceps, but it also takes a very positive toll on your abs.
All this being said, there are a handful of variations you can use to spice things up while you are brachiating.
And that is where these fun pull-up variations come in handy.
1. The Classic Pullup
The classical pull-up is your standard variation that everyone already knows. But… not everyone knows how to do it with good form.
You should never rely on momentum or swing back and forth like a trout hanging on the end of a fishing line.
Your goal is to perform perfect pull-ups, and here’s how:
Space your hands about shoulder-width apart, pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar and lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended.
Pause at the bottom and top for a full second and make sure to keep your abs as tight as possible throughout the movement.
2. The Archer Pullup
This variation places more load on one side of the body than the other with every rep.
Instead of pulling yourself straight up to the bar, shift your body sideways and pull yourself up to your left side.
While doing this, your left elbow will be tucked in by your ribcage and your right arm will be extended out the other direction across the top of the pull-up bar.
Slowly lower yourself down, repeat on your right side and continue to alternate back and forth.
3. The Alternate Grip Pullup
The alternate grip pull-up is a tough one, so get ready!
Reach up and grasp the bar with your body perpendicular to the bar and your hands next to each other in an alternating fashion.
Start with your left in front of your right.
Pull yourself up as you move your head to the left side of the bar. Slowly lower yourself down and repeat for a set of reps.
Take a quick rest, reposition your hands the other way and repeat. This time, move your head to the right side of the bar.
4. The Typewriter Pullup
The typewrite pull-up is similar to the archer, except you do not lower yourself down between each rep. Simply pull your chest up even to the bar and move your body as far to the left as you can while extending your right arm across the bar.
Keep your body in the same place as you shift the other direction and extend your left arm while tucking in your right. Continue to alternate from side to side like the top of a typewriter.
It’s a good idea to place your thumbs on the top of the bar for this drill.
5. The Ice Cream Maker Pullup
The ice cream maker really targets the lats, abs and biceps. Here’s how it’s done.
Perform a pull-up and hold yourself in the top position. Keep your core tight as you fully extend your arms and swivel your body under the bar.
At this point, your body should form a slight upward angle with your back facing the floor and eyes looking straight up toward the sky.
Swivel yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
6. Hurdler Chin-ups
A hurdler chin-up places a lot of emphasis on the biceps and abs—especially the obliques.
Start this drill with an underhand grip in a dead-hang position. Pull yourself up as you would with a classical pull-up, while moving your right leg across your body to the left.
As you do this, bend your left knee and move your left heel up toward your glutes.
When you get to the top position, it should look like you are jumping over a hurdle.
Slowly lower yourself down, repeat on the other side and continue to alternate back and forth in a controlled fashion.
7. Skin the Cat
Technically, you could say this is not a pull-up variation. But, it is inspired by pull-ups, it works the same muscles and it’s performed on a pull-up bar.
Here’s how to do one of these.
Grab the bar as if you were going to do a classical pull-up. Keep your shoulders retracted and upper body still as you lift your knees up toward your chest. Continue to weave your legs under the bar and back behind you.
Slowly lower your legs down as far as they can go and hold for a full second. Your arms will be fully extended at this point.
Pull yourself up slightly as you unravel your body and weave your legs back under the bar. Come back to the starting position and repeat for a series of reps.
Hanging It Up
There you have it. Give these fun variations a try and always focus on good quality form.
Also, treat these different than your other drills. Instead of doing high reps, focus your attention on high sets with low reps. That will ensure that your form is good and you will not develop any bad habits.
Lastly, rest as long as necessary between sets. Rome was not built in a day. Why should your body be any different? Take as much rest as you need to ensure you get the best results.