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How should my hands be when doing a pull-up?

Uncategorized Dec 14, 2019

This question comes up all the time. So this will go over a few different ways you can put your hands while doing a pull-up & also go over WHAT each grip specifically works. 

Also …the controversial question of  thumbs around or over the bar? Which is better? What does it do?



Thumbs over or Under the bar ?

This sometimes feels like a controversy..but it’s not! You literally can do either over or under the bar but both have different benefits. So I suggest you do a little bit of both honestly…but again lots of controversy here, let me talk about what the benefits of both are! 


Thumbs Around the Bar:

Allows for better lat engagement and easier transitions into muscles ups. It also can be used if you are doing a lot of pull-ups and start losing grip strength and sliding off the bar.

Wrapping keeps the shoulders slightly externally rotated and more engaged and can create a stronger pulling platform. 


Thumbs Over the Bar:

As a gymnast I always have my thumbs over the bar. For me it’s comfortable and thumbs around the bar just feels weird and uncomfortable. Thumbs over also translates into a ton of my ninja and climbing activities which are ones where a lot of times I am not griping an actual bar and don’t have anywhere to wrap my thumb around. 


**But, I do use both grips depending on my situation! Which is why I think you should do both & don’t think one is necessarily right or wrong ** 


Regular Grip (AKA Classic Pull-Up)

The classic Pull-up! Your hands are facing away from your also called pronated or overhand grip. This pull-up hits your Lat muscles way more and also your lower traps. The ultimate back workout. 

Underhand Grip (AKA Chin-up)

Your palms are facing towards you. Great way to remember this is that your palm is facing towards your chin. When doing this kind of pull-up there is more emphasis on the biceps which for MANY people they say this grip feels easier. This could be because some of your chest muscles are recruited while doing this grip and since this is a large muscle group it can feel easier especially for beginner. Other names supinated grip 

Parallel Grip (AKA Palms Facing Each other)

Some people also call this Hammer Grip or neutral grip.  THIS is a great pull-up variation for those who have weak shoulders or are maybe injured shoulders. Just by switching to this grip it puts less strain on your shoulders and pressure on  your wrist. More emphasis is also placed on the biceps.  The difficulty is between a regular pull-up & chin-up so it’s a nice variation. 

Narrow Grip 

The closer your move your hands together the more you are working on your chest muscles. 


Wide Grip 

Hands further apart will work your back muscles way more. 


Switch Grip 

I love switch grip ! What’s cool is that it works different muscle groups! AND what’s interesting is you will def find one switch grip will be easier than the other depending on what your dominate arm is. Switch grip is also one of the techniques ninja use especially if they are working on some type of bar that spins. It keeps it more steady. For example on a salmon ladder I use switch grip or on the big dipper. 



Important to train all different types of pull-ups! This will completely transform your body and work muscles you may have never worked before. 

Check out my Free Pull-Up Guide and 30 Day Pull-Up Program is coming soon! 


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