5 More Exercises to do with a Pull-Up Bar besides Pull-ups (Google's Unanswered Questions)

*This is a series of posts answering questions that I searched for and couldn't find a good article or post on. I'll add to this series as I come across questions that don't have answers. I hope that if I'm interested in the topic, someone else will be too.

The first piece of fitness equipment I ever bought was a pull-up bar that I bought in high school and installed by my family's pool. I bought it because I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. I swam laps and then got out to do pull-ups. 

The second piece of fitness equipment I bought was a doorway pull-up bar. I bought it when I wanted to lose weight when I was 25. 

I never learned much else to do with a pull-up bar until last year when I hurt my elbow and couldn't do pull-ups. I got creative and found exercises that I like as much or better. Here are 5 things to do with a pull-up bar besides pull-ups:



  • Knees-to-Elbows--this is my new favorite exercise. I honestly like it better than pull-ups. You engage your shoulders and lats and draw your knees up to touch your elbows. It engages every muscle from the waist up. And if you focus on using the right muscles and not using momentum, then you get a great muscle-engaging effect.
  • Back Lever--this is a gymnastic exercise that takes a lot of shoulder, back, and stomach strength and stability. You are seeking to hold yourself parallel to the floor. Most people have to work up to this.
  • Bottom of Pull-Ups--this just focuses on the hardest part of a pull-up. The hardest part of a pull-up is the very bottom where the shoulder is totally open to where you start your movement up. Most people skip this part and shorten the range of motion. Instead, just work on 5-10 reps at the bottom of a pull-up. It will improve your pull-ups so much.
  • Isolate Weaknesses--just like with the above, find something in an exercise you want to do and work on it until you get better. Maybe work on being able to alternate hands so you can do monkey bars.
  • Focus on Feeling the Exercise Correctly--when I was a trainer, I focused on doing exercises correctly. I learned since then that there is a difference between doing the exercise correctly and using the muscles you intended so that you get the benefit. Doing a pull-up without really engaging your lats, upper back, and abs means that you don't get the most benefit.

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