11 Benefits of Pull-Ups You Could Be Missing Out On

Do pull-ups seem like an impossible task for you? Do you consider them too dull and old-fashioned? You might change your mind about this classic calisthenics exercise after learning all the excellent benefits that come from regular pull-ups sessions! 

Mind that you don’t have to be advanced in this exercise for it to provide benefits. As you learn to master your pull-ups and increase your score, you can enjoy the following 11 benefits along the way. 

Benefits of Pull-Ups 

Compound Upper Body Movement 

pull ups

One of the biggest pull-up benefits is its effectiveness for several muscle groups all at once. According to the following 2018 study, pull-ups are more effective in engaging such muscle groups as 

  • middle fibers of trapezius
  • latissimus dorsi
  • biceps brachii
  • rectus abdominis

The comparison was made with several other “pull” types of exercises targeting the upper body. 

Its main advantage comes from the lack of footing and anchoring. As you are hanging with no support, your muscles strain to the max of their abilities to reach the necessary burst movement. 

Most other pull exercises (except for pull-ups variations) come with sturdier ground = better support; the range of engaged muscles is limited. 

For most purposes, if your goal is general strength improvements and “toning up,” compound exercises will bring you the fastest results.

Improve Grip 

There are not many exercises that improve your grip. Most of them include either dumbbells or a barbell and come only as a slight bonus. However, beginner fitness enthusiasts will hardly carry weight more than their own body mass. Thus, pull-ups and grip strength work in tandem. It’s a mutually beneficial circle – you need grip strength to perform pull-ups, and you improve your grip strength by performing pull-ups. 

I place this particular benefit high on the list because of the vitality of grip strength for everyday tasks, fitness, and sports games performance. 

Burn Calories Efficiently 

pull up muscles

As you’ve read before in many of my articles, compound exercises burn more calories than isolated exercises. In simple words, your body has to move and engage large groups of muscles, which is logically more energy demanding. 

According to online calorie expenditure calculators, moderate level pull-ups on average (for a 170 lbs person) burn 53 calories. 

An isolated pull exercise such as bicep curl burns only 36 calories in ten minutes. 

Though pull-ups may not be the most efficient exercise if your main goal is to burn more calories and lose weight, it brings the perfect balance between calories expenditure and muscle strength.

Strengthen Your Back 

Speaking of muscle strength, your back is a crucial target for the fitness journey. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle often means hours sitting in an office, a car, or home. As a result, we don’t have as much proper back engagement as we should. 

Thus, fitness exercises should be targeted at engaging and strengthening your back by cautious exercises with low injury risk. 

As you work with your body weight and move in natural patterns, you minimize the risks of injury, provided you keep proper form. 

The following study conducted in 2017 not only studies the benefits of pull-up exercises but the effectiveness of several variations of it. 

Improve Bone Density and Joint Fluidity 

Overall, numerous studies have shown that resistance training positively affects bone density and joint fluidity in mild cases. The following 2018 study is an excellent research material with an extensive study on how physical exercise helps to preserve bone density in the aging population. The study supports the therapeutic option of fitness for osteosarcopenia. 

Plus, pull-ups are easy on joints while still working them. Thus, it is recommended as a practical exercise to prevent bone and joint-related issues. 

Boosts Overall Fitness Performance 

pull ups benefits

Considering that pull-up is a compound exercise that trains several muscle groups of your upper body, there is little to no surprise that it effectively boosts overall fitness performance. 

Stronger grip, back, and arm/back muscles mean you can approach various other training techniques and exercises easier and more effectively. Plus, the abovementioned components also play a significant role in competitive sports performance, such as American football, volleyball, swimming, etc. 

In addition, we cannot neglect the inclusion of pull-ups into the army test challenges worldwide. And they are meant to train only the best of the best – physically as well. 

They Destress 

In general, any fitness activity was proven to provide stress relief by boosting the release of endorphins. Plus, the concentration of performing the exercise correctly and keeping proper form leads your mind away from mental challenges and stress to focus more on the physical aspect.

Have you heard about the phenomenon known as “runner’s high” that is closely related to endorphin production after fitness? Pull-ups have similar effects if you focus solely on completing the challenge. 

Harvard University has completed an extensive study called “Exercising for Relaxing” to prove that mental health and physical health are closely connected. 

Can Be Done Anywhere 

pull up exercise

Another benefit of pull-ups, especially before many isolated exercises on fancy machines, is their availability anywhere. The only thing you need for this exercise is a sturdy bar. It doesn’t even have to be straight – you can complete something similar to one-arm pull-ups, in this case, the beginner version. 

This exercise doesn’t require a gym membership – you can find appropriate bars in parks apartment building premises and can quickly put one at home, even if you live in a tiny flat. 

In addition, you don’t have to neglect your pull-up training when traveling – quick few minutes can be dedicated to the task anywhere. 

Affordable Exercise 

This benefit derives straight from the previous – pull-up availability. No need for a gym membership? Savin money! No need for expensive machines at home? Saving money. Free public availability in most places? Saving money! 

Pull up is an essential calisthenic exercise practiced all over the world at all ages. Thus, you will be able to buy specific easy-to-implement home bars in any country! Just be careful to choose a study bar with vital fixation elements. 

Improve Posture 

benefits of pull-ups

The following 2017 study on the effects of calisthenics on posture, strength, and body composition proved that you can positively affect all three without the need for extensive training equipment. 

The importance of these effects can clearly be seen in a study conducted in 2015 to research the effectiveness of training for posture correction and musculoskeletal pain. The reduction of chronic pain by improving the participant’s posture via regular exercise sessions lasting eight weeks is a clear reason to correct your posture perfect as soon as possible. 

Improve Body Aesthetics 

Have you always dreamed about that V-shaped body? If so, pull-ups are your ticket to the goal! By focusing on the large muscle groups of the lower body, you tone up the very areas forming the desired shape. To buff up with the help of pull up, better switch to weighted alternative when bodyweight seems too easy. Plus, one-handed variations tone up muscles even better. 

Although that V-shape is mainly the dream body of men, women can also get an aesthetically-pleasing result. If you balance upper and lower body days in your split, you can reach that hard-to-get slim thick body shape. Plus, toning up your upper body muscles looks perfect in a summer dress! 

Conclusion

All in all, pull-ups are an amazing exercise to boost up your general fitness level. Although they are incredibly hard for newbies, there are many variations and machines that can help to prepare you for standard pull-ups according to your fitness level. Do not neglect pull-up training if you can’t quite manage even one full rep yet! As you see, there are numerous benefits to his hard exercise. If you would like to enjoy strong upper body, get rid of back pain, look toned, and so on, include pull-up to your training routine.

Sources:

  1. Daily Calories Burned Calculator – (dailycaloriescalculator.com)
  2. Snarr RL, Hallmark AV, Casey JC, Esco MR. Electromyographical Comparison of a Traditional, Suspension Device, and Towel Pull-Up. J Hum Kinet. – (2017;58:5-13. Published 2017 Aug 1. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0068)
  3. Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). (2018;33(4):435-444. doi:10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435)
  4. Exercising to relax; How does exercise reduce stress? Surprising answers to this question and more. – (July 7, 2020, health.harvard.edu)
  5. Thomas, Ewan & Bianco, Antonino & Mancuso, Esamuela & Patti, Antonino & Tabacchi, Garden & Paoli, Antonio & Messina, Giuseppe & Palma, Antonio. (2017). The effects of a calisthenics training intervention on posture, strength and body composition. Isokinetics and Exercise Science. (25. 1-8. 10.3233/IES-170001.)

About

Irene’s fitness journey began in 2017 with attending classes to improve her health and researching the anatomy of working out. After years of investigating trendy and “up and coming” fitness regimes, she is ready to share the tips and advice she’s learned from athletes and expert trainers of the field.