Wide Grip Vs Close Grip Pull Ups – Which is More Effective?

Explore the differences between wide grip & close grip pull-ups.

Grip position is an important step in performing pullups. In wide grip pull ups, your hands are placed on a larger distance and palms face away from you. In closed grip, your hands are placed closer and palms face you. Let’s learn about more differences between wide grip pullups and close grip pull ups. 

Wide Grip Vs Close Grip Pull Ups 

Wide Grip Pull-Ups: 

Wide grip pull-ups involve placing your hands on the pull-up bar at a wider distance than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing away from you (pronated grip). This exercise primarily targets the following muscles:

  1. Latissimus Dorsi (Lats): 

Wide grip pull-ups emphasize the lats, which are the large muscles in your upper back. They help give you that desirable V-shaped back.

  1. Trapezius: 

The traps, especially the lower part, get a good workout during wide grip pull-ups.

  1. Biceps: 

While not the main focus, your biceps also play a role in the movement, helping you pull your body up.

Close Grip Pull-Ups: 

Close grip pull-ups, on the other hand, involve placing your hands on the bar closer together, typically shoulder-width apart or even narrower. Your palms can either face toward you (chin-up grip) or away (pull-up grip). Close grip pull-ups primarily target:

  1. Biceps: 

Close grip pull-ups put a significant emphasis on your biceps, making them work harder compared to wide grip pull-ups.

Suggested Read:  How To Do Bicep Curls Properly?

  1. Brachialis: 

This muscle, located underneath the biceps, also gets activated more during close grip pull-ups.

  1. Rhomboids: 

The rhomboids, found between your shoulder blades, get engaged to a higher degree in this variation.

So, Which Is More Effective?

 It really depends on your goals.

Wide Grip Pull-Ups = Toned Back Muscles

These are great for developing a wider back and targeting the lats. If you want that classic V-taper look and improved upper back width, wide grip pull-ups are your go-to.

Close Grip Pull-Ups = Stronger Biceps

If you’re aiming to build impressive biceps and work on the muscles responsible for the “peak” in your arms, close grip pull-ups are the way to go.

In reality, a well-rounded workout routine would incorporate both wide and close grip pull-ups to ensure you’re hitting all the key muscle groups. 

You could alternate between them during your training sessions or include them in different workouts throughout the week.

Wide Grip Vs Close Grip Pull Ups – Pros and Cons

Wide Grip Pull-Ups Pros and Cons:

Targets lats and upper back.Greater difficulty for beginners.
Enhances V-taper appearance.Increased risk of shoulder strain.
Builds overall upper body strength.May require more grip strength.
Can be modified with resistance.Potential for wrist discomfort.
Provides good muscle activation.Limited bicep engagement.

Close Grip Pull-Ups Pros and Cons:

Focuses on biceps and forearms.
Reduced lat activation.
Targets lower back muscles.Increased strain on wrists.
Provides variety in grip positions.May be challenging for beginners.
Offers potential for weighted use.Less emphasis on upper back.
Can help improve grip strength.Less V-taper appearance.

Shared Benefits of Wide Grip and Close Grip Pull Ups

Upper Body Strength: Both variations build upper body strength, including arms, back, and shoulders.

Posture Improvement: Pull-ups enhance posture, promoting a confident stance.

Core Engagement: These variations work core muscles, contributing to a toned midsection.

Enhanced Grip: Pull-ups fortify grip strength, useful in various activities.

Muscle Definition: Both variations sculpt arms and back muscles.

Calorie Burner: Effective for weight management, fat loss, and muscle definition.

Functional Strength: Gained strength is practical in daily life and sports.

Back Health: Strengthens back muscles, preventing back pain and improving spinal health.

5 Effective Wide Grip Pull Ups Variations

1. Weighted Wide Grip Pull-Ups:

  • Attach a weight belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet.
  • Perform wide grip pull-ups with added resistance to increase the load on your back and arms.
  • This variation is excellent for building strength and muscle mass.

Recommended Read: Dips with Weight Belt [Complete Guide]

2. Archer Pull-Ups:

  • Start in a wide grip pull-up position.
  • As you pull yourself up, shift your body to one side, extending one arm straight while bending the other.
  • Alternate sides on each repetition.
  • Archer pull-ups challenge your lats and add a dynamic element to your workout.

3. L-Sit Wide Grip Pull-Ups:

  • Begin with a wide grip on the bar.
  • Raise your legs in an L-sit position as you perform pull-ups.
  • This variation engages your core muscles while targeting your upper body.

4. Towel Neutral Grip Pull-Ups:

  • Hang two towels over the pull-up bar, gripping each towel instead of the bar itself.
  • Perform wide grip pull-ups with the towels, which requires extra grip strength and stability.
  • This variation intensifies the exercise and improves forearm strength.

5 Effective Close Grip Pull Ups Variations

1. Weighted Close Grip Pull-Ups:

  • Attach a weighted belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet.
  • Perform close grip pull-ups with added resistance to increase the challenge and promote muscle growth in your biceps and back.

2. Chin-Ups (Close Grip, Palms Facing You):

  • Position your hands on the bar with a close grip, palms facing toward you.
  • Perform chin-ups, where you pull your body up to the bar.
  • This variation puts extra emphasis on your biceps and the lower part of your back.

Recommended Read: Chin Up vs Pull Up: Clash of the Titans

3. Commando Pull-Ups:

  • Begin with a close grip, but one hand should be on the bar and the other gripping the vertical post of the pull-up station.
  • As you pull yourself up, shift your body toward the hand holding the post.
  • Switch sides with each repetition.
  • Commando pull-ups provide a unique challenge by targeting your biceps, forearms, and the muscles along the sides of your torso.

4. Mixed Grip Pull-Ups:

  • Grab the pull-up bar with one hand in a close grip (palms facing you) and the other in a wide grip (palms facing away).
  • Alternate the positions of your hands between repetitions.
  • This variation adds variety and works different muscle groups with each grip.

5. Close Grip Pull-Up Negatives:

  • Use a platform or jump to get your chin above the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself down (the negative phase) in a controlled manner.
  • Focus on the eccentric phase of the exercise, which can contribute to muscle growth and strength gains in your biceps and back.

Wide Grip Vs Close Grip Pull Ups – Injury Risks 

Wide Grip (Pronated) Pull-Ups:

Shoulder Strain: 

Wide grip pull-ups can put extra stress on the shoulders, potentially leading to strain or discomfort, especially if performed with improper form or excessively heavy weights.

Wrist Discomfort: 

People with wrist issues might experience discomfort during wide grip pull-ups due to the hand positioning.

Elbow Strain: 

Some individuals may strain their elbows, particularly if they lack proper forearm and elbow flexibility.

Close Grip (Supinated) Pull-Ups:

Wrist Strain: 

Close grip pull-ups can put strain on the wrists, especially if your wrists are not accustomed to the angle or if your grip is too narrow.

Elbow Stress: 

Individuals with prior elbow issues might experience added stress on the elbows when using a close grip.

Bicep Tendon Strain: 

Performing close grip pull-ups with heavy weights can strain the bicep tendons if not executed with proper control and form.

Tips To minimize injury risks:

  • Ensure proper form, including a controlled range of motion.
  • Gradually increase resistance or weights to avoid sudden strain.
  • Warm up and stretch adequately before performing pull-ups.
  • Listen to your body, and if you feel pain, consider modifications or consult a fitness professional.

Close grip pull-ups are Good for Newbies; Here’s why:

Easier Start: 

Close grip pull-ups are less daunting for beginners because the grip is narrower, meaning you don’t have to pull yourself up as far. It’s a gentler introduction to pull-ups.


Wide grip pull-ups can be tough on the shoulders, and for someone just starting, that can be a recipe for strain or injury. Close grip pull-ups are kinder to your shoulders.

Bicep Bulking: 

Close grip pull-ups give your biceps a good workout, which is great for beginners looking to see some muscle development in their arms.

If you’re new to pull-ups, give close grip pull-ups a shot. Focus on perfecting your form and gradually work your way up. As you get stronger and more confident, you can explore other variations. 

The Bottomline: 

Wide grip pull-ups are for building a broad back and upper body strength. Great for folks who’ve been at this for a while.

Close grip pull-ups put the focus on those biceps and forearms, with options for added weights. Perfect if you want killer guns or a stronger grip.

So, your choice depends on what you’re aiming for. Want a wider back and more overall strength? Go wide grip. Looking to beef up those biceps or work on your grip? Go close grip. 

And hey, mixing them up can give you the best of both worlds!

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