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The Close Grip Pull-Up is an alternative version of the regular pull-up. Although it is usually considered to be slightly easier than a regular pull-up, it should still always be a staple for any upper-body calisthenics workout, because it targets a more focused group of muscles.
How to Perform a Proper Close Grip Pull-Up
Unlike the Wide Grip Pull-Up, you can perform a Close Grip Pull-Up with a regular pull-up bar. Some bars even have separate handles for close grip pull-ups, sometimes even at special angles to really focus on the targeted muscles.
Close Grip Pull-Ups are an alternative to Regular Pull-Ups, but their are even alternative ways to do the Close Grip Pull-Ups! Hang a single gymnastic ring, short rope or towel from a pull-up bar for an additional challenge.
A. Palms facing outward, grip the bar so that your hands are within shoulder-width apart. You can bring them close enough to touch (your pointer and thumb can actually be touching). Go into a “dead hang,” which means you allow your arms to fully extend and your body to hang limply.
B. Squeeze your core to avoid possible swinging – NO SWINGING! Use your arms, shoulders and back to slowly raise your chin above the bar.
C. Pause momentarily while your chin is over the bar.
D. Again focusing on your arms, shoulders and back, slowly lower your body down again to a dead hang.
Important Notes for Safety and Max Benefits
A. If you cannot get your chin above the bar, do not worry. Continue to practice the Close Grip Pull-Up, and other pull-up variations, during your workout routines and you will eventually achieve this move! It all will help build your strength for the close grip pull-ups.
B. Keep your core tightened! This will prevent you from swinging, which you DO NOT want to do.
C. Push your chest up and slightly forward. Do not allow your body to go “hollow.”
D. The “dead hang” is most ideal to hit as many muscles as possible, but it is not a requirement. Many people do pull-ups and their variations without fully extending their arms, but I generally don’t think this is as beneficial.
Primary: Biceps, Back (lats and traps)
Secondary: Shoulders (delts), Forearms, Wrists
Suggestions for Beginners
Can’t perform a Regular Pull-Up yet? Try Close Grip Pull-Ups first! Incorporate one single Close Grip Pull-Up rep attempt in between sets of unrelated exercises during every workout.
Furthermore, go for the Chin-Up, which has your palms facing towards you instead of away from you. These are generally considered to be easier than any type of Pull-Up, and will help build the strength you need for Close Grip Pull-Ups and beyond! If you can’t get that single Close Grip Pull-Up rep yet, start with Chin-Ups.
Combining these two strategies will build your strength up enough for you to achieve multiple consecutive Close Grip Pull-Ups! When that happens make it a point to add a set of Close Grip Pull-Ups to your workouts. They are great for any upper body workout. I do them as often as I can to continue building my strength.
A Great Variation of My Favorite Upper Body Exercise for Beginners and Pros Alike
The Close Grip Pull-Up is an underrated Pull-Up variation because it is often seen as being easier that a Regular Pull-Up. That doesn’t make it any less beneficial to your arms, back and shoulders, though! I love Pull-Ups of any kind, so I tend to do Close Grip Pull-Ups quite often! Keep practicing them and you will build strength for even more Pull-Up variations!