V-Bar Pullups – Back Exercise Guide with Photos

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Muscles Targeted: V-bar pullups target your latissimus dorsi muscles (also known as “lats”) which are located along the sides of your back. This exercise also targets your bicep muscles, forearms and deltoids (shoulders) as secondary muscle groups.

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Exercise Instructions: Grab a V-bar and place it on a pullup bar so that the handles of the V-bar are hanging over the sides so that you can grip it safely with both hands and support your body weight. Slowly pull your body up to the top and try to touch your chest to the pullup bar. Always use a slow and controlled tempo as you perform this exercise. Pause at the top for a brief moment and then slowly lower your body back down to the starting position and repeat until failure.

Why This Exercise is Important: V-bar pullups work a lot of different muscles in your upper body. They increase strength in your back, arms, and shoulders all at once. It is a great exercise for toning the upper body and it’s one of the best bodyweight exercises you can include in your routine. Exercises that use your own body weight as opposed to equipment and machines are much more convenient and perfect for both beginners and experienced lifters because you don’t need to go to a gym in order to get a great workout in.

Things To Avoid: When doing V-bar pullups, you want to avoid swinging too much, both back and forth and side to side. You also want to avoid “kipping” which is when you bring your knees up to your stomach in order to get your body up to the top. You want to tilt your head slightly back and bring your chest right underneath the V-bar in a slow, fluid motion. This is to avoid hitting your head on the V-bar and to make the exercise more effective. You also want to avoid relying on gravity and simply dropping your body back to the starting position. Letting your body fall straight down is bad for your elbows and shoulders, and it uses very little muscular strength. In order to get the maximum benefit from this exercise, it is important to raise and lower your body slowly, concentrating on using your upper body strength to do so. Additionally, avoid lifting your body only halfway up to the V-bar. You may be tempted to bring your body up just a little bit because it is easier and you can do more repetitions. However, this is incorrect form and will not target your muscles correctly. Quality, not quantity, matters when doing V-bar pullups so make sure your form is always spot-on.

Reps and Sets: With V-bar pullups, you want to do as many repetitions as you can until you can no longer support your body weight on the V-bar. For beginners, one set of as many repetitions as possible will be enough. For more advanced lifters, up to three sets of as many repetitions as possible can be done for optimal results. It is important to listen to your body, however. You need to know when you should stop. You should never reach the point where you are incredibly sore the next day. This is where patience comes in. Especially for beginners, when progress is slow. You may only be able to one repetition on your first try, and anything more may leave you incredibly sore the next day. Always remember the old bodybuilding saying from former Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, “Stimulate, don’t annihilate”. Judge how you feel and determine the number of repetitions and sets from there.

Other Exercises To Use: In addition to V-bar pullups, here are some other exercises that you should do to strengthen your back and upper body. Two Arm Dumbbell Rows target your back and biceps, continuing the workout from V-bar pullups. Romanian deadlifts work your lower back, gluteus maximus, and spine, again strengthening the same areas in a different way. Pull-ups are very similar to V-bar pullups, and they can be used in place of each other, depending on what kind of equipment you have or how your back reacts to each exercise. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the back.

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