Muscles Targeted: The movement involved during wide grip pull-ups is associated with the contraction of the latissimus dorsi or commonly called the “lats”. The contraction of the upper back enables the wide grip pull-ups to be performed in conjunction with the retraction of the scapula, leading the entire body to move up and down along one plane. Assisting the upper back and scapula throughout the exercise are the deltoid muscles (shoulders). The stability and effort coming from the shoulders continues the chain of movement for the upper back, especially during the initial pulling moment up to the final phase of this exercise. Wide grip pull-ups also use the secondary muscles of the arms and forearms to keep a firm grip throughout the entire exercise.
Exercise Instructions: Find a pull-up bar (or machine) and grab the bar using a secure overhand grip with your hands as wide apart as comfortably possible. Next, slowly pull your body up as high as possible and try to touch your chin to the pullup bar. Slowly return back down to the starting position and repeat. This is a difficult exercise so don’t get frustrated if you can only perform a few repetitions when you’re first starting out.
Why This Exercise is Important: Wide grip pull-ups is an integral part of a complete back workout routine because of the development that it provides for increasing muscular strength, stability, endurance and flexibility. Muscular endurance and strength of the back, shoulders and arms, is achieved through muscle contractions throughout the exercise. This development is important in improving the musculature of the back and helping to keep it in the best neutrally erect position. Also important is the degree of stability that the wide grip pull-ups contribute to the scapula, and joints of the shoulders, elbows and wrists. It is in this regard that the entire exercise is performed with correct technique and form because of the consistent combined movement patterns of the muscles and joints. Flexibility and a full range of movement are also important points to consider during the performance of the wide grip pull-ups. All joints including the wrists, elbows, and shoulders are challenged to move in full range during the exercise, which increases its realistic mobility.
Things To Avoid: As the wide grip pull-ups are executed it is essential to have the best control of the entire body, not just the upper back and arms. Avoid heaving and other abrupt jerking, and always be concerned with keeping the movement as solid and firm as possible. Also avoid excessive swinging of the body, especially sideways, and forward and backward. Keep the focus on a one movement plane which is bringing the body to the top of the pull up bar and then back down to the initial starting position of the wide grip pull-ups. Keep in mind as well that the wide grip pull-ups are meant to make the upper back bigger and stronger, so avoid hunching your back at all times.
Reps and Sets: When using wide grip pull-ups in your back workout for muscular endurance, shoot for 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. Using wide grip pull-ups for muscular strength needs will consist of 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Muscular power may also be gained with 4-5 sets of 5-8 repetitions of this exercise. You can add weights or resistance to your waist or feet to create a more difficult workout.
Other Exercises To Use: Two Arm Barbell Rows, Machine Rows and T Bar Rows are just a few of the exercises that you may combine with the wide grip pull-ups to complete a well-rounded back training program that develops strength, endurance, flexibility and stability of the different muscles. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the back.