Muscles Targeted: Like the other pull up variations, hammer grip pull ups primarily target the latissimus dorsi (upper back) muscles. In addition, they target the biceps, shoulders, forearms and core. One major advantage of hammer grip pull ups, is that they provide a balance between the bicep involvement of chin ups and the forearm involvement of regular pull ups. This is an amazing exercise for those wanting to build up and tone their lats and arm muscles. Also, those who do this should expect increased shoulder health in the rotator cuffs and other parts of the shoulder.
Exercise Advice: Start by standing at a close distance from the bar. Once ready, hold onto the bar and pull yourself directly up using your back muscles. Be sure to finish the range of motion, which ends when your head is over the bar. For the negative (eccentric portion of exercise), slowly lower your body down while concentrating on the lats to aid you. Furthermore, make sure to avoid starting the next pull up until your elbows are straight, to fully complete the range of motion for the exercise. However, if it is your first time doing pull ups, you may have trouble gripping the bar and you may develop calluses. Through practice, grip strength will be greatly enhanced over time. Since this is an upper body exercise, be sure to avoid using your lower body to quickly swing and jerk during the movement. Strict form while doing hammer grip pull ups is highly recommended to maximize muscle growth and reduce the risk of pulling a muscle while performing this exercise. If you are struggling to complete a rep, a spotter can help push you up.
Things To Avoid: When performing hammer grip pull ups, there are things you should be careful of to prevent injuries from happening and to focus more on the muscles that are being worked. The most common mistake people make when doing pull ups is to swing their lower body to help them complete the rep. Although done in CrossFit, this technique takes away the focus from the lat and upper body muscles. For those looking to build quality back muscles, this incorrect swinging technique should be corrected as soon as possible. Another common mistake some people make is to not finish the full repetition and start a second rep without going all the way down. Many feel the need to do this to try to do more reps than they can handle. Not going all the way down on the negative portion can possibly injure the elbow tendons and those who don’t go all the way down on the negative won’t experience nearly the same amount of muscle stimulation than using a full range of motion.
Reps and Sets: Since this is a bodyweight workout, beginners should go for as many reps as they can perform for each set. Those used to doing this exercise, should go for reps of between 8-12 per set. The numbers of sets should range from 3-5 and this exercise can be included at the start of your back workout in order to warm up or it can be included at the end of your workout to really “burn out” and fatigue the muscles of the back.
Other Exercises to Use: Hammer grip pull ups are a great exercise to be completed on back day. They can be combined with a variety of exercises in your overall back workout routine, including deadlifts and barbell rows. One common routine would be to start with deadlifts to hit the lower back, then move into a rowing movement and finally finish off with a few sets of hammer grip pull ups for a killer muscle building back workout!