What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work

The Latissimus Dorsi is the most massive muscles that work during pull-ups. They run from the mid-back up to under the armpit and shoulder. When you are doing pull-ups then a lot of Muscles are engaged. Here are the list of muscles do pull ups work.

Pull-ups are an upper body exercise that targets your back, chest, shoulders, and arms and helps you build a strong core. It also increases your strength in another movement, such as the lat pulldown and shoulder press. To perform a pull-up, you start by hanging onto a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from you, and your body extended fully. You then pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. It is an advanced exercise that is quite tough than chin-up, but you can perform pull-ups with assisted bands.

Pull-up exercise activate the body's many muscles like the latissimus trapezius, thoracic erector spine, rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor, and many more. Check out our best pull up assist band here.

Latissimus Dorsi

latissimus dorsi

Latissimus Dorsi is a large flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides, behind the arm. The trapezius partly covers it on the near midline. These are commonly known as LATS. It is responsible for extension, adduction, transverse extension, flexion from an extended position, and the shoulder joint's internal rotation. It also has a synergetic role in the attachment and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine. One of the primary functions of lats muscles is moving your upper arms closer to your body when doing pull-ups. It is the immediate action during pull-up exercise, which is essential for pulling yourself up on the pull-up bar. Due to lats, your body can rise to the bar in the pull-up movement.


trapezius muscle

Trapezius is one of the upper back muscles. It is a triangular muscle that runs from the occipital bone in the skull to the back's thoracic spine. T extends to the width of the shoulders. The muscles separate into three sections the superior, middle, and the inferior. An upper part supports the arm's weight, the middle region that retracts the scapula, and the lower part that medially rotates and depresses the scapula. The trapezius and your lats muscles are the main muscles that take the load when dong pull up exercise.


deltoid muscle

Deltoids is a rounded muscle located on the uppermost part of the arm, and the shoulder's top. Tendons attach the deltoid to the skeleton at the clavicle, scapula, and humerus.  The deltoid is extensive at the top of the shoulder and confined to its apex as it moves down the arm.  The Contraction of the deltoid muscle results in a wide range of arm movements at the shoulder due to its location and complete separation of its muscle fiber. Using a huge grip on the bar would spark your deltoid muscles more. Using a neutral grip also works for your muscles as it places less strain on your joints while proving a workout for your deltoids.

Teres Major

teres major muscle

it is a medial rotator and adductor of the humerus and helps the latissimus dorsi draw the previously raised humerus downwards and backward. It energize the humeral head in the glenoid cavity. Teres minor, which is on the top of teres minor and infraspinatus, all work together to help lats do its job with the shoulders adduction while doing pull-ups. The movement will move the upper arm bones closer to the body and lift to the bar, thereby helping the lats.

Pecs' Muscles

pectoralis major muscle

The Pectoralis Major or commonly called pecs muscles, makes up the bulk of your chest muscles. It may not be obvious, but your pecs muscles also play a role in assisting your lats muscle when pulling up. Together with the coracobrachialis, which starts on the front of the shoulder joint ad stretches out to the upper arm, it helps the lats pull your upper arms to the body.

Thoracic Erector Spinae

erector spinae muscles
Thoracic Erector Spinae is a set of muscles that straighten and rotate the back. These three muscles rum along your thoracic spine in your back, assisting in the back extension. These muscles work in extension, lateral flexion of the vertebral column, rib rotation. Dual contraction of these muscles extends the spine while a single contraction causes lateral flexion. During pull-ups, they help to maintain a body posture.


Rhomboids are a group of muscles. These small muscles are located between the thoracic spine and shoulders. They are responsible for upper limb movement and stability of both the shoulder girdle and scapula. They contract during the downward motion if the shoulder pulls to cause shoulder adduction.



Infraspinatus is a thick triangular muscle. These are located on the shoulder blade—this part of the rotator cuff assists in shoulder extension. The main work of the infraspinatus muscle is to rotate the humerus and stabilize the shoulder joint externally. It synergists are teres minor and deltoids.

Teres Minor

teres minor muscle

Teres Minors are deep to the deltoid muscle; they stabilize the ball and socket joint and hold the humeral head. They are located under your armpit and behind the shoulder blade. These type of rotator cuff muscles assists in shoulder flexion and external rotation.

External Oblique

oblique muscle

External Oblique is the part of abdominal muscles, the external oblique is located along the sides of your abdominal wall, and these muscles help to stabilize the core and assist the abdominal section during shoulder flexion.


biceps muscles

if you are doing do pull-ups', then you have to work on your arms, which implies your bicep's usage to do the exercise. Doing pull-ups affects your biceps as it is the primary muscle used for pulling yourself up on the bar. That works in conjunction with your lats muscles. Pull-ups exercises target these all muscles and engage them at the same time.

The Benefits of Pull-ups

Pull-ups are usually called powerhouse because they build and strengthen your upper body, specifically, the latissimus dorsi, and a broad muscle that spans from the back of your shoulder down your back

  1. Strengthen the back muscles

    Pull-up is one of the best workouts for strengthening the back muscles. It works on many muscles, which are most important for the upper body like Latissimus Dorsi, Trapezius, Thoracic Erector Spinae, and Infraspinatus.
  1. Strengthen the Arm and Shoulder Muscles

    Pull-ups also make the arm and shoulder muscles strong. By performing regular pull-ups, you will work the forearms and shoulders. If you want to improve your strength in these areas, you should perform pull-ups daily. If you cannot complete the pull-ups daily, you can use the assist bands or get in the position hanging on a bar can increase your strength as you work up to the complete movement.
  1. Improve Grip Strength

    Pull-ups also improve your grip strength. Holding power is necessary if you lift weights. It also can improve performance in any sport like golf tannins and climb. A firm grip is very much important in your daily life. For example, opening up some jar, carrying groceries, or doing any massive task can help you a lot.
  1. Improve Overall Body Strength and Fitness Level

    Strength exercise can increase your overall fitness level when you are doing pull-ups, your entire body mass with the movement. It can significantly improve your body balance and strength and even improve your mental health. For the best result, you can do the same exercise twice or thrice in a week.
  1. Improves Physical Health

    Strength training with exercise like pull-ups may also improve your overall physical health. It has been proven that regular strength exercises may help to reduce the fat from the body and manage diabetes. It can also be beneficial for blood pressure patients and may reduce the backache and discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia.
  1. Improve Mental Health

    Resistance workouts are helpful for your mental health. A 2020 review studies found a positive correlation between strength training and the following;
  • It helps to reduce stress and anxiety
  • It helps to improve cognitive function
  • It also helps to reduce fatigue and keeps you active
  • And beneficial for improving self-esteem.
  1. Challenge Your Muscles

    Pull-ups are the most exacting exercise in strength training exercises. Challenging your muscles with difficult moves can improve your overall fitness level, too.  By doing the same activity repeatedly, your body becomes strong and starts to plateau after a while. But adding in new and challenging like pull-ups, you may see significant improvement in your strength.
  1. Beginner-Friendly Option

    You can try pull-ups variations, including assisted pull-ups for beginners with your knees bent or even with the weight belt around your legs. Beginners can do easily with the help of the pull-up assist band.