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How to Grip the Bar for Pull-ups

We’ve all been there: We walk up to the whiteboard, read what we’re doing that day and in that process read, “pull-ups.” We follow it up with a groan or ask “how many”?! We may be defeated either by the movement itself or the number of repetitions required. This may have even been you back in May when we did “Murph.”

Related: Results: “Automagically”

The pull-up after-all is a great test of upper-body strength as it requires not only a lot of strength to pull your chin over the bar, but a lot of strength just to hang on to the bar in the first place. We could focus on how our basic anatomy or strength-to-weight ratio is holding us back, or even talk about improving our strength. While all those things are involved, it starts with being able to hold on to the bar.

To produce a stronger pull or a more optimal kip, keep your knuckles above the bar.

To produce a stronger pull or a more optimal kip, keep your knuckles above the bar. In other words, point your knuckles to the ceiling. If you can’t see them while you’re hanging, you’re doing it right. If you can  see your knuckles, then you need to get more of the “meaty” part of your palm over the bar.



           Knuckles up = “STRONG”                 Knuckles back = “WEAK”

Gripping the bar this way, with your knuckles towards the ceiling, has a couple of advantages that improve control and strength during the pull-up:

  1. It engages your entire hand, wrists, and forearms.

  2. It helps to keep your shoulders active.

Take action! The next time you’re in the gym, try this: simply hang from a pull-up bar with your knuckles towards the ceiling (strong grip) and compare this feeling to having your knuckles facing the wall behind you (weak grip). You may even realize you can get your first pull-up using this new grip or get a Personal Record number of repetitions!

Related: Why We Do “Metcons”

If you want to learn more, be sure to schedule a personal training session with a coach at CrossFit Slipstream today at info@crossfitslipstream.com!

–Bryan Rosen