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What Muscles Does Pull Ups Workout

what muscles does pull ups workout
Written by Oana Milton
Last Update: August 23, 2021

Pull-ups are one of the most challenging workouts. It’s an incredibly useful exercise that helps shape your upper body. It may yield amazing benefits if mastered with patience. Your arm will be perfectly toned, and you will have a V-Shaped body like that of a swimmer. However, before starting this exercise, please consult your doctor.

Before even trying this exercise, you have to know what muscles do pull ups work because this understanding might help you maximize your workout benefits. Let’s read the article to find out more!

What Muscles Does Pull Ups Workout? Benefits & How to Do a Pull-Up

Latissimus Dorsi

During pull up exercise, the main action is the shoulder abduction by moving the arm in the upper body. The muscle that is responsible for this activity is Latissimus Dorsi. This is a triangle shaped muscle which is also called the Lats. This muscle group determines how much wide the back will be. For a perfect V-shaped body, this muscle group needed to be strengthened and pull-ups are the ideal exercises to do this.

Latissimus Dorsi

Latissimus Dorsi is responsible for adding width to your back body. It is also responsible for creating widening shoulders. If you see someone with V-shaped back, be sure that pull ups muscles worked fine for him.

A lot of people consider the fact that, only shoulder based hard workout makes a V-shaped body. However, this is not the truth. The truth is that having a wider and big back makes the V-shaped body. Pull ups exercise targets your Latissimus Dorsi more than other activities.

This exercise also targets biceps, forearms and upper back. It also works on other muscles which include traps, teres major, rhomboid, external oblique, erector spinae infraspinatus, and pecs.

Pull ups exercise works out on your full upper body. However, the significant impact of this exercise is the strengthening of your biceps and lats. So, if you want to answer the question what muscles do pull ups work in one word, the answer would be the Lats.


When we choose to do pull ups exercise, you want your arm to do this. While doing a pull-up exercise, you significantly affect the biceps as this is the first muscle to pull you up towards the pull-up bar. This muscle works with the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, especially when you pull yourself down. However, pull ups exercise alone cannot be used for full biceps workout, but it is the best among others. For full biceps workout, you need to follow other exercises as well. For both weighted pull ups and Australian pull ups, these muscles are highly stimulated.



A lot of people consider that only biceps are stimulated in the pull-up exercise. However, like biceps, triceps are also stimulated. Triceps help people do the elbow flexion that is involved in the exercise. Triceps are attached to the humerus and scapula; hence, it stimulated when one pull himself up or down. This muscle is also stimulated when someone performs weighted pull ups.


The trapezius muscle is another muscle which is also used in pull ups exercise. To stimulate this muscle correctly, you need to perform that special vertical pulling workout. The trapezius is located on the upper back of the body. With the help of the Latissimus Dorsi, this muscle takes the load of your body when you pull up yourself.



Deltoid is another muscle which is located on the upper back of your body. Pull up exercise stimulates the muscle from upper body, in which deltoids plays an important role. It helps the biceps and trapezius to hold the weight of your body while pulling up yourself. Stimulating this muscle group is a little bit hard compared to other muscles. By doing wide grip pull ups on pullup bar you can stimulate this muscle, but it requires more control and strength.

Pecs (Pectoralis Major) Muscle

The Pectoralis Major is also known as the Pecs muscle. This muscle makes up our body chest muscles. When pulling up and pulling down, this muscle assists the Latissimus Dorsi or Lats muscle so that your body weights divided for both front and back muscles.

Pecs (Pectoralis Major) Muscle

Teres Major, Teres Minor, and Infraspinatus

So, what muscles do pull ups work? Well, the answer is not finished yet. There are other muscles which are stimulated during pull up exercise which includes teres major, teres minor, and infraspinatus. The teres major muscle is located above the lats muscle and attached with the humerus and scapula. On the other hand, infraspinatus muscle spans over the whole back of the shoulder up to the higher arm. The teres minor muscle is located below this infraspinatus muscle. Just below this teres minor, the teres major muscle is located. Together with lats muscle, these muscle helps to hold the weight of your body so that you can pull up yourself effectively.

Teres Major, Teres Minor, and Infraspinatus

Final Words

Pull up exercise is a very challenging exercise for you are a beginner.  If the right procedures and techniques are used, pull up exercise will strengthen your upper body and will give a V-shaped figure which you desire. Moreover, knowing details about the muscle which are stimulated by this exercise is highly essential to choose whether or not to keep this exercise in your daily routine.

Pull up exercise

So, have you got the answer about what muscles do pull ups work? We believe that we have achieved the goal to let you know about the muscle groups which are effectively stimulated so that you can make the right choice while choosing the perfect exercise for you. If you still need more information, please let us know.

About the author

Oana Milton

A Personal Fitness Coach

I’m a fitness trainer specializing in female bodybuilding and lifestyle. I wasn’t always like what I’m now. My social experience is what paves me the way to this peaceful, healthy life. I understand what most women with a bulky, unfit body feel when people look at them and give a disapproving look. I took this way due to such womanly feelings. I feel motivated when a woman lets me know that my coaching did some good to her, and she’s happier than ever before. In addition to the daily workout recommendations, I also provide counseling to those who feel down amid a hostile social atmosphere. I write a lot to inspire fellow women and those who wish for a modern, elegant lifestyle. I hope you would benefit from my write-ups.

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