10 Calisthenics Pull Exercises to Feel Insanely Strong
These calisthenics pull exercises make working out fun while building muscle mass, strength and core – even as a girl.
Can girls do pull-ups?
Of course, they can.
As you can see in this article, I (a female) taught myself how to go from 0 pull-ups to 16 pull-ups (and 7 muscle-ups).
I hope that my dedication inspires you to work towards your goals regardless of your gender or current strength level.
Welcome! My name is Summer. I am a self-taught calisthenics girl on a mission to help you get started in calisthenics.
If you do not have an at home pull-up bar, you can use gymnastics rings for today’s calisthenics pull exercises.
Calisthenics Pulling Skills
Let’s start off with some fun calisthenics pulling skills before moving into the strength-focused section. These two drills bring out your hidden gymnast, making them super fun while also improving strength, body awareness and mobility.
1. Pull Over to Negative Muscle-Up
Beginner Modification: Choose a pull-up bar that is closer to the ground so you can kick up and over the bar.
This is a great way to create more body awareness while getting above the bar for negative muscle-ups.
2. Advanced Skin the Cat to German Hang
This has long been a staple in my calisthenics workouts. Performing skin the cats and german hangs improve shoulder range of motion, core strength, core compression and body awareness.
Perform skin the cats after a warm-up before your strength training. These are an excellent way to prepare your shoulders for the upcoming workout.
Beginner Calisthenics – Skin the Cat
Make the skin the cat easier by tucking your knees, crossing at the ankles, and reducing the range of motion. I started with this progression. Perform this exercise close to the ground just in case you cannot pull yourself back through. Make sure you are constantly pulling down on the bar as much as possible for optimal engagement.
Can’t Do a Pull Up Yet?
Learn how to get your pull-up, build muscle and feel like a badass with this actionable guide and pull-up workout program.
3. Jackknife Pull-Ups
Can’t do pull-ups yet? Get your first pull-up by working on Jackknife pull-ups paired with negative pull-ups.
If you’re stuck at 2-3 pull-ups, use this variation to increase your overall pulling volume. Complete 3 sets of 2-3 pull-ups followed by 3 sets of 12. Jackknife Pull-Ups.
4. Commando Pull-Ups
So you got your first pull-up; now what? Add in commando pull-ups for an added challenge on the biceps and core. This is a very humbling exercise. I can hit around 16 pull-ups but ask me to do more than 6 commando pull-ups on either side, and I’m toast!
- Choose a lower bar
- Use a box to get into the top position
- Perform slow negatives to build strength
- Use a foot assist to slow down your negative if needed
Commando Pull-Up Benefit: These balance out pulling strength on either side of the body while challenging your core due to the increased stability challenge.
5. Behind the Neck Pull-Ups
This monster calisthenics pull-up should only be attempted once you can comfortably perform 10 pull-ups. The behind-the-neck pull-up requires greater shoulder mobility than the regular pull-up. If you struggle with shoulder mobility, this variation is not for you.
Beginner Modification: Use a box to help you get into the top position then perform holds or negatives.
6. Clapping Pull-Ups
As humans, we tend to find a good routine and then repeatedly perform the same thing for months, if not years. If this is you with your pull-ups, it’s time to change things up by adding in clapping pull-ups or rows.
Beginner Modification: Perform Clapping Australian Rows.
Clapping Pull-up Benefits: Improved explosive strength.
7. L-Sit Pull-Ups
Bored of training your core? Add these L-Sit Pull-Ups into your training to build insane core strength while having fun and increasing your pulling skills.
Beginner Modification: Perform L-sit Hangs and Jackknife Pull-ups.
8. Australian Rows
Australian rows are an essential component for building calisthenics and bodyweight strength. Rows should be a staple exercise in everyone’s workout plan – whether you are an advanced athlete or just starting calisthenics.
Muscles worked in an Australian row: Trapezius, Posterior Deltoid, Bicep, Latissimus Dorsi
Beginner Australian Rows
To reduce the difficulty of this bodyweight pulling exercise, perform the row in a more upright position. I recommend starting with the most challenging variation you can do, then slowly making it easier as you become more fatigued.
Advanced Australian Rows
Make this exercise more challenging by elevating the feet and performing a hold at the top and middle positions.
9. Face Pulls
Here we move into bodybuilding calisthenics. Face pulls are a great way to hit your hypertrophy target to increase your back size. This exercise targets your rear delts and improves shoulder stabilization.
Face Pulls muscles worked: Posterior Deltoid, Lateral Deltoid, Middle Trapezius, Rhomboids, Core
Beginner Modification: Perform the exercise more upright.
10. Korean Dips
Korean Dips have carryover strength to back levers, hefestos and planches. If you are looking to get better at calisthenics, I recommend trying these out. And yes, for those picky people, it does include some pushing strength in the top portion. However, most of the load is placed on your biceps, so I have included it in this list.
Personal note: At my fitness level, I don’t often get sore..that is until yesterday when I woke up with biceps that felt like they grew overnight from filming these dips. I will be including these more regularly.
Beginner Modification: None. Intermediate-level athletes should only attempt these. Beginners focus on mastering a regular dip.
How to Increase Pull-Ups
Are you struggling with increasing your pull-ups? Here’s how to increase your pull-up quantity using different pull up variations.
Calisthenics Pull Exercise List
This top 10 list just scratches the surface of all the calisthenics pull exercises available. Check out my Complete List of Calisthenics Exercises for more exercises, or download your copy below.
Ready to get your first pull-up at home? Check out my favourite at door frame pull-up bar here. Use code Summerfitness10 for 10% off.
Calisthenics Pull Workouts
Not sure how to format a calisthenics pull workout? Check out my free calisthenics workouts below to get started in calisthenics 🙂
Learn how I got my muscle-up in 3 months, or try out my free muscle-up workout to get your muscle-up.