7 Different Types of Pull Ups to Build Incredible Strength

Congratulations on getting your first pull up, that’s no easy feat. Now it’s time to step up your skills with these 7 different types of pull ups to stay motivated while building muscle and strength with calisthenics.

Welcome, my name is Summerfunfitness. I am a self-taught female calisthenics athlete with no gymnastics experience. Over the years, I’ve taught myself how to do skills I couldn’t even imagine when I started.

As of January 2022, I quit my full-time career to build this website to help adults easily incorporate calisthenics training so they, too, can experience the pride and joy that comes from mastering their body weight.

I started calisthenics with the goal of learning how to do pull-ups, so I know exactly how hard – yet rewarding this journey can be.

You Got Your First Pull Up; Now What?

Once you’ve gotten comfortable doing 3-5 pull ups, you’ll need to increase the exercise’s difficulty to continue building strength; this concept is known as progressive overload.

If you don’t increase the difficulty of the pull up, you’ll eventually plateau and fall into maintenance mode (meaning no more gains👎). You’ve worked so hard to get to this point, don’t just settle with good enough! Keep pushing!

The next step to get better at pull ups is to….

beginner pull up demo

Pull Through a Full Range of Motion

If you want to build shoulder stability while increasing your athleticism (through greater proprioception), work on full range of motion pull-ups. As a calisthenics beginner, this make take a while to master – but don’t worry. It’ll come.

How to do a full rom(range of motion) pull up:

  1. Start from a hanging position (no swinging)
  2. Engage your core by pulling your toes slightly in front of your body (into a hollow body shape)
  3. Perform a scapular pull
  4. Inhale
  5. Then, exhale while pulling up (exhale upon exertion in all exercises)
  6. Pause for a moment at the top
  7. Descend slow and controlled

Why do some people do partial rom pull-ups?

Doing partial reps results in more time under tension which stimulates muscle growth, BUT if you only use this method, you miss out on building control through the entire range of motion, which helps with every other calisthenics skill.

To combine muscle growth and strength with pull-ups, do full range of motion pull ups with integrated pauses. Or perform an easier pull up variation for 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets as the hypertrophy-specific portion of your workout.

calisthenics girl doing an active hang

It’s time to stop crossing your legs in a pull up

You have two main body positions to choose from when doing pull ups for calisthenics:

  • Hollow body
  • Arch body
laying on grass girl show a hollow body hold vs a arch body hold

Hollow Body Pull Ups for Calisthenics Strength

If you truly want to get better at calisthenics, you need to become a master at the hollow body position. Whether doing a pull-up, a planche, a handstand or a muscle-up, you’ll be utilizing a hollow body position – so you better start incorporating them today! Trust me; you’ll thank me later. 

For more on how to develop your hollow body strength, check out this 6 minute workout >

calisthenics girl doing a hollow body pull up

Arch Body Pull Ups for Back Gains

If you are trying to build upper back muscle size with calisthenics training, the arch body pull up is an excellent option as it places a greater emphasis on your posterior chain.

I prefer hollow body pull ups as they build more transferable calisthenics body awareness and strength.

calisthenics girl doing arch body pull ups

High Pull Ups are Key for Explosive Power

Work on your explosive power by pulling higher – and I mean WAYYYY higher, specifically to your waistline.

A well-rounded calisthenics program would include power, strength and muscle building (in my opinion, that is), so make sure to include at least one explosive pulling variation in your workouts.

To perform a high pull up, start with a bit of a swing, maintain a hollow body position and pull in a “c” shape instead of pulling vertically as with a regular pull up.

calisthenics girl doing high pull ups

The goal with high pull ups is to eventually pull to your waistline. I’m not quite there yet, so see Chris Heria below. If these are feeling just a little bit too out of reach try…

chris heria doing high pull ups

Clapping Pull Ups

Clapping pull ups are really fun to execute as the sound and feeling of actually connecting your hands together is a great motivator. 

If you’re working on getting over the fear of releasing the bar, try clapping rows instead. 

Explosive movements not your favorite? Let’s go slow and controlled with…

calisthenics girl doing clapping pull-ups

L-Sit Pull Ups

Get more out of your pull up with L-sit pulls. These will fire up your core, hip flexors and back, making them a great exercise to incorporate when you are short on time.

Looking to build pure strength with pull ups? Then you must incorporate…

calisthenics girl doing l sit pull ups

Weighted Pull-Ups

Easily increase the difficulty of your regular pull up by adding weight. When doing weighted pull ups I prefer to focus on strength sets such as doing a 5×5 (5 reps, 5 sets, minimum 2 minutes of rest).

For a sample calisthenic pull workout routine, check out my muscle-up workout, it combines many of the different types of pull ups we covered today. 

calisthenics girl doing weighted pull ups at 45lbs

Different Types of Pull Ups

Training different types of pull-ups keep you motivated to get your butt to the gym while continuing to grow your muscle, upper body range of motion and core. Plus, pull ups make you feel so powerful and strong.

Don’t forget to include horizontal pulling too!
When building a calisthenics pull workout, it is essential to include some horizontal pulling along with your pull ups (pull ups are only vertical). The easiest way to do this is with Australian Rows.

Check out my Top 10 Calisthenics Pull Exercises for more calisthenics pull options.

calisthenics girl doing behind the neck pull ups

Calisthenics Pull Workout

 Ready to take action? Here’s a few free calisthenics pull workouts:

calisthenics girl does ring muscle-ups
calisthenics girl doing a full human flag