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Narrow Grip Pull-Ups – The Best Bodyweight Exercise For Biceps And Back

Narrow (or Close) grip pull-ups are a popular variation of the regular pull-ups on the horizontal bar. It’s a basic exercise. However, athletes use it for intense back and bicep workouts. Let’s consider how a narrow grip modifies muscle stress compared with a classic pull-up. And let’s analyze the exercise technique and hand placement options.

What muscles do work?

The name of the exercise speaks for itself. Its key feature is the narrow hand placement on the horizontal bar. Thus, the emphasis of the load is shifted from the back muscles to the arms. You can do the exercise with a straight, reverse, and parallel grip.


What muscles work primarily during exercise?

  • Biceps (biceps brachii)

  • Shoulder muscles (they are located deeper than the biceps. Their other name is “brachialis”)

  • Latissimus dorsi

  • Large round muscle

The reverse grip gives an excellent load on the biceps. Therefore, athletes prefer it. Include this type of pull-up when you train your biceps. Use the narrow grip pull-ups as a basic exercise. The second option is to use the exercise at the end of the training program. In this case, don’t use weights and increase the number of reps.

Narrow grip pull-ups distribute part of the load from the biceps to the brachialis muscle (brachialis). The latissimus muscles (their lower region) work with a parallel grip.

But if the primary goal is the lats, use wide grip pull-ups.


The technique of Narrow grip pull-ups

The starting position is hanging on the horizontal bar with a narrow reverse grip. Let’s consider this option as more common:

1The arms are straight. The distance between the hands is 20-30 centimeters (less than the shoulders). Hang on the horizontal bar and feel a stretch in the back. Take a deep breath

2Slowly pull up with the effort of the target muscles while exhaling. The horizontal bar should be at chin level. Because you will not reach your upper chest with such a grip. Bring your lats together

3Slowly return to the starting position while inhaling. Do the required number of repetitions

Experienced athletes recommend doing 2-3 sets of 7-12 reps without additional weights.

Don’t swing on the horizontal bar during the exercise. It reduces efficiency. In addition, try to keep your elbows in one position.

Training tips and tricks

Let’s talk about the important nuances, which will give the maximum result from the Narrow grip pull-ups. Do you want to make the exercise more effective and improve target muscle work? Then take into account the following tips:

1Narrow grip pull-ups are effective for the arms. Use a wide grip to train your back. The lats, responsible for the powerful back, work better with such grip

2Do you have good experience and sports training? Then try using an additional weight attached to your belt

3Load the biceps only when using the reverse grip. Exclude work of hands in other cases

4If you recently work out on a horizontal bar, then ask your partner to help you. At first, it will be difficult for you to do the amplitude of exercise. A partner will hold your legs and push you to the bar

First of all, learn the technique of classic pull-ups on the horizontal bar. Get experience and minimal training for difficult exercises. After gaining experience, experiment with the grip and add new pull-ups to the training program.


I'm a professional fitness instructor and nutritionist, runner, husband and father. I do my best in providing the right guidance when it comes to the grounds of sexual health, nutrition and common fitness.

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