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Neutral grip pull-ups are performed in a similar manner to regular pull-ups and chin-ups, but with a different hand placement. This exercise hits the three main back muscles -- your lats, rhomboids and traps -- and also works your biceps, forearms and core. Adding neutral grip pull-ups to your workout is good for the back, resulting in stronger muscles for lifting and other actions.
To perform neutral grip pull-ups, you'll need a pull-up bar that has neutral or parallel grip handles. These are handles that put your hands in a neutral position, with your palms facing each other. Grab the bar with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart then start the rep with your body hanging straight down and arms fully extended. Pull yourself up forcefully until your chin is above the bar, pause momentarily, then lower yourself again under control.
You may find neutral grip pull-ups slightly easier to perform than regular chin-ups and definitely easier than wide, overhand pull-ups. Your arms are in a stronger position, which means you should be able to complete more repetitions. Because neutral grip pull-ups place less strain on your arm muscles, your biceps won't tire and limit your movement, as is the case with wide grip pull-ups. With the neutral grip, your back muscles do more work and, therefore, get a better workout.
To target your back muscles even more, pause for a second in the dead hang position at the bottom of your pull-up. This stretches out your lat muscles and makes them work harder to initiate the movement when you pull yourself back up. To increase rhomboid and trap activation, squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the pull-up. Perform your reps in a controlled fashion and try to feel your back muscles working on each one.
Your training split dictates the place for neutral grip pull-ups in your routine. If you're on a full body routine, perform them two to three times each week for three sets of eight to 10 reps. If you're following a body part split, make pull-ups part of your back workout, but you may also wish to add them in on one other day too. If you can't perform body-weight neutral grip pull-ups yet, loop a resistance band around the bar and use it for assistance, or perform negative pull-ups, in which you start in the top position and lower yourself down as slowly as possible, advises trainer Rachel Cosgrove of Results Fitness in California.