What’s the first thing that comes to mind when pull-up bars enter a conversation?

I’m guessing it’s pull-ups. Not me! It’s the vision of someone hanging from the bar, doing an exercise they falsely categorize as pull-ups because their form is beyond awful.

That being the case, I’m going to start this list of exercises describing the proper form for a pull-up. But be aware, there are a lot of other fun exercises you can do while brachiating from the bar. And unlike the pull-up, you can’t fake them so get ready to work!


So let’s go..!

Hop up and grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Tuck your pelvis under, and move your legs together and forward at a slight angle. Pull your shoulder blades inward by tightening your upper lats and forcefully contract your abs. This is called a hollow body position. Keep the tension as you pull yourself up in a smooth, fluid motion.

Stop when your chin clears the bar and hold for a second. Slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended and repeat.

For a variation, turn your palms around into an underhand grip. These are called chin-ups and they will place more emphasis on your biceps.

Hanging Pikes

Once you start doing ab-specific exercises on the pull-up bar, it’s hard to go back to your old ways of training. You get an effect that is truly hard to describe.

Hanging pikes are one of those exercises with a high return on investment. Begin by hanging from the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Tighten your upper lats to keep your body from swaying and pull your legs up until the front of your ankles touch the bar. Slowly lower your legs all the way down and repeat.

exercises with pull up bar_2

If you cannot make it all the way up in the beginning, and there is a VERY good chance you can’t, don’t worry, just lift them up as high as you can. After a few workouts, try to get them higher and higher until you can get them all the way up.


Hanging wipers are self-explanatory. Your legs look like windshield wipers going back and forth.

Hang from the bar like you would with pikes. Keep tension in your lats as you lift your legs straight up close to the bar. Lean back slightly and move your legs to the right as far as possible. Move them in a circular motion to the left and continue to alternate.

Ideally, your legs stay straight throughout but you might need to bend your knees slightly when first starting out. Also, you likely won’t be able to do these until you can do full pikes.

Ice Cream Makers

I have really long arms and legs and have to admit, these babies are tough! If you also have long limbs, expect to struggle at first. I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just being honest! And I’d like to warn you ahead of time because I’m an ambassador of goodwill.

OK, reach up and grab the bar as if you were going to do a set of pull-ups. Perform one pull-up and hold yourself in that spot. Arch your back slightly and tighten your entire posterior chain and abs as you “lever” your body forward and straighten your arms.

In a perfect world your arms will be fully extended at this point and your body will be parallel to the floor. Sway yourself back to the starting point with your arms bent and repeat.

Inverted Sit-ups

You are going to need a pair of gravity boots for this exercise. Inversion alone is a wonderful practice you should do daily. When you add sit-ups to the mix, then you’re going to crush your abs.

Attach the boots to your lower legs and make sure they are snug. Don’t put them on too tight though as it will cut off your circulation. Reach up and grasp the bar with both hands and carefully lift your legs to it. Carefully slip the hooks over the bar and straighten your legs. Slowly let go of the bar and lower yourself. You will need to keep your abs really tight just to do this.

Once you are fully inverted, sit up as far as you can and reach for your toes. Slowly lower yourself down and repeat. To make it more challenging, place your hands on the sides of your head and perform your sit-ups.

You’ll notice I didn’t include those dreadful kipping pull-ups in this list. That’s because they’re senseless and dangerous. I might’ve just lost some of you but the truth hurts doesn’t it? If I said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – there is nothing cool about using momentum and flopping around like a guppy while hanging from a pull-up bar.

Before I depart, I want to ensure you do one thing. Always perform low reps and do many sets. If you use picture perfect technique, you will create a lot of tension in your body and I promise you will get great results. There is never a need to do high reps.

OK, have fun and give me a shout if you need any further assistance with exercises with pull up bar.

Connect here with Expert Kevin Rail.

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