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Build a V-Taper With This Pull Up Bar Back Workout

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

When it comes to building a wider looking frame, the back and specifically the lats are extremely important.

And when it comes to building strength and muscle in the lats, one of the best ways to do it is through the old-school pull up. It's considered the king of back movements by many, and is extremely simple to perform, requiring just a pull up bar and your own bodyweight.

Aside from just the back, you'll get a great workout in for your biceps, forearms and abs, both of which are crucial muscle groups to developing that impressive physique you'll be proud to show off.

Our team has designed a great pull up workout for you to do, the next time you find yourself in need of a workout and short on equipment. So grab your water bottle, find a pull up bar and let's get to it!

Strong and muscular man doing pull ups in a gym to build strength and muscle in his back and arms

The Workout

  • 5-10 Minute Warmup

  • Archer Pull Ups - 4 x 6-8

  • Chin Ups - 3 x 8-12

  • Paused Pull Ups - 3 x 6-10

  • Inverted Rows - 3 x 10-12

  • Dead Hang Hold - 2 x 30-60 Seconds

  • Post Workout

NOTE: If you find yourself easily hitting the rep goals, you should simply take each set to failure, or one rep shy of it.

That way you'll actually give your muscles enough of a stimulus to grow. If you find the rep ranges are too hard, we'd recommend getting yourself a resistance band to help assist you and try to get the rep ranges.

However if you can get a set of 5 reps each time with good form, that's fine, and you can just stick to bodyweight. You'll build the strength quickly.

The Warmup

This should ideally be a combination of dynamic stretches (such as cross-body arm swings), light foam rolling or easy cardio. Pretty much anything to get the heart rate going, and blood flowing into your muscles.

Especially the back. Prior to your workout, you'll want to make sure you've had plenty to eat, as well as plenty of water to drink, and packed a water bottle with you to keep yourself hydrated, and performing at your best. Just warm up for 5-10 minutes, and you're ready to go.

Archer Pull Ups

Don't worry if you can't do these, because they are a pretty difficult and advanced exercise. If that's the case, you can simply do normal pull ups, or paused pull ups at the top if you can do them.

Archer pull ups are where you simply pull yourself up and out onto one side, straighten the other arm as much as you can, and repeat with the other side. Try to keep your scapula retracted throughout the whole movement.

Archer pull ups are great for training towards a one arm pull up, which we know is a very popular party trick that many would be impressed by.

Archer pull ups are a great way to increase the load on the muscles of the back, as you're biasing one side more than the other, whilst still lifting the same amount of weight.

It's a great exercise for stronger individuals who don't get enough of a challenge out of normal pull ups.

Rest times here are 1-3 minutes between your sets.

Check out JustCalisthenics' awesome video below to see what this looks like!

Chin Ups

Next we'll be continuing to target the lats, and bring in the biceps a little more with the chin up.

Take a double underhand grip, and you'll want to retract your scapula by pulling your shoulder blades down and back. This will help increase your lat activation and prevent your arms from taking over.

Get your chin up to or above the bar, and go down to a full dead hang at the bottom. This full range of motion will really stretch and contract the lats as much as possible, and they'll make each rep you do that much more effective at building both strength and muscle.

You should look to rest anywhere between one and two minutes between your sets here.

Paused Pull Ups

If you find these to be too difficult, you can simply do slow eccentric (lowering phase) pull ups, where you purposely go slower on the way down.

These are just easy ways to increase the difficulty of the regular pull up, and help provide more advanced trainees with a better stimulus.

With the paused pull ups, try to hold yourself up above the bar for one or two seconds, before lowering yourself back down in a controlled manner.

Try to prevent your back from rounding inwards, and don't kick with your feet to try and keep yourself up there. If you have to do tat, it's better to just do a slower eccentrics instead to build up the proper strength. Rest periods for this exercise are 1-2 minutes.

Inverted Rows

For our last pulling exercise of this workout, we'll be doing some more work on the upper back and rear delts, as opposed to just primarily the lats.

However they will still get great activation, as will your biceps and forearms like they have been previously.

You can either do these inverted rows on a low-lying bar with your feet on the ground, or up on a normal pull up bar, with your knees/feet pointing up towards the sky (or if you're strong enough, do them in a front lever hold!).

With your feet on the ground, the exercise is going to be much easier and won't demand nearly as much back, arm and core strength as its unsupported counterpart.

Think of these like barbell rows, where you'll want to think about driving back with your elbows and angling them depending on the muscle groups you want to focus on. With wide, flared elbows, the emphasis will be placed onto the upper back and rear delts. With the elbows tucked in, the lats will be emphasized.

However we'd recommend taking an elbow angle somewhere around 45 degrees, so that you can get a good level of activation in all parts of the back.

Rest times here are 1-2 and a half minutes.

Check out Tom Merrick's awesome guide below for how to do this! (Skip to 4:48 to see Tom demonstrate the more advanced, unsupported variation).

Dead Hang Hold

We'll be finishing off this bodyweight 'pull' workout with two sets of dead hang holds. It's pretty simple.

You're just going to grab onto the bar, relax the rest of your body and just hang there for 30-60 seconds, depending on your fitness level.

You can readjust your grip if needed, but try not to let go of the bar until you've hit at least 30 seconds. if you were able to make it to the end of this workout without your grip failing, you should have no problem hitting 45 or even above 60 seconds per set.

We're doing this to build up some forearm and grip strength, as well as give you the chance to stretch out your lats a bit, as they were worked pretty hard during this workout.

Post Workout

After your workout you should look to do some kind of warm down, whether that's static stretching, foam rolling the back, or more but shorter sets of dead hang holds.

Doing this will just help alleviate some of the muscle tightness that you might feel when you wake up the next morning.

The first time we tried this workout, our lats were very, very tight the next morning. So just make sure you are doing at least some kind of warm down to help reduce this.

It's also a good idea for you to have a snack or a meal that's high in protein, whether that's a protein bar, a protein shake, chicken and rice, eggs on toast or something along those lines.

It's just a good way to give your body the fuel it needs to repair your muscles and allow for muscular hypertrophy, to have them come back bigger and stronger for your next session.


Thanks so much for reading this post, and we hope you enjoyed looking into out bodyweight 'pull' workout!

Definitely give this routine a try, and let us know how you got on! Keep working hard, and you'll get your coveted v-taper sooner than you might think.

And if you would like some help with getting in shape faster (even if you're training with minimal equipment like you did today!), check out our custom training programs feature!

And to unlock more blog psot reads each month and truly become the smartest athlete you can be, start your free trial with a premium Gympulsive subscription today!


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