Neutral Grip Pull Ups: How to Perform, Benefits, & Tips 

a vector image of workout equipment on a blue background - it is the main image for the article "What Do Calf Raises Do"

Neutral grip pull ups are one of the most underrated exercises on this planet. 

From increasing muscle mass more efficiently to having advantages over types of pull-ups, neutral grip pull ups are one that you want in your repertoire. 

Let’s get straight into it and take a look at neutral grip pull ups. 

What Is a Neutral Grip Pull-up? 

A neutral grip pull-up is a variation of the traditional pull-up exercise, where you grip the bar with your palms facing each other (i.e., in a neutral position), rather than with your palms facing away from you (overhand grip) or towards you (underhand grip). 

Neutral grip pull ups aren’t as popular as regular pull ups and chin ups, but they are still used on a regular basis by bodybuilders and strength athletes to build muscle and target certain muscle groups. 

Speaking of muscle groups; neutral grip pull ups work the back, biceps, core, and forearms. 

In particular, the neutral grip pull up is good at targeting the middle muscles of the back, with it being one of the few exercises that are able to work them quite effectively. 

Neutral pull ups are also great for beginners as they are easier to perform than traditional pull ups. 

How To Perform a Neutral Grip Pull Up 

Performing a neutral grip pull up is pretty simple. 

To begin with, find a pull up bar that has neutral grip handles. 

From here, grab the handles so your palms are facing each other and hang from the bar.

Engage your core and tense your back and biceps and begin to pull yourself up to the bar. 

Once you are at the top, squeeze your lats together and then descend into the start position in a controlled manner. 

Neutral Grip Pull-up Benefits 

Benefit #1: More Exercise Selection  

One of the most significant benefits of neutral grip pull ups is that they are a great variation of an incredible exercise. 

Neutral grip pull-ups offer a unique hand position that targets different muscles than traditional pull-ups. 

By using a neutral grip, with your palms facing each other, you engage more of your biceps and upper back muscles, while also targeting your lats and forearms. 

This increased exercise selection can help you develop a more well-rounded physique and prevent muscle imbalances. 

Benefit #2: More Fun  

Variety is the spice of life, and that applies to your workout routine too. 

Neutral grip pull-ups can be a fun and challenging alternative to traditional pull-ups, which can help keep your workouts interesting and engaging. 

Plus, because they target different muscles, you may find that neutral grip pull-ups are more enjoyable and less frustrating if you’ve been struggling with traditional pull-ups. 

Benefit #3: Safer  

Because the neutral grip places your hands in a more natural position, it can be a safer option for those with shoulder or wrist pain. 

Additionally, because the neutral grip engages more of your biceps and upper back muscles, you may find that you’re able to perform more reps or sets with proper form, which can reduce your risk of injury. 

Benefit #4: The Squeeze 

One unique benefit of neutral grip pull-ups is the opportunity to really squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. 

This can help improve your posture and shoulder mobility, while also targeting your upper back muscles in a way that traditional pull-ups may not. 

By focusing on the squeeze at the top of the movement, you can get more out of each rep and see better results. 

Neutral Grip Pull-up Muscles Worked 

Neutral grip pull-ups primarily work the muscles of the back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. 

They also engage the biceps, forearms, and grip muscles to some degree. 

The neutral grip (palms facing each other) in pull-ups tends to emphasize the activation of the middle back muscles (teres major, infraspinatus, and rear deltoids) more than other variations. 

This is due to the positioning of the shoulder joint, which puts the middle back muscles in a more favourable position to contribute to the movement. 

Furthermore, neutral grip pull-ups require a great deal of stabilization from the core, which helps to strengthen the abs and obliques. 

This makes neutral grip pull ups terrific for building overall upper body muscle and strength, and they are particularly good at building mid-back strength. 

Neutral Grip Pull Up Alternatives 

If for one reason or another neutral grip pull ups aren’t for you or you don’t have a pull up bar with neutral grip handles, then there are a plethora of incredible alternatives you could choose. 

For one, you have got the thousands of different pull up variations out there. Wide grip pull ups, chin ups, one handed pull ups – the list goes on. 

These all work similar muscle groups and target the same muscles as neutral grip pull ups, although some may target certain muscle groups more effectively. 

If pull ups aren’t your thing, then there’s also rows and lat pulldowns. 

Once again, these are incredible exercises that work the same muscles as neutral grip pull ups, but you will either need a home gym or access to a local gym to perform them. 

All in all, if you are looking for an alternative to neutral grip pull ups, you certainly are not going to be limited in your options. 

Neutral-grip Pull Up Versus Regular Chin-ups 

The neutral pull-ups vs chin-ups debate is highly controversial, with some saying that neutral grip pull ups are superior while others say that regular chin ups are better. 

The truth? 

They are both excellent exercises that are just as effective as one another. 

Both target the same muscle groups, and you can get great back and bicep development from either one of them. 

The only advantage that neutral grip pull ups have is that they are slightly easier to perform, meaning you may be able to progress faster with them as a beginner. 

Apart from this, it’s mainly down to personal preferences. 

Equipment Needed to Perform Neutral Grip Pull-ups 

You do not need much equipment to perform neutral grip pull ups, but you may have to get a special item to allow you to perform them on any current pull up bar you may have. 

For most people, getting “neutral pull up grips” and attaching them to your current pull up bar is going to be your best option if you want to do them at home. 

Most home pull up bars do not have handles to perform neutral grip pull ups, and if yours doesn’t have them, then you may want to get some (they are pretty inexpensive). 

if not, you could just get a new pull up bar altogether. 

While it is rare for home pull up bars to come with neutral grip handles, they are out there.

If you don’t workout at home and instead work out at a gym, the vast majority of gyms will have a power tower that will have a pull up bar with neutral grip handles equipment. 

Neutral Grip Pull-up Progression 

There are quite a few ways you can go about neutral grip pull up progression. 

When you are first starting out, if you are not able to do one neutral grip pull up, you should jump up to the bar and then do reps just using the decline of the movement. 

This can allow you to build up the strength to perform your first full neutral grip pull up. 

Once you can do one or two neutral grip pull ups with good form, start doing reps of just one or two. 

You will quickly build up some strength and will be able to perform more as time goes on. 

From here, just do as many neutral grip pull ups as you can each set until you reach 12. 

If you can do 12 reps for 4 or 5 sets, you are already stronger than 99% of the population – this is a feat that you should be proud of. 

To continue progressing after this, get a weightlifting belt and just keep adding weight as you gain more strength. 

You could also switch to doing more difficult pull up variations if you do not want to use weight. 

Mistakes To Avoid 

Neutral grips are a simple exercise, but there are a few mistakes that you may end up walking into if you are not aware of them. 

Perhaps the most common mistake we see with neutral grip pull ups is kipping (using momentum). 

Neutral grip pull ups can be made much easier if you use a little momentum, but this decreases the tension on your muscles drastically. 

This can make this once great exercise almost useless, and you will reduce the effectiveness of neutral grip pull ups ten-fold even if you just allow yourself to swing a little. 

Another common mistake you need to avoid is practising bad form. 

As you tire throughout a set, your form may begin to fall apart in order to facilitate the extra reps. 

While this can be fine in some situations, for the majority of people, you should not continue a set if you are unable to perform another rep with good form. 

This can create bad habits, and it can also increase the chance of injury. 

Each rep should be controlled throughout the entire movement, and you should make sure you are using both sides of your body equally to pull yourself up.  

Why You Should Train Neutral Grip Pull Ups 

One of the main reasons why you should train neutral grip pull ups is because they are easier to do than regular pull ups. 

This makes them a great choice for beginners who struggle to do regular pull ups as well as for those who just want to be able to perform more pull ups. 

They are also great for getting past plateaus. 

If you are struggling to increase the number of pull ups you can do, introducing some neutral grip pull ups into your routine is likely going to work wonders. 

Finally, neutral grip pull ups are just a fantastic exercise that you can use to increase variety. 

As we become more advanced as lifters, our bodies begin to adapt to the exercises and produce less stimulus by working out. 

By adding in new variations of different exercises, we can help minimise said adaptations and optimise muscle and strength growth for years to come. 

What Is the Ideal Grip Width? 

The ideal grip width for neutral grip pull ups is shoulder-width. 

However, you can alter your grip width depending on which muscles you would like to target more. 

For example, wide neutral grip pull-ups will work the back more, while close grip neutral pull ups will work your biceps and forearms more. 

Feel free to experiment to see what works best for you, but if you are looking to work your back and arms equally, then shoulder width is recommended. 

No Neutral Grip Bar? No Problem! 

If you want to perform neutral grip pull ups but do not have a capable bar, this isn’t an issue. 

For a quick solution, you can get neutral pull up grips that you can just attach to your existing pull up bar. 

This will be cheaper than getting a brand new pull up bar, and it is also a good choice for those of you who already love their pull up bar and do not want to get a new one. 

If you are not concerned about price and are open to getting a new pull up bar, then this is always an option too. 

Neutral grip pull up bars tend to be a little pricier and a little rarer than regular pull up bars, and you might not have a door or opening that is able to hold one. 

But if you do, then this is a great solution. 

Neutral Grip Pull Ups – FAQs 

Is Neutral Grip Better For Pull-ups? 

Neutral grip pull ups are just as effective as regular pull ups. 

Some would argue that neutral grip pull ups are even more effective than regular pull ups, as most people can perform more neutral grip pull ups. 

This can lead to more muscle growth and strength in the long run. 

What Are Neutral Grip Pull-ups Good For? 

Neutral grip pull ups are good for increasing muscle mass and strength as well as acting as a great alternative for regular pull ups. 

By incorporating neutral grip pull ups into your routine, you will bust past plateaus and make your workouts more exciting. 

Are Neutral Grip Pull-ups The Easiest? 

Yes, neutral grip pull ups are the easiest type of pull up to perform. 

If you are struggling to do pull ups, focusing on neutral grip pull ups will help you get the results you want faster. 

Are Neutral Grip Pull-ups Easier Or Harder? 

Neutral grip pull ups are easier than other variations of pull up. 

This is because the arms are closer to the centre of mass when performing neutral grip pull ups, giving a better base to pull from and making the exercise easier.  

What’s Better Between Neutral Grip Pull-ups Vs Pull-ups? 

Neither neutral grip pull ups or regular pull ups are better than the other. 

Both work the same muscle groups, and both are great at building muscle mass and strength. 

Is There a Neutral Grip Pull Ups Reddit? 

No, there isn’t a neutral grip pull ups Reddit. 

Although, there are posts about neutral grip pull ups in other categories.  

How Many Neutral Grip Pull-ups Is Good? 

The average lifter can do 15 neutral grip pull ups, so any number of 15 puts you ahead of the majority of gym-goers. 

However, when it comes to the general population, even being able to perform 1 or 2 neutral grip pull ups is considered good. 

Are Neutral Grip Pull-Ups Better? 

Neutral grip pull ups are just as effective as regular pull ups. 

Both are excellent exercises that can build tremendous back muscle and strength. 

What is the Hardest Grip for Pull-Ups?

The pronated grip, where the palms face away from the body, is often considered the hardest grip for pull-ups. This grip places significant demand on grip strength, forearm muscles, and bicep strength.

Starting from a dead hang position on a pull-up bar, the pronated grip engages the upper body muscles, including the lats, rhomboids, and biceps, making it an effective exercise for overall upper body strength development.

Fitness enthusiasts looking to challenge themselves and enhance their grip strength often incorporate the pronated grip into their strength training programs. Performing pull-ups with a wider grip adds an extra level of difficulty, activating a broader range of muscles, and providing a great way to target different areas of the upper body.

What is the Point of False Grip Pull-Ups?

False grip pull-ups involve gripping the pull-up bar with the palms over the bar rather than around it. This grip variation is a great way to enhance hand strength and forearm muscles.

The starting position of false grip pull-ups is unique, as the wrists are positioned above the bar, requiring correct form to maintain control.

The point of false grip pull-ups is to increase muscle activation in the forearms and biceps, providing an effective exercise for those seeking greater hand strength and a variety of exercises to challenge their upper body.

While false grip pull-ups may place less stress on the wrists, they are an advanced technique and should be approached with caution to ensure proper form and minimize strain on the lower back.

Do Neutral Grip Pull-Ups Work Rear Delts?

Neutral grip pull-ups, where the palms face each other, primarily target the muscles in the middle of the back, such as the lats and rhomboids. While neutral grip pull-ups contribute to overall upper body muscle development and engage the biceps to a lesser degree, their impact on the rear delts is limited.

For targeting the rear delts specifically, other exercises like face pulls or reverse flyes may be more effective. Neutral grip pull-ups, performed on parallel bars or with handles, are a great place to diversify upper body exercises, especially for those looking to vary their routine and work the sides of the body.

Including a variety of grips in training programs helps ensure a comprehensive range of motion and muscle activation across different muscle groups.

We hope this article will be of some use to you. 

Neutral grip pull ups are an excellent exercise that everyone should at least consider including in their routine, and if you are struggling to progress with pull ups or chin ups, then the solution may be standing right in front of you. 

If you would like more information about neutral grip pull ups or are just interested in fitness in general, don’t hesitate to check out the rest of the content we have at MovingForwards

See you next time.