Hammer pull-ups (also known as neutral grip pull-ups) primarily work the lats, biceps, and forearms. This makes the hammer pull-up a middle ground between the wide-grip pull-up and the chin-up. Wide grip pull-ups target the muscles of the back, while chin-ups mostly work your arms. The hammer pull-up works a bit of both. This makes it a great exercise to cap off a back workout because your arm muscles can assist you as you power through your final sets.
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Are Neutral Grip Pull-Ups Better For Shoulders than Wide Grip Pull-Ups?
If you’re looking to get a workout for your rear deltoids (the muscles on the back portion of your shoulders), then the wide-grip pull-up will provide more benefit than neutral grip pull-ups. This is because the wide grip engages your back muscles, including your rear deltoids. The neutral, or hammer grip, pull-up takes the focus off your back and shoulder muscles, placing it on the biceps muscles instead.
- Wide grip pull-ups are more effective at activating the shoulder muscles than neutral grip pull-ups.
- Neutral grip pull-ups work the biceps more than the shoulder muscles.
- If you are rehabbing a shoulder injury, consider switching to neutral grip pull-ups to give your body time to heal.
If, however, you are recovering from a shoulder injury, neutral grip pull-ups are a better option than wide grip pull-ups. You have less chance of aggravating an existing shoulder injury if you perform pull-ups with a neutral grip. This will enable you to get a back workout while giving your shoulder joints a chance to heal.
Do Hammer Pull-Ups Work Your Back?
Hammer pull-ups are effective at working your back muscles, particularly your latissimus dorsi (lats). Your lats run from just beneath your shoulder blades down to the top of your hips, making them the largest muscle in your back. They are one of the primary muscles used during neutral grip pull-ups. So, this pull-up variation is great for building back strength and muscle mass.
- Hammer pull-ups work your lats as a primary muscle, making them a very good back workout.
- In addition to your back, your arms will do some of the work during hammer pull-ups.
- Wide grip pull-ups are more effective at targeting back muscles than hammer pull-ups.
Although you will get a good back workout from hammer pull-ups, this exercise will also engage your arm muscles to a large degree. This is due to the pull-up position that places your arms out in front of your body. If you want a pure back workout when you step up to the pull-up bar, perform wide-grip pull-ups. The wide-grip lat pulldown can help build up strength for the wide-grip pull-up as well. They place more emphasis on major muscles in your back and deemphasize the role of the arms.
What are the Primary Muscles Worked by Hammer Pull-Ups?
The three muscles that you will work the most during hammer pull-ups are your latissimus dorsi (lats), biceps, and forearm muscles. The lats will generate a lot of power to bring your body up to the bar, making hammer pull-ups great for building muscle mass and strength in the mid-back.
Due to your arm position during hammer pull-ups, your biceps and grip carry a heavy load. Essentially, the hammer pull-up involves biceps contraction similar to a dumbbell curl. This movement not only works your biceps but also engages your forearm muscles more so than other pull-up variations. The small muscles in the forearm, such as the brachioradialis, contract during this motion. This makes neutral grip pull-ups a great way to train grip strength.
What are the Secondary Muscles Used During Hammer Pull-Ups?
Although hammer pull-ups mostly recruit the lats to do the work, several other upper body muscle groups assist in performing this bodyweight exercise. Your trapezius muscle (traps) and rear deltoids, which support your neck and the rear of your shoulder, are engaged as secondary muscles. Additionally, the rhomboid muscles between your shoulder blades and the Terres major just below your armpit assist in performing the pull-up motion.
- Rear deltoids
- Terres Major
- Obliques and Upper Abdominals
Because performing pull-ups without swinging requires practice and a tight core, the core muscles of your abdominal section are also worked during hammer pull-ups. Particularly, your obliques and the upper portion of your abs receive a workout. To a slightly lesser degree, the triceps muscle on the rear of your arm is used to control your body weight as you lower yourself downward after each pull-up.
How Do Hammer Pull-Ups Compare to Other Pull-Up Variations?
Hammer grip pull-ups are a hybrid back and arm exercise that provide benefits to both muscle groups. This makes them a middle ground between regular pull-ups and underhand grip chin-ups. Regular wide grip pull-ups specifically focus on the back muscles and use the biceps as a secondary muscle. On the other hand, chin-ups primarily work the biceps, greatly reducing the focus on the muscles of the back. The neutral grip pull-up has some of the benefits of each exercise.
- More focus on biceps and forearms than wide grip pull-ups
- Less focus on rear delts and accessory back muscles than wide-grip pull-ups.
- More back muscle activation than chin-ups.
- Less arm-focused exercise than chin-ups.
Because neutral grip pull-ups are a hybrid exercise, you can incorporate them into arm day or back day workout routines. Additionally, they serve excellent crosstraining purposes. Because they build grip strength and arm muscle, performing neutral grip pull-ups can train accessory muscles and boost your performance at wide grip pull-ups.
What Muscles Do Neutral Grip Pull-Ups Work?
Neutral grip pull-ups, also known as hammer pull-ups, primarily build muscle in the lats, biceps, and forearms. This makes them excellent for building strength in your arms, grip, and mid-back. Although this is the primary focus of neutral grip pull-ups, they also work accessory muscles in your back, shoulders, core, and arms.