Why you should do arched back pull ups

It’s not for nothing that arched back pull ups are called the perfect pull ups. Learn why arched back pull ups are better than regular pull ups.

arched back pull ups

What are arched back pull ups?

Pull ups can be done in two ways. In the hollow body position or with an arched back. As the name says, the arched back pull ups are executed with an arched back. The main purpose of this exercise is to control the scapula position throughout the full range of motion. Retracted scapula and arched back engage the back muscles more than hollow body pull ups, which involve core muscles to compensate for lack of back strength.

Benefits of arched back pull ups

Arched back pull ups have many benefits, here are a few of them


Arched back pull ups focus only on back muscles, they don’t involve the core and lats muscles as much as regular pull ups. So if your goal is to build up your back, this pull up variation is much better for that than the hollow body pull ups.


Pull ups are the basic exercise everyone knows. If you’re already bored of them you can add arched back pull ups to your routine to try something new. This will make your workout more challenging and enjoyable

Muscles worked during arched back pull ups

The arched back pull up works most of the major muscles in the upper body

The primary muscles worked in arched back pull ups are:

  • middle and lower traps
  • rhomboids
  • erector spinea
  • latissimus dorsi

Additional secondary muscles worked include:

  • lower back
  • glutes
  • deltoids

Step-by-step guide on how to do arched back pull ups

  1. Grab a pullup bar with shoulder width overhand grip (palms facing forward)
  2. From a passive hang (protracted shoulders), you want to draw the scapula down and together
  3. Pull yourself up while arching the back, you want to touch the bar with your chest
  4. Slowly lower yourself with the slow and controlled movement
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions


Arched back pull ups are quite an advanced bodyweight exercise. Therefore many people might not be able to do them at the beginning. These two exercises will help to build the required strength to do an arched back pull up.

Scapular pull ups

Scapular pull ups are the most difficult part of the arched back pull up – the lower part, where you retract your scapula. It will improve your control of your scapula and build the required strength. Scapular pull ups are the repetitions of dead hang to active hang, where you retract your scapula for repetitions.

Negative arched back pull ups

Negatives are the downward half of the pullup, where you lower yourself from the bar. You get over the bar with your legs touching the ground (where the pull up bar is low) and jump where it’s too high. From that position, you lower yourself with slow and controlled movement.

Assisted arched back pull ups

You can do them in 2 ways – with legs touching the ground (or something else, eg. elevated on a chair), and supporting the movement. or with the resistance band if you have one. To practice with the resistance band, place a band around the pull up bar, and place your foot inside the other end. With a band assisting you, exercise requires significantly less strength.

Common mistakes

  • training without the warm up
  • Not fully extending elbows
  • moving too quickly
  • not keeping elbows close to the body

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