3 Pull Up Variations To Improve Grip Strength

Pull ups are one of the best exercises you could possibly do for your overall strength. They can be incredibly challenging on a lot of different levels.

Training the grip, and improving grip strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of good training.

Put the two together and you can use some outstanding pull up variations to improve grip strength, while building your back and arms at the same time.

If it sounds like a win-win proposition, that’s because it is!

Understanding Grip Strength

You Have To Understand It Before You Can Improve Grip Strength

There are three different types of grip strength—pinching, crushing, and holding.

Pinching grip involves mainly the fingers, and how much weight they can hold between them. Crushing grip is the measure of being able to squeeze heavy objects in the hand (eg. closing a COC gripper, or, crushing a piece of fruit with one hand). Holding strength is the amount of weight you can hold, and how long you can hold it.

It is completely possible to have amazing strength in one aspect, but less than average strength in another. Actually, that is fairly common.

The pull up variations you are about to learn, focus mainly on the holding strength, with a little of the other two thrown in.

Pull Up Variation #1: The Towel Pull Up

Photo Via NorcalSC.com

To perform the towel pull up, simply grab two medium sized towels, drape them over the bar, and grip them instead of the bar itself.

I also like to use an old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi to even greater effect, because it is thicker than a simple towel.

Performing this exercise, you will immediately notice that your forearms will be burning like crazy, and that it is most likely that your grip will fail before your strength in the pull up fails. That is why I suggest performing these at the end of your workout, after you’ve already done your pull up routine.

It is important not to get frustrated with these! Just keep after them even if you are doing less than 10 at first. You will get stronger quickly.

Pull Up Variation #2: The Tennis Ball Pull Up

To perform this variation, grab two tennis balls.

Hold them in your hand while you grab the bar. Squeeze as hard as you can, and crush the tennis balls down. Keep this squeeze so the tennis balls are as flat as possible between your hands and the bar, and then perform your pull ups.

These are incredibly challenging, but again, just stay with it!

Pull Up Variation #3: The Opposing Grip Pull Up

To perform this variation, grab the pull up bar with opposing grips—one hand with the palm facing you, the other with the palm away from you.

As you are performing the pull ups, you will notice that your body will try to turn. You must use your grip to keep your body straight and finish the reps.

As an added bonus, this variation will also challenge your core like crazy. Don’t be surprised if your abs are sore the next day as well!

There you have three excellent pull up variations to help you improve grip strength. Add them in at the end of your training and you will be amazed at how much stronger you get!



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