Neutral Grip Pull-ups Are Kinder To The Elbow

Neutral grip pull-ups are a popular variation of the good old pull-up. Instead of having the palms facing away (overhand grip), the lifter performs the exercise with his palms facing each other. The execution of the movement is the same – it’s only the grip that’s different.
image source: http://woldfitness.com/

image source: http://woldfitness.com/

By using neutral grip the lifter is reducing the large amount of stress on the elbow and wrist joints commonly experienced during the regular version of the exercise.

Pull-ups usually cause elbow pain due to overflexion of the elbow while chin-ups cause wrist pain due to the extreme outward rotation of the wrist.

That’s why neutral grip pull-ups are a highly recommended exercise for people who experience elbow tendonitis and wrist pain during pull-ups.


The hardest problem with neutral grip pull-ups is finding a place to do them. Some gyms have pull-up bars with neutral handles but many don’t. In that case you will have to improvise.

You can wrap a durable and strong towel over a pull-up bar in order to create neutral grip handles. This exercise is actually commonly known as towel pull-ups and is meant to build your grip strength.

Note: Adding additional strain on your elbows due to the increased grip strength demand may not be a smart move, if you are looking for less joint stressful exercise.

When performing neutral grip pull-ups imagine that you are pulling with your elbows and your forearms are just hooks attaching you to the bar. That way you will activate the broadest muscle of the back – latissimus dorsi.

Neutral grip pull-ups will hit your lats, upper back and arm flexors. Since your palms are facing each other there’s more stress on the brachialis which is a muscle of the upper arm between your biceps and triceps. The brachialis is hard to see unless it’s developed and the bodybuilder has low body fat.

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