Neutral grip pull-ups are a popular variation of the basic exercise performed with the palms facing each other. The execution of the movement mimics that of a regular pull-up. The only difference is the grip.
By using a neutral grip, the lifter is reducing the stress placed on the elbow and wrist joints during the regular version of the exercise.
Pull-ups usually cause elbow pain due to overflexion of the joint whereas 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 main 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 to create neutral grip handles. This exercise is commonly known as towel pull-ups and will hit your forearms pretty hard too.
When performing neutral grip pull-ups, imagine that you are pulling with your elbows and treat your forearms as 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 the palms are facing each other, there’s more stress on the brachialis – 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.