Stupid looking yet effective exercise- Arched Back Pullup

Some of you may know this, but for those of you that don’t, I’m just not a fan of the bench press.

Maybe it’s too closely correlated to douche-bags pumping fists or pre-teens using three spotters to erroneously lift weight that would otherwise crush their windpipes.

Every press day, I struggle to get in the mood.

We all know I love deadlifts.  I’ve written about my love of them a few times.  The other exercise I salivate over though is pull ups.

Not those stupid kipping pull ups, the ones that look like a mentally handicapped seal clapping his hands, but the proper ones.  From a dead hang, pull your chest to the bar, hold for a split second, and then drop back down to a dead hang.

That’s a proper rep, and it’s more magnificent than the sun setting on a warm summers day or than the jubilant look on a teenagers face when they open their new pack of Pokemon trading cards and realise they’ve got a rare foil MewTwo card.

(Anyone else, anyone?  Nope, looks like it was just me getting excited over that one- damn.)

This is where the Arched Back Pullup comes in.  Believe it or not, I’m convinced it’s almost as stupendously awesome as a normal pullup.

For those of you who don’t know, there are two different types of upper body movements:

  1. Vertical pull (pullups, pulldowns, etc…), and
  2. Horizontal pull (bent over rows, inverted rows, etc…).

Arched back pullup’s just so happen to work the lats in both the vertical and horizontal planes.


Grab the neutral grip seated row handle and place it over the pullup bar.  From this position, proceed to do a normal pullup.

What you will notice though is that, because of the angle of the handle, your body will be slightly tilted backwards, activating your lats in the horizontal plane.

At the top of the pullup, your chest should touch the bar and your hands.


Will people look at you like some type of exercise pariah, threatening the natural order of the gym?


Will they secretly envy you as they go about their kipping pull ups and three man assisted bench presses?

Without saying.

If you are looking for a exercise that targets the whole back, and gives you the most bang for your buck, the arched back pullup is an essential.


I love this exercise but I in no way invented it.  I first saw it posted by Ben Bruno and then by Martin Rooney.

I take no credit for its creation.

Especially if you hate it.

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