How to Do a Perfect Inclined Pull-Up

Man doing pull-ups

An inclined pull-up, also known as an inverted row or Australian pull-up, is an exercise that targets the upper body. It simultaneously works multiple muscle groups, providing a comprehensive workout that quickly builds strength and burns calories. Different grips allow you to target an even wider range of muscles. Depending on your fitness level, you might need to make a few modifications until your muscles are strong enough to do a perfect inclined pull-up. No matter your hand positioning or beginner modifications, proper form is necessary to reap full benefit and to help avoid injury.

Starting Position

Select a secure bar, arm's length or slightly higher, from the floor. A smith machine, often found at gyms, is a common implement, but any sturdy bar will do. Wearing shoes makes the exercise more comfortable on your heels. Lie beneath the bar on your back and position your feet hip-width apart. Look forward and reach up to grasp the bar in both hands, shoulder-width apart. For a bicep workout, use an underhand grip. For a trapezius and shoulder workout, use an overhand grip.

Executing a Perfect Inclined Pull-Up

Tense your abdominal muscles and maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Pull your body up, moving your chest toward the bar until it is nearly touching. Hold this position for one second and slowly lower your body back to the starting position. Do not lock your arms when they straighten, keep them slightly bent. Your heels should stay on the ground, unmoving, for the entire repetition. Hold at starting position for one second before completing another repetition.

Beginner Modification

If you are unable to execute an inclined pull-up with your body straightened, shift your feet so they are flat on the ground, slightly bending your legs. Attempt the inclined pull-up from this position. If it is still too difficult, continue moving your feet closer to your body. The closer they are, the easier the inclined pull-up will be. Keep a straight line from your shoulders to your knees with the beginner modification.


Never attempt to perform an inclined pull-up with a bar that could break or move. This can cause serious injury. Always consult a health care professional before beginning a new exercise program to ensure you are healthy enough. Ask him for tips on proper form, how many repetitions you should perform, how many sets to do and how often you should do them. If you feel pain at any point during the exercise, stop and contact your health care professional before attempting it again.