How to Do Pullups to Work the Triceps

fitness lifestyle shot of a young adult woman in a workout outfit as she does pull ups

Pullups are the ideal exercise to develop that often-desired V-taper. Aside from targeting your back, this compound exercise also engages your core, arms and shoulders. Pullups are performed with your palms facing away so you emphasize your triceps at the back of your upper arms. The triceps assist in stabilizing your shoulder joint. When done correctly, pullups can increase your strength, build muscle tissue and improve your athletic performance.

Reach up and grasp a pullup bar, positioning your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and facing your palms away from you. Your thumbs should go under the bar and your remaining fingers should wrap over the bar. If you want to put more emphasis on the lower part of the latissimus dorsi, move your hands closer together so they're about 6 to 8 inches apart.

Hang from the bar, fully extending your arms. If your feet touch the floor, bend your knees and cross your ankles behind you.

Tighten your abdominals and keep your back straight as you pull yourself up in a slow, controlled manner. Avoid swinging and jerking motions and don't use momentum to come up. On your way up, imagine bringing your elbows toward your ribs to really engage your back. Pause one second when your chest is near the bar and your chin is above the bar.

Lower yourself down, using your back and arms to control the movement -- don't drop your body down. Fully extend your arms before starting the next repetition. Do as many pullups as you can, and as you get stronger, try to complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.


To make pullups easier, do them on an assisted-pullup machine or have a spotter ease the lifting load by hold onto your ankles.

For an extra challenge, clasp a dumbbell between your ankles or use a dipping belt with a weight plate attached to it.