Last Update On December 20, 2011
Wide Grip Pull-ups Will Not Make Your Back Wider
It seems that far too many people believe that in order to make your lats and back wider you should use extremely wide grip during pull-ups. This is wrong and if anything using similar grip will place more stress on the upper back and the upper portion of the latissimus dorsi rather than hitting the latissiumus dorsi from top to bottom. The best grip for hitting the latissimus dorsi and developing strong lats is the extra close grip. No, I'm not crazy.
Let's take a look at the lat anatomy for a second.
The main function of the lat is to pull the upper arm down and close to the body. By using a wide grip you shorten that movement tremendously and the focus is not on the lat itself. Take a look at the top position of a close grip pull-up and a wide-grip pull-up.
As you can see at the end position the elbow during a wide grip pull-up is far away from the torso and since the function of the lat is to bring the upper arm down and close to the body there is less lat involvement and your back will not get as wide.
On top of that using extra wide grip will put too much strain on the rotator cuff muscles and nobody needs or wants that. In short: use a close grip, arch you back to the fullest and pull through the elbows.
"Yes! Bro, now you recommend using a close grip for wide back but in the chest activation article you've written that you should use a wide grip for your pec work. Why is this different?"
Look. The pecs and the lats are completely different muscles. You have to use a wide grip when your train chest because otherwise the muscles won't be stretched enough at the bottom of the movement and the front deltoids and the triceps will take over. In order for a powerful muscle contraction to occur the muscle has to be stretched prior to that contraction.
Using a close grip for pull-up does exactly that. The lats are stretched more at the bottom position than if you were to do a wide grip pull-up. Look at the picture above for more information.
Ok. I got it. So the close grip pull-up is the best for lats?
Yes and no. I prefer the super close ring pull-ups as I explain in this post.
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