Do Pull-ups Work Abs? The Answer May Surprise YOU!

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Tonya McIntosh

Tonya McIntosh—The main person behind TGFFitness as its Founder and Chief Editor. Get to know more about Tonya


Working out your abs at the gym can be challenging, and finding exercises that challenge your core at home can be just as difficult.

In the rest of this article, we’ll cover how pull-ups work your abs and give you some handy dandy variations that will help you shred your abs.

How Do Pull-ups Work Your Abs?

Remember that the pull-ups are not a core-focused exercise designed to craft six-pack abs, but given how challenging they are, it’s still a great part of developing your core strength and stability.

Every major muscle that makes up your abs, from the obliques to the transverse abdominis, are engaged when you do a pull-up, enhancing your core strength and giving you a better definition.

Perform the Pull-up Correctly

To perform the pull-up properly, do the following:

  • Grab the bar with your arms above your shoulder and palms hanging down
  • Hang on the bar with your arms straight and legs off the floor (Also, remember to keep your legs straight)
  • Pull yourself up so that your chin is above the bar
  • Lower yourself until you return to the starting position

Chin-ups are another variant in which your palms are facing inwards towards you. These put more emphasis on the muscles in the arm, particularly the biceps, and are a great way to strengthen your arms.

Complete the full range of motion and aim to be as controlled as possible during the movement for the best results.

Developing a strong muscle-mind connection with your lats is super challenging when you’re getting started with pull-ups but think of it as pulling with your elbows.

Manually engaging your lats before you begin helps ensure you perform the exercise correctly.

How to Do a Pull-up for an Intense Abs Workout

Most of the time, you will want to do pull-up variants to get the most out of your ab workout.

In all honesty, you shouldn’t use pull-ups exclusively to build your ab muscles.

You need to already have the prerequisite strength to stabilize your body using your core when you perform the pull-up so that you’re not kipping or doing half-reps.

Is It Ok to Do Pull-ups Every Day?

Pull-ups are not recommended for everyone on a daily basis. If you pick the incorrect progression for your level of difficulty, the pull-up will lead to failure every time you reach the bar.

Training to failure is good in some circumstances, but doing so every day will be a serious detriment to your recovery time and make you very sore.

Overtraining can cause you to lose muscle mass, so it’s better to incorporate pull-ups and variants into your pull routine sensibly.

How Many Pull-ups Do You Need to Do Daily for an Ab Workout?

Pull-ups will tone and strengthen your abs, but in short, pull-ups work your upper body, and your core acts as only a stabilizer. It’s much better to focus on exercises that specifically target the abdominals for growth.

Do Pull-ups Build Your Core Muscles?

Pull-ups will definitely help strengthen your core muscles, but as mentioned, you want to ensure you have the strength to engage your core and keep your body stable during the pull-up; otherwise, both your core strength and the quality of your reps will suffer.

Do You Have a Risk of Injury Due to Pull-ups?

The only way to risk injury with pull-ups is to overdo it or not to follow proper form.

Pull-up Variations that Work Abs

These Pull-up variants can work your abs more than a standard pull-up, which emphasizes the upper-body muscles.

Here are some great variants to consider if you want to hit your upper body and abs on the pull-up bar:

  • Hanging knee raises
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Toes to bar
  • L-hang (with siders)
  • Windshield wipers pull-ups
  • Hollow body pull-up
  • Arched back pull-ups
  • Chin over bar pull up

Should Your Palms Face in Or Out?

The pull-up (palms out) and the chin-up (palms in) are excellent exercises, but they work different parts of your body.

The pull-up will hit your shoulders, pecs, lats, and upper back a lot more, while chin-ups put a lot of emphasis on your shoulders, biceps, and forearms.

Best Bars for Pull-ups

What’s better than hanging around on a bar at the gym? Hanging around on a bar at home, of course!

These bars are some of our favorites and are super simple to install.

Iron Age Pullup Bar

This bar is as simple as it gets. A horizontal bar above your head that fits on any standard doorway. Just install and enjoy.

Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mounted Pullup Bar

This bar installs easily on your ceiling with no fuss and offers several different grip options to work different muscles in your pull-up journey.

ProsourceFit Multi-Grip Lite Pull Up/Chin Up Bar

ProsourceFit’s pull-up bar fits easily onto any doorway and has several different grips for different pull-ups. You can also use it on the ground for various other exercises.

Final Thoughts

Pull-ups aren’t the greatest exercise for working abs by themselves, but they sure can help strengthen and tone your abs as part of a comprehensive workout routine.

Find a variant that challenges you, and start hitting some reps today!


Are Pullups Effective for Abs Workout?

Pull-ups are not effective on their own for an ab workout, but the stability aspect engages your entire core and can help strengthen your abs as part of a routine.

Do Chin-Ups Work Abs?

Chin-ups are largely the same as pull-ups when it comes to abs. They primarily rely on the abdominal muscles for stability compared to other exercises that directly strain the abs.

Can Pull-Ups Make Your Abs Sore?

Pull-ups can make your abs sore if you’re not used to performing them, and your core strength is underdeveloped for the bar.

What Muscles Do Pull-ups Work?

Pull-ups can engage your back, lats, shoulders, pecs, forearms, and core, making it one of the best upper body exercises on pull days.

Can You Increase Pull-ups in 2 Weeks?

Increasing your pull-up capability can be challenging, but there is a myriad of great progression exercises that can help you.

Focus on training your lats with lat pulldowns and building strength on the bar with dead hangs.

You can also do eccentric pull-ups, which focus on the ‘going down part of the move to build the required muscle strength, and resistance band assisted pull-ups to helping you complete the movement without having to handle your entire body weight.

With the right training program, you can improve your pull-ups (or get your first one!) within two weeks.

Are 6 Pull-ups Good Enough?

Six pull-ups is a respectable number, but ‘good enough depends on your fitness goals.

You can still manage hypertrophy in an effective rep range of 8-15, so there’s definitely room for improvement in building lat and back strength on the bar.

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Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

Finding your main motivator to keep going is easier said than done for Keep Reading.

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