Pullups are one of those classic exercises, like pushups, that have probably part of everyone's workout routine at some point in time. At the very least, you may have attempted one but found it to be too challenging. Fortunately, there are many variations of the pullup that allow you to adjust for your fitness level and work your way up to the more difficult options. The mountain climber pullup, or neutral grip pullup, are a slightly easier variation on the pushup and may be a good place to start.
The traditional pullup primarily targets the Latissimus Dorsi muscles of the upper back but involves your chest, shoulders and arms for support. This exercise is performed by gripping the bar with your palms facing away from you and your hands more than shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar and then slowly return to the starting position.
Mountain Climber Pullups
The mountain climber pullup is very similar to the traditional except you change your grip. In this variation, your hands are placed with the palms facing each other, just slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Benefits of the Mountain Climber Pullup
The mountain climber pullup places more emphasis on your biceps and so can be an effective arm workout, although the focus remains your lats. The adjusted grip also requires less shoulder movement which means that this style of pullup is a useful option for those suffering from shoulder injuries.
If you still have difficulty executing the mountain climber pushup, there are other ways for you to work up to it. Many gyms have weight-assist machines to help lift you, or you could use a spotter to lift some of your weight. You might also self-assist by placing your feet on a bench or the floor. You could also jump up to the peak height and slowly lower yourself to starting position for a negative pullup.
Jonathan Thompson is a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise and has extensive experience working with clients as well as teaching. Thompson holds specializations in longevity nutrition and muscle management for runners. He began writing in 2004.