Pull-ups stand as one of the most challenging and rewarding exercises in any training program.
They are the pinnacle of upper body workouts, engaging a ton of muscle groups including the back, shoulders, and biceps, laying a solid foundation for a strong and powerful upper body.
But what if I told you that you could amplify the benefits of this already powerhouse exercise by pairing it with another targeted move in a superset? Well, it’s not just possible; it’s a strategy employed by elite athletes around the world to maximize gains and optimize performance.
In this article, I will share the exercises that pair perfectly with Pull-ups, creating supersets that not only enhance muscle growth but will also maximize your time in the gym.
So, grab your notebook and get ready to take your pull-up game to the next level with the ultimate complementary exercises that you can start incorporating into your training program today!
Keys to Choosing Exercises to Superset
Choosing the right exercises to superset with Pull-ups can significantly enhance your workout results.
Here are the key factors to consider when making your selection:
Muscle Group Targeting
Ideally, you want to choose an exercise that targets a different muscle group than the pull-ups to foster balanced muscle growth and prevent overtraining.
For instance, pairing pull-ups with a lower body or core exercise can be a great strategy.
Ensure that the equipment necessary for the superset exercises is readily available in your training environment to maintain the flow of the workout without unnecessary breaks.
Tailor your exercise selection to suit your level of ability.
It’s always better to start with basic fundamental movements and progressively introduce more complex exercises.
The exercises should align with the specific goals of your training plan, whether it’s improving strength, enhancing mobility, or building endurance.
Best Exercises to Superset with Pull-ups
Here they are, in no particular order, my favorite movements to pair up with Pull-ups.
Why: Push-ups target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, providing a counterbalance to the muscle groups worked during pull-ups, which focus largely on the back and biceps.
- Lie face down on the floor.
- Pull your toes in so that you’re on the tip of your shoes.
- Eyes should be focused straight down or slightly up.
- Pull your hands close to about the nipple line of the chest and bring them out about 2-3 inches away.
- Take a deep breath, engage the core and brace.
- Push yourself up in one unit. There should be no sagging of the waist. The entire body from head to toe should move up and then back down in unison.
- Feel your scapula upwardly rotate and make sure the antagonist muscles (Back and biceps) are fully engaging.
- Lock out your push-up and pause.
- Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat.
Why: Incorporating a lower body exercise like Goblet Squats can give your upper body a brief rest while effectively working your legs, promoting a full-bodied workout in your strength program.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell at chest-height.
- Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and your back straight.
- Begin the movement by hinging at the hips and then bending your knees.
- Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as far as your mobility allows.
- Keep your knees over your ankles, avoiding any inward collapsing.
- Push through your heels to return to the starting position, fully extending your hips and knees.
- Engage your core throughout the movement to protect your lower back.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Why: Burpees are great for keeping the heart rate up and building overall conditioning. This full-body exercise effectively combines strength and cardio training.
- Start in a standing position.
- Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground.
- Kick your feet back into a plank position, keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Perform a push-up (optional).
- Jump your feet back into the squat position.
- Explode up into a jump from the squat position, reaching your arms overhead.
- Land softly and repeat the series of movements fluidly for the designated number of repetitions.
Why: Mountain Climbers is a core-centric exercise that not only targets the abdominal muscles but also keeps the intensity high, offering a great cardio boost in your training program.
- Start in a high plank position, with your hands under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Draw your right knee into your chest, then extend it back to the starting position.
- Quickly switch and draw the left knee into your chest.
- Continue to alternate legs, maintaining a strong plank position and engaged core.
- Keep the hips stable and avoid bouncing.
- Repeat for the designated number of repetitions or time duration.
Why: Kettlebell Swings work on the posterior chain, including the glutes and hamstrings, offering a great counterbalance to pull-ups and enhancing total body power.
- Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with the kettlebell about a foot in front of you.
- Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight and grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands.
- Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, maintaining a neutral spine.
- Powerfully extend your hips and knees to swing the kettlebell forward up to shoulder height, keeping your arms straight.
- Control the swing back down in a fluid motion, hinging at the hips and bending the knees slightly.
- Repeat for the designated number of repetitions, focusing on the hip drive to power the swing.
Med Ball Russian Twists
Why: Engaging the core and obliques, Med Ball Russian Twists can add a rotational strength component to your workout, which is vital for many sports.
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight, to engage your core.
- Lift your feet off the ground for an added challenge.
- Hold your hands together at your chest or grasp a medicine ball for increased resistance.
- Rotate your upper body to the right, bringing your hands towards the right hip.
- Return to the center and then rotate to the left to complete one repetition.
- Keep your movements controlled, focusing on the rotation through your core.
- Repeat for the designated number of repetitions or time duration.
Dumbbell Bench Press
Why: Dumbbell Bench Press targets the chest and triceps, providing an excellent opportunity to build upper body strength and muscle mass.
Pairing this with pull-ups allows for a balanced approach to upper body training, enhancing both pushing and pulling strengths.
- Start by lying flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, held at chest level with your palms facing forward.
- Plant your feet firmly on the ground and engage your core to maintain a stable base.
- Press the dumbbells up over your chest, fully extending your arms but avoiding locking out your elbows.
- Lower the dumbbells back down in a controlled manner until your elbows are just below the bench level.
- Maintain a neutral wrist position and avoid arching your back excessively.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, ensuring a full range of motion and controlled technique.
Dumbbell One-Arm Rows
Why: While it seems similar to Pull-ups, alternating between these two exercises can add volume to your back training, further enhancing strength and muscle growth.
Coaching Point: This type of superset, where both exercises target similar (or the same) muscle groups is a type of superset a compound set.
- Start in a bent over position with a flat back, holding a dumbbell in one hand.
- Plant the opposite hand and knee on a bench for support, creating a stable base.
- Begin the movement by driving your elbow up and back, pulling the dumbbell towards your hip.
- Lower the dumbbell in a controlled manner, fully extending your arm without letting the weight rest on the ground between repetitions.
- Maintain a neutral spine and avoid rotating your torso during the movement.
- Perform the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other.
Why: A fantastic choice for core strengthening, Bicycle Crunches work on the obliques and rectus abdominis, providing a strong core foundation for better performance in various sports.
- Lie flat on your back on a mat, with your hands behind your head and your knees bent.
- Lift your head, shoulders, and feet off the ground, engaging your core.
- Bring your right elbow and left knee towards each other while extending your right leg out.
- Alternate sides in a fluid motion, creating a pedaling motion.
- Keep your movements controlled, avoiding pulling on your neck with your hands.
- Perform for the desired number of repetitions or time, focusing on the rotational movement through your core.
Why: Box Jumps add a plyometric element to your training plan, enhancing explosive strength and power, crucial for optimizing performance in many sports disciplines.
- Stand in front of a sturdy box or platform, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Begin with a slight squat, swinging your arms back to generate momentum.
- Explosively jump up onto the box, using your arms to help propel you.
- Land softly on the box with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact.
- Stand up fully, extending your hips and knees.
- Step back down safely and reset before the next jump.
- Repeat for the designated number of repetitions, focusing on explosive power and safe landing mechanics.
When we pair the unyielding force of pull-ups with a strategic partner exercise, we unlock a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness in our training sessions.
The above exercises, carefully paired with pull-ups, not only foster muscle balance and prevent overuse injuries but also pave the way for impressive strength gains and an elevated heart rate, promoting an enhanced level of fitness.
Finally, as you incorporate these supersets into your training plan, remember to maintain proper form to reap the full benefits while safeguarding your body against injuries.