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Bodyweight Pull ups and chest training

Simply strong

Level 5 Valued Member
Over the years I’ve heard that pull ups are a very effective way to build your chest. I’ve also heard that this is absolutely not the case. I’m not able to find anything on Google scholar so…

What are people’s experiences?
 

Ege

Level 6 Valued Member
During a pull up, you flex your chest a bit, as a reflex I guess , which may be the reason why some people might think it might builds pecs, but pecs are not used in any meaningful way in pulling movements. They are not even contributing as a major stabilizer as lats do in a hardstyle push up or dips.
 

svencandy

Level 3 Valued Member
Excuse the bodybuilding example here, but this thread heads in that direction.
But if you do a late flare, you will notice your pecs are tensed somewhat, I think. Maybe stretched, or both at the same time.

I'm not sure of the research location, maybe @Kenny Croxdale can chime in.

But I remember reading somewhere that stretched under load can cause the muscle to grow.

Probably not as much as exercises targeting the chest directly, but a program like ROP has definitely firmed up my chest considerably, and I'm not even doing pullups, just hangs.

For example, consider the dumbell pull over. Is a snatch and a pullup not basically the same movement?

Catching the clean forces you to naturally tense your chest, and support required, the "shelf" is not only the lats but also the chest.

Just my thoughts.
 

Cobra

Level 4 Valued Member
When uncertain, look up the function of the targetted muscles. The large pectoral's function in the shoulder is:
  • Adduction
  • Horizontal adduction (e.g. pushups)
  • Flexion (raising arm in front of you)
  • Internal rotation
There seems to be some contention about details in functions depending on which sources one peruse. I think these are generally agreed upon though. There may be subtle nuances, but 99% of us probably don't need to know these. Focus on horizontal pushing exercises and their variations and you'll be set.
 

Ege

Level 6 Valued Member
I always superset them with push ups, dips or HSPU. Great way to get some pushing volume in.
The fact that you/we can/do superset pull ups and chin ups with dips, push ups, and HSPU shows chest work in a pulling movement is negligible in order to create hypertrophy or strength gains.

You can’t build your push ups by doing only pull ups…
 

watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
The pec minor helps with depression of the scapulae, so in that sense the pecs probably play a role.

Lots of stabilizers play a role in all sorts of exercises.

But for training to be "very effective", the target muscle really needs to be one of the prime movers or otherwise a limiting factor.

The most effective chest exercises are the ones where pec major strength is a major limiting factor.
 

Don Fairbanks

SFG II
Certified Instructor
Lots of stabilizers play a role in all sorts of exercises.

But for training to be "very effective", the target muscle really needs to be one of the prime movers.

The most effective chest exercises are the ones where pec major strength is a major limiting factor.
Yeah, the popliteus helps stabilize the knee, but I'm not going to target it to build good wheels.
 

the hansenator

Level 6 Valued Member
Maybe someone can help me verify this experiment: Grab a pullup bar, or something, with one hand. Then reach over with the other hand and feel that the pec is relaxed. Then see if you can pull down without the pec tensing.
 

watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
Maybe someone can help me verify this experiment: Grab a pullup bar, or something, with one hand. Then reach over with the other hand and feel that the pec is relaxed. Then see if you can pull down without the pec tensing.

Is that supposed to prove that pecs are the limiting factor in pull ups and / or that pull ups are very effective for growing the chest?

My biceps are also tight when I'm maximally locking out my triceps, too, due to them being an elbow stabilizer.

That doesn't mean overhead triceps extensions are a great biceps builder compared to curls.
 
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