Neck Pull-Ups

Compound exercise, Body weight




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Neck: Trapezius muscle
    (Musculus trapezius)
  • Back: Large round muscle
    (Musculus teres major)
  • Back: Large back muscle
    (Musculus latissimus dorsi)
  • Back: Larger rhomboid muscle
    (Musculus rhomboideus major)
  • Back: Small round muscle
    (Musculus teres minor)

Training plans

Neck Pull-Ups is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in upper back training or as a supplement to various training plans.

Neck Pull-Ups: Basics and alternatives

Upper back: Involved main muscle groups Neck Pull-Ups

Involved main muscle groups:
Neck Pull-Ups

Neck pull-ups are less common in the gym compared to other pull-up variations, but they still have their supporters. The movement is similar to regular pull-ups: you hang from a bar and use your arms and back to pull yourself up.

The difference lies in the final pull-up position: instead of pulling yourself up so that the bar is in front of your face, in this exercise, you pull yourself up so that the bar is behind your head.

Just like wide grip pull-ups, behind-the-neck pull-ups are only recommended to a limited extent due to the higher risk of injury from the unnatural movement. The shoulders endure extreme motions during the exercise, which can cause shoulder issues or worsen existing pain. Therefore, we advise sticking to regular pull-ups.

Correct execution

Neck pull-ups are more challenging than regular pull-ups because of the unnatural movement. Most people will feel a strong pull in the front of their shoulders during this exercise. If this is the case for you, it’s better to switch to another upper back exercise, as the risk of injury shouldn’t be underestimated, even with correct execution.

Video tutorial

Behind the Neck Wide Grip Pull Up - IRON GYM® Training Academy

Step-by-step instructions

Stand under the pull-up bar and grab it with a wide overhand grip (back of your hands facing backward).

Slightly bend your legs and hang from the bar.

Pull your shoulder blades together.

Now, using your arms and back muscles, pull your body upwards. Pass your head in front of the bar and stop the movement when you feel too much tension, or at the latest when the bar is at your neck.

Slowly and controlled, lower your body back down to the hanging starting position.

Common mistakes and injuries

Swinging your legs during neck pull-ups can not only reduce the training effect but also cause serious problems in your shoulders. This is because the already high stress on the joints is intensified by the dynamic movement. So, avoid this at all costs when performing the exercise.

Also, make sure not to lower your body too suddenly and don’t let it drop into your joints. This can result in injuries and put unnecessary additional stress on all body parts involved.