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A pull-up is actually an upper body exercise that targets the latissmus dorsi or lats at the back. The body is usually suspended by the arms by gripping a pull-up bar and pulling up with muscular effort. By doing pull-ups, other assisting muscles get developed in process.
A traditional pull-up solely relies on upper body strength with no kipping or swinging. There are variations to this exercise, like chin-ups, by adjusting the grip on the bar. Depending on the variation, different muscle groups can be exercised. It will certainly involve the pec minor, biceps, trapezius, and other upper body muscles. Pelvic tilt and leg orientation can alter the core muscles that bear the weight. Legs can be lifted in front or back.
There are some people who perform pull ups while carrying additional weight on their legs. Another variation is to pull it behind the neck or use one hand to grip the bar. Muscle up is a bit more challenging. Instead of stopping at the point where the chin is close to the bar, one raises the body further above the bar until the arms are straightened.
The American Council on Exercise advises people not to put undue stress on one's shoulders during this exercise. Doing it wrong can risk injury.
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