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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2017 Feb;32:30-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2016.11.004. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Electromyographic analysis of muscle activation during pull-up variations.

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School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.
School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand; Department of Sport and Exercise, University of Winchester, UK.
School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. Electronic address:


This study sought to identify any differences in peak muscle activation (EMGPEAK) or average rectified variable muscle activation (EMGARV) during supinated grip, pronated grip, neutral grip and rope pull-up exercises. Nineteen strength trained males (24.9±5y; 1.78±0.74m; 81.3±11.3kg; 22.7±2.5kgm-2) volunteered to participate in the study. Surface electromyography (EMG) was collected from eight shoulder-arm-forearm complex muscles. All muscle activation was expressed as a percentage of maximum voluntary isometric contraction (%MVIC). Over a full repetition, the pronated grip resulted in significantly greater EMGPEAK (60.1±22.5vs. 37.1±13.1%MVIC; P=0.004; Effect Size [ES; Cohen's d]=1.19) and EMGARV (48.0±21.2vs. 27.4±10.7%MVIC; P=0.001; ES=1.29) of the middle trapezius when compared to the neutral grip pull-up. The concentric phases of each pull-up variation resulted in significantly greater EMGARV of the brachioradialis, biceps brachii, and pectoralis major in comparison to the eccentric phases (P=<0.01). Results indicate that EMGPEAK and EMGARV of the shoulder-arm-forearm complex during complete repetitions of pull-up variants are similar despite varying hand orientations; however, differences exist between concentric and eccentric phases of each pull-up.


Chin-up; EMG; Electromyography; Muscle activation; Pull-up

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