Australian Pull Up Will Help Your Progress To A Full Muscle Up

An Australian pull up is a great preparation skill that will help you build strength. You will need this strength to do a high bar pull up.

This exercise is known as an inverted row or a low bar pull up. Never mind what it’s called, it’s a great skill for building your upper back and arm strength.

When I started my fitness journey I was struggling with both my strength and shoulder mobility. Hanging from a high pull up bar was out of my reach when I started.

I was watching Chris Heria on YouTube and his impressive muscle ups and I wanted to be able to do a pull up some day. Muscle up seemed like an unreachable dream at that point. Just a few days after trying to hang on a low bar I was doing my first Australian pull ups.

I was not aware of this at the time, but I started my fitness journey that lasts over four years now. If I hadn’t stumbled upon this exercise, I might not have started at all.

Main benefits

Image by master1305 on Freepik

Australian pull up will help you prepare your upper back, shoulder, and arm muscles for harder exercises like a pull up.

It will also improve your grip strength. So, this skill can help you move from a low bar to a high bar. This will happen when your upper back, shoulders, your arms, and grip are strong enough.

Another benefit of this skill is that you can use it later on as a regression. When you hit your muscles hard with harder exercises like pull ups, you can revisit Australian pull ups.

When you add this exercise to your training it will help you target the same muscle groups from a different angle. This will increase the time you are loading your muscles. So, your muscles will have to do more work. This in turn leads to a faster increase in the strength and size of your muscles. You will need this strength to be able to progress to more challenging exercises.

Of course, you have to give your body enough time to recover after the training to see and feel these effects.

Australian pull up muscles worked

Australian pull ups will use most muscles in your body to assist in the move. It will primarily work your traps and rhomboids. Your lats will also be involved in the move, but less than it is in a regular pull up.

Your forearms and biceps will also take a load. But, this load will definitely be lower than in pull ups.

Other muscles involved in this skill:

  • Abs
  • Rear deltoids
  • Teres major
  • Teres minor
  • Infraspinatus
  • Lower back
  • Gluteus

Low bar height

You can perform Australian pull ups with a bar at various heights. It will be more difficult on a lower bar than on a higher bar.

When you do it on a higher bar, you will feel less of your weight on your arms. When you are on a lower bar, more of your weight should be lifted with your arms.

So, when you are starting out, try to find a higher bar. Dip bars at your local park should work perfectly.

When higher bars no longer provide enough challenge, move to a lower bar.

How to perform Australian pull up

Australian Pull Up
Image by master1305 on Freepik


Lay down below a low bar. Your arms should be positioned in such a way that you can just reach straight up and grab a bar. Grab a low bar so your hands are facing away from you. You should grab a bar a bit wider than shoulder width.

Lift your butt off the floor so your entire body from head to your feet is in a straight line. Plant your heels firmly onto the ground. Only your heels will be in touch with the ground.

Upward movement:

To pull yourself up, start bending your arms at your elbows. Keep on pulling as high as possible. Try to touch the bar with your chest.

If the bar is high, you might not be able to touch the bar with your chest. With lower bars, it will be doable.

Downward movement:

To lower yourself down, straighten your arms. Straighten your arms in your elbows until they are completely straight. You reached the starting point again.

Keep on pulling up and lowering back down for reps.

Australian pull up common mistakes

There are several common mistakes that can be easily avoided when you notice them occur. Some will reduce the efficiency of the exercise and some are potentially dangerous and may lead to injury.

Mistake 1 – Pushing up with legs

If you perform Australian pull ups with bent knees, you might use your legs to push up. This will reduce the activation of your arm and back muscles. So, you will turn a back and arms exercise into a leg exercise instead.

Correcting this mistake is fairly simple. To reduce, or completely remove the temptation to use your legs, perform this exercise with your legs straight.

Mistake 2 – Reduced range of motion

When doing this exercise you may fall short of the complete movement. If you don’t extend your arms completely on your way down you might reduce downward movement. If you don’t come all the way up and touch the bar with your chest (on a lower bar), you will fall short on the upper part of the move.

To do this exercise with a full range of motion concentrate on two key elements:

  • Completely straighten your arms in the lowest position of the move
  • Touch the bar with your chest (on a low bar) at the highest part of the move

Mistake 3 – Pulling with elbows to the sides

Australian pull ups should be done by pulling your elbows almost straight down. If you find yourself pulling your elbows away from your body, this will strain your shoulders unnecessarily. This may lead to a shoulder injury.

To correct this mistake, concentrate on pulling your elbows straight down as much as possible. Targeting touching the bar under your chest will also be beneficial. This will help you avoid pulling with your elbows away from your body.

Australian pull up progression

There are only a handful of skills that are easier to do than Australian pull ups. In case this exercise is too hard, here are some options you can try:

When Australian pull up is no longer challenging it’s time to move on to more advanced skills. Here are the exercises you can try in this case:

Australian pull ups are one of the easiest exercises in a muscle up progression.

Key takeaways

Australian pull up is a great skill that will help you prepare your body for your first pull up. It will help you improve the strength of your upper back, your arms, and your core.

It will also improve your grip strength. Once you master it, you can move to exercises on a high bar.

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