T Nation

2/3-Finger Pullups

Hey guys.

I was wondering what some of you think about doing pullups using only 2 or 3 fingers on each hand to grip the bar, with the goal of improving grip and forearm strength (hopefully size as well).

The only thing I’m concerned about is damage to joints or tendons in my fingers and wrists, caused by overloading these small joints too much.
Mind you I’m very light, around 160lbs, and I assume weight will be a major factor in the advice I get here.

As for posts regarding my light weight and not the actual question, these are of course welcome as any other post, but I AM working on getting bigger overall, so hopefully this will soften the blows some.

Thanks for any and all advice.

As long as you don’t only do 2 and three finger pull ups, and rotate which fingers you use, it shouldn’t be a problem. For some fancy neat equipment for finger pull ups look at ironmind.com, they have tons of neat straps and grippers and neat toys for working on grip strength.

[quote]-Icarus- wrote:
Hey guys.

I was wondering what some of you think about doing pullups using only 2 or 3 fingers on each hand to grip the bar, with the goal of improving grip and forearm strength (hopefully size as well).

The only thing I’m concerned about is damage to joints or tendons in my fingers and wrists, caused by overloading these small joints too much.
Mind you I’m very light, around 160lbs, and I assume weight will be a major factor in the advice I get here.

As for posts regarding my light weight and not the actual question, these are of course welcome as any other post, but I AM working on getting bigger overall, so hopefully this will soften the blows some.

Thanks for any and all advice.[/quote]

I am friends with a couple of rock-climbers and they all do this routinely to strengthen their grips. Like any exercise, be smart about it, and if you feel the “bad pain” quit fast. However, I do them and have never had a problem. Also,I feel pretty badass when I do

nothing wrong with it, IMO. in fact, i think its a good idea. keep in mind though, as someone else said, youll want to rotate which fingers you do the work with. youll notice, if you “curl” each finger up seperately, starting with the pinky finger up to the index, that each finger will activate different muscles in your forearm. creating a “forearm imbalance” would just be silly, so make sure you rotate those fingers.

further, i could see it being pretty hard to do pull/chin ups with only the ring and pinky fingers, or at least would take some building up to. i would suggest this:
pinky finger:1
ring finger:2
middle finger:3
index finger:4

do them in pairs of 1+3 and 2+4.

if anyone plays guitar, im sure youve come across drills that use pairings like this, theres a reason for it- apparently makes the forearm more efficient.

as far as thumb goes, i would use them in the grip, theres a reason we have them.

In addition to finger pullups, you could also try towel chinups. Just throw a towel over the bar, grab on, and try to pull yourself up. Sounds simple, but it hits the fingers and forearms like no other.

Go for it, Eugene Sandow could do a pullup with any one of his 10 fingers!

[quote]uberswank wrote:
Go for it, Eugene Sandow could do a pullup with any one of his 10 fingers![/quote]

Sandow had extra fingers?

[quote]dez6485 wrote:
nothing wrong with it, IMO. in fact, i think its a good idea. keep in mind though, as someone else said, youll want to rotate which fingers you do the work with. youll notice, if you “curl” each finger up seperately, starting with the pinky finger up to the index, that each finger will activate different muscles in your forearm. creating a “forearm imbalance” would just be silly, so make sure you rotate those fingers.

further, i could see it being pretty hard to do pull/chin ups with only the ring and pinky fingers, or at least would take some building up to. i would suggest this:
pinky finger:1
ring finger:2
middle finger:3
index finger:4

do them in pairs of 1+3 and 2+4.

if anyone plays guitar, im sure youve come across drills that use pairings like this, theres a reason for it- apparently makes the forearm more efficient.

as far as thumb goes, i would use them in the grip, theres a reason we have them.[/quote]

Great idea, though I just tried both combos and couldn’t do either.
I’m thinking maybe build up to it by using a full grip with one hand and a partial grip with the other?

[quote]RJ24 wrote:
In addition to finger pullups, you could also try towel chinups. Just throw a towel over the bar, grab on, and try to pull yourself up. Sounds simple, but it hits the fingers and forearms like no other.[/quote]

Those are great! I tore up a few trying it out. Kept at it for a while but it really messed up my hands…
Guess the best thing to do is just man up and stick to it this time.

Icarus, when I first did them, towel chins tore up my fingers too. I recently included them in again and my fingers have been fine.

I attribute this to having been doing snatches and deadlifts for the past couple of weeks. So if your fingers are giving you problems, pull heavy for a few weeks and it should get a lot easier.

[quote]AngryVader wrote:
uberswank wrote:
Go for it, Eugene Sandow could do a pullup with any one of his 10 fingers!

Sandow had extra fingers?[/quote]

He did 1 Arm chins with each one of his 5 fingers of each hand, hence with each of his 10 fingers :slight_smile:

doing pull/chinups with 1 or 2 fingers per hand looks harder than it actually is, as long as the bar has a diameter small enough so that you can reach around ~180? with what ever combination of fingers you’re pulling with.