T Nation

Partial ROM Pull-ups?


Im sure this has been covered, but a search didn't turn up anything.

I notice a lot of guys in the gym mainly only do the top 1/3-1/2 of the ROM on pullups. Im not sure if there is a purposeful reason why they do this, or maybe its just because they are weak at the bottom from a hang.

I have found I am weak at the top.

So what do you guys do, and is there any benefit from doing partials?


Well... i think it's because they don't have the strength to do complete ROM.

When I perform chins/pull ups I let myself hang stretched out for 1 second before starting to pull up again. And let me tell you: that's a lot harder :slight_smile:


Works the lats harder than full ROM for some, doing 1 full rep and 1 partial has been talked about on here for years.

Not training the bit you are weak at, sounds silly as then weaknesses won't be improved.

Just doing partials at the stage you are weak at, I doubt will help much. Work on assisted pull-ups or rack-chins will be more use.

My lats get much more out of rack-chins than pull-ups.


Horses for courses. If resistance is sufficient, you WILL have a sticking point.

Pulling yourself up from a dead hang - lats
peak contraction - lower traps, rhomboids, biceps etc

Lat dominant entities usually face a sticking point before "finishing" the motion, if resistance is sufficient obviously since their lower traps and rhomboids are on the weaker side, relatively speaking.
Those who face a sticking point at the bottom usually have poor lat development, relatively speaking.

If you're using pullups to work back width, see how Kroc performs his pullups (30 rep chins).

If your goal is just to make pullups harder because they are a "man maker" and not concerned about specific development, you're on the wrong forum.


Some people don't go to a full hang and pull their chest to the bar.
Some people do a full hang and don't pull their chest to the bar.
Some people don't do a full hang and don't pull their chest fully to the bar.
Some people do a full hang and pull their chest to the bar.


I've always focused on the bottom 3/4 or the movement because I find that it stresses my lats more. The top portion allows your biceps to really play a role, especially if you're one of "those" who feels the need to jerk your entire body all over the place so your chin can go over the top bar.

I've also found that by eliminating the very top ROM, you get rid of a potential 'resting' point, and thereby increase the work required by the muscle you are indeed trying to target.



Thx everyone for your input.

Im still not really sure what my take is on this.

Ive always focused more on the bottom end, but also tried to get my chin above the bar (or chest to touch the bar) when possible. But I put priority on the bottom portion, and when necessary to increase load or reps, cut out the top portion. I ALMOST always go to a complete hang, unless im trying to utilize the stretch reflex at the bottom.

But it seems like focusing on the top portion may be beneficial for ME. My biceps and upper back are two of my lagging areas as far as strength and/or size.

Im just not sure how to go about training this portion.

I could do my regular stuff first, and then end the workout with focusing on the top portion?

How does that sound?

Or any other suggestions?


Get started with the pulldown machine tout de suite and work on the bottom ROM while holding the peak contraction for 6-10 seconds for reps. Work on progressing the weight de plus en plus till you're holding bodyweight (and change) for a peak contraction for 6 or so reps, 6-10 seconds a rep. At the same time, some assisted pullups and focus on holding the peak contraction while controlling the lowering phase. That and/or fatman pullups trying to hold the peak contraction. That will take care of your vertical pulling strength imbalance.
Meme temps, progression on your back thickness work (with dumbbells preferably), horizontal pulling movements with cables and reverse flies should thicken up your upper back easily. Back thickness progression is very very straightforward as long as you keep at it AND provided your back muscles are the prime movers in rowing movements.


Thx tribunal, but I didn't understand most of that.


So my workout today went like this.

Weighted pullup (+40) 8x2 ((mainly bottom end work, was able to get chest to about 4-6" from bar))

Preacher curl (65) 8x4

Pullup/Rev fly 5x5/5x8 ***

***So im not sure if was my weakness or that I was just fatigued from the first two exercises, but on the third exercise, BW was definately too heavy. I ended up going with lat pulldowns for the last 2 sets and about 160lbs. But I think I need to go even lighter on these, and focus on being able to hold the bar against my chest for 3-5 seconds or so on each rep (This seems to be what tribunal was getting at).

Alright guys thanks for the help. I think im on the right track. I'll continue training pullups heavy and with a reduced ROM if needed, and then work on the very top end strength with lighter weight and try to get it to catch up to my lat strength.


I generally do full ROM Pull/Chin-Ups. As mentioned above, there is probably some merit to doing partials if you are truly trying to focus on the lats, or on the upper back and biceps.

That being said Id bet my bottom dollar if I asked 90% of the people I see why they are only doing partial ROM pull/chin-ups they would either a) not know they were actually doing partials, or b) call me something derogatory and continue trying to impress the cardio-bunnies with tireless amounts of half reps.


Well, just how many people do you see doing the BOTTOM half of a pullup anyway (from a dead hang)
For most clueless cherubs the world over, partial pullups = mid to top half of a pullup. And then they wonder where their lats are. `

And finishing the movement doesn't do all that much for your lower traps, rhomboids and biceps - not more than some heavy rowing and curling can accomplish. But you need the dead hang stretch and loading if you ever want back width, especially if you don't have wide clavicles.

Pullups are primarily a width movement anyway, so if you're going to do partial pullups, do them from a dead hang (with enough load) and go for reps. As long as the people doing BOTTOM partials are progressing on some kind of rowing/thickness work they will have at least SOME lats and upper back thickness depending on their rowing abilities.

Finally, you can always develop upper back thickness even as an intermediate to advanced lifter, but its VERY difficult to sprout lats once you're an intermediate.

Again, horses for courses.


You hit biceps more from a dead hang since you really need them to start your elbows bending, regardless of how much you use your back. The top half is more for constant tension and you will get more of a pump like effect. If a pump is what you need that day or that cycle then go for it, if not then don't.


Ok, here's a little tip: Thats NOT the dead hang we're referring to here. We're talking about a dead hang from the scapulae point of view, not the elbows. Thats why a scapular depression (or whatever you call it) gets you moving up.

But yes, your biceps are involved one way or the other, again common knowledge. The point is which muscles initiate the movement (prime movers).


^This is all most people need to understand.



I've always thought that most people avoid the bottom portion of the ROM out of sloppiness, not purpose.


When I first started training I thought that as well, until one day I realized that all of the dudes in the gym with great backs seemed to only do the bottom portion of the movement.



Why is this?