Tricep Pain While Doing Pull Ups

Along time ago I strained the bottom of my tricep while doing chin ups and today the pain returned while I was doing pull ups. The part that hurts is at the bottom of my right tricep near the elbow and only hurts while pulling myself up and my eyes are near the level of the bar. It is a sharp pain that happens and goes very quickly and I have also felt it while flexing my bicep.

I don’t believe this is tennis elbow, from what I know tennis elbow is on the forearm? Could it be improper form? Are there any stretches or anything like that I could do to help?

How long is " along time ago" ?

I’ve had a similar injury twice - both times caused by doing pull ups without being fully warmed up AND dropping to full extension a little too quickly (not a kip though, lol) … I remember thinking the first time I did it how bizarre it was to hurt your TRICEPS doing pullups …

Really pull-ups were the only exercise that made my tricep feel that way … It was sore, and I noticed it doing other things, but the pain was bearable/ minor on everything but pull ups - felt like my tricep was ripping off the bone if I tried one.

Never went to the doc for it so I can’t help with a diagnosis, but I would advise you to drop them for awhile and do back exercises that don’t aggravate it. If memory serves, the first time I injured it that way I couldn’t do a pull up for about 2 months without some level of pain … Second time around it was a little quicker, but I knew right away it was the same injury (to the same arm)

I recall being able to sub pulldowns without pain … Albeit light ones.

By a long time ago, I meant almost two years ago. Indeed I also thought it was bizarre to hurt my tricep while doing chin ups. Since it originally happened the pain has came and went ocassionally, but nothing like when it first happened.

I remember an occasion a few months ago where I could feel the pain when doing light sets of bench press but once I got into heavier sets I was good to go.

I’ve also noticed that I get a slight tinge in that area - where the old injury was - when I try to come up too high in a pull-up (like chest-to-bar pull-ups) … OR if I’m trying to get a last rep, and kind of grinding my way up to the bar

Not to assume that you are doing this, but maybe try to make sure your ROM isn’t too extreme at the top…Not going close to failure might help too … (Just saying based on my own injury / experiences)

Sucks something from 2 years ago is rearing it’s ugly head again …

Back in 2008 I was doing weighted pullups and hurt my left elbow. I never went to the doctor. I stopped doing pullups. Last year I tried again and the pain returned as if it was a natural occurence. I tried hammer grip pullups, and they worked a little. Hammer grip pulldowns also allowed some training. Now I have found supersetting either V Bar triceps extensions or close grip bench press with pullups lets me actually complete reps with no pain. I do several light sets of extensions and then begin the supersets. It may be something you can try.


When you are at the top of the pullup motion, your tricep is in a lengthened position. This probably explains why you have more discomfort at the top of the motion. I agree with both of the suggestions people have offered: rest it/avoid it for a while and when you return go to neutral grip (hammer grip) to see if that helps. When you are in the chin-up position, your tricep is lengthened even further. Hopefully returning to a hammer grip or even an overhand grip will be helpful. Good luck.


Have had this myself for a few years - first incident happened when doing a lot of pull ups daily. I believe it is due to tight shoulders and tight pecs. If you foam roll the hell out of your lats, work a lacrosse ball all over your pecs, stretch your neck, etc this should help.