Do Pull-Ups Work Abs For Increased Core Strength?


Pull-ups are a great exercise for working many aspects of your body, but in particular, your core.

We all know how important pull-ups can be, but it is often not talked about how beneficial they are for our core strength. Pull-ups work our back, most notably the lats as we seek that wing-like physique, as well as our arms throughout the entire motion. But what keeps us engaged and thriving throughout the workout as a whole? Our cores. With an increased load on our abdominal muscles, the work done to increase core strength is undeniable.

Having a strong core is essential for our weightlifting needs. With strong abs, we allow ourselves to thrive in terms of functional and foundational strength, keeping us grounded and more balanced throughout each respective lift. With an engaged core, you limit the needs for stabilizer muscles to add in for support, which can put increased strain and lead to injury if underdeveloped. And of course, a strong core will make that six-pack pop, adding to our shredded physiques.

Let’s take a look at how pull-ups can enhance our core strength so we see those desired gains we want most. While it may seem obvious, you might not know just how much they help.


Benefits Of Pull-Ups

The benefits of pull-ups are good to know before we start so you get a sense for just how effective this exercise can be.

Benefits of pull-ups include:

  • Strengthen your back and arms: As an effective bodyweight exercise, pull-ups are great for working your back and arms and putting that increased strain on those muscles (1).
  • Better grip: By relying on your grip strength to hold you on the bar and pull you up, you only strengthen that grip for the better (2).
  • Simple to learn: This exercise is rather simple to learn and is a great warm-up or mid-workout exercise.
  • Plenty of variations: You do get plenty of variations out of this exercise to keep your workouts interesting.
  • Work for V-taper development: That V-shape is closer than you think with this exercise since it works your abs and develops you back.

Muscles Worked During Pull-Ups

When performing pull-ups, a number of muscles are worked in the upper body to offer definition and better muscle development. Your lats see great work done, as do your biceps and traps. Your delts and chest will feel a burn, but most notably, your core is essential for keeping you engaged throughout the entire movement.


How Pull-Ups Increase Core Strength

With pull-ups, your core is engaged throughout the entire movement, thus working your abdominals. While this may not be the same burn as repping out a series of sit-ups, keep in mind that other upper body muscles are being worked and your focus is not solely on your abs. An isolated ab exercise will give you that sense of work done because your focus is only on that pain. But, since your core is essential for keeping you engaged and those muscles tight, pull-ups really do give your abs a great workout whether you feel it every time or not.

The added bonus of putting pull-ups into your routine is that you get all the above benefits, like increased back and arm strength, better grip strength, and improved balance and stability, while still working your core so you don’t take time away from other things to do an ab session (3). Trying to take care of a few things at once will allow you to workout “multitask” and tackle all of those fitness wants and needs effectively.

Pull-Up Variations To Work Abs

Along with the traditional pull-up, there are a few awesome variations that will allow you to seriously work your abs as effectively as possible.

Hanging Knee Raises: Very effective for strengthening your core as they allow you to target your abs and require the utmost engagement.

Toes To Bar: With such a tough movement, you really need core engagement to keep yourself from landing in a vulnerable spot.

L-Hang: This static hold is all about core engagement so you can stay in one spot and not sacrifice form.

Windshield Wipers: Core is vital here for while your lower half moves, you need that vital engagement to keep your upper body still.

Featured Supplement For Gains

Having a solid supplementations routine is imperative for seeing gains, especially after a workout that involves pull-ups. With so many muscles fired up, supplements can offer us a nice boost to continue to see the growth we want most. A pre-workout can offer energy and pumps while a protein powder capitalizes on those gains after our workout. But what about those mid-workout needs? An intra-workout supplement can help push past fatigue and keep our muscles hydrated for better gains and faster recovery (4), all of which we love to have.

Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine

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Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is designed for repair and recovery and is a 100% clean formula. With 5 great ingredients, the added glutamine works for better growth and reduced fatigue.

Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine offers all the benefits of a BCAA supplement with the added benefit of L-glutamine in the formula. Designed for the best BCAA for repair and recovery, Transparent Labs has crafted a 100% clean formula with a transparent label so you know exactly what you are getting. With 5 active, clinically researched, and accurately dosed ingredients, there are zero harmful additives to this BCAA supplement.

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Wrap Up

Pull-ups and their ability to really work your core make these an awesome exercise to put into your routine. By enhancing upper body strength, promoting better grip strength, and working on more effective balance and stability, your core becomes a vital part of ensuring an efficient and effective pull-up. With many variations and a simple to learn technique, these can be done as a warm-up or exercise and are perfect for any part of your workout. Give these a try, strategically place them in your training routine, and see what pull-ups can do for your core strength goals.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Ronai, Peter; Scibek, Eric (2014). “The Pull-up”. (source)
  2. Lee, Julia-Ann; Sechachalam, Sreedharan (2016). “The Effect of Wrist Position on Grip Endurance and Grip Strength”. (source)
  3. Hewit, Jennifer K.; Jaffe, Daniel A.; Crowder, Todd (2018). “A Comparison of Muscle Activation during the Pull-up and Three Alternative Pulling Exercises” (source)
  4. Negro, M.; Giardina, S.; Marzani, B.; Marzatico, F. (2008). “Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.