The dominated is a multi – joint exercise widely used in a variety of strength training to work the muscles of the upper body.

It is very common to perform pullups with different grip (prone, supine, neutral or with rope), although both the subjects who train strength and many coaches do not really know the differences in muscle activation between different types of pulls according to the grip.

Types of grip in the pull-ups

In the dominated you can use different grips, the most common being the prone grip , the supine grip and the neutral grip .

In turn, more and more subjects also practice rope pull ups , which are dominated whose grip and pulls are made on a string , as can be seen in the video.

We should not rely on assumptions

In spite of the familiarity of the dominated ones among the professionals of the training world, there is a lack of knowledge of the muscular activation during this exercise and its variants according to the grip that is used.

Many fitness professionals work under the assumption that variations of pull-up exercises can train different muscles to different degrees, but you should not work on assumptions or what you hear out there.

One can intuit that a type of dominated can activate more a certain muscle, but this can not affirm and transmit it if it has not been measured and scientifically informed and one has been able to access this information. From there you can transfer that information and use the type of dominated that most interests you according to the objective, without having to rely on assumptions.

The understanding of how the grip orientation in the pull-ups can alter the level of muscle activation is important when considering the specificity and efficiency of the training, since the variants of the pull-ups that result in different levels of muscle activation can inevitably promote different degrees of strength adaptation in particular muscles.

Therefore, it is important that fitness professionals understand the level of muscle activation in the dominated when variations of that exercise are prescribed.

Variations in muscle activation according to the grip of our dominated

Contrary to what many may think, a study published in this 2017 and whose objective was to measure the differences in muscle activation between the dominated according to the grip used (prone, supine, neutral, rope), has shown that the four grips cause similar activations in our muscles.

Although there are small differences, these differences are not significant, and I go into detail.

The muscle activation peak and the average muscle activation of the brachioradial, biceps brachii, mid deltoids, pectoralis major, lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi and infraspinatus muscles are similar in all grip variations of the dominated muscles.

The only and biggest difference is shown in the middle trapezius , whose activation is higher in the dominated with prone grip, being the dominated with neutral grip those that less activate said muscle.

Therefore, except for the middle trapezius, in which there is a significant difference especially between the dominated with prone grip (the one that activates it most) and the dominated with neutral grip (the one that less activates it), the peak of muscular activation and the average muscular activation of the shoulder-arm-forearm complex is similar regardless of the orientation of the hand (grip) during different variations of the pull-up exercise.

As a result, the typical hypotheses and beliefs common among fitness professionals that there are many differences in muscle activation depending on the grip we use in our dominated are refuted .

The concentric phase of active movement plus the different muscles

The concentric phase of the four dominant grip variants results in a significantly greater muscle activation peak of the brachioradial, biceps brachial and pectoralis major muscles compared to the eccentric phase.

In addition to the three muscles mentioned above, the concentric phase of the dominated with prone grip results in significantly greater mean muscle activation of the middle deltoid and lower trapezius.

Similarly, the lower trapezius shows a significantly higher average muscle activation during the concentric phase of the dominated variants with supine grip and with the variant of rope grip.

This indicates that the aforementioned muscles experience a greater recruitment of motor units, and therefore greater intensity, during the concentric phase of the movement independently of the grip of the dominated one.

Comparatively, the middle trapezius, the latissimus dorsi and the infraspinatus work at similar levels of average muscular activation during the concentric and eccentric phases of each of the grip variations in the dominated ones.

It has been reported that the brachial and brachioradial biceps seem to function as primary engines during the concentric phase of each grip variant of the dominated, while the middle and lower trapezius, the latissimus dorsi and the infraspinatus work consistently to control both the concentric phases like the eccentrics.

Do we provoke adaptations in strength in all the muscles with the different grips?

It has been reported that muscle activation above 50-60% of the maximum voluntary isometric contraction is required to promote adaptations in strength.

Based on the peak of muscle activation observed in the different holds in the pull-ups, it can be inferred that such activation seems sufficient to promote adaptations of the strength in the brachioradial, biceps brachii, broad dorsal and infraspinous muscles, independently of the orientation of the hand (grip)

However, it can also be inferred that the four types of grip may not result in sufficient muscle activation to promote adaptations in the strength of the middle deltoid, the pectoralis major and the inferior trapezius.

If we talk about the degree of activity of the middle trapeze , especially during the dominated with prone grip, but also in the variant of pulls with the rope (rope pull ups), it indicates that these grip orientations can also promote adaptations in the strength of said muscle.

However, the peak of muscular activation observed in the middle trapezius during the dominated with supine grip and with neutral grip is also below the previously identified level of activation to promote adaptations in strength.

Although I have already mentioned that the middle trapezius is the muscle with the most differences, being more activated in the prone grip and being the neutral grip the one that less activates it, it is not the muscle that is most active, but the most activated is the brachioradial , highlighting the importance of this muscle during all the grip variants in the pull-ups.

In summary, it seems that the four grips in the dominated (prone, supine, neutral and with rope) obtain similar levels of muscle activation and adaptations in strength when implemented in strength training.