When it comes to building your muscles and becoming a better overall athlete, working on your upper body strength is an important piece of the puzzle.

This is where the pull-up comes into play.

The pull-up is something that can be done in a gym or at home with the right equipment, and has a number of variations for you to choose from. Below I will break down a few of these variations that will take your upper body strength up a notch.

Neutral grip pull-up

1. Take a neutral grip on parallel pull-up bars, hanging freely with your arms extended. This is your starting position.

2. Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows and extending the shoulder joint. Do not swing or use momentum to complete the movement. Attempt to get your chin above your hands.

3. Pause at the top of the motion before lowering yourself to the starting position.

Normal grip pull-up

1. Grab the pull-up bar with your palms facing forward and about shoulder length apart.

2. With both arms extended in front of you holding the bar, bring your torso back around 30 degrees while sticking your chest out and curving your lower back.

3. Pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement.

4. Hold this position for a second before starting to inhale and slowly lowering your torso back to the starting position.

Wide grip pull-up

1. Start with a wide grip on the pull-up bar, hanging with your arms fully extended.

2. Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows and moving the shoulder joint inward without swinging.

3. Pause once your chin is above the bar before lowering yourself to the starting position.

I like having the athletes I work with do pull-ups, because for one, it’s a great exercise to do toward the end of a workout. Two, it’s an exercise that can always be measured. A lot of guys that come in at the beginning of the off season and they might be able to do 10 reps, and when they leave they are doing 20. So that right there is a measuring stick to show how you can improve. And lastly, the pull-up is also a great upper body exercise that you can do with no one else around.