Pull-ups are a pretty challenging exercise.
They require activation from multiple muscle groups and the movement involved is quite complex.
Unless you have a good foundation of strength and fitness, you’ll likely find pull-ups to be extremely hard.
However, some people find pull-ups even harder than others and that’s what we are looking at in this article.
In particular, we look at whether pull-ups are harder for people with longer arms.
Do Long Arms Make Pull-Ups Harder?
Yes, pull-ups are harder with longer arms.
Without diving into scientific equations relating to energy expenditure, probably the easiest way to explain it is to say that longer arms mean a greater distance to move your body upwards.
This results in more energy (effort) being needed to do so.
If you think about it another way, imagine lifting a barbell half a meter off the ground.
Now imagine lifting the same barbell one whole meter off the ground.
The barbell weighs the same each time but you exert more energy lifting it to one meter than you do half a meter because you have to move it further away from the ground.
If you have to move something a greater distance (like moving your body upwards in pull-ups with longer arms), you’ll need a bigger effort to do so making the exercise harder.
Are Pull-Ups As Effective If You Have Longer Arms?
Pull-ups may be harder for gym-goers with longer arms but that doesn’t make them any less effective when done correctly.
You may find them more challenging and less efficient (and be able to do fewer reps), but the muscles being worked will be the same as those doing them with shorter arms.
You can still get the same benefits as anyone else doing pull-ups.
It’s just that you’ll probably have to work a bit harder for them as you’ll be generating force over a greater distance to do the exercise correctly.
Should You Still Do Pull-Ups If You Have Longer Arms?
This depends on what you’re trying to achieve in your training program.
While there’s no denying that pull-ups are harder with longer arms, it doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t do them.
If you’re trying to build your back, shoulders, core, and arms, then pull-ups can be a very worthwhile exercise to perform.
It’s worth keeping in mind though that there’ll be other exercises you could do that you will find easier, but there’s no reason why you can’t do pull-ups if you have longer arms. Just expect to work a bit harder than your short-armed gym buddies.
How To Do Pull-Ups If You Have Longer Arms
One of the main things to keep in mind when doing pull-ups with longer arms is to forget about getting your chest to touch the bar with each rep.
While this is something many people who do pull-ups do to ensure a full range of movement, if you have long arms, you’ll be working your body extremely hard for an extra few inches which will likely prevent you from completing a full set.
Instead of focussing on lifting your body as high as possible, try to focus on the point at which you feel the working muscles contract.
As long as you feel them activating as you’d expect, your range of movement will probably be enough to get most of the benefits of pull-ups.
How Can You Get Better At Pull-Ups If You Have Longer Arms?
Improving at pull-ups if you have longer arms isn’t really any different from improving at pull-ups with shorter arms.
The key is to build strength in the muscles that’ll be working throughout the movement.
Wide-grip lat pull down can be a good exercise to help build strength in the right places. Once you can lift some decent weight with this, you should find pull-ups a bit easier.
The other way to get better at pull-ups if you have longer arms is to practice doing them.
You might not be able to do many to begin with, but the more you do them, the better you should get as your muscles adapt and get stronger.
Are Pull-Ups Easier With Shorter Arms?
Shorter arms mean less distance to move your body which makes pull-ups easier.
If you have shorter arms, you’ll need to use less energy to generate the movement required to cover the distance from the lowest point of the exercise to the highest.
In very basic terms, shorter arms make pull-ups easier when compared to other people with longer arms doing them.
Should You Fully Extend Your Arms When Doing Pull-Ups?
If you want to get as much benefit as possible from pull-ups, you need to perform the exercise through the full range of motion.
This means that, at the lowest point of the exercise, your arms should be fully extended so you’re as low as possible before lifting yourself back up to the highest point of the movement.
Just be sure to lower yourself under control to help minimize the injury risk.
In summary, long arms make pull-ups harder because you have to move your body a greater distance during the exercise.
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.