Butterfly Pull Ups – A Complete Guide

If you want to try a new and a little different variation of pull ups then Butterfly Pullups might be the way to go. Butterfly pull-ups are a CrossFit-inspired variation of the pull ups.

In this article, we will look at what butterfly pull ups are, how to do them, muscles work, their benefits, alternatives, and more. Stay Tuned!!

What Are Butterfly Pull Ups?

butterfly pull ups
Image – SrdjanPav/iStock

Butterfly pull ups are a variation of pull ups but they are somewhat different from what you expect. Butterfly pull ups are inspired and popularized by CrossFit. They are done much faster and continuously than regular pull ups. But they are not as efficient when it comes to strength building and hypertrophy.

They are mainly done by CrossFitters but other people can do it too. This movement is mainly designed and intended to improve at CrossFit. But, it can provide some other benefits as well.

How To Perform Butterfly Pull Ups?

Step-By-Step Instructions:

Here’s how to perform and do the Butterfly Pull Up.

  • Step 1: Hang on the bar with your hands just outside shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar firmly with your hands so that you don’t slip while performing the movement.
  • Step 2: Just make sure to have enough room to swing without hitting anything and initiate the swing with your shoulders alternating between arched and hollow body positions.
  • Step 3: From the arched position, swing the legs toward the bar and at the exact same time push the bar down with straight arms. This will generate upwards momentum.
  • Step 4: Now that you driving upwards pull your body closer to the bar with your arms and make sure your chin is above the bar.
  • Step 5: Now while lowering down allow your torso to move a little forward under the bar and then swing your legs back creating an arched position again.
  • Step 6: Repeat.

Video Guide

Related: Scapular Pull Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Difference Between Butterfly Pull Ups And Kipping Pull Ups

Some people get confused and identify butterfly pull ups and kipping pull ups as the same but they are different in certain ways.

People get confused between both of them as their starting points are the same and the movements look a little similar and confusing.

The difference really comes up to the body position, in kipping pull ups you have to maintain a hollow body position while in butterfly pull ups you have to maintain more of an arch body position.

Also, in butterfly pull ups the movement is continuous, on the other hand in kipping pull ups while lowering down you give a little pause and then repeat. This also indicates that butterfly pull ups are faster.

Are Butterfly Pull Ups Safe?

Butterfly Pull Ups are generally safe if you know how to do them and have some practice behind them. They generally carry a higher risk of injury for beginners and people who are new to these fast and continuous movements.

This exercise can cause injury to your joints, muscles, or even connective tissue if you are not prepared enough. 

It is recommended to practice the movement slowly and in controlled motion first for a week or two so that you build up enough strength to perform the exercise faster and continuously. Also, make sure to warm up thoroughly before performing this exercise to prevent risks of injury.

Also Read: Roman Chair Sit Ups – How to Perform, Variations & Benefits

What Muscles Do Butterfly Pull Ups Work?

butterfly pullups
Image – SrdjanPav/iStock

Butterfly Pull Ups are going to mainly work your back muscles, biceps, and deltoids. It is also going to help with grip strength. Here is a list of muscles butterfly pull ups work.

  • Lattismus Dorsi
  • Biceps
  • Rhomboids
  • Deltoids
  • Brachioradialis and brachialis 
  • Forearms
  • Core

Butterfly Pull Ups Benefits

Here are some of the benefits of butterfly pull ups.

Perform More Reps In A Shorter Time

Butterfly pull up is a fast and continuous exercise that can allow you to do a lot of reps in a shorter period of time. Due to the momentum generated while performing this exercise, you can do more reps in a significantly low time without catching fatigue. 

Build Muscle And Strength

Butterfly pull ups might not be that efficient in terms of building muscle and strength when compared to normal pullups and chinups. But, butterfly pull ups can still provide you with some muscle and strength gains. 

Butterfly pullups might not be the best exercise for muscle hypertrophy and gaining strength but they can still help in building some muscle and strength.

Burn More Calories

Butterfly pull ups work more muscles and allow you to do more reps in a shorter period of time. Because of that, it can also help in burning more calories. Whether your goal is fat loss or not butterfly pullups turn out to be a great exercise to burn some extra calories and shed some more fat. 

Increase In Strength Endurance

Simply put, strength endurance means to do something that requires strength for a longer period of time without giving away. And, Butterfly pull ups clearly help in improving strength and muscle endurance, as it is a continuous exercise and allows you to do more & more reps while your muscles are still under tension and at the same time requiring strength.

Performing butterfly pullups can increase your strength and muscle endurance so that you can do tougher movements for a longer period of time.

Improvement At Faster And Explosive Movements

As we know, butterfly pull up can help in increasing muscle and strength endurance, but it can also help in improving your speed, and explosiveness performing any movement.

Butterfly pullups are a fast exercise and require some explosiveness. Doing it regularly and practicing it can help in improving your explosiveness and also helps you to get faster at certain movements.

Related: Archer Pull-Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Butterfly Pull Ups Alternatives

Well, we have discussed butterfly pull ups now it’s time for some alternatives. Here are 5 great alternatives for butterfly pull ups that you can try.

1. Normal Pullups & Chinups

If you are not doing pullups and chinups, then you are missing out on two great bodyweight upper body exercises that can provide immense benefits. 

The difference between normal pullups and chinups is just the grip and muscles worked. The normal pull up uses a pronated grip and focuses more on the back muscles while the chinup uses a supinated grip and focuses more on the biceps muscle.

Pullups & Chinups are great alternatives to butterfly pull ups and you could even add them together to your routine.

2. The Kipping Pullups

Kipping pullups have some similarities and some differences when compared to butterfly pullups but they turn out to be a good alternative to butterfly pull ups.

They involve less arching than butterfly pull ups but require more of a hollow body position. If you are looking for an alternative to butterfly pull ups, kipping pull ups are highly recommended.

3. Hammer Pull ups

Hammer pull ups are also known as neutral grip pull ups. This is a variation of pullups that focuses more on the biceps, brachialis, and forearms. This exercise while training your back and bicep muscles also focuses on forearms and grip strength. This exercise is just also another great alternative to butterfly pull ups.

4. Plyo Pull Ups

If you want to build muscle power and strength then plyo pull up is an amazing exercise. Plyo is the short form of plyometric which is generally a form of training that includes powerful movements.

In plyo pull ups you pull yourself up explosively and release and re-grip the bar whilst in mid-air.

If you are looking for an exercise that can help improve your explosiveness, power, control, and strength while also building muscle then plyo pull ups are a good choice for you.

5. Muscle Ups

If we are talking about so many of the Calisthenics and CrossFit exercises then how can we forget about the Muscle Ups? No, Right?!  Muscles Ups are popular both in Calisthenics and CrossFit and are a great upper body exercise that works most of the upper body muscles.

Muscle ups are a little tough and complicated but if you are looking to build some good muscle and strength then muscle ups are something you should give a try. 

Don’t worry if you can’t perform muscle ups yet it is a complicated movement, but surely after some practice, you will be able to do your first muscle up.

Are Butterfly Pullups Easier Than Kipping?

Here’s another question that you might have in your mind. Well, the answer to this question is not so easy. Simply, when you are a beginner both of the exercises (Butterfly and Kipping Pull Ups) will feel hard. 

But, when you’re advanced and have some experience, butterfly pull ups will feel a little easier as they are faster and you can use momentum. While in kipping pull ups, the movement is a little more controlled and the momentum is lesser which makes it slightly tougher.


Butterfly pull ups are just another variation of pull ups and are popularized and inspired by CrossFit. Butterfly Pull Ups and Kipping Pull Ups are slightly different.

It works various upper body muscles mainly comprising your back, biceps, and forearms muscles. It can provide many benefits like burning more calories, increasing strength and muscle endurance, improving explosiveness, and more.

You should also keep in mind that butterfly pull ups can be slightly risky for beginners and for those you do not perform correctly. Make sure to have some practice before doing this exercise and perform the exercise with the correct form.

In the end, the butterfly pull up is a good exercise and it is highly recommended to try it in your workouts.

More Exercise Guides

Hammer Pull Ups – How To Do, Alternatives & Benefits

Roman Chair Sit Ups – How To Perform, Variations & Benefits

Kneeling Squat – Complete Exercise Guide

Do Push-Ups Help With Pull-Ups? Unlocking The Connection

Do Pull-Ups Make You Taller? Height Myths Debunked

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