The pullup is one of the best exercises for building a dense, wide, and strong back. And a simple grip switch can better target the benefits: An underhand grip will zero in on the biceps; a close-grip hits the lower lats. But adding weight—holding a medicine ball, kettlebell, or dumbbell between your knees or feet, or hooking weight to a weight belt—will increase demand on all the muscles and force your upper back and arms to work harder to lift the entire mass.

That said, using a kettlebell has an overlooked advantage. Since it hangs lower than a dumbbell or plate would, it provides greater resistance and therefore requires more effort to complete each rep. For this reason, start with a KB that’s lighter than what you would use with the other tools mentioned.

How to do it

  1. Secure a weight belt around your waist and run the chain through the handle of a kettlebell.
  2. Hang from a pullup bar with the grip of your choice.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up until your chin is at the bar or above it.

Rep test

Aim to complete at least 10 bodyweight pullups with strict form before adding weight.