What are Headbangers

Headbangers is a pull-up variation that will develop upper body strength and endurance. It involves a push and pulls motion whilst your chin is above the bar. The great thing about this exercise is that you can change your grip position to target different muscles. You will definitely get a big bicep and upper back pump if you do this properly.

 

Headbangers involves shifting your entire body weight up against gravity, it gives great trunk stability and upper body strength. Acording to a recent research on the muscle activation during the pull-up, of the four muscle groups assessed (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, biceps, and rectus abdominis). Reserachers have found that the rectus abdominis was the most active muscle group for all participants when performing the pull-up.

 

 

What Muscles are Worked by Headbangers

This exercise is a compound, and dynamic movement which targets your arms, back, shoulders, chest, and core. The primary muscles worked are the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, biceps, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and triceps. The secondary muscle worked is the abdominals.

What Level are Headbangers

Headbangers is an intermediate-level and above exercise, because you should be comfortable with doing at least 8 pull-ups, 8 chin-ups, and 15 seconds chin above bar isometric holds. Beginners are welcome to try this exercise, along with regression variations to unleash your inner gymless power!

How To Do Headbangers

1. Hang On The Bar

Begin in a dead hang by gripping firmly on the bar using an underhand grip, at shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be off the ground. Keep your core tight.

2. Pull Up

Exhale as you pull yourself up so that your chin is above the bar. Engage your biceps, lats, and core. This is your starting position.

You can experiment with different grips to target different muscle groups, for example using either supinated/underhand grip to isolate biceps, or pronated/overhand grip to isolate your lats. The width of your grip also affects the tension of different muscles. For example:

 

Supinated/Underhand Grip:

  • Supinated close grip targets your biceps
  • Supinated shoulder-width grip targets your biceps and middle back
  • Supinated wide grip targets your lats

Pronated/Overhand Grip:

  • Pronated close grip targets your biceps
  • Pronated shoulder-width grip targets your middle back
  • Pronated wide grip targets your lats

3. Push And Pull

Explosively push your head away from the bar by extending your arms horizontally. Aim to fully extend your arms, followed by quickly pulling yourself back towards the bar to the upper chin-up position.

4. Repeat

Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets (see the recommended reps and sets range below). There are many headbangers variations that you can try by using different grips. This grip includes underhand grip, pronated grip, and mix grip. This will be covered in the Headbangers Variations section.

Headbangers Workout

  • Beginners should perform between 4-6 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Intermediate level athletes should perform between 8-18 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Advanced level athletes should perform 20+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.

It is highly recommended that you utilize supersets to increase time under tension on the working muscles, which will overload the muscles, therefore, enhancing your muscular endurance and strength. An example workout could be:

  • 3 chin-ups + 5 headbangers
  • 3 chin-ups + 5 headbangers + 5s chin above bar isometric hold
  • 3 pull-ups + 5 headbangers
  • 3 pull-ups + 5 headbangers + 5s chin above bar isometric hold

The workout example above should be practice for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

Headbangers Benefits

Upper Body Hypertrophy

Headbangers do wonders for your upper body muscles due to their compound mechanics. It will target your lats, biceps, front shoulders, and abs. Practicing this consistently with high volume will definitely contribute to your muscle mass, giving you bigger biceps and a monster back. Moreover, your muscular endurance will skyrocket, which will be beneficial in other aspects of your workouts such as cardio, or HITT.

Improve Posture

If you have slumping shoulders or rounded back, it can lead to back problems and aches. To correct these issues, you should practice pull-ups and their variations to targets the upper body muscles and strengthening them. This will help stabilize the spine, therefore, improving your posture

Improve Grip Strength

Headbangers will develop your grip strength as you will be holding your body weight up in the top chin-up position. This will fire your forearms muscles away and aid growth, giving you crushing grip strength. A stronger grip strength assists you in carrying, holding, and lift items in your everyday life and your athletic performances.

Headbangers Variations

L-Sit Headbangers

This variation is a progression that will activate your core as you will bring your legs up at a 90 degrees angle in relation, creating an L-sit. This helps to develop midline stability and strength. To perform this exercise you will:

  1. Begin in a dead-hang position gripping firmly on the bar using either pronated or supinated grip, at shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be off the ground. Keep your core tight.
  2. Exhale and pull up to the top position where your chin is above the bar. Lift up your legs until they are at a 90 degrees angle in relation to your torso to hold an L-Sit. This is your starting position.
  3. Create a push and pull motion by explosively pushing your head away from the bar by horizontally extending your arms, followed by pulling yourself back to the starting position. Aim to keep your chin above the bar throughout the movement.
  4. Repeat this push and pull motion between 5-20 reps for 4 sets.

Headbangers Head Underbar

Headbangers head underbar is a regression to the regular headbangers. You will pull up using either a pronated or supinated grip until your head is just below the bar (bottom half pull-up). This is great if you are not yet able to perform a full pull-up, and you will still get the same benefits in targeting your biceps and lats. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a dead-hang position gripping firmly on the bar using the either pronated or supinated grip, at shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be off the ground. Engage your core.
  2. Exhale and pull up until your head is below the bar (bottom half pull-up position). This is your starting position.
  3. Create a push and pull motion by explosively pushing your head away from the bar by horizontally extending your arms, followed by pulling yourself back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this push and pull motion between 5-20 reps for 4 sets.

Headbangers Mixed Grip

Headbangers mixed grip utilizes both the pronated and supinated grip. This will increase lateral instability, which will develop your core, and broaden your lats (make sure to switch grip to prevent muscle imbalances!). To perform this, you will:

  1. Start in a dead-hang position gripping firmly on the bar at shoulder-width apart, using a pronated grip in one hand, and supinated grip in the other. Your feet should be off the ground. Engage your core.
  2. Exhale and pull up until your chin is above the bar, to the top half pull-up position. This is your starting position.
  3. Create a push and pull motion by explosively pushing your head away from the bar by horizontally extending your arms, followed by pulling yourself back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this push and pull motion between 5-20 reps for 4 sets. Switch grips after every set.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.