Mike Fitch - Global Bodyweight Training
Adding rotation to the standard Pull-Up turns it into a true total body movement
The Tornado Pull-Up is a great variation on the timeless pull-up exercise. It’s no secret that Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups are one of the best exercises around. Sure, it might be impressive to see someone grunt out a ton of weight on a lat pull down machine, but the simple Pull-Up will always be a display of strength. While the basic version is itself to be admired, there are numerous variations that can be used to challenge the muscles involved, and additional movements that can be added to make it a full body exercise.

The Tornado Pull-Up accomplishes both of these, incorporating trunk rotation and leg movements to make this one killer exercise.

Trunk Rotation

I’m a big fan of rotational trunk exercises. They have a very high carry-over into sports performance, and are excellent for improving spinal health. Trunk rotation is a major source of power. Think about punching, swinging a bat or club and throwing a ball. All of these movements require major rotation at the trunk.

Total Body Exercise

Mike Fitch - Global Bodyweight Training
The movement should be fluid and controlled throughout the exercise
The Tornado Pull-Up gives you a major bang for your buck. We can break it down and look at all of the joint actions to get an idea of just how powerful this exercise can be:

  • At its base, this is a vertical pulling pattern , incorporating the elbow flexors like bicep brachii and brachialis.
  • The large lats and teres major play a major role at the shoulder joint.
  • The internal and external obliques rotate the spine as the hip flexors, like the psoas, begin to flex the hip.
  • The adductors of the inner leg pull the straight leg up towards the ceiling as the ipsilateral (same side) obliques, with the QL, laterally flex the spine.

As you can see, this exercise really is a total body movement!

Perfecting Your Tornado Pull-Up

Mike Fitch - Global Bodyweight Training
This Pull-Up variation is great for strength and trunk
The key to this exercise is fluidity. All of the joints should be moving simultaneously, whether it be on the wind-up or the release.

While the goal with a regular Pull-Up is to get the chin over the bar, with the Tornado Pull-Up you only need to get your forehead to the bar. This is because the goal is to touch your elbow to the knee, getting your elbows to at least a 90 degree angle. Keep your focus on the rotation and movement of your legs.

Take your time with this exercise and be sure to perfect your standard Pull/ Chin-Up before progressing into the Tornado Pull-Up.

Check out the video below for step-by-step instructions for learning and mastering this exercise:

Want to see lots more on Pull-Ups? Check out these videos:

Published by Mike Fitch

Mike is the founder of Global Bodyweight Training. He has more than 12 years as a fitness professional encompassing a wide range of disciplines which he draws upon to create the GBT system.

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  1. Very clever title! I feel as if the hip work is minimal at best. I can see real benefit coming from greater force on the elbow flexors. Love the variations though. Sure makes working out more interesting.

    1. Hey Colt, thanks for the comments. The hip actions are mostly sagittal and frontal plane movements, while the rotation comes from the spine. BTW, great job on your site, I look forward to checking it out more.

  2. Hi Mike………..I tried it after watching it on youtube when first posted. I have to say that it is excellent and besides all the muscle you mentioned I felt the abdominals a more the obliques working hard since the body is not moving vertical compared to the ground as in a normal pull up but at the end it ia angled at some angle which resembles the first part of the front lever. this makes my abs working hard……………hope I could explain…………..take care……….michael, Italy

  3. I have added this to a daily routine of mine, thank you for being such a great inspiration, I only hope to inspire the masses, and save lives through the education of fitness and health. I discovered you on Equinox’s website, I hope to become a trainer there soon.

    1. That’s great news Rayvon! Maybe you’ll be in one of my workshops if you make it on to the Equinox team. Keep up the good work my friend.

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