Bulgarian Pull-ups

The Bulgarian Pull-up is a variation on the standard pull-up exercise using gymnastics rings. It is often used in gymnastics when learning the iron cross.

Primary Muscle Back
Secondary Muscle(s) Biceps
Difficulty Intermediate
Also known as Wide grip ring pull-up
Equipment Rings

How to do Bulgarian Pull-ups

  1. Set the height of the rings so that the feet will not touch the ground.
  2. Grip the rings in a dead hang position. 
  3. Pull youself up toward the rings like a normal pullup but as you rise, slowly spread the hands out so that the upper arms forms right angles with the torso and forearm. 
  4. At the top of the exercise your palms should be facing each other and arms spread as far apart as possible. 
  5. Pause briefly before you slowly lowering back down.


  • Keep the movement slow and controlled avoiding jerky movements.
  • Minimise any rocking or swaying movements.

Bulgarian Pull-ups Guide

The Bulgarian pull-up is performed on rings and is a more difficult variation on the standard pull-up exercise except the arms are flared out to the sides when ascending.

This is a popular gymnastics exercise when training for the iron cross as it places a greater emphasis on development of the shoulder girdle and surrounding musculature.

Beginning Bulgarian Pull-ups

You should be proficient with normal ring pull-ups before progressing to Bulgarian pull-ups.

Advanced Bulgarian Pull-ups

To increase the difficulty of Bulgarian pull-ups you can - 

  • Introduce additional weight using a weighted vest, dip belt or rucksack. 
  • Perform the exercise in an L-sit position.


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.