Even with the weight of the body alone, you can still gain health benefits that come from strength training, such as improved stamina, stronger bones and weight maintenance. Pushups fall into the category of bodyweight exercises and they primarily work the front part of the upper body. The bodyweight exercise that offsets them does the complete opposite.
Any time you do an exercise for one muscle group or one side of your body, you want to create balance by working opposing muscles. The main muscles that get targeted with pushups are the pectorals, anterior deltoids and triceps. The pecs are in the chest, the anterior delts are on the front of the shoulders and the triceps are on the back of the upper arms. Pullups work the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, biceps and trapezius muscles. With the exception of biceps, these muscles are located in the mid to upper back. This makes them good exercises to offset pushups.
Regardless of whether you are doing pushups or pullups, it is important to execute proper form. If you do not use a full range of motion, or if your body is out of alignment, you risk injury and the development of muscle imbalances. To perform a good pullup, reach up and grasp the pullup bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and let your body hang straight down. You have the option of bending your knees and crossing your legs behind your body before you you start. This will help to counter-balance your weight. Pull yourself up as high as you can and hold for a second. Slowly lower your body down and repeat. Your goal is to get your chin to bar height. When you pull yourself up, it is important not to sway your body back and forth. Keep your abs tight throughout to prevent this from happening.
Variations of Both Exercises
A standard pushup is performed with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. By changing your hand position, you can change the emphasis on your muscles. Placing your hands close together, for example, will increase the focus on your triceps. Just as you can change the emphasis with pushups, you can do the same thing with pullups. Gripping the bar with your palms facing your body will place more emphasis on your biceps, and this would be a good complement to close-grip pushups. The biceps are the large muscles on the front of the upper arms. Pullups with your palms facing you are called chinups.
Changing the Resistance
As you get stronger, both pushups and pullups will become easier. The way to continually make progress is to add resistance to your body. The easiest way to do this is by securing a weighted vest or weighted backpack to your torso. This method works efficiently with pushups and pullups.