Pull-ups happen to be one of my favorite exercises. Not just because they’re a compound movement that exhausts the back, shoulders, an arms all at once; but because they make you feel like a strong and sexy ninja beast! Any exercise that incorporates manipulating your total body weight should be a staple.
Another huge perk to the famous pull-up is that you don’t need expensive equipment or even a gym membership to practice. Head to your local sporting goods store for an inexpensive pull-up bar that you can install into your door frame, just make sure it can hold your body weight. You can also head to your neighborhood park and utilize the playground equipment (ya know…good old fashioned monkey bars!)
Okay, so now that you know where to try some pull-ups, lets go over how!
1. Try to hold the bar with an overhand grip so your hands are facing away from you (pull-up) verses an underhand grip which is a little easier and your hands should be facing towards you (chin-up)
2. Keep your hands just about shoulder distance apart
3. Slowly start to pull your chin up towards the bar, aiming to get it up higher than the bar
4. Focus on bringing your shoulders back and keeping your chest up and “open”
5. Avoid arching your back and/or swinging your legs
6. Slowly lower yourself down to a full hanging position
7. Repeat until failure
What’s the deal with all the different types and variations?
If you’re having difficulty performing a full pull-up you need to back track and work on the basics.
- Lat pull downs are a great exercise to help strengthen your back, shoulders, and arms. Make sure you focus on keeping your chest up and shoulders back when pulling the weight down.
- Experiment and try doing wide grip pull downs, close grip pull downs, and even underhand pull downs.
- Grab a partner: bend your knees and have your partner place their hands under your knees or around your thighs. As you pull yourself up they can help push you and control you.
- Head to the assisted pull-up machine at the gym where you can eliminate some of the weight you need to pull.
- Use a TRX strap/lower bar (maybe by lowering the bar on a squat rack/smith machine) or children’s playground equipment and place your heels far out in front of your body as an anchor point. Your body should hang almost parallel to the floor. To increase and decrease the difficulty just slide your feet closer/farther from the anchor point.
Carefully stand on a box or a bench so that you’re higher up towards the bar.
Jump yourself up so that your chin is just above the bar and lower yourself down as slowly as possible. This should be hard! Repeat jumping up and lowering down until fatigue.
Wide Grip Pull-Ups
By spreading your grip out wider you will be focusing more on your “lats” Latissimus Dorsi muscles, as opposed to keeping your grip closer and working your biceps. Place your hands wider than your shoulder distance apart.
Close Grip Pull-Ups
Place your hands closer, even an inch or two closer than shoulder distance. This distance will help focus on your lower lat muscles.
Whatever level you are at just keep practicing. Pull-ups are NOT easy, but they are extremely empowering and beneficial! Good luck :0)