In the quest for building a strong, balanced body, there are a number of strength training exercises that tend to get left by the wayside. Perhaps none more so than the pull-up.
For some, repeatedly hauling their body weight above the bar, in an attempt to develop a stronger back, may seem like a task that’s light years out of reach. But that’s about to change.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about developing top class pulling power, and how to work your way up to the perfect pull up.
Big Benefits of the Pull-Up
The pull up is without a doubt one of the best ways to develop strength in the back line of the body.
By working on the mid, back and shoulder region, you’re building real-world, functional strength. Plus it becomes easier for you to adopt a healthy posture, which will reduce your risk of picking up an injury.
As an added bonus, the pull up is also one of the most effective ways to build a rock solid core.
Perfect Pull-up Technique
1. Grasp an overhead bar with an overhand grip (palms down), slightly wider than shoulder width. You may want to stand on a raised box if the bar is too high.
2. Get into a hanging position, tensing your core and glutes to align the body. To protect the shoulder joint, the shoulders should be ‘packed in’ by rotating them back and down.
3. Pull your chest up towards the bar, aiming to clear the bar with your head. Maintain a straight body by pointing the toes and tensing the abs and glutes. Prevent your elbows from flaring out wide to protect them from injury.
4. Lower back down slowly to the bottom of the hanging position, keeping the body straight and ensuring you go through the full range of motion.
If a full pull up is just out of reach, have a play around with the progressions below.
Building Up to the Pull Up
A full chest-to-bar pull up is by no means an easy feat. But thankfully there are a number of progressions you can work on to build the necessary strength.
1. Seated rows
Using the seated row machine, pull the cable to your chest, contracting your back muscles at the top of the movement.
2. The negative pull up
Focussing on the eccentric (downwards) phase of the pull-up is a great way to build up the required strength. Jump up to the bar into the top of the pull-up, then lower as slowly as you can.
3.The assisted pull-up
Attach a heavy duty gym band to the bar and place your knees into the loop it forms to receive an extra push. Alternatively, use an assisted pull up machine, eventually working up to no added help.
Taking it to the Next Level
Conquering the pull up is a great feeling, and it’s a big feather in your fitness cap. But there’s always ways to make more progress.
If three sets of ten are a doddle, weighted pull ups are a popular next step. Or, if learning new skills and looking cool on Instagram is more up your street, then archer pull ups and the infamous muscle up may be more suitable.
Just remember to build that solid foundation before you try taking your pull up to the next level.