Pull-ups are one of the most underutilized exercises for size and strength and don’t blame anyone for avoiding pull-up bars and heading to lat pull-downs for two reasons, pull-ups are difficult and can be boring, fast. But in this article, I will explain to you why they should be a staple in your practice weaponry.
Now, there are several different variations of pull-ups that are all different in terms of grip and width, but for this article, I will focus on the most popular pull-up that is overhand, only wider than the set of shoulder widths that are set.
I see a lot of pull-ups done wrong, which actually removes the tension from the muscles you want to activate as long as the pull-ups are executed perfectly. Many of these errors are seen when weights are added to pull-ups when the person doing it can’t finish 12 or more, pull-ups of weight that are executed properly. Which is another important consideration, if you can’t complete 12 or more well-done weight pull-ups, stay away from the weighted ones. You are more likely to hurt yourself and also look like a fool in front of everyone with your terrible body shape (which might scare your ego more than injury). So how do you do the perfect pull-up?
Find your grip. As mentioned earlier, this will most likely only be wider than shoulder-width.
Grab the bar and briefly ‘hang dead’.
Pull your scapula, this will make you a little and then pull towards the bar. Imagine pulling with your elbows and make sure you use your core and keep your shoulders back. This will help limit any swing.
Pull it completely until your chin clears the bar.
Lower yourself slower than pull yourself to the starting position again, dead hanging. Pull out your scapula and continue again.
Master this and your muscles will work including lat, biceps, traps, rhomboids and even external obliques. Pull-ups are really the builders of upper body mass, which creates a nice transition to what I will talk about next; the benefits of pull-ups.
As I mentioned, pull-ups have the potential to be a great upper body mass builder, not only for your back but also your biceps. So if you are one of those people who go straight to the lat pull down while training your back, swap this for pull-ups. If you haven’t been able to do a lot of pull-ups, don’t worry, I’ll discuss how to program it later in the article. Oh and remember, you will not build new muscle unless you are in excess calories!
One of the benefits of pull-ups that is often overlooked is the importance of having muscle balance. Many people only focus on the muscles that you can see, your chest, biceps, shoulders, stomach, and quadriceps. This produces a lot of pushing movements and can produce round shoulders and poor posture. It does not look aesthetically and can cause injury and imbalance problems.
Pull-ups also have brilliant crossovers to other exercises. Believe it or not, your lat is very involved when you do bench presses. In fact, they are involved in many pressing movements. Increasing your attractiveness can have a significant effect on the strength of your thrust if you ignore interesting movements. They will, of course, increase your dead-lift strength too, because lat plays a big role in training.
Your overall aesthetics will improve. Pull-ups will give you a ‘V’ look more than other exercises. They will make your shoulders appear wider and your waist appears smaller.
They also look bad. If you can do a series of tight weight pull-ups, you will definitely look a few times in the gym. Imagine what the results will be when you start gaining weight.
If you’ve done pull-ups with good performance once or twice a week, I salute you, keep working hard, you know the benefits. If not, don’t worry, it’s not too late.
There will be two types of people left, those who can already do several pull-ups for sets (around 6 or more reps) and those who struggle to reach more than 3.
For those who can already do some decent sets in good form, I attach a pull-up to your current routine twice a week, with a simple progressive excess format until you can reach 3 sets of 12. You might be able to do 8, 8, 7 now one session. So the next session might look like 8, 8.8 and then 9,9,8. Where will I go with this? After you press 3 sets of 12, add weights to the equation and follow the same format.
If you can’t complete 3 or more pull-ups, there are several ways to overcome them. Most gyms now have help with pull-ups. If you practice somewhere with this option, this is the place to start. Use the same format as the one assisted above until you reach the point where you don’t need help for 3 sets of 12. At this point when you are removing assistance, your starting point should be around the 5-7 rep range for 3 consecutive sets. If your gym doesn’t have an assisted pull-up machine, you can use a band to help with help, you can find it online quite cheaply.
Other exercises that will help with your pull-up strength include dead-lifts, barbell bars, and curls barbells. But there is nothing better than the pull-up itself.
Now grow a few wings, good luck.