Widely considered the granddaddy of all upper-body pulling exercises, the pull up is a staple exercise in programs looking to build strength or increase lean body mass. With the latissimus dorsi, the biggest muscle of your upper body, being the main engine for this movement, putting pull ups into your program will not only result in some hefty strength gains, but will also have a big impact in terms of fat loss.
If your goal is to improve relative strength and movement, there is no better exercise to use to evaluate and measure progress. Whether you need to use a band for some extra help to work your way to your first pull up, or strap some extra weight to your waist to make the exercise more challenging, keep the reps lower and the rest times higher to build strength. If your goal is to get wider and broader shoulders to gain that athletic-looking physique, pull ups should be at the top of your priority list. If your main goal is fat loss, you can use pull ups as part of a superset or a circuit to elicit a large metabolic effect by stimulating big muscle groups in a compound movement pattern.
To get the most out of your pull ups, check out this video and follow the guidelines below:
Movement Category - Upper Body Pull (Vertical)
- Grab the bar with your palms facing away from you slightly wider than shoulder-width, lowering yourself so that the elbows are fully extended.
- Brace your core by sharply inhaling, drawing your belly button towards your spine.
- Begin the movement by driving your shoulder blades down and back to engage your lats.
- Exhale as you drive your elbows back, pulling your chest towards the bar until your chin clears it.
- Continue pulling your elbows back to slowly lower yourself back into the starting position, inhaling until your arms are fully extended.
Can't do a bodyweight pull up?
You can attach a band to the bar and loop your foot in through it to provide some help. The band will help you get started and then provide less help the farther up you get. Another option is to do slow negatives where you either jump up or have someone help you up, to the ending position and then control yourself for a 5-second descent.
These regressed forms of the pull up will allow you to strengthen the movement pattern and get a feel for the exercise until you are able to do them unassisted with your own bodyweight.
Remember, exercise selection and proper form are crucial to maximize success and prevent injury. GymCloud can help make sure your clients are performing exercises safely and correctly.