Have you been wanting to get your first pull up and don’t know where to start? Look no further. Here you will find a fool proof progressive guide to achieving your first pull up and your second and third and fourth…
Contrary to popular belief, pull ups aren’t just for gym rats. They can be a highly beneficial exercise that involves muscles of the back, shoulders and arms. This is especially important for all of us average joes who keep finding ourselves with shoulder injuries or horrible posture. Shoulder stability and core strength are just two of the effects of pull up training which can greatly assist with activities of daily life and injury prevention. Pull ups also have the unique ability to improve posture over time because of the continued strengthening of the back and shoulders. This naturally pulls the shoulder blades back and down to straighten out the spine. Additionally, pull ups improve on grip strength which has been associated with longevity of life.
Now that you’ve been convinced that pull ups are a great exercise to become proficient in, let’s talk about the progressions you can do to work up to a full pull up. The first step is to learn how to dead hang from the bar. This is as fairly simple as it sounds, your body as the dead weight. Although, this is easier said than done, and will require persistence and patience.
To prepare for a dead hang, you should be able to reach the bar with your feet on the ground or use a bench if the bar is too high. Gripping the bar with hands shoulder width apart, overhand grip, arms extended, lift the feet off the ground and hang for as long as you can. You may find that it is fairly difficult to hang at first, but this will get easier with more practice. You want to aim for 60 to 90 seconds here, that way your hands and forearms can be prepared to hold your weight up.
The second step for pull up progressions are pull up negatives. Negative refers to the eccentric contraction or the lengthening of a muscle. In the pull up, the back and arm muscles are shortening on the way up and lengthening on the way down. By practicing the eccentric contraction, we start at the position of the pull up where the muscles are the shortest; the top of the pull up.
You can get to this position by standing on a bench or chair. From here, you want to think of pulling your shoulder blades together and slowly lowering yourself down into a dead hang. The goal of this is to descend as slow as possible. This helps to train your muscles when and how to engage for a pull up. When you get proficient at negatives you can make it more challenging by pausing at certain points in the negative, such as the top, middle, and bottom of pull up. These strategic pauses help to strengthen the difficult points that people struggle to with.
The next progression of the pull up is banded pull up. This works on the concentric portion of the pull up, the shortening of the muscles. Loop a band around the bar and one of your feet, and keep your legs straight. The thicker the band is the more it will help. If you need more than one band to start, loop them all under your foot for extra support. Once you have the hang of this, you can string a few repetitions together, remove the bands one by one or use a thinner band.
It is now the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the final pull up. By now, you have trained the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement and progressively lifted more and more of your body weight. It should be a piece of cake lifting your body off the ground now. Remember to pull your shoulders back and down and think about pulling your elbows towards the ground. This guide does not fail, so CONGRATS! You have achieved your first pull up, go and tell all your friends!