If you want to have V-shape or X shape, you can’t run away from doing pull-ups. A pull-up is an upper body compound pulling exercise which targets mainly the Latissimus Dorsi muscle in the back along with many other assisting muscles.
Pull-ups are similar to chin-ups but they are different with the grips and the muscles being worked out.
- Pull-up is done with with overhand (pronated) grip which the palms are facing away whereas chin-up is performed with underhand (supinated) grip which palms are facing inside.
- Pull-up works more on your back muscles whereas chin-up uses more on biceps.
A wide-grip pull-up does not not only work out large back muscle, but also involves our biceps, forearm muscles and several other muscles as well. Therefore, pull-up is definitely a compound exercise.
- Reach up and grab the bar with a firm overhand (pronated) grip.
- Hands should be roughly twice your shoulder width apart.
- Straighten the arms and let your body hang from the bar. You can keep your legs straight or bend your knees.
- Pull your chest up toward the bar by bending your arms and your chin is over the bar.
- Try not to jerk as you pull up. In other words, try not to rock or sway back and forth. The controlled motion should be smooth. Keep your hands at the same position on the bar.
- As you move upwards, focus on pulling your elbows down at an angle toward your rib cage. Once your lats have completely contracted at the top, slowly lower your body to the starting position. Your shoulders are fully extended now.
- A spotter can lift your legs slightly if you need help on the last few reps.
- Your hand position determines which back muscles are being targeted.
- A wider grip on the bar works the lateral muscles.
- A narrower grip works the middle back area.
- Some gyms’ pull-up bars are more than 7 feet high, no worry, take a stepping stool or other assistance to reach the bar.
- For beginners, if the standard pull-up is too difficult, try using an assisted pull-up machine as shown below. Follow the instructions printed on the machine.
- For a more difficult exercise, pull your body up so that your chest makes contact with the bar itself. You can also add weight by using a special Dip Belt.
My Pull-Up Experience
When I started to learn pull-up, I started without pulling up but just grip the bar without moving at all. The first thing I would like to focus on is grip strength. Just hang there between 2 and 4 minutes to train the grip.
After couple of weeks, once I was fine with that, proceed with the assisted pull-up where the kind fitness instructor lifting my legs up while I was struggling to do pull-up. Started with 1 set of 5 repetitions, then increased to 3 sets with 6, 4 and 2 repetitions after some time.
After four months of assisted pull-up, I went for the real pull-up with 3 sets of 5, 3 and 2 repetitions. Nowadays, I am still doing 3 sets, but with 8, 6 and 4 repetitions with less than 1 minute of rest between each set.
Personally, squat is challenging to get the correct form whereas pull-up is tough, in terms of the strength required. Not only the biceps and back, forearms must be strong too to perform this exercise. Many bulky muscle men may be able to bench press 120 or 200 lbs, but they can never do even a three repetitions of their own body weight pull up.
In short, pull up is a great body weight workout. Once you master it and see yourself lifting up your whole body, trust me, the effort is really worth it.
Following are some of the bestselling pull up bars at Amazon:
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