We're not going to lie: pull-ups can suck. One of the main reasons so many of us shy away from this classic upper body exercise is because it is hard. Damn hard. What's more, we're throwing ourselves at it with the wild abandon of a kid jumping into a ball pit. While the enthusiasm is commendable, this haphazard approach won’t help you get the results you want — and when it comes to pull-ups, there's a lot to desire. Pull-ups work your back, arms, shoulders and core, so your body sees a lot of action from one move.
The key to completing a successful pull-up is to ease your way into it. Don't just grab onto a bar and hang there wiggling like a worm: approach this exercise with method.
Step One: The Tools for the Job
You need some equipment to complete a pull-up, namely a bar with which to pull yourself up. You can go the way of millions of teenage boys and install a bar in the doorway of your basement rec room, or you can opt for an equally challenging and less permanent option and go with Challenger Bars. These beauties not only allow you to work at your own level leading up to full pull-up glory, but you can use them for an enticing array of other exercises, including dips, hip flexes, leveraged bridges and push-ups, , planks or mountain climbers. (The list goes on!)
Whatever you choose, choose a piece of equipment that's inline with your overall fitness goals as well as your living situation.
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Step Two: The Let Down
If you're working with a conventional pull-up bar, grab a chair. If you've scored some sweet Challengers, they're all you need.
Rather than trying to pull yourself up right away, work on lowering yourself down. Either stand on your chair, or position yourself between your Challenger Bars.. For those of you working with a Challenger, position your feet close to your butt. This will make it easier since you will have less deadweight too pull-up; some of the weight of your lower body will be supported by your legs.
Starting at the top, slowly lower yourself down. Repeat as many times as you can. Rest. Try again. Two sets is often enough at first.
Notes on form: Keep your core engaged like you are bracing to be punched in the stomach. Also, when you lower yourself down, do not allow your elbows to lock straight. Keep a slight bend in your arm; this will keep the stress out of your joints and the work in your muscle.
Step Three: The Pull-Up
After a 5-7 days of focusing on the let down, start adding in the pull-up part. Stand on your chair if you have the conventional bar and then lower yourself down and pull yourself up as much as you can. Use your legs to push up from the chair for help, as much as you need it.
If you have the Challenger(s), lower yourself down and pull yourself up as much as possible, moving your feet out as the exercise becomes easier.
How often should you train for your pull-up?
That will depend on your current level of fitness, but as a general rule, you should take a break between days while you are still learning. You will be sore, so will need time to allow your muscle fibers to properly recover, and grow back stronger. Rest is just as important as the workouts themselves when it comes to reaching your goals.
This will take time, so don’t get discouraged. Unlike a sit up or a squat or even a plank or lunge, which mimics moves we make in our everyday lives, not many of us are required to pull our entire bodies up with just our arms on a regular basis. Be patient. You got this!
My comment – I’ve been working out 15 yrs and still shy away from pull ups – I tried in past and fail miserably though I’m fit – so I def will keep these pointers in mind and try again – it’s the only activity I’ve not excel at yet
I have to admit I am really confused having read your description of how to do pull ups of visual might have been helpful in my case. What I’ve been doing is basically sitting down between the bars and raising myself up off the ground and then back down up-and-down and salon so I don’t understand the bit about your feet being beside your butt so that your easier to lift yourself up I can’t imagine trying to lift my body up from a supine position with my legs band so that my feet are on my bum somehow the visual just doesn’t make sense for me I hope I’m the only one with this problem but maybe not. I totally understand how that would work with a pull up bar you would use the chair to help you get to the top position where your chin is up to the bar and then slowly lower so with the Challenger bars yeah I just can’t picture you doing it this way with the challenge of hour I totally understand how that would work with a pull up bar you would use the chair to help you get to the top position where your chin is up to the bar and then slowly lower so with the Challenger bars yeah I just can’t picture you doing it this way with the challengers. Maybe if I sat up and then slowly lowered my back down towards the ground ? But that still leaves me wondering why I’ve got my legs folded underneath my butt. ?
Very informative. I’m definitely going to implement this into my routine as I work towards getting fit again.