If you are a newbie in the fitness world, you must be wondering about the hype around the pull-up exercise. Why do those ripped dudes at your fitness club always queue up around the pull-up machine? And where do they get the stamina to perform tons of pull ups at one go? Well, you are not the only one who feels this way. In the beginning, it may seem nearly impossible to lift your entire body and perform the movement. However, it’s all about the right technique, training, and practice.
Pull-ups may be a challenging workout for many in the beginning, but consistency is the key. It is an essential workout that you must incorporate into your fitness routine if you want to build a stronger upper body. How well you perform your pull-ups is an indicator of your upper body strength. Its impact goes beyond the obvious back, arms and forearms and spreads to a vital part, the core. It is everything that you need to develop a bigger back and the much-coveted tapered V-look.
Experts suggest that the pullup is the king of all exercises. Its power is often underestimated and its contribution to bodybuilding is under-appreciated. It is the greatest of all strength building exercises, that enhances your upper body power and develops every muscle in your midsection.
With that said, pull-ups are tough to master, but not impossible. It is true that many athletes and bodybuilders who have been training for years, still struggle to perform one or more pull-ups. This is simply because you are working against earth’s force, gravity. Another reason why it’s considered difficult for some and easier for others is because of the weight they must lift against gravity. The more the mass to lift, the harder it gets. Let’s learn more about this workout.
What is a Pull Up?
As the name suggests, pull-ups are an upper-body pulling exercise. It is a compound movement that works multiple muscle groups at once. Squats is another classic example of a compound exercise. The name of the exercise refers to the fundamental movement that must be followed through the practice. It must be performed with a firm palm grip, facing away from you.
When it comes to the pull-up workout, people often confuse it with chin ups. Even though they appear similar, there is a vast difference in the muscles they target. While some consider it to be two different movements, others believe that they are just a reference to two different grips used to perform the pulling movement. Sometimes, chin ups are also performed as an alternative to pull-ups that are considered more challenging and intense.
The right technique to perform pull-ups is using overhand grip, which means that the palm must face away from the body, and hands must be placed at slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. As for chin-ups, the movement remains the same, but it uses an underhand grip that is slightly narrower than shoulder width.
In order to master pull ups, learning the right technique is a must. This is only possible if you are aware of the muscles it involves and trains. Also, knowing which muscles to train will help you learn different pull up variations better.
Primarily, pull-ups influence your lats muscles or Latissimus dorsi. Now, you know why men with broad frames are performing tons of pull-ups in their routine workout? This is one of the biggest muscles in the back and it resembles the shape of the triangle. This is the muscle that is mainly responsible for shoulder adduction, the most fundamental movement of pull up workout.
The trapezius is another important muscle that is affected by the pull-up movement. It is again a large muscle that is located in the middle of the upper back. It is responsible for moving, rotating and stabilizing the shoulder blade (scapula).
Undoubtedly, biceps and triceps are highly impacted by this workout and many bodybuilders include it in their regular fitness routine. The action of lengthening down the upper arm creates impact in all the three; lateral, long and medial triceps muscles. Your shoulders, including Teres Major, Infraspinatus and Teres Minor feel the effect too. These three muscles work together to assist lats muscles in shoulder adduction during the exercise.
Other than these muscles, pectoralis major, also known as pecs, take the load. These muscles are located in your chest area and enable lats muscles in the act of pulling up. Pelvic and abdominal muscles stabilize the torso and lower body for the movement. The muscles in these areas help in generating force to lift the body in the right manner. An unstable torso can lead to accident or injury.
Amazing benefits of pull-ups?
Benefits of pull ups are more than just aesthetically well-built body. It goes deeper and strengthens the most important muscles of the body. Regular practice can do wonders in ways more than you can imagine.
- Pull up exercise is convenient because it requires just a sturdy pull up bar. Though it can be performed with high-end gym equipment, at a basic level, all you need is a sturdy bar. You do not have to visit a gym to build stronger back and arms.
- This awesome exercise trains several important muscles in the body at once. If you are running short of time, this one compound exercise can fire up most of the muscles in your body. It is deemed to be one of the best bodyweight exercises to help you achieve that chiseled upper body you always aspired for.
- Pull-ups can enhance your grip strength, which is essential for several daily activities.
- Pull up is a controlled movement that has the potential to strengthen the joints in the wrist, elbows, and shoulders. It strengthens the muscles and improves endurance.
- Makes bones and muscles stronger and reduces the chances of sprains and injuries.
- Abdominal muscles benefit from this movement too. Engaging the core and controlling and swinging movements, including core and abdominal muscles.
- Apart from this, it can help you lose some weight. It may not be as efficient as an intense cardio workout, but it can definitely help you get your heart racing, boost your metabolism and burn some calories.
- It can strengthen your back and make you perform your functional movements better.
- It can straighten out your slouched posture and reduce back pains.
- It can improve functional strength that enables you to be more active in your daily life.
- Finally, there are several variations to explore every day. Things will never get boring with this particular workout.
How To Do Pull Ups The Right Way
Before we discuss different variations, let’s learn the right technique to perform the most basic pull up movement.
- Stand straight, facing the bar.
- Grab hold of the bar with an overhand grip with both hands shoulder-width apart.
- Make sure that arms and elbows are fully locked as you begin to pull yourself up.
- As you move your chin above the bar, keep your back straight, core engaged and ears away from the bar.
- Now, lower down your body until your arms are fully extended.
Pull Up Variations for Muscle Building and A Stronger Back
Weighted Pull-ups: Once you have aced the bodyweight pull-ups, take your workout to the next level by adding weights to it. There are a few variations in weighted pull-ups. You can choose from weight belts or weight plates tied around the waist. By adding weight to your body, you make it more challenging and make your muscles work harder. The movement remains the same, however, the added weight is what you have to lift.
One-arm Pull-ups: One arm Pull-ups is one of the best pull up workouts. However, it is an advanced level of exercise that must be performed only after mastering basic pull-ups. If you can perform 25 standards pull-ups, you can give this exercise a try, but under guided supervision.
To perform this variation, grab the pull up bar with one hand only and pull your shoulder blades downward. Then slightly bend your arm and pull yourself up. Make sure your other arm is close to your body. When pulling yourself up, try and reach the point where your shoulders reach or pass the bar.
Behind-the-neck pull-up: This is another intense and difficult variation of the pull up exercise. The aim is to lift your body and touch the bar with the back of the neck. The lifting of the body movement remains the same, but ensure wider grip as you drop your chin down. Lift the body up and reach the bar and come back down.
Muscle up: This pull-up variation is considered the most difficult and takes enormous strength to perform. Grab hold of a pull up bar with a false grip. Position yourself on top of the bar and roll your chest over the bar. Move down to take a dip. Make swift motions as you perform this workout.
Kipping Pull-ups: Kipping pull up is less challenging and resembles a standard push up. There is a simple addition of swing in the basic pull up movement.
For this pull up variation grab hold of the pull up bar with slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Now, swing your body using shoulders and take a pull up.
Around the world Pull-Ups: This pull up exercise mainly works the lats and is an expert level workout.
For the starting position, hang from the pull-up bar using arms wider than shoulder-width grip. Do not pull yourself up straight above the bar. Instead, pull yourself to the right and continue to pull upward as you reach the center. Your chin must meet the bar as you complete the circular motion and reach the point where your arms are completely extended. Now, repeat the move to the left side.
Commando pull-ups: These are intermediate pull-up variations that can be incorporated by beginners after mastering the basic level.
For this version, all you have got to do is stand towards the end of pull-up bar and grab it with both palms facing in. The grip will be narrow, and your body will be perpendicular as you pull up. As you get closer to the bar, move your head to one side and touch the bar with the shoulder. Now, return to the starting position by slowly lowering yourself down.
Towel pull-ups: For anyone who wants to strengthen their grip or is bored of regular pull-ups, they must try this variation. Apart from the bar, you need a towel to grab and perform the pull-up. This addition makes the whole move challenging and harder.
All you must do is throw a towel over pull up bar and grab hold of it from each end. Now, pull yourself up and down.
Apart from these pull-up workouts, you can even try cliffhangers, clapping pull ups, L-sit pull ups, extended leg pull ups, and archer pull ups. All these variations can be incorporated at different levels of your fitness routine, gradually increasing in intensity.
Disclaimer: All exercise should be done under the supervision of certified professionals. If any medical condition exists, please do seek the advice of the physician to proceed with this exercise.