Pull ups are one of the most challenging exercises out there, but they’re also one of the most effective ways of building strength and muscle in your back. They have been a core component of effective back training for decades, mainly because they’re simple to do and they work.
They don’t require any complicated or expensive equipment, and with a little practice almost anyone can perform them. Before you incorporate any movement in your workout, it’s vital to understand the desired outcome. Here are some of the benefits of pull ups, and hopefully they’ll encourage you to add them to your routine.
Pull ups are multi-joint exercises that will allow you to tone your upper body in different areas. Doing pull-ups can help you to build your back, shoulders, biceps and even your core. Building this strength across your upper body is something that can only achieved through regular heavy lifting, and pull ups provide the ideal movement to challenge this area effectively.
Improves Grip Strength
Another benefit of pull ups is the development of better grip strength. For many bodybuilders and strength athletes, grip strength is an important element that must be developed regularly to allow them to move more weight. This is also applicable to anyone looking to start a fitness program that includes strength training, as your grip strength will have a direct relationship with the weight you can use for each exercise.
Help Build Muscle Across Your Back
Almost everyone who embraces a new fitness program does so with the intention of building muscle and developing attractive physique. Pull-ups sit alongside deadlifts and rows as the most effective ways of building a strong, muscular back. The advantage of pull-ups is the relative lack of equipment required, so you can essentially do them anywhere you can find something to hang from.
How to Do Pull-Ups
First, you need a firm bar to hang from. You can pick up a good doorway pull-up bar fairly cheap, so it’s worth picking one up online. Ensure the bar is firm enough to support your body weight and there’s no risk of it bending/breaking when you’re doing your pull-ups.
1. Grab the pull up bar with both hands using an overhand grip
2. While hanging from the bar with your arms fully extended, adjust your torso to around a 30 degree angle while sticking your chest out. This is the starting position
3. Pull yourself up until you touch the bar with your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and upper arms down and back
4. After a brief pause at the top of the movement, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position
In this variation, the arms should be placed further apart than normal. It sounds daunting, but it is an effective technique that helps in targeting the lats and the upper back.
The narrow grip variation also works the same way as the wide grip, but with more emphasis on the chest area and shoulders. The hands should be inside shoulder width.
Negative pull-ups are ideal for those currently unable to complete a standard pull up. They help develop the initial strength needed to perform the movement, and are a great starting point. The movement essentially involves starting from a position above the bar and lowering yourself as slowly as you can to a hanging position. This can be done by starting on a box or by jumping up to the required height, before lowering the body in a controlled manner.
Pull-ups are a fantastic exercise, and they should form a core part of everyone’s back workout. If you find them too difficult you can do negatives to build the required strength. Or, if you find them too easy you can add weight to make the challenge greater. The multiple benefits of push-ups mean they’re one of our favourite exercises!