Pull Ups are a staple of functional strength and a testament to the versatility of bodyweight training. You want crazy upper body and core strength? You want toned and ripped shoulders, arms, back, and abs? You want to escape a hazardous situation by pulling yourself to safety? Time to hit the pull up bar!
While Pull Ups can help enhance the whole body, performing a million reps of any single exercise is boring (and could lead to overuse injuries). Make sure you incorporate these tips into your next Pull Up routine if you want to maximize your numbers.
Tip #1: How to Pull Up Without Risking Your Shoulders
Save Your Joints! You might have seen or experienced trainees giving each other crap about not hanging completely at the bottom of each rep, don’t get involved in this! Rather than simply hanging at the bottom of each repetition (which puts unnecessary strain on your tendons and ligaments), start each rep with your shoulders tucked into their sockets and your elbows at a slightly bent position. This will allow you to perform more reps without the joint pain that comes from complete hanging lock outs.
Tip #2: Pull Up with Your Back! (Not Just Your Arms)
Standard Pull Ups should be performed with a focus on the lats, rather than the arms and shoulders. If you can’t feel your back being used, try warming up with a set of Kettlebell Rows, Double High Pulls, Body Rows, or Extended Push Ups. You can also have someone poke or slap your lats to “œwake them up.”
Tip #3: There is No Such Thing as a “Partial” Pull Up
Complete the Reps! Make sure you’re performing full reps; don’t stop when your eyes are level with the bar, get your chin over it each time. If you find that by the fifth rep, you’re barely making it, it might be time to stop or switch to an easier variation (Chin Ups or Neutral Grip Pull Ups).
Tip #4: There Are 10,000 Types of Pull Ups, Use Them All!
Mix It Up! As you try to increase your Pull Up numbers, remember to mix up your technique. You need to hit all the muscles involved in Pull Ups from every angle in order to improve. There are variations that can cover several different aspects of fitness, including Grip Strength, Explosiveness, and Full Body Strength). Here are some examples of each: Grip (Mix Grip Pull Ups, Narrow Grip Chin Ups, 1-Arm Assisted Pull Ups), Explosiveness (Clap Pull Ups, Switch Pull Ups, In & Out Pull Ups), Strength (Side-to-Side Pull Ups, L-Sit Pull Ups, Burpee Pull Ups).
Tip #5: A Day is 24 Hours Long; Plenty of Time for Pull Ups!
Grease the Groove! This is a popular strength training technique that I’ve used in the past to increase my pull up and pressing numbers. It’s simple: perform a set of Pull Ups (or a different variation each time) every 2-3 hours during the day. Even if you’re only able to do a couple at a time, you’ll be able to perform dozens over the course of a day. Again, shoulder joint mobility training is essential for using this technique.
Pull Up Enhancement Workout Routine
This workout has a simple structure that you can mix and match with different Pull Up variations.
A1: Pull Up Negatives – 2 x 5 reps with a 5 count down
A2: Hanging Leg Raises – 2 x 10
B1: Chin Up Negatives – 2 x 5 reps with a 5 count down
B2: L-Sit Hangs – 2 x 30-60 sec
C1: Extended Push Ups – 2 x 10
C2: Bar Hangs – 2 x 30-60 sec
D: Farmer Walks – 2 x 50 feet