I can’t tell you how many women have told me they want to be able to do a pull up. Listen up ladies, they are tough but they can be done… just have to be consistent and know that there are many different ways to train your body to get stronger to be able to do one.
The main muscle group used to perform a pull up is the latissimus dorsi or commonly called the lats. There are many upper body muscles that aid the lats during the exercise as well. I won’t get all anatomy class on you but if you do want more detailed information on an exercise exrx.net is a great resource for fitness enthusiasts and curious exercisers.
So let’s get into it and start at the beginning. I have five different pull up variations so that any fitness level can perform one at some degree.
Jump Pull Up – I use an underhand grip but you can also use an overhand grip if you’d like. Start with your feet on a box or bench and hands placed on the bar shoulder width apart. The exercise is performed exactly how it’s named. Jump up and try to use as much upper body strength as possible. Your chin should be above the bar at the height of your exercise. Control your body back down and repeat.
Negative Pull Up – This type of pull up is performed by exerting the most energy on the way down rather than on the way up. Jump yourself up so your chin is above the bar and then fight the resistance as much as possible on the way back down to the box. I always give a goal of five to six seconds on the down phase. As your muscles fatigue, your hang time might decrease but try to do five really good ones rather than 10 mediocre reps.
Seated Pull Up – I perform this type of modified pull up on suspended rings but you can use a straight bar or a TRX if you have one handy. Sit with your legs crossed and the TRX or bar should be high enough that your arms are almost fully extended before you begin. Using as much upper body strength as possible, pull yourself up while pushing through the outsides of your feet as much as necessary to perform the repetition. Control your body as much as you can on the way back down to the ground.
Band Pull Ups – More than likely you will need assistance getting your foot in the band. Most gyms have thicker resistance bands you can use, you just may have to ask a trainer or the front desk. Place the band on the ball of one foot and straight up your leg so the band is nice and tight. The band is going to be your assistance for the exercise. The thicker the band, the less work you have to do. The motion will be the same as the last examples, pull up until your chin is above the bar and control your body back down. Have someone help you place your foot in the band and take it out just so it doesn’t snap up at you.
It’s important to know that you won’t become hulk overnight and baby steps towards success are important to note. I would rather do less great reps than more not so great reps. You want to get the most out of your workouts so make sure you’re focusing on form and being consistent. Variety is also a great way to change it up for your body and keep it guessing.
Have a happy sweaty day and get those lat muscles burning.
Have a question or comment for Ashley? Feel free to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org