Although pull-ups are a great exercise for upper-body strength and functional body weight, they can also be difficult for beginners. Maybe you have tried them before but didn’t find them easy. It is possible to do a pull-up, despite common misconceptions. It’s not difficult to master a pull-up. All you need is to know how to begin, the correct form, and the right time to do it. You’ll feel great about mastering difficult exercises once you are able pull up variations.
What Are Pull-Ups?
Let’s begin with the basics. What is a pull-up? Pull-ups are an upper-body exercise. You hold a pull-up bar with your hands and palms facing you. Then lift your whole body with your arm and back muscles up until your chest touches it. Pull-ups are a compound exercise that uses multiple muscles simultaneously.
Focus on your arms and shoulders when performing the movement. Avoid shrugging your shoulders. This movement is similar to any other bodyweight back exercise. It uses your own body weight to resist external weights. Although the exercise is simple, it can be difficult for beginners to do strength training.
What Is the Difference Between Pull-Ups vs Chin-Ups?
The main difference between pull-ups versus chin-ups lies in the position of your hands. A pull-up requires an overhand grip (where you face away from your body), whereas a chin-up requires an underhand grip (where you face toward your body).
What Muscles Do Pull-Ups Use?
To lift your body up, pull-ups use your biceps or lats (which run from the middle of your back to your armpit and shoulder blade), but they also utilize your upper body including your traps, traps, deltoids, and pecs. They are a great exercise for strengthening your upper body, which is good for your overall health.
What Are the Benefits of Pull-Ups?
You can reap many health benefits from pulling ups, including building muscle and improving your mood.
- Develop holistic upper body strength. Pull-ups are a type of compound exercise because they use many muscles in one movement. Complex exercises are similar to natural movement and improve coordination, reaction speed, and balance. They train both the nervous system as well as muscle tissue simultaneously (in contrast to isolation exercises).
- Low-Impact Movement. Pull-ups can be a low-impact exercise that builds strength and reduces the risk of injury or soreness in your joints.
- Overall Health and Well-Being Improved. Pull-ups can not only build strength but also have a positive effect on your overall health. A 2012 study in Current Sports Medicine Reports found that resistance training can dramatically improve overall health. It is linked to improved physical performance, walking speed, and control of movement, as well as cognitive ability.
- Improved Mental Health and Mood. It has been proven that being stronger and more fit can improve your mood and mental well-being. A 2010 American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine review found that strength training can improve anxiety symptoms, sleep, fatigue, cognition, and depression in older adults. Pull-ups are just one of the many ways to improve your mental health through strength training.
Why Is It so Difficult to Do Pull-Ups?
Pull-ups can be difficult because you have to raise your whole body with only your arms and shoulders. This can be quite challenging if you don’t have enough strength. Pull-ups require a lot of muscles so you must have upper-body strength.
Correct form and technique are essential for pulling up. Using the correct form and technique will help you perform the move correctly and make it easier. Don’t let this discourage you. There are many methods to get to a pullup, regardless of your strength.
How to Pull Up Properly with Perfect Form
Let’s now get to the fun part: how to properly perform a pull-up! These tips and tricks will make it easier to pull up and allow you to reap the benefits of this powerful exercise.
Here’s how to pull up using the right technique:
1. Stand directly under a pull-up bar. Start by placing your hands over the pull-up bar. You can also place a box underneath you to reach the bar if you are unable to stand straight up. You’ll be in your starting position once your hands are gripping the bar.
2. Take a deep inhale and exhale. Your feet should be lifted off the box or floor so your feet are hanging from the bar. Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Your shoulders should be pulled back.
3. Engage your back and arms muscles by bending your elbows. Next, raise your upper body toward the bar so that your chin touches the bar. If you find it easier to move, you can imagine your elbows being closer to your hips. Avoid wriggling your legs or swaying your shoulders. Throughout the exercise, you want your shoulder blades to remain straight and level.
4. Inhale at the top of your movement. Next, extend your elbows outwards and lower yourself back to the original position.
You might find it difficult to do this movement on your first attempt. This is completely normal and very common. You can do exercise progressions to increase your strength until you are able to pull up like this.
How to Get Ready for Your First Pull-Up
It is normal to feel exhausted or unable to do a pull-up, especially if you haven’t done much strength training. Don’t give up! No matter your strength level, there are many ways to get to a full pull up. These are some ideas to help you with your training.
Pull-Ups Assisted with Resistance Band
If you are unable to perform the entire movement, a resistance band can help you get used to the technique. You will need to wrap the resistance band around your pull-up bar. Make sure the other end is around the bar. Then, place your foot into the loop at the base.
The resistance band will allow you to move as normal but it should reduce the resistance so that your body can pull up. The movement is easier if the resistance band is thicker. After mastering the pull-up, you can gradually increase the thickness of your resistance band until you are able to do the movement without any band.
Holds in Isometric Units
You can hold the pull-up bar isometrically by jumping up to the top so that your head is above it and your chest is against the bar (rather than pulling your body up). Either jump from the ground or use a box. Once you are there, you should hold the bar as tight as possible. This hold can be repeated three times in strength training.
For a negative pull-up, place your hands in an extended overhand grip that is wider than your shoulder width. To jump to the top of the pull-up movement, use a sturdy chair or box to hold your chest above the bar. Slowly lower your body until you reach the beginning position of the pull-up movement.
The modified pull-up is an easier way to build strength and muscle mass. You can add negative pull-ups to your exercise program by doing three sets of 12 and making sure to take a break between each set.
Doing Difficult Strength-Training Exercises
Pull-ups are a difficult exercise to master, especially for someone who is new to strength training. You don’t have to stop doing them, even if they are difficult. There are always alternatives that will work for you.
You can add pull-ups to your exercise routine, no matter if you are just starting out or have been doing it for years. There are many ways to start. It doesn’t matter where you start, building confidence and strength takes time. To learn how to pull-up and to progress to more difficult exercises, you simply need to try it. Then you can move on to a full pull-up with simpler variations.