Three Tips to Help You do the Perfect Pull-Up

When it comes to body weight exercises, pull-ups are one of the most challenging options out there.

Not only do you need a ton of back and bicep strength to do them properly, but they also require good strength and range of motion in the wrists, shoulders, and elbows.

Pull-ups are difficult for most people, even avid gym-goers. However, they’re also a great functional movement that can improve your posture, alleviate back pain, and give you a more balanced physique, so they’re definitely worth learning to do properly.

If you’ve never done one before, don’t worry. Follow these three tips and you’ll soon be doing perfect pull-ups!

1. Improve Your Mobility

If mobility is limited in your shoulders and thoracic spine (mid back), you’ll have a difficult time doing pull-ups properly.

Prioritize improving your mobility and stability in these regions to avoid injuring yourself as your work on mastering a pull-up.

Listed below are some shoulder and thoracic mobility exercises you can incorporate into your warm-up:

Banded Pull-Aparts

Hold a thin resistance band in both hands with your arms straight in front of you and your palms facing down. Pull your hands apart until your arms are completely extended to the side. Hold this position for one count, then slowly return to the beginning position.

You can also perform this exercise with light dumbbells. Lie face down on a bench if you do it this way to isolate the shoulders.

Complete 10-15 reps.

Strict Banded Shoulder Press

Step into a thin, looped resistance band and hold the top in a front rack position. Complete a strict shoulder press (hands outside the shoulders, elbows in front of the band). Make sure your feet stay directly under your hips and avoid arching your back.

To make this more challenging, hold the press at the top for ten seconds, slow take four counts to return to the starting position.

Complete 10-15 reps.

Trunk Rotations

Sit cross-legged with your back straight. Raise your arms, then lift your hands and bend your elbows so they form 90-degree angles (goal post position).

Keep your chest lifted and slowly rotate to bring your right elbow behind you. Repeat on the left side, making sure your lower back stays stable (no twisting).

Complete 10-15 reps on each side.

2. Do Assistance Exercises

As you work toward your first pull-up, you should also work on strengthening the biceps and back muscles.

Some great exercises to do for this include:

  • Lat Pulldowns: Make sure you keep the bar in front of your body to avoid hurting your neck and shoulders
  • Dumbbell Rows: Try both single- and double-arm varieties
  • Biceps Curls: Bend and straighten the elbow fully for a full range of motion and avoid swinging your weights

You should also work on improving your grip strength to help you bring yourself all the way up during a pull-up. Better grip strength will also make the exercises mentioned above easier and more effective.

A is a great tool that will help you strengthen your forearms and build grip strength.

Farmer Carries are another good option. Simply hold a dumbbell in each hand and walk across the gym with them. Choose a weight that you can carry while maintaining good posture.

You can also build your grip strength by simply hanging from the pull-up bar.

3. Start with Negatives

In addition to hanging from the bar, “negatives” are a good starting place for people who can’t yet do pull-ups.

When you do negative pull-ups, you start from the top position with your chin over the bar.

Get here by standing on a bench or chair, then lift your feet so you’re supporting your weight. After you’re hanging above the bar, slowly lower yourself down to a hanging position.

Aim to fight gravity for 4-5 seconds. Shoot for 10 negative pull-ups in a row. If you can complete them, you’re probably ready to try for a regular pull-up on your own!

Pull-ups are an elusive exercise, and lots of athletes spend years learning how to do them. With a little time and dedication, you’ll be on your way to joining the pull-up club!

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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