As you may know I am participating in my second Tough Mudder this September. In preparation for this I am applying more plyometric movements into my workout, which includes non assisted pull-ups. It then occurred to me that being able to perform strict chest-to-bar pull-ups is the creme de la creme of bodyweight training. Not many people do them, so approaching your next session armed with these tips and you’ll know how to do a pull up correctly in no time!
First off, grip! Build strength with an underhand grip before tackling overhand. Wrap your thumbs around the bar to ensure the angle of your body keeps the focus on your lats, instead of flaring your elbows out and letting your bicep do all the work.
Negatives are a positive. Done twice a week, negative sets build confidence as well as strength before you progress to full pull-ups. My advice: jump up and grab the bar for the beginning of each rep. Hold your bodyweight for a moment and then lower for four seconds until your arms are full extended. Aim for four sets of six reps with two minutes rest between each set. This type of training is a great bodyweight exercise.
Etched into my memory from the start of my gym going days, is ‘range of motion is everything’. For pull-ups aim to get your collarbone as close to the bar as possible by pushing your chest forward. Extend your elbows and squeeze your shoulders at the top to avoid rounding your back. Squeezing your glutes and tensing your abs will also help your body to work more efficiently as one unit, as well as reducing the chance of your body swinging. I performed wide grip pull ups as part of one my previous posts: How to look big for the summer quick.
As someone who can’t do 20 pull-ups in a row with ease, I always remind people that whatever they’re training ‘rest is best’. You should never let yourself get frustrated by other gym goers who maybe performing double figure reps without braking a sweat. No doubt they have probably been practicing for years. Next, don’t sell yourself short and cut your rest periods as this will only reduce the chances of you performing quality reps in your next set. Technique should always be your main goal.
Once you’ve mastered the above and 10-15 reps are effortless, try adding some weight between your legs to make the movement that much harder! Either a dumbbell between your feet or a weighted belt around your waist will do the trick.
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