We all know how popular and effective pull-ups are, but just like burpees, they’re considered to be one of the hardest bodyweight exercises to do. If you’ve already given them a try and were almost ready to throw in the towel, you’re not the only one. But don’t let them get you down! When you’ve got the right guidance and follow a simple set of rules, it’s easy to master this exercise and enjoy all its benefits. Get a bigger back when you work your traps and torso with pull-ups. The FizzUp trainer fills you in on what you need to know to make safe and fast progress.
Hoisting up your entire body using just the muscles in your arms demands a lot of strength and a good dose of discipline. These skills keep bad technique at bay that could end up causing you pain and poor posture. Here’s how you do the perfect pull-up.
Starting position: Get under the pull-up bar and grasp it with a pronated grip (palms facing away from your face) with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Step 1: Exhale as you hoist your body up until your chin reaches just above the bar.
Step 2: Inhale as you gently lower your body until your arms are almost straight again. Repeat the exercise to continue the set.
“Lower your body with controlled movement”: This exercise is guaranteed to be effective if you make sure to contract your muscles for the safety of your joints and tendons.
“Keep breathing steadily”: For some people (and especially beginners), keeping their breathing steady during this kind of exercise can be hard. If you’re one of them, focus on the air going in and out of your lungs. Exhale as you pull up and inhale as you go down.
“Keep your core engaged”: Contracting your abdominal wall is the key to keeping your back as straight as possible.
“Have patience”: It really is a virtue! Take your time to master the exercise. Not being able to do very many repetitions when you first start is totally normal.
“Always keep your arms slightly bent”: Avoid any tears in your shoulder muscles and triceps by keeping your shoulders in a strong position after you extend your arms.
Pull-ups work all the muscles in your upper body: back, arms and chest. No muscle gets left behind!
Back muscles: Mainly your lats, teres major and supraspinatus, and to a lesser extent, your rhomboids and spinal erectors that run along your spine.
Arm and shoulder muscles: Besides the lats, the biceps are the muscles that pull-ups work the most. The forearm muscles also come into play.
Traps: The traps are located in your upper back and extend from the back of your neck to your shoulders. They’re divided into an upper, middle and part. The lower part is worked the most right when you start to hoist your body up and your shoulder blades are being pulled upward in an outward rotation.
Pecs: This exercise mostly works the outer part of your pecs.
There’s a wide variety of pull-ups you can try to work your muscles differently and/or make the exercise more or less challenging. Here are two pull-up variations to make your experience even more stimulating.
Half pull-ups: This variation works the same muscles, but it’s easier to do and is a good way to ease into normal pull-ups. You’ll only bend your elbows halfway, which means you’ll be using a smaller range of motion. This is a great option for pull-up beginners.
Wide-grip pull-ups: For this variation, you’ll do the same movement as you would for normal pull-ups, except that you’ll place your hands at twice your shoulder width. It targets your lats and is much more challenging than half pull-ups. If this variation is too hard for you, you can also use a smaller range of motion to make it easier. In your FizzUp program, this variation won’t be included until you’ve started to really master regular pull-ups.
And why not give the equipment-free rower a try? It’s one of the only bodyweight exercises that builds your biceps without a pull-up bar or dumbbells.
Step up to the pull-up challenge now! We’re always interested in seeing how much your body has transformed, so drop us a line! You’ll see results before you know it!