Either it is your ultimate goal to be able to do a pull-up, or you don’t even know what a pull-up is and you spend all the time at the gym on the machines! Whichever category you fall into, there is no doubt that pull-ups are incredibly important for both strength and physique improvements, and they’re also a very practical move to master.
Pull ups are fantastic for working the back, biceps and forearms. The two main muscle groups worked when performing a pull-up are the lats (latissimus dorsi) and the biceps. The lats move your arms closer to your body, therefore are key in this exercise as they allow your body to pull itself up towards the bar. The biceps are also used as they are necessary in order to pull yourself up to the bar.
It is important to know the difference between a pull up and a chin up, as it is quite easy to be confused between the two! A pull up is when you literally pull yourself up, with your hands facing away from you, and therefore works the back and biceps. A chin up is when your hands face towards you, which works the biceps more. You’ll feel it!
To start working up to being able to perform a full pull up, hang yourself off from a bar with your hands facing away from you. Try to pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. If this is your first time trying this move, it might be quite challenging and you could struggle to pull yourself up very far, but with practice and time, you’ll get there!
As you keep practicing, pull yourself further up and then slowly lower yourself down. Try not to swing your body and keep steady!
Once you have mastered one full pull up, try to perform them in sets: for example, 3 sets of 4 pull ups. As you find them easier, keep increasing the reps. Ensure they are full reps by pulling your chin above the bar and fully straightening your arms as you move downwards. It is more important to focus on good form, rather than more reps.
It is obvious, but the more you weigh, the harder it will be to complete a pull-up as the more weight you will have to shift. Therefore, as you lose fat and get stronger, you will find yourself improving quickly and will complete your first pull-up even quicker! As well as being generally good for your health, nailing your nutrition and exercise more generally can therefore help you progress towards pull-ups.
Another important tip is to incorporate back-focused exercises into your workout regime. Exercises such as lat pull-down, seated row and face pulls are fantastic exercises which work the muscles required to perform a pull-up. It is recommended to perform these exercise for around 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
I hope these tips help you perform your first pull-up and help perfect your pull-up form!