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How to improve your pull ups


Hey everyone


Thought I will write a article about How to improve your “pull up”..
I have been asked many times what to do to improve or even how to do a pull up correctly.


Before we look in to the pull up or any pull variation, whether its chins,wide or other. let’s look at the muscles used when doing this very effective exercise. 


The main muscle groups used when performing a pull up are:


Latissimus dorsi




Main problems when people try to do a pull up are:


If new to pull ups they may over compensate with other muscle groups to aid the lift.
If your are new to pull ups the muscles must be developed in the back and upper body and may need to be built up through using similar exercises such as a lat pulldown or reverse rows before really getting in to pull ups properly.
Poor technique & doing pull ups too fast can result in injury (not ideal !)


Main things to focus on when performing a pull up are:


Depress the shoulders & draw the shoulder blades together to activate the right back muscles.
Breathe out when pulling up
Breathe in when relaxing going down
Take time when pulling up and down ( 2 seconds up, 3 – 4 seconds down if possible.. Its time under tension is what you need to try to achieve)

But Be patient with your strength gains with using a pull up! It can take time, but it will be worth it, To get that V shape…


Try 3 reps x 3 sets one week and 3 reps x 4 sets the following week & 4 reps x 4 sets the following, until one day you can do 10 reps x 4 sets wide grip and 10 reps x 4 sets close grip! 


Also If your still struggling with pull up,, Why not try using a super band attached to the top of bar and You can took the band under your feet or knees.
(But please be aware that when finishing a set be very careful with the band, as you don’t want it springing back up and snapping you in the Face)


Band pull ups are very effective if your just starting out with pull ups in any variation, It will help with a little assistance on the upward phase of pull.
Different coloured bands and strengths will also effect the intensity of exercise.




So here Below are some top 6 ways to improve your pull ups.




1) Start with a Proper Position

All too often people start in the dead hang position with their scapula elevated and their shoulders touching their ears. This is dangerous and incorrect.
When you do this all of the tension is placed on your tendons and ligaments instead of your muscles.
When you get on the bar you want to pull your shoulder blades down and lock your shoulders into their sockets. This is a far safer position and ensures that the stress will be placed directly on the muscles and not the tendons and ligaments.



2) Don’t go to Failure

This is the biggest mistake you can make with pull ups.
As soon as a single rep does not look exactly like the previous one and you can’t get as high, the set is over.
If your speed slows down noticeably the set is over.
You would never continue a set of squats if you could no longer lock out the weight. If you got all the way up on rep five but were only able to get up ¾ of the way on rep six you wouldn’t proceed to do four more reps of partials until the set ended with the weight crashing down on you and crippling you.
But that’s exactly how people finish their sets of pull ups. The form gets worse and worse and worse, and they keep going and going and going, climbing up the invisible ladder, or worse swinging, kipping and even making big jerking movements.. (something I wholly don’t recommend)
Most of the time you get weaker, and no longer get stronger. The negative effect of training to failure is seen more on chin ups than any other exercise. So far No one knows why this is, but Please trust me, this is how it is.



3) Maintain a Slight Elbow Bend/flex

This goes hand in hand with the above tip. Before starting your set you want to bend your elbows ever so slightly.
This bend should barely be noticeable, but it will have a big impact on your elbow health.
Do not start with your elbows completely locked. This, again, places all of the stress on the tendons and ligaments instead of on the muscles. On each successive rep you should lower yourself until your arms are nearly straight, stopping just shy of lockout. Just a slight bend or softly flexed
But don’t use this as an excuse to cheat. Just shy of lockout means that your elbows are “99% locked out;” you just don’t want that complete extension.




4) Initiate With the Lats

When you start to pull, be sure that you fire up your lats first; not your biceps. If you have trouble feeling your lats, as many newbies do, I sometimes poke or slap your lats a few times before start pulling. Even having a partner keep his hands in contact with your lats throughout the set may help.
It may probably look a little strange to other members of your gym, But just don’t worry about them, as most are probe not doing pull ups properly anyways.
To get the most out of your lats when you chin you should think about driving your elbows down and back. Don’t simply pull with your biceps.




5) Pull Your Chin Over the Bar

I sometime try to be a perfectionist, for having people pull their chest to the bar. I instruct beginners to do this, also knowing full well that they may not be able to it , but I wish that it important of getting high and hopefully this will rub off on them to do this every time.
But You really only need your chin to clear the bar. That last few inches doesn’t do very much for your lats and instead focuses the stress on the smaller, weaker muscles of your upper/middle back.
The pull up should be used to target the lats, first and foremost. Just Don’t waste energy struggling with that last few inches at the top. Get your chin over while keeping your back arched and then lower yourself.

You can use other rowing exercises to target those smaller upper back muscles.




6) Lose Excess Body Fat

If you are carrying excess body fat your ability to do pull ups will be greatly reduced. You’ll just be lifting More weight than you want, Extra body fat is good for lifting more weight for certain exercises that require greater leverage like the squat and deadlift. But that’s all it’s good for. Other than that it’s unhealthy and unsightly.



Bonus Tip
Strengthen Your Grip
The stronger your grip is the easier pull ups will feel. I highly recommend investing in a pair of Fat Gripz and using them for a large majority of your exercises. I add in some more specific grip work at the gym like fat bar holds, using Fat Gripz as well as pulls and holds with them.



A Breakdown on 2 Pull up variations you can try…


Close grip Pull ups tips:




Draw your shoulder blades in & relax the shoulders
Keep the hands a shoulder width apart
Breathe out when pulling upwards
Breath in when relaxing downwards
Take 2 seconds pulling up and 4 seconds going down.



Wide grip pull up tips:




As close grip pull ups are easier than wide grip, only attempt wide grip once confident with close grip!
Draw your shoulder blades in & relax the shoulders
Keep the hands on the frame in an over hand grip

Breathe out when pulling upwards
Breath in when relaxing downwards


But if in doubt, try using  Lat Pulldowns, & still focus on your posture.. (Don’t pull down with your lower back !)


The principles are more or less always the same with Lat Pulldowns and Pull ups.




Draw your shoulder blades in & relax the shoulders
Keep the hands on the frame in an over hand grip

Breathe out when pulling upwards
Breath in when relaxing downwards


Start using these tips to improve your pull ups today and drop me a line to let me know how they’re working out for you.


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That’s all for now..


 KMF  ” Keep moving Forward’