How Come Pull-ups are so hard and How Can I Get to 10?

How Come Pull-ups are so hard and How Can I Get to 10?

Body weight exercises have long been known to be the hardest and most difficult types of exercises.  One reason for this is that body weight exercises often include awkward positions and angles that make a workout difficult. One of the most important benefits of a body weight exercise is how efficient they are for functional activities.

Among the most difficult and well known exercises is the pull-up.  A pull-up requires incredible strength of the biceps, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and deltoid muscles in addition to a strong core.  When one perfects the technique of a pull-up, an abundance of health benefits can be gained.

Starting from ground zero with pull-ups may seem intimidating, but this stage of learning the exercise is the most important in order to complete a set of 10.

Starting slow is highly recommended when beginning the pull-up.  A large rubber band (often called a pull-up assistive device) is often used for individuals to learn the pull-up movement, but when this is not something that can be used, a 10-inch step bench should suffice.

Starting with both hands on the bar and facing away from the body and using the bench, simultaneously jump and pull the body up towards the bar.  If this was very easy, rely less on the spotting jump and more of the arms and lower back to pull the body upwards.  Continue to spot the pull-up until one full, nicely performed pull-up is completed.

A completed pull-up should have the chin/neck near the pull-up bar and in some instances the chest will make its way to the bar and touch.  The elbows will be bent at the highest peak of the pull-up, the back should be strong, and the chest should be facing as best as it can to the ceiling.

Sounds like a lot of work, but with a little practice, this will become easier.  Once a full pull-up is completed, the next goal is two (or however many it takes until the muscles are completely fatigued).  As each goal is reached, increase the amount of reps until 10 is reached with good form and in strong, controlled movements.  The key to wanting to do more is fatiguing the muscles each time during the pull-up.

Written By: Chris Churan, M.S., certified health fitness specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine

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