Pull-Ups are one of the most difficult exercises you can perform, but if you are able to progress, it is one of the best bodyweight movements for total body strength. By breaking down the movement into sections athletes are able to start doing consecutive reps in no time!
Pull-Ups involve gripping the bar with palms facing out, while Chin-Ups are done with palms facing your face. In this article we will be focused on the Pull-Up.
The eccentric portion is the lowering phase of any exercise. Eccentric strength is often overlooked, but it may be the most important element, especially for athletes. Let’s say you are packing away your summer clothes at the start of winter. You might notice it is much more difficult to lift a box to the top shelf, then it is to lower the box down from the top shelf to the ground. This is the power of eccentrics! You will always be able to lower more weight than you can lift.
Apply this principle to Pull-Up training. Jump or climb to the top position of the Pull-Up. Then fight gravity and lower your body as slowly as you can, aiming for around 3-5 seconds. Perform 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps and you will find your overall ability to control your body weight will greatly improve. Eventually you can start pulling yourself back up!
You might remember in physical education class when the teacher would test the class on the “flex arm hang.” The student would be lifted up to the bar and hold at the top position (with chin over the bar) for as long as possible. This very basic protocol will be of great benefit for athletes of all ages. Climb, jump or have a partner help you to the starting position. Then, with a Pull-Up grip (palms facing away), hold yourself with your chin over the bar for as long as possible. This exercise is pretty taxing so only 2-3 sets are needed to see a great improvement on Pull-Up ability!
The primary mover in the Pull-Up is the large number of powerful back muscles we all have. Unfortunately, the ability of your strong back muscles might be limited because of typically weak forearms and grip. The last thing I want as a coach is for a simple grip issue to limit your ability to strengthen your back. To combat this issue, simple bar hangs can be extremely effective. Simply grab the bar in a Pull-Up grip and let your body hang, with complete dead weight, for 30 seconds. Not only will this blow up the forearms, but also this exercise is very beneficial for scapula, shoulder, and low-back health. 2-3 sets of 30 seconds will do the trick!