The Pull-Up and its many variations are staple movements in nearly every type of strength, performance and muscle-building program. The problem is, many people butcher the movement, making it not only ineffective for developing strength and function, but potentially injurious to the lower back and shoulders.
If you are experiencing pain or struggling to develop strength or performance on the bar, instead of avoiding Pull-Ups altogether, you need to improve your setup and execution with these Pull-Up tips. To get the most out of your Pull-Ups in a safe and effective manner, follow the tips.They will teach you how to properly perform a Pull-Up.
1. Gain Stability at the Shoulders Before You Pull
Jumping up to the bar is the last thing you want to think about when developing your Pull-Up technique. Instead, if you are using a high bar position, place a box or bench under the bar. By stepping up onto the box, you can create great tension at the bottom range of the Pull-Up before you start the movement. This will not only protect your shoulders from instability, but also promote a strong and stable full range of motion throughout the movement itself.
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2. Use a Straight-Leg Position in Front of Your Body
Maybe the most common mistake in the Pull-Up is the lack of a strong and stable spinal position during the pull. As with other movements performed in strength training, the spine must achieve and maintain neutral alignment throughout the duration of the movement to get the best training effect while reducing the risk of injury.
Many times, athletes bend at the knee and extend their hips back to alter the line of pull during the Pull-Up, compensating to a "stronger" position to mask the presence of weakness or movement dysfunction. This is the polar opposite of what you want for a properly performed pain-free Pull-Up.
Positioning your feet in front of your body with knees straight and hips slightly flexed forward provides the spine with a better opportunity to remain neutral throughout the lowering and raising portions of the pull. It also positions the core and stabilizing muscles of the spine and pelvis to work more optimally.
3. Contract Your Glutes, Quads and Core During the Movement
Once you have mastered the above two basics of setup and execution, you should be able to fine-tune your Pull-Ups by learning to generate full-body tension throughout the movement. When you actively contract the muscles of your legs, hips and core in a non-moving isometric manner, your body will become stiff and work as a functional unit.
This is great for taking stress off the joints and muscles not targeted by Pull-Ups, and also for improving performance and strength by providing more stability for the active and mobile shoulder girdle. The stiffer you can make your core and lower body, the stronger you'll be able to display your function.
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