The pullup is arguably the most difficult of all calisthenic exercises. Unlike the pushup or the squat, a proper pull-up from a dead hang is impossible for those out of shape, and extremely difficult for those who are. If you are unable to do a proper form pullup, it may be a long road to get to your first. If you are able to do at least one rep, hard work, determination, and time are all you need to be able to do more pullups and build muscle.
How To Do A Proper Pullup
Pullups are a common exercise that people use to build muscle or to build strength and endurance. Most gyms have a pullup bar, and it’s common to see people taking advantage of the compound exercise. It’s important to understand how to properly do a pullup before you begin training. Pullups are hard, and training to the point where you are able to do multiple reps and multiple sets takes time.
To do a proper pullup, your hands should grasp the bar at shoulder length apart. Your hand should be gripping the bar so the back of your hands is facing toward you. It is important that your palms are facing away from you – if they are facing toward you – you will be doing a chin-up. Chin-ups are a much easier exercise for most people, and not as comprehensive as the pullup.
Once your hands are situated on the bar properly you should be in a dead hang. If your pullup bar is low – tuck your feet underneath yourself and hang for a second until your body is still.
From a dead hang, pull your body up until your chin is above the bar. A proper pull-up lifts your chin above the bar for at least one second, and at least three seconds below the bar-raising and lowering your body from a dead hang.
What Muscles Do Pullups Work?
Pullups engage the entire upper body. Your chest, arms, and back are all utilized in order to pull your chin above the bar. By changing the grip on the pull-up bar, emphasis can be placed on different muscle groups. Hands close together focus on the biceps and the outer part of the back, hands spread apart focus on the middle part of the back.
Pullups engage your core muscles, particularly if your legs are in front of you. They also train your forearms and enhance your grip. For those who have not trained their grip, they will find their hands and forearms aching after a workout.
Pullups are a compound exercise that can be done safely every day without fear of joint problems. Unlike exercises that isolate muscles, pullups work the entire upper body, build strength, stamina, and explosiveness.
A Brief History Of The Pullup
As with pushups, the invention of the pullup is often accredited to Greko Roman soldiers – though the practice has likely existed as long as humans have been climbing.
The modern act of doing pullups as a calisthenic or gymnastic exercise originated in modern-day Russia in the late 1700s. To this day, the pull-up bar and dip bars are found at gyms and in outdoor exercise areas everywhere.
How Many Pullups Should You Do?
How many pullups you can do depends on a few factors. If you don’t normally do pullups, but you lift weights or do cardio, you may be able to do some pullups with ease. If you are overweight or are completely out of shape, you will likely be unable to do a single pullup.
The US Military is known for its intense physical training and intense bodyweight exercises. To qualify for their elite Delta Force unit, soldiers are expected to be able to do 23 dead hang pullups with proper form.
To do more pull-ups one has to intentionally train. Most people are able to do between 1 and 15 pullups in a rep. Being able to do more than 10 in a set shows an advanced level of physical fitness, 20 in a set would indicate a high level of strength on par with that of elite soldiers.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Unlike pushups, pullups require some equipment to do the exercise. While it is possible to do rows or similar exercises without any equipment, a pullup at the very least requires a pullup bar.
A pullup bar doesn’t need to be something you buy. Monkey bars or football (soccer) nets are an excellent alternative to a gym membership. Having a pullup bar in your room, or in an area you walk past often, will remind you to do a few reps every time you see the bar.
A Power Tower is probably the most common piece of fitness equipment for doing pullups. In addition to having an adjustable pullup bar, a power tower also has a dip station and back support for doing leg raises and similar exercises. A Power Tower is inexpensive and allows you to do a number of bodyweight exercises in addition to the pullup.
How To Start Doing Pullups From Zero
There is nothing more defeating than jumping up onto a pullup bar and not being able to pull yourself up once. This is not an uncommon occurrence since men typically focus on their arms and lack the back strength, and females often lack the arm strength.
If you are overweight, doing cardio before trying pullups is recommended. Even if you can do a number of pullups in a row, the easiest way to do more is to lose weight.
The best way to train for pullups is to do more pullups, but if you can’t do a single one you will need to do other exercises to build strength. One of the best ways to build your strength is to try working up to 200 pushups, doing pushups help build your back, core, and arms which will ultimately help you do more pullups.
There are a myriad of instructions and devices to help you do your first pullup. Some in the fitness world are fervently against pull up assist machines or doing weight training to help get your chin to the bar. The truth is there are many ways to get to your first pullup. It doesn’t matter how you get there, once you are able to do your first complete pullup you will be able to do multiples sets, and ultimately more reps.
Without any equipment other than a pullup bar, the best way to do pullups is by doing negative pullups. To do a negative pull-up, you first stand on a box or something sturdy to bring you up above the bar. Then you simply lower yourself down as slowly as you can.
When starting out, its best to do negatives every day and take the weekends off. You will not have much arm strength, in the beginning, so you will want to do reps just below your maximum. Do 10 sets throughout the day. If you are out of energy and can’t do another set of pullups, dead hang on the bar instead. After a few weeks, you should be ready to start incorporating full pull-ups into your training.
How To Do More Pullups And Build Muscle
To do pullups you need to train. If you have an average level of fitness, you are likely able to do more than one pull-up in a row. The best way to do more pull-ups is to do more pullups.
The key is to train your muscles for a week to 10 days straight. Do just under your maximum rep count up to 10 sets a day. If you are doing less than 10 straight reps, do your maximum number of pull-ups followed by enough negative pullups to bring your rep count to 10. After a week of training every day, take 2 days off. If you train for 10 days take 3-4 days off. When you get back to the pullup bar after a break, hang for a few seconds, relax, then pull – you should be able to do significantly more reps than you could before you started training.
The pullup is the ultimate bodyweight exercise. If you are looking to get ripped and be strong then the pullup is definitely a way to achieve upper body and core strength.
Its recommended that pullups and pushups are done on opposite days during regular training.
Nutrition is a key component to getting stronger and building more muscle. A healthy diet and supplemental protein shakes will give your body what it needs to build more muscle and strength. With a proper diet and the proper routine, you should be able to pull your chin up over the pullup bar in no time.