Pull-ups, King of Upper Body

Posted: March 3, 2016 in Creative Writing, Fitness
Tags: , , , , , ,

There are many trains of thought, when it comes to the best upper body exercise.  Depending on who you talk to it could be bench press with it’s many variations, push-ups, and some will say the overhead or military press.  From a bodyweight exercise point of view however, the pull-up is the best.  Now when I talk about pull-ups, I am talking about any variation of the exercise where you’re pulling yourself above the bar.  This could be with palms facing out, towards you, one handed, weighted, or even muscle-ups.

Now i’ve known since I was a kid that pull-ups were a great exercise, and I did them pretty regularly on a branch outside our house, but I never really put a huge emphasis on them.  When I joined the Army, they really fell to the wayside, because the Army Physical Fitness Test gauges your strength off of push-ups, which I can do plenty of.  The only time I had to focus on pull-ups was when I was training for SFAS and Ranger School, because to complete both courses you have to be able to do a minimum of 6 dead hang pull-ups (palms facing out).

Since I am now focusing on bodyweight exercises, and following a set program, pull-ups have become a key component to my training.  For most people, the act of pulling your entire weight off the ground and over an object is a very daunting and seemingly impossible task.  There are a few methods that beginners can use to help them initially with this task, until they are able to do them with strict form.

Assisted Pull-ups:  There are two ways for you to perform assisted pull-ups.  The first is to have a training partner hold your feet.  By doing this they are taking a portion of your weight away from the lift and can also assist you on the pull if you need it.  The other method is to wrap a band around the bar, which you then put your knee into, and it provides the same assistance as a partner would.  The thinner the band used the less assistance, while thicker bands provide a lot of assistance.  When I get to the point that I can’t do any more pull-ups, I use a band for assistance, since my wife and kids can’t help me to the point that I need.

Negative Pull-ups:  This is another good method that I have used, and will usually use if i’m on a taller pull-up bar.  To do this all you do is jump up to the bar, to where your chin is above the bar.  Then you slowly lower yourself back to the ground.  Make sure your downward movement is slow and controlled.

Another good bodyweight movement that you can do to help start building the muscles required for good pull-ups, are body weight rows.  Your still doing a pulling movement with your bodyweight, but it’s angled and your feet are on the ground making the movement easier.  Body weight rows are rated as harder than negative pull-ups, so if your finding those too easy, but pull-ups too hard then transition into body weight rows to build more strength.

I want to thank you for reading, and if anyone has any specific questions be sure to ask.  I may not know the answer right off the bat, but I will do my best to answer all questions.  Thanks again.


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