Oh, the elusive pull up. It seems to be on many people’s wish list.
The other day Art brought home a pull up bar for me. Let me tell you, it’s been a while since I did a pull-up. Back in my early 30’s I was heavily into weight training and was able to do about 8 or 9 of them no problem. Today, not so easy. bI was a little surprised that I was able to pull off two of them. Three days later, I still feel sore and I’m about to try it yet again. OMG, am I crazy? You think for a women of 45 years of age that it’s not possible, well think again. I’m still in my weight gaining stage as I’m putting on muscle mass so once I start to lose some body fat, I know it will get a little easier for me to do more repetitions.
Age is just a number so if you think you are too out of shape, too old, or not fit enough, I want you to get rid of the negative mindset and we’re going to work on this together. My goal is to get back to 8 or 9 again and I want you to think of how many you would like to do. Whether it’s your first one ever or you used to be able to do one or more and want to be able to do a pull-up again, here are some tips to get you started.
Before we get started, I want to clarify something, the difference between a chin-up and a pull-up. With a chin-up, your palms face you and your hand placement is generally just outside of your shoulders. They are considered slightly easier as your arms, your biceps in particular, assist the back in pulling your body up. Pull ups are considered more challenging as your palms face away from you and your grip is wider. Your lats (latissismus dorsi) are the main source of power for your pull.
So you want to achieve your first pull up? Try out these five tips to get you started:
Lat pull-downs should be your training start point as they work the same muscles and use the same range of motion as a pull-up. One of the key elements people need to work on is their pulling strength and then work from here. To perform a lat pulldown, position yourself on the lat pull down machine whle gripping the bar with your shoulder-width palms facing away and your arms fully extended above your head. Try not to lean back and control the bar back to the start position.
You may not be able to do a chin-up right away but you can work at it in phases. You might need to use a bench to start in order to pull yourself up but focus on the eccentric phase of the movement (the lowering phase). With your palms facing towards you and your arms shoulder-width apart, lower yourself until your arms are fully extended and hold that movement. Once you’re finished, step back onto the bench. Over time, your strength will improve as you are able to lift yourself up without assistance.
Pull-ups –Palms Facing One Another
Many gyms will have machines called chin-dip assist or other names depending on the manufacturer. The bars on these machines are usually 8-10 inches apart. Try a pull-up with your palms facing each other as your grip is usually the strongest in this position. With proper form and control, raise yourself up and then lower over a 3 second count with no pause. Keep the movement continuous. Start with one rep and gradually build it up each week. Once you are able to do around 6-8 reps, it’s time to go to the next stage.
With your palms facing towards you, shoulder-width apart, pull yourself up with your chin just above the bar. Return to the starting position and repeat. Again, try to do 6-8 reps as a max before you want to attempt the wide grip pull-up. Build up your reps each week.
Wide Grip Pull-ups
Now that you have great back strength and development, it’s time to do the real thing. With your palms facing away from the grip or bar with your thumbs a couple of inches wider than shoulder width, lower yourself over a three-second count and pause at the bottom of the movement so that your arms are fully extended. Raise yourself as fast as you can and pause for a second at the top of the movement so your chin is above the bar. Congratulations, you just did your first pull-up.
Tomorrow’s Task: If a pull-up is on your fitness goal list, start by doing some lat pulldowns and start building up your strength and repetitions.
Performing a pull-up is not an easy task. If you are a women and reading this, you CAN do a pull-up, you just have to work at it. There is nothing more rewarding than pulling up your own body weight. How cool is that! It can take a lot of time for some people to achieve this task, while for others depending on genetics and prior strength training, a shorter duration. Either way, it can be accomplished with some hard work.
Keep at it and keep us posted with your progress.
Art & Maureen