Why are pull-ups so hard yet so effective, and how can you start doing them too?

What is a pull up?

A pull-up is a bodyweight exercise that requires you to use your upper body to lift your entire body off the floor with your chin above the bar. You are supposed to have a grip where your palms face away from you, and you are meant to activate your core when doing the manoeuvre.

Why are pull-ups so hard?

Pull-ups are one of the most challenging exercises a person can perform because they have to carry their entire body weight only using their upper body and core. Since it is a bodyweight exercise, the pull up’s difficulty varies from the person’s body weight, overall fitness, and overall strength. If a person has been working out for a long time and have experience doing callisthenics (exercises that only require the person’s body weight), they will not take a lot of time to perform the workout. A person can be stronger than another person, but their weight will play a big role as the pull up will be harder if you are heavier and easier if you are lighter. This does not mean that you should be as light as possible and not eat to perform a lot of pullups because if you don’t have any muscles to support your body, you won’t pull yourself up.

Why are they so effective and why should everybody do it?

The reason pull-ups are so incredibly effective is that they activate almost every single upper body, including your core. They activate and work the triceps, biceps, forearms, wrists, lats (latissimus dorsi) and shoulders. This exercise is considered one of the best if you want to activate as many muscles as possible for a short and effective workout.

How can a beginner start their journey on becoming a stronger and fitter individual through pull ups?

Well, it is not a very simple procedure as introducing your body to a new movement can be quite difficult and may take some time before your body can get used to performing the way you want it to.

First things first, you need to find a bar that has a good grip, and you should be able to fully grip the bar without having your entire palm covering it (too small). It would help if you weren’t hanging on to the bar with your fingers for dear life (too big) as well. There are usually pull up bars that you can put by your doorway that are very stable and reliable, and they can be usually found in large sports shops such as Decathlon.

Once you have got your pull-up bar sorted and ready, what you would want to do first is to at least hang on the bar. You could practice this by simply hanging on the bar until failure for 5 times a day with 2 minutes of rest time after each set. It would help if you wrote down each time on a piece of paper by the bar to see how you would progress after each day or week.

The moment you can easily hang on the bar for about 30 seconds, you will be ready for the next stage. First, get a chair or stool and get your chin over the bar. After that, you need to try and slowly go down until your hands are straight; this is called a negative pull-up, which can help you get used to the motion and movement of the pull-up. This also activates all of the muscles used and required to do a pull-up, but the only difference is that it does not work the muscles as hard as an actual pull-up. To work on this and get better at it, try and perform 10 of these a day, 1 at a time, with about 2 to 3 minutes of rest in between each set. Remember that “quality over quantity” is your best friend as you will get the best benefit from doing the negative pull-up slowly and steadily. Please don’t focus on finishing the negative pull-ups fast, as it will hardly help you achieve the goal you are trying to reach.

After doing this for about a month, you will be ready for the next phase, assisted pull-ups. You will want to get a long resistance band that is a loop to wrap it around your bar. What you will want to do is make a loop over the bar so you can rest your legs on the resistance band and grab the bar and try to perform a pull-up. Chances are you will most likely be able to do it since you have been doing negative pull-ups and you have a resistance band, which is helping you get rid of some of the weight you are carrying due to the tension on the band. Do an all-out test to see how many assisted pull-ups you can do with proper form, and I will tell you a very simple and easy to understand workout plan. If you still can’t do an assisted pull-up, consider doing more negative pull-ups or get another resistance band to make it easier and slowly progress by removing the resistance bands one by one.

Once you have the maximum number of pull-ups you can do in a row, all you will have to do is divide that number by two and do ten sets of that value every day. This method isn’t scientifically proven to be the most efficient pull-up method, but it is good to try and perform five regular pull-ups in a row. After doing this for a month, you should then do another all-out test and see how many pull-ups you can do; after finding out the total amount you can do, you can divide that by two and repeat the process, or you can start adding weights. And for people who used more than one resistance band, you can get rid of one of the bands you used and do the same.

(Featured image is from a youtube channel called Calisthenicmovement)

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