I am sure we can all agree that pull-ups are… awesome. Aside from being a functional and incredibly beneficial exercise, the pull-up is cool and says a lot about your fitness level. Sure, being able to deadlift a lot of weight is cool too, but there is something awe-inspiring about a guy or gal who can grab a pull-up bar and bang out a set of ten reps like it was nothing.
To that end, we have put together this guide, outlining everything you need to know about the pull-up and how to master it in a matter of weeks. Yes, weeks (not months or years). And the best part? We will be sharing some information about an item that could make pull-up training more accessible, so stick around to find out and let us dive in.
What are Pull-Ups, and what makes them so beneficial?
Pull-ups are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises you can use to build upper body strength, improve your stability, and develop your grip. The objective is to reach up, grab a sturdy bar, and pull yourself up using your forearms, biceps, and back muscles. You can perform the movement with an overhand (palms facing forward, see picture on the right) or underhand grip (palms facing back; also known as a chin-up, see picture on the left).
A notable pull-up benefit is that the exercise develops the latissimus dorsi, the upper body’s largest muscle. Doing so gives the back a broad and muscular appearance that screams fitness. Aside from that, pull-ups develop your grip strength because you have to work hard and support your body weight during each set. All you need is a pull-up bar to have great workouts, even if you are in a bad gym.
Another benefit of pull-ups is that the exercise overloads all involved muscles well, leading to growth and strength gain. Plus, the exercise offers a fantastic overloading potential, making it a great movement to build a training routine around. The best part about pull-ups is that all you need is a bar to perform the great movement at home.
How to start mastering the Pull-Up in just a few weeks
Mastering the pull-up might seem like an impossible task, especially if you can not do a single repetition right now. Luckily, there are simple tactics we can follow to make that happen. Let’s take a look:
1. Do eccentric Pull-Ups
Not everyone can reach up, grab a bar, and pull themselves up. Doing so requires a base of strength and skill, which take time for us to develop.
Eccentric pull-ups are a fantastic option for beginners because not everyone can pull themselves up, but almost everyone can practice a controlled descent from the top position. So even if you can only lower yourself for two or three seconds, you have a base to work off and improve.
The objective with eccentric pull-ups is to reach the top position by jumping or stepping on something. Once there, lower yourself as slowly as you can by engaging your back, arms, and midsection muscles. Performing eccentric pull-ups is good for developing your muscles’ necessary strength for a full pull-up. Most trainees will be able to do a complete pull-up by the time they can lower themselves for 45 to 60 seconds.
2. Leverage a Resistance Band
Resistance bands are awesome because they are affordable, light, portable, and incredibly versatile. One of their many benefits is that you can use a band to learn the pull-up. To achieve that, you have to wrap a looped band over a pull-up bar, let it hang, and step over it. Doing so allows the band to take away some of your body weight, making the exercise easier to perform.
Doing pull-ups with resistance bands allows you to progress to the first unassisted pull-up because you get quality practice and can strengthen all of the muscles involved in the exercise. The primary drawback with using a resistance band is that it offers the most support off the bottom (while it is stretched the most), but the assistance diminishes as you reach the top and the band returns to its regular length.
3. Do inverted Rows
Inverted rows are a bodyweight exercise with similarities to the pull-up. The objective is to grab a sturdy bar, lean back, and keep your feet planted on the floor. Once in position, pull and lower yourself repeatedly, working your back and biceps in the process.
Leaning back creates a more horizontal body position and makes the exercise more challenging. In contrast, staying more upright allows you to pull less of your body weight, making the movement more beginner-friendly.
Performing inverted rows is beneficial for your pull-up performance because you get used to the movement pattern. Plus, you get to train and grow the same muscles you would during a pull-up.
4. Lose some Weight
Weight loss is a bit of a taboo topic, but we need to mention it here because it directly impacts pull-up performance. Simply put, the more you weigh, the harder you will have to work to pull yourself up effectively. Losing some fat can make it easier to achieve your first pull-up and start building from there.
It is one thing to do pull-ups at 200 lbs of personal weight, and a whole other to do the same at 160 or 170 lbs.
5. Practice the exercise Frequently
The final beneficial tactic for improving your pull-up performance quickly is practicing the exercise more frequently. Performing pull-ups depends on skills that, like any other, improve through practice.
Here is a simple schedule you can follow:
- Monday – Eccentric pull-ups
- Tuesday – rest
- Wednesday – Band-assisted pull-ups
- Thursday – rest
- Friday – Inverted rows
- Saturday & Sunday – off
The Pullup-Dip Bar
Earlier in this post, we alluded to the fact that we would be sharing some information on a product you can use for your pull-up training. That product is not one, but several pull-up bars from Pullup & Dip.
Their bars come in several configurations, each offering some unique benefits. The most notable differences between the bars are the mounting types. Some are designed to mount on a wall, but there are also models for doorways and even trees.
The pull-up bars by Pullup & Dip are incredibly versatile, and you can attach them in minutes to have great workouts at home, outside, and while on the road. They also have models that allow you to adjust the height and perform dips and pull-ups.