There is nothing cooler than watching a girl do pull-ups… all by herself… with no help… from anyone. Especially when she can do more than two or three. There are a few girls at my gym who can do this, and I love to watch them, because I want to be able to have that kind of strength.
I asked one of the girls how she worked her way up to doing real pull-ups, and she said she started out with the assisted pull-up machine. I have been doing that machine for years, and I am still not able to do a real pull-up.
Pull-ups are actually one of the best exercises that you can do, but so many people don’t do them because they can’t do them. We want to be able to do them but don’t know how to go about developing the strength and technique. That is my excuse!
There are really two types:
A pull up is done when you grip the bar with a “palms away” grip.
A chin-up is done with a “palms facing” grip.
Chins are a bit easier because this grip uses your biceps for help. Last year one of the “old guys” at the gym started helping me with chin-ups. I was able to do about four on my own, and then he would help me on the last two or three (then the guy who was old enough to be my father, started to make inappropriate comments… if you know what I mean – no more chin-ups for me). Maybe that story belongs on another blog, and my goal is to do PULL-UPS not CHIN-UPS anyway.
If you can’t even do one pull up there are two ways to work up to it.
1. The flexed arm hang
2. Negative pull-ups
For the flexed arm hang boost yourself up – either have a friend spot you (make sure it is not a dirty old man!) or step up on a bench – so that your chin is above the bar. Once in this position, pull the elbows down and slightly back, keep your chest up and tighten your lats before you take your feet off the bench. The idea here is to hold yourself in this “chin over the bar” position for as long as possible.
Add time as your strength increases. When you are hanging, bend your knees so that your feet are behind you and your torso and thighs form a straight line. Don’t lift your knees up in front of you and try not to swing.
Negative pull-ups will help develop the strength necessary to perform pull-ups. Get into the “chin over the bar” position but instead of staying in the flexed arm position, you will lower yourself down to the “dead hang” position. Try to lower your body on a 5-count and don’t just drop and flop. There will be a point just before the dead hang position where there’s the urge to relax, but continue to exert control.
Use the same initial position and form doing the negative pull up that’s used in the flexed arm hang. Lock in with your lats, bend your knees and keep your feet behind you. Maintain control as you start your going down and keep your lats tight. If you have a spotter they can help steady you before the drop.
So, by December, I will be able to do at least three real pull-ups… all by myself… with no help… from anyone.