The Pull up is a basic upper body exercise. However, it remains unfamiliar to most fitness enthusiasts and gym buffs as most people tend to focus on aesthetic muscle building, ie, working on muscle groups that can be easily seen and adored such as the chest, arms, forearms, and abdominals. In addition to being a less familiar exercise, it is also difficult and can be very challenging not just for newbies in the gym, but sometimes even for long term gym-goers who neglect this very essential exercise.
Nevertheless, this exercise is very convenient to do and all you need is your body and a hanging bar. Pull ups can be done by both men and women. In fact, some women do pull ups as a regular exercise in their routine.
What are the benefits of doing Pull ups?
The Pull ups is a very effective resistance exercise as the only equipment you need are your body and a bar that is high enough. It is a compound exercise that targets the big muscle groups of the upper trunk (yes, there’s a muscle in your trunk that is bigger than your chest and biceps) which means that you’ll need more energy to do it and burn more calories. Apart from targeting these muscle groups, it also works the arms and abs as well! This exercise is not solely resistance as it will most likely pump up your heart rate. Compared to the squats or push-ups, you are literally off the floor while doing this exercise, so the intensity is definitely high! Also, almost all of your muscles will need to work to keep your body stable and well-supported. When paired with an exercise like the burpee, the pull ups will be an excellent cardiovascular workout.
What are the muscles targeted by Pull ups?
These are the main muscles that are targeted by the Pull ups:
Latissimus Dorsi – this is your big back muscle that connects from your hips, and to individual spines of your back, and inserts into the back of your arms. When developed well, this supports the back for movement and it’s a great muscle to rip as well!
Trapezius – this is another big muscle on your back that is connected from the middle of your trunk to your shoulders and the back of the arms. They support the movement of your shoulder blades and arms, and assist in the both the lifting and lowering phase of the pull up.
Abdominals – the abdominals support the legs throughout each lift, and in some variations like the L-pull up, the abdominals can be totally targeted.
Biceps – the pull ups work the arms as well, especially when doing variations such as the chin ups. Some modifications on the grip can also target this muscle.
Forearms – your legs are up in the air and you basically rely on your grip strength all throughout the exercise to keep yourself from falling on the floor. Pull up variations such as the towel or rope pull ups target the forearms more.
Why should I do a Pull up when I can do a ‘Pull down’?
As you can already see, the traditional Pull up works a lot of muscle groups and can really increase your heart rate. With the Lat Pull down machine, you are sitting down and you’re probably going to relax your legs. There would be less pressure on your forearms and your abs and legs will go to sleep after one set.
How to do the Pull ups:
The step by step ways to do the pull ups is very easy to say, but doing it is a totally different and hard thing to do. You can simply copy a person doing pull ups. But the question is, how can I increase the number of pull ups that I can do?
First of all, don’t be ashamed of your one-rep pull up. Everyone starts with something, and it’s better to start with one. The thing is, challenge yourself to do additional sets of pull ups instead of maxing out your energy by trying to do more reps of one set. If you can only do one pull up, start with doing one pull up for 3 to 5 sets. Rest in between sets should be enough for your muscles to recover, and you should be sure that you can do your next rep in the best form.
Watch this short video “Beginners Pull Up Workout:
What are variations of Pull ups?
Amazingly, there are lots of variations that can be done with the pull ups. You may have seen people try to increase the intensity of their pull ups by adding a weight on their legs or tying a heavy chain around their waist. This helps, but there are a lot more options to challenge your pull ups and even work on smaller muscles for better support.
This video shows 25 variations for Pull ups. You can see the list after the video:
11. One arm assisted
12. Subscapularis Pull up
13. Clap Pull ups
15. Upside Down Pull ups
16. Switch ups
17. Triangle Pull ups
18. Kipping Pull ups
19. Behind the Head
22. Close-grip Pull up
23. Pull and Push
24. L-pull ups
25. 3,2,1 finger Pull ups
Go, ‘get off’ your feet and start pulling!