I’ve been holding off on this post, since I haven’t been able to do a pull-up since late March. Thanks Boris! Still, there’s a good chance I’ll be able to get back into the gym next week, so here we go.
Why do I love this exercise so much? It’s an ultimate core workout. Your back muscles, especially your latissimi dorsi (i.e., your lats), are doing a lot of the work, but so too are your abs, obliques, arms and shoulders. You’re also building up grip strength in your hands. For those who like to activate the “vanity” muscles (i.e., biceps), the pull-up is fantastic. Full disclosure, I love working the “vanity” muscles. Sad I know.
Another great thing about this exercise are the variations. Depending on your grip, you can work different muscles harder. If you look at the photograph above, this lady is using an overhand grip. This brings your lats and forearms into play more. In contrast, an underhand grip is going to work the biceps more. The width of your grip also changes the the stress you put on different muscles.
This is not an easy exercise for beginners. Indeed, many will not be able to lift their own bodyweight at first especially if they are carrying a lot of chunk. In this case you have some options.
You could join a gym that has a weight-assisted machine:
You can buy rubber training bands to help you:
Or you can work with a partner who can help lift you:
Although it may not seem like it today with much of the world still locked down by our political masters, life is still better in many ways compared to twenty or thirty years ago. The obvious one, that most take for granted, is the internet. When I was a kid or even in my twenties, how could you figure out the proper way to do this exercise or any exercise? Go to the gym and watch other people or buy a magazine and look at pictures of roid monsters doing the exercise.
Today we have the luxury of Youtube where hundreds or maybe thousands of people want to show us how to do this exercise. Here’s a popular one:
This video is very good explaining proper technique, and it doesn’t get too wrapped up into discussing particular muscles. Most of us are not looking to body build, we’re just trying to get healthier. Good luck.
Remember. Lift heavy things.