Pull-ups are one of the best exercises to strengthen your upper body, core and overall strength, but because of that, they are also one of the most difficult movements, requiring you to pull your entire body weight.
If pull-ups are an exercise that you’ve struggled with or thought you could never do, think again. Our five must-know tips will help you increase your upper-body strength and perform your first of many pull-ups to come.
Grip Matters: When it comes to pull-ups, grip really matters. If you’re new to the movement, you’ll want to start with a neutral grip (palms facing inward), as this is the easiest grip to perform. As you progress, you can switch to an underhand grip and then finally to the hardest, an overhand grip.
Hanging from the Bar: One great way to increase your pull-up strength when starting out is to just hang from the bar. Begin with 5- to 10-second increments and then increase your time to 30 to 45 seconds. This will strengthen your grip and forearm muscles, which are important for pull-ups.
Lat Pulldowns: Lat pulldowns are a great way to increase your upper-body strength and mimic the upper-body movement of a pull-up. Perform lat pulldowns regularly and with volume. Pick a weight that is challenging for the last few reps and perform multiple sets a few times a week. This will increase your strength for the pull-up movement.
Negative Pull-ups: If you’re not quite ready to perform a pull-up, negatives are a great way to prep for the movement and increase the muscles required. Start by either jumping up to the start of the movement (chin over the bar), or you can bring a step to the bar so you don’t have to jump. Then slowly lower your body to a dead-hang position. Start with 5-second increments and work your way up to 10 seconds on the lowering movement.
Band-Assisted Pull-Ups: Lastly, band-assisted pull-ups are the best way to prep and strengthen your body to be able to do an unassisted version of the exercise. You can purchase a variety of bands with different strengths and hook them to the bar, one at a time. Step into the band and perform a pull-up. The band assistance will take some of the weight away, making the pull-up easier to perform. As you get stronger, you can swap out the band for lighter options, so soon enough, you’ll be able to perform an unassisted pull-up.
Jason DeHenzel has trained some of New York’s most prestigious clients, including high-profile lawyers, advertising executives, movie producers and musicians. Sophie DeHenzel is a Pn1-certified nutritionist and former downhill ski racer. The pair founded DeHenzel Training Systems, a 2015 Home-Based Business of the Year from the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. DeHenzel Training Systems develops customized fitness plans for clients of different abilities, experience and commitment. Find out more at dtsnova.com.