man performing a chin up

How to pull-up properly

All that is needed to perform a pull-up exercise is a horizontal bar. Pull-ups will bring great benefits to the body since all the muscles of the body will be put to work, and with a high load.

You don’t need to be a member of a gym, this exercise can be very conveniently practiced right at your home, in the room, or on the balcony, for instance.

To learn how to pull up “from scratch”, begin to pull the body to the chest, also try to pull-up on a lower bar or bars.

Types of pull-ups to create a training program

Pull-up exercise perfectly develops the broad muscle, as well as the large round muscle of the back.

To perform pull-ups with a reverse grip, grab the crossbar with your palms facing you, the distance between the hands should be equal to the width of the shoulders. Inhale and pull up, exactly until the chin reaches the crossbar.

Pulling straight grip develops biceps, trapezius, shoulder and all large round muscles.

Regular exercise will lead to a marked strengthening and growth of the back muscles. Grasp the bar with a straight grip so that the distance between the hands is slightly wider than the width of the shoulders. Then it is necessary to pull up approximately until the moment when the chest is at the horizontal bar level.

Perform pull-ups on the horizontal bar without swinging.

Wide grip pulls will make your back strong, wide and powerful. If you pull up to the chest, then the back muscles will gain thickness, and when pulling up behind the head, the back will become wider due to the muscle development.

For a more active building of the broadest muscles, add weight. For example, special weighting agents on the body are convenient to use and give a good effect.

The narrow grip pull is ideal for developing the back and arms.

When pulling up, the muscles of the shoulder, brachioradialis muscles, brachialis, dentate muscles develop well. It is necessary to take the crossbar so that the brushes touch.

Weight lifting is an exercise necessary to build muscle. Calculate weight based on feasible load for the approach of 8 pull-up repetitions.

Which vertical drag variant is best?

If the goal is activation of the big back muscle (lats), there is virtually free play between all pull-down variants, just as both pull-ups and chin-ups are good.

In a study comparing pull-ups and chin-ups, biceps were found to be significantly more active during chin-ups. Conversely, the lower part of the trapezius, also called trap, was more active during pull-ups. The most active muscle in both exercises was, not surprisingly, the lats.

In this study, biceps were found to be the most active muscle during pull-ups, lat pull-downs, and kneeling pull-downs when participants were running below 10 reps, while lats were most active when running +10 reps. In addition, the middle part of the trapezius muscle was activated at approx. just as much during all the exercises mentioned.

Wide or narrow grip?

Attempts have also been made to set people to run pull-downs with different grip widths.

Here they were very heavy and no significant differences were found between the three grip widths in relation to muscle activation in the lats. However, there was a slight tendency for the biceps to be activated a little more with a medium grip, just as the participants were able to ride heavier with a medium and narrow grip.

Another study looked at which muscles were activated most during pull-downs with four different grips: wide and narrow grip with the palms facing towards the body, as well as a wide and narrow grip with the palms away from the body.

It was found that the palms away from the body provided the greatest activation of lats, regardless of grip width. Contrary to the previously mentioned pull-up study, in this study, when driving pull-downs, there was no increased activation of biceps when the palms turned toward the body.

man without shirt doing a pull-up

Pull to the chest or pull to the neck?

When it comes to activating the lats, there is not a big difference between the two exercises (when done with a relatively wide grip with the palms away from the body). A variant has also been tested where the head is pulled down with a v-bar, so there is room for the head, nor does this variant provide any different activation than chest and neck features.

Does the perfect back exercise then exist?

It depends on what you want to achieve with your training.

A research points to the fact that if the goal is the activation of lats, both pull-ups, chin-ups, and pull-downs are fantastic exercises. However, driving the palm downs with the palms away from the body may have a small advantage, rather than toward the body.

The grip width does not seem to matter much, but heavier weights can usually be run with a narrower and medium grip, which theoretically can provide better stimulation for growth.

Most people also point to biceps being more active at chin-ups than at pull-ups, and a single study found that biceps were slightly more active during pull-downs with a medium grip, compared to narrow or wide grip.

Finally, I would also consider that ‘the best’ theoretical back exercise does not end up being the best if it is the only exercise you do. If you want a complete back development and avoid injuries, it is a far better idea to vary your workout and do a variety of back exercises, than focusing solely on the one that research or an Instagram guru has designated as “the best” exercise.

Common beginner mistakes when pulling up

1. Only the upper body should be involved

Feet should be calm, and not actually perform any effort. This is often done by beginners, trying, as it were, to “climb” onto the horizontal bar so that the head and chest finally rise above it. As a result, with the help of the legs, they begin to swing, give an impulse to the joints, and climb up.

But, this is the wrong way. The bottom line is to be pulled exclusively by the muscles of the back and arms. And at first the back muscles come into work, which moves the shoulder blades together, and give the necessary tension, and only then the arm muscles pull the body up.

2. Sudden movements are one of the most common mistakes

If you pay attention to the athletes involved in the nowadays popular street sport “workout”, you can see that all their movements are actually “robotic”, there are no sharp movements that give absolutely no tension to the muscles.

The problem for beginners is that they often make sharp movements when pulling up, especially when the body is lowering. It is not right. For proper muscle building, muscles must work at full strength, and with sharp movements, a person, on the contrary, tries to free himself from the load.

Raising the body up and lowering it down should be performed in the same rhythm.

3. Straight elbows

For beginners who are just mastering the horizontal bar, there is a common problem – the full extension of the elbows, which often occurs during the lowering of the body. Meanwhile, the load on the elbow joints during pull-ups is quite strong, so it is recommended not to unbend them completely neither during the lifting of the body nor during the descent, otherwise, there is a risk of getting rather painful injuries of the elbow joints in the future.

4. The desire for a great pace

From school, and from many times from the time of the army, the number of push-ups for a certain period of time indicates the quality of the work done. In fact, in the matter of building muscle, such a principle does not work. You can do 30 push-ups per minute, but not give the muscles any sensible load, but only once again loosen the joints.

Professional athletes recommend not to rush during pull-ups, do them slowly and consistently, feel the tension in the muscles of the shoulders, arms, and back.

5. Intermittent breathing or holding it

Beginners, by virtue of the difficulties they experience when pulling up, begin to involuntarily hold their breath or breathe often and confusedly, which is not worth doing.

At the moment of tension, that is, lifting up, the body should take a breath, and during the period of descent down, that is, relaxation (do not consider relaxation in the literal sense of the word, the muscles should be tense, but less compared to lifting up), the body does exhale.

6. Neck strain

Be that as it may, the cervical muscles will tighten when tightened. But there is no need to give them “primacy” in this. Mainly work the muscles of the back, arms, abs. You should control your movements in order to prevent overstrain of the neck muscles

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