Take Over the World with this One Exercise…
The Pull Up.
I know, I talk about pull ups a lot these days.
Yes, it’s a bit of an obsession, but I’m okay with that 🙂
It’s one of my very, very favorite exercises because it’s one of those things I NEVER thought I’d be able to do, starting as a kid. Heck, the flexed arm hang was a no-go at the age of 11….Now, at age 40, they are a staple in my strength workouts throughout the week.
The pull up is just a freaking empowering move, especially for us ladies. Knocking out your first full, unassisted pull up will open up a brand-new world to you, because if you can do that one pull up, that means eventually you can do 2. And then eventually 3. And on and on….
But it doesn’t just stop with the pull ups, because after you start excelling at those, you might start to question all those other limitations you once imposed on yourself–all those things that you thought you could never do because you were too old, didn’t have enough strength, because your gender is supposed to be the weaker….
Those self-imposed limits start to look questionable, because if you can do those pull ups after trying hard, training hard and believing it was possible, then why would you not be able to do those other things, both in the gym and out in real life, IF you tried hard, trained hard, or studied hard and BELIEVED it was possible??? The world becomes your oyster. BAM.
THAT is why I love the pull up so much–not just because of the awesome physical results it produces, but because of the huge boost to the spirit it can give.
The biggest things for me, as I have learned how to do pull ups, and do them better, as well as coaching several other women to do pull ups (and they’re now addicted!) are:
1. Learn to pull from your back. Doing scapular pull-ups can teach you how to initiate the movement from your back/lats. Here’s an example: http://ow.ly/Kykot
2. Think about lifting your collar bones up to the bar rather than sticking your chin over the bar. This keeps your neck long, your spine in better position and spares your shoulder joints future agony (trust me on this one—personal experience).
3. Squeeze your butt tight. Keeping your butt squeezed can help eliminate swinging of the hips which takes away from your power.
4. Do as many bodyweight reps as you can, then switch to using a bodyband when you get tired (demo here: http://ow.ly/KAcpJ) OR practice holding your body in the top position for 5 seconds, then lower slowly for 5 seconds (Mike Boyle shows this in his video https://youtu.be/0U4oHiFXdWo). Hop up to the top position when you need to! *Fair warning: doing any kind of eccentric (slow lowering) work can make you extra sore, so don’t let that startle you in the 24-48 hours afterwards–it can make putting on deodorant or washing your hair an interesting experience ;)*
The bodybands come in all different levels of resistance, and they’ll list approximately how many pounds of resistance each band gives. When you’re starting out, you’ll want a little more assistance and as you progress, a little less They are super easy to find on Amazon, and it might be worth getting a set of them–they are really versatile tools and so easy to use just about anywhere.
5. Put your pull ups at the beginning of your workouts. Give yourself at least 90-120 seconds between sets. It’s a hard exercise and a full-body effort.
6. Deadlift exercises and ‘hard style’ planks can also help get you stronger for your pull ups, so you might want to consider adding them into your strength training.
(Here’s a good tutorial on hard style planks: https://youtu.be/j8P14TJEC)