Pull up (Exercise)

pull up

Alright so this particular workout we will talk about today is the “pull up” and the different combinations of pull ups, and what it takes in order to do a pull up, because it is a bit more than what meets the eye.  In today’s fitness world, being able to do a pull up without assistance is a huge milestone and one that many people want to show off (instagram, facebook, youtube, at the gym, etc). This particular exercise isn’t easy and it takes patience and practice like any other exercise but it also takes building the right muscles in order to lift your body weight. I was one that didn’t know how to do a pull up; about 8 months ago and for me it was my lack of strength and not working on the muscles needed in order to do one. Today I am totally capable of doing a pull-up, but for those of you who do them on a more regular basis, you are capable of doing many more than I and with attached weight plates (advanced).  I highly recommend for beginners that you don’t go adding unnecessary weight to this already difficult exercise and that you focus on the movement at hand.  There are many variations of pull-ups and many ways that you can challenge yourself in order to increase your skill level.  For those of you who may already know how to perform a proper pull up, you may offer more advice to those who want to learn, and feel free to do so in my comment section.  

The traditional pull-up movement steps: 

  1. Grab the pull bar with palms facing forward (wide grip, close grip, medium grip) for this one be in your medium grip (hands spaced out at shoulder width apart)
  2. With both hands extended in front of you at a chosen grip, bring your torso back around 30 degrees, 
  3. Pull your torso up until the bar touches your upper chest while drawing the shoulders and upper arms down and back.  Only the arms should move and the back should stay stationary, you will be exhaling during this movement
  4. after a second of being in the contracted position, start to inhale and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position when arms are full extended and the lats are fully stretched. 
  5. Repeat this movement for the prescribed repetitions. 
Ways to work on doing a proper pull up:
  1. Timed hangs, I would recommend to hang for 10 to 15 seconds with arms and legs straight (off the ground) for a repeated amount of times. 
  2. Dumbbell holds (for beginners),  I would recommend holding dumbbells for 30 seconds at your side, if you come to realize you cannot hold the amount of weight for 30 seconds, then decrease your load and rest for 60 seconds and repeat the hold
  3. Planks (because it is a total body exercise and helps with stabilization) not to mention you are holding your own body weight. 
  4. Push ups-Once again you are working with your own body weight and helps strengthen the chest, shoulders and arms. 
Now there are more exercises than the 4 that I have listed that will help people strengthen their muscles and prepare themselves for a proper pull up, i.e inverted rows, deadlifts, loaded carries, lat pull downs. The main thing to remember is to focus on the movement and stay controlled because you don’t want to strain or pull muscles during the exercise.  I have seen so many people at my gym do pull ups and do them half ass, knowing they cannot get their chin over the bar, but they instead aim for speed and their body movement is hardly ever controlled. Do not be those people. LOL. This is a hard exercise, everyone knows this, if you want to do something like this and be good at it, then you need to use proper form and technique and know your weaknesses so that you can improve them. 
Variations of pull ups: 
  • Weighted pull up
  • Muscle ups
  • Around the world pull ups
  • Clapping pull ups – yes people do these on youtube, and it is very cool, but again.. no one needs to go to these extremes in order to make a point.
  • One arm pull up
  • Parallel pull up
  • Cliffhanger pull ups
  • Towel pull ups
  • Wide grip pull up
  • chin up/ underhand pull up
  • Kipping pull up
  • Close grip pull up
  • pull up with alternating knee twist
  • pull up with leg raise 
Personally I have only done the neutral grip pull up, but have seen many people be able to do different variations of pull ups that show their strength. If you are someone who does more advanced pull ups, share with me which variations you are capable of doing, favorite variations, and if you use weight; how much? Also if you are someone who wants one on on help or advice about being able to do a pull up do not be afraid to contact me. Typically women have less upper body strength compared to men, so for women this exercise will be a bit more difficult but is very possible! 
For those of you who may need assistance in doing a pull up, there is nothing wrong with that until you are strong enough to do them on your own.  Today I did pull ups with assistance because I had done upper body exercise yesterday and my arms were killing me today, if you don’t have a machine that can help assist you in doing a pull up, you may have a partner help you as well. This is one exercise you do not want to miss out on, because of all of the benefits: 
  1. Multi-joint exercise
  2. convenient
  3. different variations
  4. improves grip strength
  5. strengthens the lats, back, biceps, shoulders, and the abdominal area. 
Pull-ups are a great exercise and can be combined with push exercises during a circuit or workout regimen to get the most out of your workout session. I hope that some of this information will give you the needed help necessary in order to accomplish this exercise, feel free to share! 
Thanks for reading! 
Your fitness blogger,
Shay-lon xoxo

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Hello! College graduate in exercise science and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. My blog has all kinds of fun topics, something for everyone who is anyone that involves themselves with fitness. I like to think of fitness as a confidence booster, something to make us feel good and look good & pushes us to do things that make us feel more productive, unstoppable and stronger mentally and physically. My blog focuses on building people, and helping people see their true potential, while also sharing my journey with workouts, competing with powerlifting, and sharing how to's on workouts, so you step inside the gym with more knowledge. I don't know everything but I am on a voyage to build my character, my strength and work on my weaknesses --- with awesome people in my corner who support me and my goals. I plan on being your cheerleader, friend, coach and trainer all-in-one and most of all, I want to be your listener, the person who can listen and gain more knowledge about you and learn what makes fitness important to you; what's your why! (Your why will carry you to the finish line). It's important to have purpose for something, because you will need that purpose when you start to give up on yourself or want to quit. "Don't let the fire that guides you, dim" - Shay-lon Besides the fitness stuff, I reside in Ohio, love dogs and love pizza. Typical 26 year old trying to build an empire that brings out the best in others and makes me the best person I can be in all aspects in my life. Before I die, I want a reason to live, and I was given that reason each day I am able to wake up --- I have learned to not take life for granted and to explore as much as possible because to live with zero regrets would be fantastic! "I've conquered many things, but I still have much to learn about life, because nobody can know everything. & every battle is different" - Shay-lon

13 thoughts on “Pull up (Exercise)”

      1. I thought you might had already posted a video in the past! Didn’t mean for you to share your secret video coming soon to a place near me! LOL. I need to post videos of me working out period, once I get permission from my gym to videotape me doing so.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m not the best at pull-ups but have you seen Marisa Inda do them? It’s pretty insane! They also have competitions and what not for what looks like jungle gym gymnastics. It blows my mind what some people can do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No. I had no idea about the competitions and I have not seen her demonstrate them. I will have a look, I always find it quite entertaining and obviously amazing the different variations people are capable of doing. Definitely something I wish I could do someday 🙂



  2. Great post!! The pull up is one of the greatest muscle building exercises in existence, which is precisely why it’s been labeled the upper body squat. A pullup is what is classified as a closed kinetic chain (CKC) exercise (your effort moves you, rather than an open kinetic chain where your effort moves an object), CKC exercises are able to build functional strength because they train the body to move its own weight, a prerequisite for almost any real world event. This exercise measures your strength to weight ratio better than almost any other exercise known to man. Lat pulldowns wont even come close to comparing. Research has shown that whenever you move your body through space the level of neuromuscular activation is dramatically higher.

    While teaching my clients the pull up I work on the eccentric portion of the lift, (eccentric = lengthening) the lowering phase. You are roughly 40% stronger eccentrically, what this means is you may be able to lower under control for 4 or 5 reps and still not pull up. In my experience, once you can do around 7 eccentric lifts with good technique you would have developed enough strength to perform a full (up and down) pull up.

    My tip for this exercise is to pull your shoulder blades down and lock your shoulders into their sockets prior to lifting. This will ensure that the stress will be placed directly on the muscles and not the tendons and ligaments. Many people start in the dead hang position with their scapula elevated and their shoulders touching their ears. This is risky and incorrect. Go from straight, to chin over the bar, or touch the chest if you can and lower fully down, try it that way, it’s called the right way! and please, NO KIPPING!!

    please follow me https://thinkfitnessjg.wordpress.com for an educated approach to all things fitness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey I appreciate the information you decided to share. I have my degree in exercise science and also intern regularly, so I feel as though my information may not be 100 percent by the bible for every trainer or coach but when I learn from others I implement it in writing, and of course many other fitness professionals may agree to disagree; which is why blogging is fun, because it engages everyone on a particular discussion. I think people would love to hear what you have to say but I do believe my post was fun and educational. I try to not boast about the science of things because the majority of my audience would not understand and it would not be how I would talk with my clients. Everyone has their own way of teaching things, no matter the subject matter. While you may go more in depth about pull ups, I am okay with staying on the surface and allowing people to ask me questions.. because I am more than confident in being able to answer them. I think the problem with the fitness industry, is there is too many people who want to be “right”. I personally find your information right on the spot, but I wouldn’t personally talk about the pull up in the way you do unless I was talking to someone in my field. I do however, appreciate you stopping by my blog page and sharing your information with me and all of my followers! I will have a look at your page 😀


      Liked by 1 person

    2. Also, Always feel welcome to correct my wrongs or agree to disagree with anything I say! I love it and I love networking with other fitness professionals as well! so I am always up for learning from others like yourself. Don’t take offense to my last comment, I was just explaining why my post didn’t go into the same detail as your comment in case you didn’t like the information I supplied.. oops 😛 But I am a very cool person, so you are always welcome to my page! and I will always consider and respect your feedback 😀 Thank you again! have a wonderful weekend.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, I haven’t taken offense in the slightest. I wasn’t disagreeing with what you wrote, I like it. I don’t see it as “boasting” about science, I teach / educate trainers through courses and seminars etc, and adapt my conversation to suit my audience, I feel its important for trainers to talk to each other anatomically or with the ‘scientific’ terms, if you don’t use it you lose it however, like you said, I wouldn’t talk to my clients this way unless they are interested in learning. Having said this, they do know what I mean when I talk about eccentric movements, I guess we all have our ways? keep up the good work and enjoy your weekend also.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alright! no, I wanted to make sure you weren’t getting the wrong idea, no offended by my post. I love what you do in order to help the community, that is awesome that my post attracted another fitness professional! love when it happens. I do appreciate your feedback and the information that you took the time to share with myself and others, I am sure more than enough people will be checking out your page for more information! Also, you are right we all do have our ways in teaching things, your way is more established because you have been in the business longer than us “rookies” starting out, so you have a more elegant way of explaining things that give people more information, where myself I tend to skim the surface because I feel as though I can never explain things where people can understand it takes me too long to reword it! LOL. So with your teachings , you have mastered in communicating things to people and more broad scope of people than I am sure I am able to on wordpress, so much respect 😀


        Liked by 1 person

      3. This is very kind shay-lon. I enjoy interacting with other fitness professionals also! keep doing what you are doing, I think your work is great. To be honest I probably go a little to deep when talking about exercise, I mainly train other fitness professionals and find it easier conveying my message to other trainers, like yourself. You are able to appeal / communicate to a way larger audience, this in itself is very impressive. between the two of us we should have everyone covered! x

        Liked by 1 person

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