So if there is one exercise I don’t see people doing enough of, it is the pull-up. There is a lot of bench pressing, bicep curling and lat pull-downs but not enough pull-ups being done. I am a firm believer in pull-ups being a staple in anyone’s training regime, no matter what your fitness goals are. In fact, the only equipment you need is a pull-up bar and some motivation. For those looking to make gains and build an aesthetic physique, look no further: Pull-ups are the bread and butter of your routine. Here are some reasons you should be doing them.
1. They are a good benchmark of ones strength and athletic prowess. One way to assess how strong someone is would be to see the quality and quantity of their pull-up reps. Its no surprise that many militaries across the world implement them as part of their physical fitness tests. (I would like to believe that the essential movement came from our ancestors when they climbed trees to escape from wild animals, but thats just my guess)
2. It is a compound movement. Like I mentioned in this article, a compound movement is any movement that involves more than one joint and multiple muscle groups. The pull-up is one of the best compound movements for the upper body, recruiting your lats, biceps, forearms, rear deltoids and also your core. That means you do more work with one movement.
3. It builds the muscles that help you get “aesthetic”. Yes, everyone likes the coveted v-taper which comes from broad shoulders and a wide back. By doing more pull-ups and gradually getting better at them, you develop the width of your back and add inches to your biceps, allowing you to achieve the V look you want.
4. The variety is inexhaustible. There are so many ways of doing a pull-up that the routine never gets boring. The width of the grips, changing from protonated to supinated grips, doing them with added resistance such as with dumbbells, weighted vests, weight belts with plates and even muscle-ups…it always stays interesting.
5. Batman does them. ‘Nuff said.
So, if you can do pull-ups, I recommend doing pyramid sets and doing them more frequently to be able to do more reps. Pyramid sets are, like the name suggests, such that the reps start low and increase before going down again. For example, if you can do 8 reps max at one go, pick a rep range slightly lower than your max. So the workout should look something like this.
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 reps
There are also some online programs you can follow that help you increase your pull-ups. The link is here if you’re a beginner. If your pull-ups have hit a decent number and you have plateaued, click here.
Now for those who can’t do pull-ups, fret not. I would recommend first increasing grip strength by doing dead-hangs (basically just hanging on to the bar) for fixed intervals, followed by strengthening the back and biceps by doing Australian Pull-ups (which are the incline pull-ups you did in Secondary School). Doing some lat-pull downs would help too, but only if you know if you are engaging the right muscles. Doing assisted pull-ups are fine too, just get a friend to hold you by the waist and give minimal assistance on the way up, but you should make it a point to lower yourself down slowly at the end of the movement. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help you out, but so far this one is my favorite. Most important would be to consistently try to do pull-ups.
Thats all for this article and I’ll see you guys next week.