Mastering The Pull-Up


 | 1 minute to read
Exercise Science
Coach Nachiketh Shetty

There’s one exercise which can improve your lattisimus dorsi (aka lats), rhomboids, biceps, triceps, forearms, shoulders, and even your grip strength and here’s the best part: You don’t even need sophisticated equipments to do this exercise. I’m talking about the PULL-UPS! The terms ‘pull-ups’ and ‘chin-ups’ are used interchangeably in the bro community. However, they are two different exercises. Put simply, when you hold the bar, if the palms are facing your face, then it’s a ‘chin-up’ and if they are facing away then it is a ‘pull-up’ you’re doing. Chin-ups are fairly simpler to explain among the two. Conventionally, the grip-width should be slightly more than shoulder width. As you get better at doing this, you can experiment with closer grips where the biceps and forearms take over the movement more than the lats. Pull-ups are a bit tougher to learn compared to the chin-ups. Here, the engagement of the lats and shoulders will be more than the chin-ups. No matter which one you choose to do on any given day, there are a few things you SHOULDN’T do during these movements. First and foremost, DO NOT pull-up behind the neck. This can cause serious shoulder issues in the future. Also, if you’re going to experiment with the grip widths, then keep the following two points in mind: a. If it’s a chin-up, then slightly outside shoulder-width should be the widest grip you use. b. If it’s a pull-up, then shoulder-width should be the closest grip you use. How to start: Before you even think about any progression technique, assess your current state. Start with a full-fledged pull-up and check the form. If you can’t even do one pull-up, then move on to chin-up. Chin-ups are a bit easier to execute due to added biceps engagement. If you fail at this too, then you can use the assisted pull-up machine. Start with the lightest support you can use from the machine. At the end of every session, attempt a “PR”. This will give you a rough idea about how well you have been progressing in this particular movement. Points to keep in mind: • Maintain a retracted scapula throughout the movement. • Do not swing back and forth. • Start a new rep from a neutral position, just like the first rep of the set. • For a pull-up, don’t go for a very wide or a narrow grip. That will restrict the range of motion and also make the entire movement extremely uncomfortable. • For a chin-up, the widest grip you should hold is slightly more than shoulder width. Movements like pull-ups or chin-ups are more about the skill than brute strength, and learning a new skill always takes time and patience. There’s no shame in progressing slowly as long as there is progress. So make a one-time investment in mastering this one compound exercise which will eventually pay off in huge dividends.
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