Pull Up Basics for the New Year

Getting Back to the Basics

We are all reminded constantly at home, work, the gym and everywhere, that regular coaching and a good refresher is often the perfect prescription needed to jump start the mind and body. Getting back to the basics by reviewing the fundamentals and practicing can apply in just about all that we do in life. I can’t think of a better way to start 2014.

Practicing the Perfect Pull Up on a Steelfit bar

Getting Back to the “Pull Up” Basics

As a life long sales professional by day, I never fail to gain “something” from attending a sales training course or going back through the sales process and reviewing the basic steps. Never mind the fact that I have been selling to earn a paycheck for almost three decades. There is always something we can pick up by going back through the basics.

You might be asking what this has to do with our gym time and with the pull up exercise specifically; everything! In our workouts, we always want to add variety, try new things and keep the body guessing through randomized programming. We know this is necessary for continual gains. However, without the basics as a foundation, advanced work can often be counter productive. For STEELFIT, body weight exercises and the king of the all, the pull up, is as basic as it gets. If you are not currently dedicating some training time each week to develop the basics, we would encourage you to re-think the plan as you enter the new year.

A Pull Up Review: Often overlooked for its awesome ability to build back, upper body and core strength, the pull up is really key for anyone serious about building strength. It’s as pure as you can get and all you need is a bar, your body and the will.

As simple as they may seem, pull ups can be very intimidating for someone who doesn’t have one yet though; I recall the day that I was right there struggling to get 1 strict dead hang pull up and could only imagine the day when I could blast out 10 or more. What I learned quickly however, was the absolute best way to do more pull ups was to do more pull ups. Like anything you want bad enough (and particularly for me), practice, practice, practice and eventually it clicks.

To learn and improve, I personally included pull up attempts into my workouts regularly with the aim at building strength and improving performance. There is a ton of material out there about how to train for pull up performance and in addition to just doing more pull ups, there were several other things I practiced to eventually get better:

Developing the Pull Up: 1) Do more pull ups – repetitions improve performance 2) Doing negatives – starting at the “up” position, slowly lower yourself down 3) Assisted pull ups with bands – attach resistance bands to a bar and place feet or knees in bands and pull 4) Jumping pull ups 5) Lat pull downs – Machine exercise that closely resembles the pull up motion but nothing beats the real deal

Advanced Pull up Performance: 1) Do more pull ups – practice, practice and practice some more 2) Add weight; use a weighted vest or hang plates from a weight belt with a chain or hold dumbells between your feet or thighs 3) Rope Climbs – a variety of rope climb variations all support upper body and back strength 4) Thick Bar Pull Ups – incredible for forearm and grip strength 5) Kipping – allows for increased “work” and achieving high repetitions 6) Vary hand grips for additional challenge…commando grips, towel pulls, close grip, wide grip, etc.

The case has been made firmly that the pull up is an awesome exercise with a multitude of benefits. Clearly, there are things you can do when you are building the skill initially and even more you can practice to improve advanced performance. However, don’t get complacent and fail to regularly review and practice. If we want to take those next steps and see continual growth and development……Getting back to basics is often just what we need.

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