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How to Master the Pull Up
The pull up is probably the best exercise you can do for your back, biceps, and shoulders! Not only is it brilliant for building muscle, but it will increase your functional strength. After all, you're working with only your bodyweight, so being able to do more pull-ups means that you'll have enough strength to handle your own weight. Here are some tips to help you master the pull up the right way:
Shred Your Abs
A lot of the strength needed to do pull ups comes from your abs and core. You have to brace your abs in order to keep your legs from swinging, and you need to keep your core tight all the way through the pull-up. In order to master the pull up right, you need to work on your core. Stronger abs and back muscles are the key to better, easier pull ups. The best exercise to target your abs is the Ab Rollout wheel. The tension in your core mimics the tension you experience during pull ups, so doing more rollouts with the Ab Rollout wheel is going to give you serious core strength!
Strengthen Your Forearms
Did you know that a lot of your pull up power comes from your forearms? While your back, shoulders, and biceps do a good deal of the work, your forearms have to keep you hanging from the pull up bar. In order to do more pull ups, you need to develop strength in your forearms. Sadly, this is easier said than done. Your forearms are actually a fairly small set of muscles, and it will take a lot of work to develop enough strength to do a lot of pull ups without feeling extra tension in your forearms. To develop the necessary strength, spend more time just hanging from the pull up bar. The Pull Up Bar Hang is an isometric exercise that involves prolonged contraction of your forearm muscles. Spend no less than 30 seconds hanging from the bar, and do at least two or three sets of the exercise throughout your workout. The results will be AMAZING!
Work on the Top
The hardest part of the pull up isn't at the bottom, but it's at the top! When at the bottom of the exercise, you've got your biceps, shoulders, forearms, and back all firing to pull you upward. But once you reach the top of the pull up, fewer muscles are engaged to help you get it right. In order to master the pull up, you need to strengthen the top of the movement. To do so, grip the pull up bar (either in the pull up or chin up grip) and jump so that your chin is at the bar. Now hold that position for as long as you can. When you get tired, drop down, rest, and repeat. Your goal is to strengthen your muscles until you are able to hold the position for 60 seconds.
You can work on all the other muscles, but the truth is that you're never going to master the pull up until you start doing pull ups! No other exercise will work the muscle quite right, so it's time to get pulling. Aim for just a few reps--even if it's 1 or 2! Do pull ups every day, and force yourself to do them right. You can use a bench or chair to assist you in the pull up, or just do as many unaided reps as possible. This will develop the necessary body strength, and you'll have a much easier time doing pull-ups!