Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Pull Ups
- Don’t go to Failure
When you do this you get no stronger. And most of the time you get weaker. The negative effect of training to failure is seen more on chin ups than any other exercise. No one knows why this is, but trust me, that’s how it is.
- Lose Excess Body Fat
If you are carrying excess body fat your ability to do pull ups will be greatly reduced. Extra body fat is good for lifting more weight in certain exercises that require greater leverage like the squat and deadlift. But that’s all it’s good for. Other than that it’s unhealthy and unsightly.
- Start in the Proper Position
When you get on the bar you want to pull your shoulder blades down and lock your shoulders into their sockets. This is a far safer position and ensures that the stress will be placed directly on the muscles and not the tendons and ligaments.
- Maintain a VERY Slight Elbow Bend Throughout the Set
Do not start with your elbows completely locked. This, again, places all of the stress on the tendons and ligaments instead of on the muscles. On each successive rep you should lower yourself until your arms are nearly straight, stopping just shy of lockout.
- Initiate With the Lats
When you start to pull, be sure that you fire your lats first; not your biceps. If you have trouble feeling your lats, as many newbies do, have someone poke or slap your lats a few times before you start pulling. Even having a partner keep his hands in contact with your lats throughout the set may help. It may also look a little strange to other members of your gym.
- Drive Your Elbows Down
To get the most out of your lats when you chin you should think about driving your elbows down and back. Don’t simply pull with your biceps.
- Pull Your Chin Over the Bar
The pull up should be used to target the lats, first and foremost. Don’t waste energy struggling with that last few inches at the top. Get your chin over while keeping your back arched and then lower yourself.
- Use a Variety of Grips
You can also do chin-ups with your palms facing each other, or pull ups with your palms facing away at multiple grip widths. You can pull up on bars, rings, grips, ropes, towels, suspension straps, beams, Eagle Loops, and even baseballs or softballs hanging from a chain.
- Use a Variety of Rep Ranges
To do a lot of pull ups you need strength and you need endurance. Some days you train in the range of 3-6 reps for maximal strength. Some day you train in the range of 7-12, and others you train in the range of 15-30, with a band, to improve your endurance.
- Strengthen Your Grip
The stronger your grip is the easier pull ups will feel. I suggest getting grips and using it a few times per week. You can also add in some more specific grip work at the gym like fat bar holds, hexagon dumbbell holds, as well as various pinching and crushing exercises. I highly recommend investing in a pair of grips and using them for a large majority of your exercises.