So can I just get real with you guys? I planned to write this several months ago because I thought “who doesn’t want to know how to do pull ups or learn how to do more of them?” It’s one of those defining exercises that tells you where your fitness level is, according to Jake (RDV Sportsplex Athletic Club Training Team Leader & Fitness Trainer). According to him, pull ups are “one of the best exercises to show off your relative body strength”.
Jake and I got together to work on pull ups and guess what? I could barely do one. ONE! I was kind of embarrassed because I was wanting to write about doing more than that but I realized, there are probably a lot of people that could be in my shoes. So with Jake’s help we put together some great exercises to improve pull ups. Whether you can do zero or 10, you are going to get stronger.
All exercises below should be focused on improving strength so your rep range should be on the lower end of the spectrum, like 4-8 reps. Make sure you are going to failure on every set if you want to see real strength gains.
Lat Activation Drill
While holding the hollow hang, connect and disconnect your shoulder into the socket. This drill with strengthen infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major and latissimus dorsi while also teaching you to stay tight at the start of your pull up. In normal people terms, it will help you get stronger.
Negative Eccentric Pull Ups
Jake says this is one of his favorite for learning to control the motion and keep from swinging. Five seconds negative, 4-8 reps. It’s REALLY hard to not swing!
Band Assisted Pull Ups
Start with a band thickness that helps you get about 6 reps (to failure). Once you can get 8-10 reps, go down in band thickness to decrease the assistance. Then keep progressing until you can finally do one on your own! (insert pics with purple band)
Lat Pull Down
For this picture Jake is showing that same connect and disconnect of the socket in the Lat Activation Drill. You want to make sure that you are staying connected in the socket while pulling down.