Remember back in middle school, Physical Education, or as we typically called P.E., and the pull up bar? Yes, the pull up bars and two of them side by side and you had to complete a certain amount based on your age and weight. I do and it was dreadful. I’ll be honest with you I could barely do one before dropping face down to the hardwood floor. Even worse while you are struggling the schools best athlete is next to you going for the gold. Fitness trainers would say it is okay because we were young and still growing, but now that I’m in my twenties, there’s no excuse to do as much pull-ups as my age in minutes.
If you don’t practice the pull-up, you won’t improve at it because of something call the specificity principle. Fancy, I know. Specificity simply means training in a manner to produce a specific outcome. Respectively, if your short-term goal is to increase one-rep max strength in a particular lift, then training that left is necessary. In essence, you work for what you want to achieve. You work to increase the number of pull-ups and not to improve chest or leg press reps.
Start by setting up a weekly routine schedule. While you work out your back, perform a complete pull-up. If you are just starting off, work with the assisted pull-up station, which allows you to increase the help you get throughout the move. The pull-up station helps with progress and you will decrease the amount of assistance, by putting more effort on your arms and back.
Have a good grip and strength on the bar. There is no need to strengthen the hands and forearms. However, perform various forearm exercises to enhance muscles responsible for supporting your body during the pull-up, but it’s when your hands are attached to the bar and holding your entire bodyweight is important.
The hands are responsible for holding your bodyweight; the simple timed hang is the best for improving the grip on the bar. At the end of the back workout, grasp the overhead bar, the your normal-pull up grip and hang as how as you can. Time yourself on each set, from workout to workout and see if you can set a personal record (PR).
Finally and most importantly, always take your pull-up sets to failure. Yes, you have a goal number, but if you continue to complete reps with just your bodyweight, don’t stop. It doesn’t make sense to stop a set of bodyweight moves short of failure. It would be constant weekly and there would be no chance of beating your previous rep performance and improving your form.
Jason Yu is Partner and Director of Marketing for The Hardwicke Group in Richmond, VA. His company specializes in new media, PR and influence with an emphasis on digital marketing strategy and reputation management. Jason enjoys keeping active by biking, running and working out on a daily basis. Jason has ran in over twenty running races including the Marine Corps Marathon, Tough Mudder, Richmond Marathon, and Xterra races. Interesting facts about Jason is that he is a music fanatic, in search fro the best macaroni and cheese, and aspiring “mixologist.”