The versatile pull-up. There are so many variations and so many theories on how good or bad they are for you. Today I am going to teach you the facts. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll never need to read about pull-ups again.
The Basics Of Pull-ups
Let’s start off with the first step. In order to work out the back muscles and biceps properly with pull-ups, we have to understand what muscles we are working. The back is comprised of a variety of muscles, including the lats, the traps, and the rhomboids.
There are a lot of other muscles, but let’s just focus on the big muscles; after all, those are the muscles that will make you get that thick and wide back you crave. Doing pull-ups work out all of these muscles, and the lat and rhomboids get hit pretty hard. You can build a very solid back doing nothing but a variety of pull-ups.
Different Pullup variations
There are so many pull-up variations that it’s hard to talk about all of them. But this is the guide to pullups so here it goes.
The basics: The most basic is the chin up and the pull-up. One of them incorporates the lats a bit more, and the other incorporated biceps and traps. There is also the neutral grip if you go to a gym that has parallel bars for you to hold on to. A chin up is when your palms are facing away from you, and a pull up is when your palms are facing towards you. Just these slight differences can give you a large difference muscles groups worked out.
Now let’s dive into the deep end. So you have these basic forms, but the reason pullups can build a strong back on their own is because of the variability. The first one is adjusting the width of your grip. Every article I read about grip width and muscles use almost always contradict themselves.
So here it is: The wider the grip, the more muscles you work toward the center of your back, and the narrower the grip the more it focuses on your lats.
If you want to work on lower or upper back, the width of your grip doesn’t matter as much as where you pull-up too. To work out the lower back, do pull-ups as if you are trying to reach your abs. For upper back, do pull-ups towards the chest. Mike Chang of Six Pack Shortcuts has a great video on this concept.
On top of different width grips and aiming for different part of your body during the pull-up, there is a ton more to it.
Once you get the hang of doing around 15 pull-ups, make it harder for yourself with weight. Anything from a backpack to a belt with weight will work here. Make the weight heavy enough that doing 8 reps takes you to failure. If you are looking to build muscle, 8-10 reps is a great range to stay in. Increase the weight until you are there.
That simple bar on the wall or pole can have many different exercises other than just back exercises. You can incorporate a ton of abs, and biceps as well.
So consider doing tough exercises like floating planks, and explosive pull-ups on the bar. Once you get up to the bar, go side by side, to work out each side strongly, and then do muscle-ups.
After you get the hang of this, you are essentially on your way to learning calisthenics. This is a great form of exercise that doesn’t require expensive equipment or a gym. To learn all the best calisthenics exercises, check out Brendan Meyers on youtube!