The pull up is a trophy movement for many gym goers, and its exclusivity has meant it has also become a long term target for lots more people!
Whilst some gyms have assisted pull up machines, mastering the lat pull down technique, and then using the exercise to build your strength, is a key progression for everyone wishing to do a proper pull up.
How to Pull Up:
- Grip the bar overhand, just outside shoulder width (or at shoulder width for a neutral or hammer grip)
- Hang from the bar, and bend the knees so the heels move towards the glutes
- Look up at the bar, and pull your collar bone toward it
- Keep your chest proud and shoulders back throughout the pull, aiming to graze the elbows past the sides
- Squeeze the shoulder blades back and down at the peak, before slowly lowering to the start position
- Ensure the arms are extended and back muscle on stretch, before repeating for the suggested amount of reps
- Do not grip super wide, as this will not isolate the lats more. This will just make the pull up more uncomfortable and reduce the range of motion.
- Underhand pull ups will use the biceps more than overhand or neutral pull ups. We would suggest aiming for overhand or neutral grip pull ups as a priority when training back.
- Aim to keep your collar bone beneath the bar at all times. If it moves backward too much you’ll load the biceps and rear delts, whilst reducing the contraction quality and muscle activation through the major back muscle groups.
- The same rules apply for assisted pull up machines; ensuring you grip overhand and just outside shoulder width, and position the feet so the collar bone stays beneath the bar throughout the exercise
More good exercises to master for the back are the deadlift, bent over row and lat pull down. With these four exercises you can build an impressive back, so perfecting them is far more beneficial than wasting your time with learning another 10-20 fiddly variations.
Each and every exercise in our guides and muscle group packs has two photos, text instructions, sets, reps, rest and any lifting protocols attributed to it. All our Flagship Transformation Guides have detailed Exercise Substitution Sections too, so if you have a problem exercise we have a safe and effective alternative!