One of the most baffling components about the pull-up might be explaining why—why are we caring so much about doing a pull-up in the first place? Why not just concentrate on the lat pull-down? The actual difference between these two exercises isn’t which muscles are worked — as both of these exercises focus on the same muscle groups (mainly the upper back, chest, shoulders as well as biceps) — but rather how, in addition to how well, they are worked.
Simply put, a pull-down trains maximal strength (in other words, how much weight you can pull down) while the pull-up enhances relative strength (the ability to shift one’s bodyweight through a plane of motion).
What’s more, the thought of sitting at the lat pull-down machine isn’t nearly as enthralling as achieving cliff-hanger status. (Master ‘pull-uppers’ will not have anything to fear if they find themselves dangling from a ledge!)
Heroic feats aside, one study found that swimmers were able to complete more reps of the pull-down. Pull-ups as well as lat-pulls are not highly related and should not be substituted for one another in a personal training regimen.
The Challenge Of Learning The Pull-Up
Learning this move is a challenge that is worth undertaking, no matter what your fitness goals are. This is because it’s:
- One of the basic building block exercises that can be found in the gym,
- Beneficial for CrossFitters, bodybuilders as well as general fitness enthusiasts alike.
This is an exercise which you can do anywhere, from your gym’s pull-up bar to city construction scaffolding, to the solid tree branch in your backyard. It’s also a move which focuses in on a part of your body which you want to train aggressively: Your back. This is because strong back muscles assist with protecting your shoulders from injury. In addition, they help position your body in order to get more out of other exercises (everything from bench presses to biceps curls).
Thing is that pull-ups aren’t easy to learn, for a number of reasons:
- First, there’s shoulder mobility, which is an area that’s a struggle for many individuals.
- Second? You’re lifting a significant percentage of your bodyweight, and that’s just not easy.
The move also has a number of schools of thought these days, which makes it that much more puzzling to understand from the ground up.
Establish Your Grip
Stand under the bar and then grab it with both of your hands. Your palms need to be facing away from you with your hands shoulder-width apart. If you aren’t able to reach the bar, find a boost from a bench, stool or box. Make use of a standard overhand grip. Wrap your thumbs around the bar so that they nearly meet the tips of your fingers.
A True Pull-Up Starts In A Dead Hang
At the time you are hanging from the bar, your arms need to be completely extended with your core engaged as well as shoulders back. Build your strength by keeping form in mind as you pull. This will help you to avoid swinging, kicking, and jumping. As a result, you’ll be using your muscles, not momentum, in order to master the move.
Start the actual pull by grasping the bar with your hands while at the same time engaging the muscles of your upper body as well as core. Imagine that you’re pulling your elbows down to your sides as your whole body goes toward the bar. Resist the temptation to strain your neck in an attempt to break the plane of the bar using your chin. Proceed to pull until your chin clears the bar easily. At this point, the upward stage of the pull-up is complete.
The technique is to return to the dead-hang gradually. Keep a firm grip on the bar while at the same time letting your arms to straighten as you lower. When you return to the dead-hang, you are able to count your first rep.
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