Pull ups are one of those exercises many people just dread doing and many of which end up avoiding altogether. It is one of the few exercises in our arsenal that we have grown up with, and many of us have gotten worse at over time.
How demoralizing is it to remember doing an exercise where you can bang out 20+ reps in a clip, to where you can barely do a few, if any at all?
This is a major reason why people stop doing pull ups as they get older, but you should remember that there is a reason why your elementary school gym teacher introduced them to you. They are one of the best compound exercises out there, and if you are neglecting them you are doing your back a disservice.
With that being said, no one who works out at the gym wants to start working on their reps from the bottom, as barely being able to do one pullup can be pretty embarrassing. There are a few things that you can do to help yourself get more reps out of your pullup routine, and here’s how to go about it:
Use whatever tools you have at your disposal to give yourself an advantage, and to give yourself a better jumping off point when you are first getting back in to doing pullups. Use gloves, wrist wraps, or whatever grip strengthening tools you have to assist your lifts.
If you are still struggling, you can use a chair to lift you up a bit for extra support. Do the pullups off your knees until you are strong enough to graduate to doing them without needing the chair. Another tool you can use are resistance bands, which you can wrap around the pullup bar, and place around the bottom of your feet, which will assist your pullups.
Some gyms have pullup machines that have counterweights to them, which can be performed on your knees. These machines are also great tools for beginners as well, as the counter weight helps to enable people to do more pullups.
As mentioned prior, pullups are the one of the most difficult exercises to do, that many people struggle with. Many people can do very few reps when trying this exercise, making progression both very slow and difficult.
One way to get around this is with forced repetitions, or repetitions with the assistance of a friend or trainer. Next time you are doing pullups and think you have gone till exhaustion, ask for someone to assist you in doing a couple or a few more reps. This will help to breakdown more of those muscle fibers which are going to be able to lift more weight, and do more repetitions after your body has had adequate time to repair and recover.
Doing heavy weighted lat pulldowns are another great way to help increase your pullup ability. Both exercises use virtually the same exact muscles to get the job done, so naturally increasing their strength through weight training should enable us to do more pullups in theory.
Heavy pulldowns are really going to help develop your forearms, lats, and biceps which are all essential in performing the pullup.
The strength of the bicep is extremely important in your ability to do pullups as well, and is where many people fall short. If you are one of the many people that fail doing as many pushups as you’d like due to limited grip and ability to pull yourself up, your biceps need to be stronger.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through bicep curls and similar variations to make sure you are hitting both heads of the bicep equally. Doing weighted traditional dumbbell curls and dumbbell hammer curls are two examples of excellent variations for bicep development.
Another way in which you can essentially cheat on your pullups if you are struggling, is to do them in a modified squatting position. This is so that when your back tires, your body can resort to your legs for a little extra power to finish the lift.
To do this, grab your traditional olympic straight bar and head over to the smith machine. Adjust the bar to where your legs are slightly bent in a squatting position, and your arms fully extended to the bar. This should give you the extra help you need to finish your routine.