This is how to do pull-ups

02 December 2020
The pull-up is one of the most famous exercises to work the upper body. It consists of hanging from a bar to lift the weight of the body with a vertical movement. By doing pull-ups you exercise multiple muscle groups and what’s more, the only necessary equipment is the bar on which to hang. Therefore, it’s a very popular exercise in strength training programs.
This is how to do pull-ups - photo 1.1

I’ve been asked many times about the difference between the types of pull-ups. The two most popular ones are those that are performed holding the bar with the palms of the hands facing you and the arms separated at shoulder height (chin up) and those that are performed with the palms of the hands facing outwards and arms further apart (pull up). The main difference between the two is that with the pull up the latissimus dorsi is worked more and the chin up requires more strength in the arms so it’s generally a bit more difficult to perform.

Regardless of the type of pull-up you are going to perform, you must make sure you keep your back straight and your shoulders back, expanding your chest and bringing your shoulder blades together. It’s also important to activate your glutes and abdomen to maintain proper posture throughout the exercise.

If this is the first time that you are going to do pull-ups, be patient! Typically, it takes a few weeks before you can lift your own weight. Here are some tips to prepare yourself. Don’t give up before achieving it.

Practice first on a gym equipment
Before starting to do pull-ups, I recommend that you practice the pull down exercise on the equipment to gain muscle strength and good posture habits. On the equipment you can regulate the weight, which will allow you to prepare the muscles and avoid injuries.

Grip to exercise the upper body
If, when trying to do your first pull-up, you realize that you cannot lift your weight and you don’t have a gym at hand to practice on the equipment, don’t get discouraged. In this case, I recommend training grip strength by hanging from the bar and trying to stay suspended as long as possible. Try to hold onto the bar with your arms shoulder-width apart. Too wide a grip can cause discomfort or even injury to the shoulders.

Eccentric exercises
The next step in training for pull-ups is to get on a chair, or similar, to start from the highest point of the exercise and descend in a controlled way. Try to lower yourself as slowly as possible, paying close attention to your posture, to gain strength in your muscles while controlling your posture.

Your first pull-up
You finally manage to lift your own weight and achieve your first pull-up! Make sure you keep your back straight and finish the exercise by bringing your chest to the bar to prevent your shoulders from going forward.

Twice a week
Try to practice your pull-ups twice a week. Don't obsess over the number of reps, instead, focus on doing the exercise correctly. This will allow you to control your technique and avoid injury.

One more every week
Do you already have it under control? Then try to do one more rep each week and keep concentrating on your technique. If you have any questions about your posture, ask your personal trainer at the gym for help.

This blog is written by our personal trainers Charmain and Dimitri Sittrop.