A few days ago I mentioned my goal of completing a full pull-up as part of the What’s Beautiful Challenge , presented by Under Armour. Other than actually doing pull-ups (which I obviously can not do right now), which exercises should you do to help build those muscles? Here are the different exercises that I am doing to get my upper body in tip-top pull-up shape!
Over any other muscle, the latissimus dorsi (your lats) are the biggest muscles worked by a pull-up. This is one of the reasons that women tend to have a more difficult time with them – women’s backs are not usually as strong as men’s. As women, we carry more of our strength in our legs – it’s just the way it goes. When performing a lat-pulldown, be sure to keep your shoulders away from your ears. Give yourself a slight lean, while still keeping your back straight (not curved), as to engage your core to protect that lower back. Pull down the bar, and repeat. If you are working toward a wider grip pull-up, now is the chance to use some of those same muscles. If the wide grip isn’t your goal, then feel free to move your hands a bit closer together (but still a bit wider than your shoulders).
Whether you are on a bench, a chair, or an actual tricep dip machine, this exercise can be done nearly anywhere. Work on keep your elbows in as much as possible, instead of bowing them out. You can also to tricep push-ups to work the same muscle. Come to plank pose, and then lower down slowly, keeping your elbows in tight against your side. Once you get to the point where you are just hovering over the floor, push yourself back up, but don’t let those elbows bow out!
Seems simple enough, but push ups are great to get your chest ready for pull-ups. The chest isn’t a major muscle for the pull-up, but it definitely aids in getting you up to that bar. Start on your knees if you need to, and work up to a full push-up. They can be done absolutely anywhere, so there is really no excuse!
Many gyms have machines where you can add weight while you are doing pull-ups. You put either your knees or your feet on a type of lever, and each time you pull yourself up, the machine absorbs the weight, rather than you having to actually pull all of your weight up. If you don’t have access to a gym, order a band so you can lift yourself that way, with some of the tension relieved. You can put these bands around any type of bar, even if it is the one at a nearby playground.
Yep, as if you didn’t have enough with my favorite abs post , they are back! This is just another great example as to why it is so important to have a strong core. By tightening your core while doing a pull-up, your body is stabilized, and the exercise becomes easier. They help to keep your body straight, and your form pristine.
What other exercises do you do regularly to get your muscles stronger for a pull-up? I would love to see your additions!