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Doing Pull Ups Exercise - Benefit of Pull Ups
By Jean Lam

Did you know with only a simple solid bar fixed on each side of a wall in your home, you can do an exercise which will work several muscles of your body? I think you might know what I am talking about. It's pull ups. Pull ups is the king of back exercises and the benefit of pull ups is that it's a powerful compound exercise as it works more than 1 muscle group. The different muscle groups that pull ups work are the lats which is the primary muscle group and for the secondary muscle groups, you have the biceps, the forearms, the middle back also known as the rhomboids and the rear deltoids or shoulders. Doing wide grip pull ups will target more the upper lats while doing close grip pull ups will lay more emphasis on the lower lats.

Doing pull ups is extremely difficult for a beginner and when first starting out, performing a single repetition can be a daunting task. You might need a chair to stand on to assist you initially or a person holding you and helping you with your pull ups. Pull ups is an exercise which requires regular training before you are able to perform a decent number of repetitions to consider your workout a successful one. I started doing pull ups a few years ago and I was only able to do 1-2 repeats at that time and with practice, I am able to do 5-10 repetitions now for a single set and for 3-4 sets. When you reach that level, you will feel your back muscles and other muscle parts really working. I mean you will feel the burn. A good way of doing pull ups is to reduce the number of repeats per set gradually as you go because as you do more and more pull ups, your strength diminishes so does your repeats. For example:

1st set: 8-10 repeats
2nd set: 6-8 repeats
3rd set: 4-6 repeats
4th set: 2-4 repeats

Tip For Beginners

But if you are just starting out, it is advised that you follow the negative pull up training method as explained below. You won't be able to perform 8-10 repeats on your first set, this is why you need to do this. After you build more strength with this method, you can start doing some repeats per set. Initially it's a good idea to try to do as many sets of as many low repeats as possible even if you have to do 10 sets of 1 repeat. It's still a good practise and training. Then gradually you can increase your repeats ie like 10 sets of 2 repeats, 10 sets of 3 repeats and so on. When you are able to perform 5 repeats per set and capable of performing 10 sets of 5 repeats, your pull ups have definitely improved and you are no longer a novice. Now when you reach that level, you can get the same great workout even if you reduce the number of sets but provided you increase the number of repeats ie like 8 sets of 6 repeats, 7 sets of 7 repeats, 6 sets of 8 repeats etc...

If you want to get that wide V-Shape back, then start doing pull ups. Correct posture is important when doing this exercise. Maintain your back straight when hanging up from the bar and raising your body up and do the repetitions slowly to feel the muscles really working. Raise your body up until your chin reaches the bar and lower your body slowly(this is called the negative part of this exercise) and feel the lats really stretched out. Negatives will also assist pull up newbies to gain more strength so that they are more strong in doing the pull up part of this exercise and can perform more repeats. For newbies to practise negative pull ups, they will need assistance so that they can pull themselves up with their chins up to the bar. Assistance can be for example a person helping you pull up or you can use a chair so that you don't have to do the pull up part by yourself. You are only training on the negative and lowering your body down slowly. This is a very effective way in getting you started to perform pull ups much more effectively in the future. For pull up pros, they perform the negative slowly to make the exercise more difficult and usually they don't need any assistance to pull themselves up after a negative. Note that wide grip pull ups and close grip pull ups are done with palms facing away as compared to chin ups with palms facing you. Usually pull ups are tougher to do than chin ups notably the wide grip pull ups.

When you are doing pull ups and you want to squeeze a few extra repeats, you can jump up on the bar. This is like a forced repeat. It's like you are raising your body up by utilizing the entire force of your body not just your arms. By doing forced repeats, it's like training your muscles to failure and usually coupled with a solid body building diet, you can achieve more muscle growth and mass. The key to develop more lean muscle mass is to deplete your muscle tissues more and with a high protein diet, your muscles tissues will be rebuilt resulting in bigger muscles. This is why sometimes you see bodybuilders work one muscle group only once per week. What they do is train a specific muscle group to failure and the next day, this muscle group will be sore. Then they allow it one week to recover. During that time, they follow a high protein diet with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, give this muscle group adequate time for rest and recovery and their muscles grow bigger.

To make pull ups even more difficult, try attaching a weight to your waist with a weight strap belt. With time when you are accustomed to doing pull ups, your arm and back strength will increase and if you eat 4-6 quality meals per day spaced out every 2-3 hours, you can get a more developed back and bigger arms.

To learn much more about building muscle without weights, I recommend you check out Workout Without Weights.

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About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.


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