The pull up exercise is one of the most effective exercises to strengthen the latissimus dorsi, deltoids, biceps as well as the core. However, it is a very challenging exercise as it requires a significant level of muscular strength to pull the body weight up from a vertical position.
Consequently, this week the pull up progression will be highlighted which may enable you to perform pull ups and reap all of the benefits this exercise provides. Even if you are unable to physically manage the demands that a full pull up requires, you will benefit from the progressive exercises leading to a pull up. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions on two-three non-consecutive days/ week.
Inverted Rows – Smith Machine
• Attempt an inverted row from the fixed bar on a Smith Machine first. You may lie on the floor underneath the bar or supine on a bench under the bar.
• You will want to place your body so that the chest is directly under the bar and should begin with the arms completely extended, legs flexed at the knee joints and the feet flat on the floor.
• Head/neck in neutral, shoulders rotated back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine and the pelvic floor pull upward.
• Engaging the lats (i.e. wide part of the back), pull your body weight up toward the bar until the arms are flexed approximately 90 degrees and the knees to the top of the head are one long table top. Feet remain on the floor, but the remainder of your body will be lifted.
• Then, lower the body back to the beginning position with the arms fully extended again.
Inverted Rows – TRX Suspension System
• Once you have mastered the inverted rows from the Smith Machine bar, then attempt to progress to the TRX Suspension System. This equipment is considered body leverage training and will require more stabilization to control the row.
• Begin placing the body so that the chest is directly under the anchor point for the TRX, arms fully extended with the hands holding the handles and the legs flexed at the knee joints, feet flat on the floor.
• Engaging the lats, pull your body weight up toward the handles, with the palms facing one another, then lower the body back down until the arms are extended.
Assisted Pull Ups – BOSU Balance Trainer, Plyo Box or Bench
• Once you have mastered the TRX inverted rows, place a BOSU/Plyo Box/Bench underneath a fixed high bar such as that on a Hoist Multi-Gym.
• Place one foot on the base of support with the other suspended off the support while holding onto the bar with both hands, overhand grip, arms fully extended.
• Engaging the lats, pull the body weight up toward the bar without pushing with the foot on the base. Just allow approximately 25 percent of your body weight to remain on the support assisting you in pulling up.
• Then, lower the body back down toward the floor fully extending the arms.
• Eventually, while you have the support underneath the bar, attempt to perform a full pull up without assistance. You may only be able to perform one, but that is a start!
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at www.mtnlifefitness.com, her email at firstname.lastname@example.org and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.