The pull up is a great compound exercise meaning it targets multiple muscles. However, everyone avoids it because they’ve tried doing it once and failed to do one rep. This blog will show you how you can work towards your first pull-up! As well as teaching you correct form, and some tips and tricks to help you do a pull up.

Firstly, correct pull-up form. When doing the pull up make sure you are putting your arms a certain width apart so that it is not too wide and putting lots of stress on your joints, but not too narrow in that it makes the movement feel awkward – just apart from shoulder width is usually perfect. If the bar is too high off the ground, use a box so that you don’t have to leap up onto the bar.

A great tip for the pull-up is to imagine you’re trying to break the bar in half. So, this means gripping the bar tightly within your hands, and pulling yourself up from your elbows (where there’s more strength), rather than your wrists. You want to pull yourself up initially using your rotator cuff muscles which are the muscles that stick out on either side of your upper back – near the shoulder joint. Once you’ve pulled past this initial point the latissimus dorsi should take over (the muscles that make the “wings” of your back) and you can pull yourself up until your eyes are looking over the bar. But don’t forget to slowly lower yourself from the top position – don’t just let go!

Now some tips and tricks for getting your first pull up. Using a band either wrapped around your feet (in picture below) or around your knees/ankles (in picture below) is a great way to reduce some of the resistance and almost slingshot you up towards the bar – just be careful when you dismount, and don’t let the band slingshot into you. Another great way of simulating the pull up movement is by doing negatives. Stand on a tall box behind the pull up bar and jump up so you start at the top position (with eyes over the bar). From there, slowly lower yourself down to the ground, resisting gravity pulling you down to the floor – hold this for at least 3-5 seconds. Also, you can do negatives with the band to make things a bit easier.

Go give the pull-up a go! It’s a great movement you can add to your upper body sessions! If you’re still struggling or need a bit more support, please speak to one of the fitness instructors.

Blog by Alfie Griggs – Personal Trainer (AGA Personal Training)