If one of your New Year's resolutions for 2016 is to get strong and fit (and I hope it is!), there's no better place to start than deciding to conquer pull-ups once and for all.
Pull-ups are an amazing upper-body and core exercise and will make you super strong without adding bulk. Yet, sadly, they're also one that most people — especially women — tend to avoid simply because they look intimidating.
Yet if you've never even been close to doing a single pull-up, don't worry; we all have to start somewhere. Here are four exercises to help you work up to busting out one or more pull-ups in a row:
1. Flex Hangs
When you’re first starting out with pull-ups, you need to start building up strength, and flex hangs are one of the best ways to do that.
To do them, use a bench, a chair, or get a boost up so that your chin is over the pull-up bar, and then simply try and stay up. While you’re up there, focus on pulling your shoulders down from your ears and squeezing your core and glute muscles. Try and build up to holding this position for at least 10 seconds, and work on it with your hands facing both toward you (in a chin-up grip) and facing away from you (in a pull-up grip).
Negatives are an awesome way to build up strength in any exercise, and pull-ups are no exception.
To do them, use a chair or get assistance to get to the top of the pull-up bar, then lower yourself down slowly with control. If you’re new to pull-ups, these will probably feel fairly difficult at first, but negatives will help you quickly build up strength needed for unassisted pull-ups.
3. Jumping Pull-Ups
Jumping pull-ups are another fantastic way to work on your pull-up strength even if you can’t do a full pull-up yet.
Stand below a pull-up bar that’s too high for you to reach, then simply jump up and pull yourself up to the bar. If you’re using a doorway pull-up bar this is a little trickier but still doable — you’ll just need to bend your knees at first in order to get the same results.
4. Banded Pull-Ups
Banded pull-ups are another great option to build up your pull-up strength and have the added benefit of helping you get used to the movement so that full, unassisted pull-ups come easier to you.
To do these, you’ll need to get a pull-up band, also known as a power-lifting or resistance band. Loop the band around the pull-up bar, then grip the bar as you step onto the bottom of the band with both of your feet. Do a pull-up!
Note: The thicker the band, the easier these will be. Start with a band thick enough so that you can perform 5 to 10 pull-ups in a row, then gradually work to use thinner bands until you can do one or more unassisted pull-ups in a row.
Try adding pull-ups to your workout at least three times a week for fastest improvement. Work hard, and of course, have fun!
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Photo courtesy of the author