3 More Tips to Help YOU Do a Pull Up

April 8, 2016

We are three months into 2016, and we hope our first three tips have provided a good foundation in beginning to build strength for your first pull up ever! Here are three more tips to help YOU do a pull up this year!

1. Continue To Practice Scapular Retraction:

Our first post showed Trainer Christina doing scapular retraction from a hanging position. Sometimes this is too challenging, and the movement needs to be practiced with no resistance at all. To do this, simply stand and shrug your shoulders up to your ears. This position is NOT what we want, but by practicing the opposite, we are able to then drop the shoulders down and away from the ears, packing the shoulder into the shoulder joint and thus achieve scapular retraction. The next drill is to try this while you are holding a pole, a broom stick, or even a foam roller overhead. Holding a light object, bring your arms overhead at the width at which your arms would be if you were doing a pull up. Lift shoulders up to create “no neck” and then drop shoulders down to “make your neck.”

Scapular retraction is important, because it helps you access your lats to do the pull up and not just your arms. The second drill shown in the video involves working with a partner to make sure you know how to find or engage your lats. Have one person hold the pole out in front of them at shoulder height and press down on the pole, while the partner tries to resist the press down. The person pressing down will feel their lats engage, and THOSE are the muscles you also want to use while doing your pull up. Scapular retraction protects the shoulders by integrating them into your body, verses them hanging out and collapsing away from you with the weight of your body hanging from them.

2. Improve Grip Strength with the Farmer’s Carry

Time and time again, many people feel their grip go first while working deadhangs, pull-up drills or any type of hanging from a bar exercise. While our previous post discussed the correct way to wrap your hand around the bar, this post progresses by giving your grip a load to carry, in the movement of the farmer’s carry. You can get to your workout early, or do a few extra carries at the end of a workout, OR integrate it in-between sets. Give it a try for a month and see if there is a change. Take a look at Christina and how it is done!

3. Improve Shoulder Mobility and Flexibility

A very important part of the pull up is shoulder flexibility. If you do not have the ability to extend your arms overhead, the pull up position will possibility be a potential injury creator for your body, as you attempt to force yourself to be able to hang.  The two areas we want you to increase flexibility in to help your shoulders is in your chest, and also the middle and upper back. You can do this with the standing chest stretch by placing your arm against a wall stepping forward and then looking away from your arm. Make sure you palm is facing the wall and your thumb is up. You can move your arm up higher or lower to bring variety to the stretch. Hold for one minute on each side. The next stretch shown will stretch the shoulders, but also stretch the middle and upper back, which often get rounded and hunched from our computer and texting lifestyles. Place both hands on the wall and start to walk backwards keeping your legs as straight as possible (but not locked out) Try to send your tail bone up a bit. Stay connected with your palms agains the wall and then try and lower your chest towards the ground. Hold for one minute. Watch Christina demonstrate these stretches below.