The Pull-Up WorkoutJune 30, 2019
Pull-ups and variations thereof, are a great way to work the upper body. The pull-up or chin-up is considered to be a compound exercise, because more than one major muscle group is being targeted. It's a multi-joint routine, also called multi-joint exercise. Compound exercises take the boredom out of exercise.
The muscles worked in the pull-up include the middle and upper back muscles (rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus), plus some shoulders (deltoids), biceps and forearms. That's a lot of muscles just for one exercise.
The problem with pull-ups is that you either can do them or you can't. But once you can do just one good, clean pull-up, you are on your way to doing a solid pull-up workout.
Whether you can only do one pull-up at a time, or 10 at a time, the routine is as follows:
Sling one of those V-handles over a bar that is above you. The V-handle is a pulley attachment that health clubs and gyms typically have near the cable pulley station. If you've ever used pulleys, you know exactly what I am talking about. The typical pulley station has a pull-up bar that joins the two sections of the station. This bar is where you will sling the V-handle. Then you can pull up by grabbing both sides of the V-handle.
I recommend starting off with V-handle pull-ups because this will help warm up the shoulders. Even though pull-ups recruit a lot of back muscle, the shoulders do get stressed quite a bit, especially on the way down, believe it or not. The V-handle allows the arms to be closer together than in a more standard pull-up, and this creates less stress on the shoulder joints.
Take a three minute rest after you do as many pull-ups as you can with the V-handle. Then repeat. Rest another three minutes. Your third set will be standard chin-ups. Do two sets, as many as you can, with three minutes in between. If you need to go to three and a half minutes, that's fine.
The fifth set is a combo pull-up/chin-up. One hand is positioned so that the palm is facing you. The other palm is facing away from you. Your body will be angled sort of sideways as you pull up. Rest three minutes, and then repeat, except switch hands, so that the palm that was facing you, now faces away, and vice versa.
The seventh and eight sets consist of any variation you'd like, but I recommend using those pull-up handles that jut out from the bar that joins the cable stations. Sometimes, a squat rack has these bars jutting out at its top. Just about every gym has these handles somewhere jutting out. I like using these because they force you to add a jump to the set; you must jump up to reach these bars, as they are often quite a height off the floor.
If you're over six feet, you won't have to jump much, but I've seen some that require a good jump to get up there (I'm 5-8). The jumping component adds to the drill. But DO NOT immediately pull yourself up after the jump, because this is cheating. Do not use the momentum of the jump to pull yourself up. Instead, after your hands grab onto the handles, settle your body so that it's hanging calmly for two seconds.
Then pull yourself up. When lowering from any pull-up or chin-up, lower with control, slowly. AND, most importantly, lower all the way before you pull yourself back up. In other words, hang nearly straight-armed before pulling back up. Most people lower only part-way before going back up, and this is cheating.
Benefits: reduces risk of lower back pain, strengthens rotator cuff, burns fat, increases upper body strength.