Maybe you’ve even been hanging from the pull-up bar before and tried to do juuuuust one, thinking it looks simple (because it really does!!). But then you try, and nothing’s happening, and you keep trying and trying, and then your arm starts shaking, until they’re totally pumped and you have to give up. What gives?? (Besides your poor arms.)
Well, it’s totally normal that even if you’re able to do other weightlifting exercises that are pretty impressive, you may not be able to do a single pull up.
And of course, I know you’ve already thought about this, but keep in mind they’re harder to do if you’re tall…more weight. (Not that you should feel bad for not knowing how to do a pull up, if you’re short. 😉)
Chances are you’ll also have to train specifically to do a pull up, if that’s what you want. What you need is upper back strength, core strength, and bicep strength… but you need to learn how to work all of them together for the specific motion that is the pull up. Otherwise, it’s easy to injure yourself!!
Also, although this won’t cause injury, a lot of people who are using anassisted pull up machine with counterweights to practice on are not dipping down low enough and then pulling up high enough. Make sure you’re not trying to “cheat” with the machine, and avoiding a full range of motion. (Of course that’s important to consider with any machine!) Are you actually getting your NECK up to the bar level?
Your elbows should be sticking out, but your shoulders should not be shrugged up, which can really hurt those tendons and muscles. Again, throw your shoulders down and pull them BACK so you’re not overusing your shoulder muscles here. If you find yourself with the problem of shrugging your shoulders as you struggle to the top, then stop and rest or add more counterweight.
Plus, like I said, using the machine is a great way to get your form down and practice using those muscles together, because otherwise how the heck are you supposed to practice what you can’t do yet?
However, as lifter Casey Johnston says, the assisted pull up machine isn’t the solution for every single person.
She says it didn’t help her use her shoulders, back, and core the right way, and didn’t force her to use the right form (with shoulders, back, and the rest of the body all in a STRAIGHT LINE).
So what she did instead was, started off in the finished pull up position, and then LOWERED herself down out of the pull up to extended arms, as slowly as possible.
These exercises are called negatives — of course meaning, doing the “opposite” of the exercise you want to get good at it! But while still engaging the same muscles!
She says that even hanging from the bar and letting yourself struggle to engage the right muscles is good practice. Or, of course, doing other exercises to strengthen biceps and back.
So I guess my last bullet point tip here would be:
You can have abs, you can do whatever exercises you want. You can do anything with the right workouts and diet. If you want to learn more, check out my free Ebook: Eight Hour Abs.