Do you struggle doing pull-ups? Can you do 10? 5? Even 1? Pull-ups take a lot of back strength, but they are not impossible! The pull up is a great exercise to improve shoulder stability and strength in the back, shoulder and elbow muscles. Pull ups require minimal equipment and can be modified for any skill level! Today, we’re going to walk through 7 variations of pull ups that help work towards the perfect pull up.
1. Bent over rows
This exercise is a great place to start when working towards a pull up. There are few different variations of the bent over row. One way is to hinge at your hips, keep your back straight and pull your elbows straight back. You want to feel your shoulder blades move closer together, squeeze them really tightly then slowly release the row.
2. Inverted pull up
The inverted pull up is a simple and effective way to work on your pulling strength. You want to set up this exercise by positioning a barbell around waist height, the higher the bar, the easier the row. Next, sit on the ground under the bar and position your hands a little wider than shoulder width. Keep your arms straight and pull your body off the ground and into a straight line. Maintaining a straight line bend your arms, bring your body towards the bar and drive your elbows toward the ground. Slowly release your arms to the starting straight position.
3. Assisted TRX pull up
We have already gushed about how much we love TRX in one of our recent blogs. This pull up variation is no different! The TRX pull up is a great stepping stone to achieve a free range pull up. Start this exercise by sitting on the ground between your 2 TRX straps with your knees bent so your feet are flat on the floor. Adjust the TRX handles so you can just reach them when you straighten your arms overhead. Grab the overhead handles and pull your butt off the floor. Your arms should create a W shape as you squeeze your back and drive your elbows towards the floor. You will be pulling up less weight by having your feet on the floor, but try to not use your feet at all during this movement.
4. Dead hang
The dead hang is a great way to get used to the bar and prepare for a pull up. You might have to pull up a chair or step on something to be able to reach the bar. Grab the bar with your hands facing away from you and a little larger than shoulder width apart. It’s okay to let your shoulders creep up a little, but keep your neck in a neutral position. Hang on to this as long as you can!
5. Scap pull up
The scap pull up is one step up from a dead hang and helps work on scapula mobility. Training the scapula, also known as the shoulder blade, will help control shoulder movement and increase strength at the bottom of the pull up. This exercise starts in the same position as the dead hang. While hanging on the bar, pull your shoulder blades together and down. This exercise will train your scapula to get used to the motion of the pull up.
6. Assisted pull up
The assisted pull up can be done with a resistance band or on a machine at the gym. This exercise is a great way to get used to pull ups. You will be doing a pull up, but don’t have to pull your whole body weight. This is a great way to practice and perfect your form before going to full body weight.
7. Eccentric pull up
The eccentric pull up practices the downward portion of the pull up. This will help with maintaining control during the pull up as well as eccentric strengthening. To perform this exercise, start at the top of the pull up. You might want to use a chair or stand on something to start at the top of the pull up. Then lower yourself down as slowly as possible before. Once your arms are straightened, stand back on the chair and start at the top of the pull up again.
8. Full range pull up
Once you’ve mastered the seven pull up variations, you are ready for the full range pull up!
If you’re confused by any of the exercises, a full video can be found here:
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