Do you avoid the pullup bar? Have sầu flashbacks of gym class humiliation? You"re not alone. The pullup remains daunting for plenty of guys. And that"s too bad, because few exercises can strengthen your entire upper toàn thân, challenge your core, & improve sầu your posture the way the classic pullup can.

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Learning this move sầu is a challenge worth undertaking, no matter your fitness goals. It"s one of the fundamental building bloông xã exercises in the gym, beneficial for CrossFitters, bodybuilders, & general fitness enthusiasts alượt thích. This is an exercise you can do anywhere, from your gym"s pullup bar to lớn đô thị construction scaffolding, to lớn the sturdy tree branch in your backyard. It"s also a move that focuses in on a part of your body toàn thân that you want lớn train aggressively: Your back. Svào back muscles help protect your shoulders from injury, & they help position your body toàn thân khổng lồ get more out of other exercises (everything from bench presses to biceps curls), too.

Thing is, pullups aren"t easy to lớn learn, for a variety of reasons. First, there"s shoulder mobility, an area that"s a struggle for many people. Second? You"re lifting a large percentage of your bodyweight, & that"s simply not easy. The move also has multiple schools of thought these days, making it that much more confounding to understvà from the ground up.

We"re here to show you the way. Whatever challenges stand in the way of your pullup success, we"ll help you fight past them so you can master the pullup, one of the gold standard"s of bodyweight exercise. And if you"re still haunted gym class nightmares, you"ll learn new ways to lớn raise your game. It"s time to lớn step up to lớn the bar.

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First, Let"s Learn the Details Of A Rep

Doing a pullup requires more than just hanging from a bar and pulling until your chin is above sầu it. Knowing the nuances will keep your shoulders healthy as you strengthen your bachồng. You can think of the pullup in three different phases: The start from the bottom, the position halfway up, and the top position, where you need khổng lồ find a way to lớn keep on pulling.


Start At The Bottom

Never let the tension leave sầu your baông chồng. Your arms should straighten fully, but don"t just hang. Maintain constant tension across your shoulder girdles--the muscles around your shoulder blades và collarbone. The "dead hang" position--letting your shoulders shrug up to lớn your ears--places strain on your biceps tendons & rotator cuffs, explains Eric Cressey, C.S.C.S., of Cressey Sports Performance in Massachusetts. You don"t want that.

Halfway Up, Shift Your Focus

Pay attention to lớn your shoulder blades. Once you start pulling up, don"t use your arms alone. Instead, think about pulling your shoulder blades down và baông xã as your elbows travel toward your ribs. You"re controlling your shoulders và shoulder blades using what physiologists Gọi "scapulo-humeral rhythm," says Jeff Cavaliere, C.S.C.S., a physical therapist & founder of the Athlean-X training program. This is key khổng lồ shoulder health và pullup dominance.

At the Top? Don"t Quit Now.

Work to lớn finish the rep. When your chin clears the top of the bar, don"t stop pulling. Squeeze your shoulder blades baông xã & try lớn make và hold a double chin. Think about continuing khổng lồ pull upwards, even if you"re not getting any higher. As you"re doing this, try lớn maintain tension in your abs và glutes. Your torso might lean slightly backward so your hips và feet are in front of the bar. That"s not a problem, but you shouldn"t let your shoulders jut forward of the bar, Cressey says. That could set you up for a rotator cuff injury.

The Great Pullup Debate


There are three main styles of pullup you"ll see done in the thể hình. There"s the true dead-hang pullup, where you lower your torso until your arms are fully hanging, then pull up as high as you can. There"s the constant-tension pullup often favored by bodybuilders, where you lower almost to lớn the bottom but not quite, then immediately begin your next rep. Finally, there"s the kipping pullup, favored by CrossFitters, where you swing your hips back & forth khổng lồ generate momentum and help drive your chest up lớn the bar.

What"s the best version? Depends on your goal, and the health of your shoulders.

Dead-Hang Pullup

At the bottom of the pullup, you fully relax all your shoulder và baông chồng muscles, và pause. From there, you pull up.

Pros: You"re using a full range of motion, which means you get a good stretch on all your bachồng muscles. The pause minimizes cheating.

Cons: You"re leaving your shoulder ligaments vulnerable khổng lồ strains.


This is the gold standard pullup; you maintain tension in your baông xã at the bottom. The key to getting the most out of this: Don"t lower down only halfway in the name of "constant tension." Your elbows should be nearly straight in the bottom position, & your shoulders should be almost-but-not-quite relaxed.

Pros: You get to strengthen your baông chồng and arms while keeping your shoulder ligaments safe.

Cons: The move is far harder than it looks; eight good constant-tension pullups can challenge most fit guys.

Kipping Pullup

A version in which your hips (and, as a result, your shoulders) swing forward và snap back, building momentum to propel you upward.

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Pros: This one will challenge your endurance while still helping you develop upper-body toàn thân strength. Pullups are inherently challenging, so most people can"t bởi vì, say, trăng tròn reps. By adding in a kip however, they can push those rep loads much higher.

Cons: If your shoulder stability isn"t flawless, you"ll easily hurt your shoulders. Think twice before doing this. You should have a mastery of the constant-tension and dead-hang pullups before you venture into lớn this territory.

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The Ultimate Pullup Progression

Very few people can jump onto a bar và instantly vày plenty of pullups without serious practice. Again, the move is challenging; it"s not easy to hoist your bodyweight upwards rep after rep.

But once you master the basic pullup, there are plenty of tricks & experiments you can try. Master the basic progression in the video below, and then play with the pullup ideas that follow, some of which can help you towards the pullup — and some of which will challenge you endlessly.

Just learning? Do these moves three times a week.

Static Hold: St& on a box beneath your pullup bar and jump to lớn the top position of the pullup. Hold there for as long as you can, squeezing your back muscles. Aim for three 20-second holds.

Negative sầu Pullup: Stvà on a box beneath the bar và jump lớn the top position. Hold for just a moment; then slowly lower yourself. This lowering process should take 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 5 lượt thích this.

Inverted Row: Grab a bar set up above sầu you & lean bachồng so your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. Pull your elbows backward & return to lớn the start. That"s 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 15. No, this doesn"t seem lượt thích a pullup variation, but it"s building the horizontal pullup strength that you need as a base for pullups. Need more on the inverted row? Check out the đoạn phim below.

Got those basics? Do these moves twice a week.

Low-Rep Drill: Hang, do 1 pullup, và let go of the bar, landing on the floor. Do 5 of these your first week. The next week, vì chưng 4 sets of 2 reps (in other words, 2 pullups before you release & land).

Assisted Pullup: Hang a resistance b& over the bar; pull the shorter loop through the longer one. Place your feet on the bottom loop. Hang from the bar và bởi pullups. Aim for 2 sets of 8 reps.

Scapular Pullup: Hang from a bar with your shoulder blades slightly tightened. With your arms straight, squeeze your shoulder blades; hold 1 second. That"s 1 rep; vị 2 sets of 10 khổng lồ 15 reps.

Ready for a challenge? Take these on.

Weighted Pullup: Forget adding reps--it"s resistance that gets you svào. Ideally, you should wear a vest and bởi 3 sets of 10 before adding more resistance. No vest? Use a weight plate (shown).

Mixed Grip Pullup: This one"s functional: Grip the bar with one h& overh& và the other underhvà. Now vì pullup reps, fighting lớn stay balanced; don"t let your hips shift khổng lồ one side or the other.

Plyo Pullup: Pull yourself up quickly, và as your chin nears the bar, let go of the bar for a moment; then grab it again. Too easy? Try this: When you let go, catch the bar using an underhand grip.

Rope Pullup: Pullups always challenge your grip, but this variation ups the forearm ante. Hang a thiông xã rope over the bar and bởi vì pullups while holding on to lớn the rope with each hvà.

L-Sit Pullup: In the bottom position, squeeze your legs together & extend them forward, forming an L with your torso. Keep your core tight và hold this position as you do pullup reps.

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Archer Pullup: As you pull yourself up, pull your chest toward your left hvà, straightening your right arm as your chest nears the bar. Lower, pause, then repeat, pulling yourself toward your right hvà.

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