There are A LOT of pull up variations. Today we are discussing three of the most common ones – chin up (supinated), pull up (pronated) and wide grip.
Below are videos of each version.
Chin ups are typically easiest because they recruit more of the biceps and pec muscles.
Traditional pronated (over-hand) pull ups are harder because they require more action from the lats, and upper back muscles.
Wide grip are the most difficult as they require the least amount of strength from the biceps and the most from the lats, lower traps, rhomboids and other back muscles.
Some tactics to get better at pull ups – DO PULL UPS. Pull ups are absolutely a trained skill. You need to spend time doing them.
Eccentrics are highly effective in gaining strength. Start at the top, hold, and lower to the bottom as slow as you can. It is VERY important that you control the descent all the way through the dead hang. Dropping the last few inches is a common mistake I see with this exercise. Another helpful tip with eccentrics or “negatives” is to create space between the ears and shoulders – this ensures the lats are engaged and scapulas are depressed.
Use assistance and progressive overload. Assistance can be via bands (my favorite), a machine or friend holding your feet. There are other ways, but the point no matter what is that the assistance is taking WEIGHT off of the pull up to make it easier for you.
As for progressive overload. You need to either be adding reps at the same level of assistance OR shooting to complete the same amount of reps with less assistance over time.
I am a fan of practicing all three movements as they have positive carryover from variation to variation. Because chin ups (reverse grip/supinated) are the easiest I suggest getting your first strict “pull up” in this position. Then progress from there to pull ups (pronated/over-hand grip) and then wide grip.
Always build both the eccentric (lowering) and concentric (pulling up) phases as the eccentric builds strength quickly and the concentric helps build the actual movement pattern.
Can you do a pull up? Have questions? Want to learn more?
I go over this and 100+ other exercise inside Movement 101, my exercise encyclopedia with a 75 page E book and over 100 coaching and demo videos.
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