At the beginning of your training workouts things may sometimes be confusing or challenging. However, getting the right information will help you go a long way and lowers the chances of injuring yourself or making the mistakes of others in the past. One of the best exercises for building muscle and strength in your upper-body is pull-ups. Simply jumping on the bar and doing pull-ups may not be best way to go if you are just starting out. Hence, in this article we will be looking at 5 tips on how to do the perfect pull-up with the proper form and technique. We also highlight things that you ought to consider before/after doing a set of pull-ups.
Tip 1 how to do pull-ups: Make sure you are ready
One of the common fallacies of beginners is that they have not yet built enough muscle to actually perform a full set of pull-ups on a pull-up bar. Thus, in such cases it becomes a lot more challenging to get the best workout from the exercise. It may therefore be best to first build more strength and muscle in your arms, shoulders and hands in order to have better grip strength on the pull-up bar and overall endurance. A great way to combine things is to include calisthenics in your workout plans. Preparing yourself for more challenging exercises is a great way to walk into something new as opposed to rushing things and end up struggling with it. So consider doing additional training if you feel that doing pull-ups is too much at this stage. Whatever the case may be, the more prepared and strong you and your muscles are the better you will be able to do pull-ups.
Tip 2 how to do pull-ups: Know the proper form
Knowing the proper form is a key when learning how to do pull-ups. A general pull-up includes 3 distinct stages or positions, namely: (a) the base position, (b) the pull-up stage and (c) the drop down stage. When starting out your simply grab the pull-up bar and hang from it with both arms extended. This is also called a ‘dead hang’. The next step is then to pull your body up until your chin passes the bar. The last part of the exercise is to slowly drop your body back down which concludes a single pull-up. This process is the base for doing pull-ups. Note that there are many variations of the pull-up, which include different and/or additional stages.
When doing a regular pull-up it is important to know a couple of things with regards to the form. First, your hand grip should be a full grip (shoulder-wide) with your palms facing away. When pulling up keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle with your head looking forward at all times. If needed you can also bend your knees to keep yourself off the ground. To finish the pull-up, lower your body back down until your arms are straight again and you are hanging from the bar.
Tip 3 how to do pull-ups: Improve your mobility
Knowing the proper form for doing a pull-up is important, but the real test starts when you actually do your first set. If you are starting out with your pull-up exercises by tightening your upper-body muscles then you may be headed to a dead end. One of the key positions is the dead hang where you are simply hanging from the bar. At this stage, your shoulders ought to be able to help pull your body up onto the bar as you progress from one position to the next in a fluid motion. If strength is an issue, then make sure that you improve your grip/muscle strength before doing pull-ups as indicated in our first tip above.
A very helpful exercise is to simply hang from the bar to get more stability in your shoulders and build grip strength. Also, make sure that you breathe properly by inhaling and exhaling when going up the bar and when coming back down. People tend to hold their breath due to the sheer difficulty of the exercise sometimes, but it is not recommended a it hampers your fluidity and mobility.
Tip 4 how to do pull-ups: Rest in between sets
Doing pull-ups is not like doing a marathon so you should not be rushing things. Therefore, make sure that you take the time to rest between sets. A 2-4 minute break should help you get your muscles somewhat relaxed again and ready for the next round of pull-ups. One of the worse things you can do to your body is continually forcing it to perform, passing way beyond its limits. This can have very negative effects and even cause injury. Taking breaks where you can ease off and breathe helps you to keep up with things and allows for shorter muscle recovery time afterwards.
Tip 5 how to do pull-ups: Lose weight
It may not apply to everyone, but if you are overweight then it may be best to do other exercises first in order to lose some weight. Being overweight might make the exercise seems as impossible which can negatively influence your drive of training and doing pull-ups. Thus, losing weight will certainly make thing more doable on the bar and will lessen the strain on your muscles and shoulders. To loose weight with bodyweight training, see also our article "10 Bodyweight Exercises for Quick Weight Loss".
As a final note, remember that practice makes perfect. So don’t expect the most amazing results when you’re just starting out and take your time to improve. It is totally ok to start out slow with a few reps until you get the hang of things. So if you were asking yourself how to do pull-ups, then we hope this article was able to shed some light on how you can do the perfect pull-up. Our bodies are all different so make sure that you know your limits in the beginning in order to find out what/how you can improve to have a better experience and results in the end. It’s a matter of having patience and being consistent and focused on what you’re trying to achieve. Only doing one set of pull-ups per month is not going to do it, so make sure that you are committed and learn as much as you can from others when starting out.