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Pullups: How to Perform Health Benefits

10 min read

What are pullups?

The meaning of the term “pull-ups”

This is the oldest strength exercise in which the upper body is more involved. To perform the classic pull-up, you need to hang on the horizontal bar with your hands and pull the whole body up until the chin is above the level of the crossbar, and the upper chest does not touch the horizontal bar. At the same time, the elbows are bent, the shoulders are bent slightly to the side and lengthen, bringing the elbows closer to the body.

Pull-ups are included in the mandatory regulatory exercises of the TRP, the program of physical training in schools, higher education institutions, the army and law enforcement agencies. Man’s ability to pull himself up well demonstrates his general physical training. Pulling up from scratch seems like a very difficult task, but this is the only weight lifting exercise that works primarily on the back muscles and biceps. When training with lifting your own weight, pull-ups are a prerequisite.

What muscles work when pulling up?

What muscles work when pulling up?

This exercise involves the main muscle groups of the upper body: the shoulder girdle, back, abdomen, chest. The intensity of the work of certain muscles in many respects depends on the scheme and types of pull-ups. First of all, the latissimus dorsi, rhomboid and round muscles, as well as extensor muscles, get the load. Their maximum tension occurs when the forearm approaches the body during pulling up.

The trapezius muscle located below the nape in the middle of the back works with no less intensity. When pull-ups are performed with a wide grip, the deltoid muscles (shoulder) are actively involved. The next muscle group is biceps and triceps. Due to their efforts, the hands lift the weight of the body.

When the forearms approach the body, the latissimus muscle helps to cope with the load of the pectoralis major and minor muscles (in the chest area), which also take part in pulling up. Like the three important muscles located in the area of ​​the shoulder blades: the infraspinatus, the major and the small round. Additionally, all types of muscles on the abdomen and forearms are involved.

What are the benefits of pull-ups for the human body?

First of all, pull-ups strengthen muscles and burn calories. Including them in high-intensity training, athletes spend a lot of energy, and thereby burn fat and stimulate metabolism. These exercises increase muscle mass, strengthen the abs, back and improve posture. Pullups help protect the spine, make your arms stronger and are a good preventive measure against injuries.

Another big advantage of regular pull-ups is the efficient cardio load. Performing pull-ups for 30 minutes in a row is not easy, but they can be made part of cardio training, including running, cycling, and fitness exercises. Strengthening the heart leads to a decrease in the resting heart rate, normalization of blood pressure and helps prevent heart and vascular diseases. A strong heart allows you to pump blood more efficiently and supply oxygen to the body. As a result, it improves physical performance.

Pull-ups on the horizontal bar

Horizontal bar installation

Horizontal bar installation

Pull-ups on the horizontal bar or horizontal bar – reference exercises in bodybuilding to develop the upper body. But for the effectiveness of independent training, you must correctly install the horizontal bar. It is a cylindrical steel bar (27-29 mm in diameter), mounted horizontally on vertical posts or using stretch marks. When installing the horizontal bar, the following conditions must be observed:

the height of the crossbar must be such that a person barely reaches on tiptoe,
the distance from the horizontal bar to the ceiling is at least 32-35 cm.

There is an alternative way to calculate the height of the crossbar: the height of a person needs to be multiplied by 1.28. In this case, it will be more convenient to pull up, and under the horizontal bar you can freely pass without bending your head. At home, to install the crossbar, you just need to count from the ceiling 32-35 cm (regardless of height and proportions of the human body).

The technique of pull-ups on the horizontal bar

The effectiveness of exercises depends on the correct pull-up technique on the horizontal bar. To perform the classic pull-up you need:

Go up to the horizontal bar and grab it with a direct grip, with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Hang, cross your feet and take a deep breath.
Exhaling gradually, pull the body to the horizontal bar to the chest level so that the chin rises slightly above the level of the crossbar.
At the upper point, linger for 1-2 seconds, reduce the shoulder blades and end the exhalation.
On inspiration, gently lower the body, straightening your arms as much as possible and hanging in the starting position. At this moment, the latissimus dorsi muscles are stretched.

It is recommended to perform exercises strictly vertically, without dangling legs and without wriggling with the whole body. The forearm and upper torso should remain motionless. It is important to monitor breathing and tighten the body as you exhale in order to facilitate the task of the latissimus dorsi and prevent stretching of the small muscles of the scapula. Elbows throughout the pull-up are under the bar and do not stand forward.

The program of pull-ups on the horizontal bar

There are several methods for creating pull-up programs on the horizontal bar. It is aimed at increasing the number of pull-ups and muscle growth. Usually the pull-up program on the horizontal bar is a scheme in which the number of weeks and the number of pull-ups per day are indicated with five approaches. For example, in the first week, you need to do 23 pull-ups daily according to the scheme: in the first approach – 6, in the second and third – 5, in the fourth – 4, and in the fifth – 3. It is recommended to conduct 5-6 sessions per week. From each week, the number of pull-ups increases by 2-3, so that instead of 23 it turns out 82-83. The pull-up program on the horizontal bar is designed, as a rule, for 7-8 months or 30 weeks.

Types of Pullups

Types of Pullups

There are many types of pull-ups. They mainly differ:

according to the grip method – the position of the hands on the crossbar (upper, lower, mixed, neutral or internal),
by the distance at which the hands are located or the width of the grip (narrow, medium, wide)
at the point of contact of the crossbar (chest, neck),
according to the technique of execution (classic, with casting the body up, on one arm, with a load, with raising legs, using towels, etc.).

Consider the main types of pull-ups:

Reverse Grip, Neutral and Direct Grip

It is believed that men usually work with a direct grip, and women prefer pull-ups with a back grip, which is why it is called “female” or “biceps”. The type of grip affects the distribution of muscle load. The position of the hands with a direct grip better trains the muscles of the back, when like pull-ups with a reverse grip, they are aimed at developing biceps. The safest is neutral (internal) grip when the palms are looking at each other. To do this, you will need a horizontal bar with special protrusions or gymnastic rings.

When the technique of these grips is well mastered, you can begin to study the mixed grip. With him, the muscles of the shoulders, wrists and biceps are effectively trained. One hand should be directed to the face of the athlete, and the other – vice versa. This exercise is even more effective if a person uses towels hanging from the horizontal bar. But only experienced athletes begin such training.

Wide grip pull-ups and narrow grip pull-ups

Wide grip pull-ups and narrow grip pull-ups

Wide grip pull-ups are more involved in the back muscles. The distance between the hands is much greater than the width of the shoulders: about a meter or more. The athlete himself chooses the width depending on the level of his training. Wide grip pull-ups are also performed behind the head when the crossbar is touched not by the chest or chin, but by the neck. However, this difficult exercise must be started with a sufficient level of preparation: it is considered to be traumatic.

The tight grip pulls speak for themselves – the hands here are close together. The distance between them (from 0 to 20 cm) should be less than the width of the shoulders, as in the classic pull-up with an average grip. The most difficult thing is to catch up when the hands are as close as possible or removed from each other. Narrow-grip pull-ups help to train the strength of the arms and shoulders. But if you need to evenly distribute the load on the muscles, then it is best to choose a medium, classic grip – shoulder width apart.

Head pulls

Those who already feel confident in the standard exercise when pulling the chest to the crossbar can gradually master the more complex pull-ups for the head. They allow not only to diversify the usual workout, but also to better work out the muscles of the back and neck. In order to prevent injuries, it is important to adhere to the correct technique and breathing. If a person has injuries of the shoulder girdle and in the cervical spine, then pulling up the head is contraindicated.

Complicated Pullups

There are types of pull-ups designed for already experienced athletes who can easily be pulled in the classical pattern at least 15-20 times. Then you can train with tying an additional load (a backpack with bricks, a kettlebell, a barbell, a sand belt, etc.) to the body. To avoid injury, increase weight gradually.

You can be pulled up with the approach of the chest to either side of the arm, then to the other, or you need to touch the crossbar with your shoulder. For training the muscles of the lower back and legs, pull-ups with the raising of straight legs at an angle of 90 degrees are recommended. Climbers often practice exercises with lifting the body above the bar to waist level. An even more complex kind of pull-ups is done with one hand. Workout fans love him. Before starting this exercise, in addition to the usual pull-ups, you need to learn how to do push-ups on one arm.

Australian pullups

For beginners and those who start pull-ups from scratch, Australian pull-ups will be useful. They are specially designed to prepare for classic pull-ups. As soon as a person can easily perform three approaches of 10 Australian pull-ups, then in most cases he is ready for the main type of exercise. To do this, you need a horizontal bar at the waist. The higher the crossbar is installed, the easier it is to carry out Australian pull-ups. If it is difficult for a person to train with a horizontal bar at a height of the waist, then to begin with, you can raise the crossbar to chest level.

You need to catch your hands on the crossbar and stretch your legs forward so that the heels are in contact with the ground. The body should be at an angle that almost resembles pushing upside down. From this position, you need to pull the chest to the crossbar, observing the breathing technique of classical pull-ups. Hips and knees should be kept straight, shoulders not pinched. When the upper part of the chest is opposite the bar, you need to make a 1-2-second pause and gradually descend to the starting position.

Pullups from scratch

How to start pull-ups from scratch?

How to start pull-ups from scratch?

Despite the great advantages, pull-ups can be recommended not for everyone. Those who have recently undergone surgery suffer from cardiovascular problems, obesity, bile and urolithiasis, disorders of the digestive tract, pull-ups can seriously harm. In such cases, consultation with specialists is necessary to select the amount and type of load.

Pulling up from scratch to a person with normal physical training can be an impossible task. To do this, you will need special strength training, which usually includes exercises such as: leveling, push-ups from the floor, pumping the press, lifting dumbbells, hanging on the bar, lifting legs from the position of the hang on the "Swedish wall", Australian pull-ups, etc. The safety and effectiveness of pulling up from scratch must begin under the supervision of an experienced instructor.

Basic mistakes of beginners

As in any business, beginners often make mistakes that prevent them from achieving the desired results. We list the most common shortcomings:

Active movements of the lower body. Inexperienced athletes try to climb the horizontal bar, waving legs. But this only interferes with the work of the muscles of the back and arms, and effective exercise will not work.
Jerky movements. Beginners, trying faster and easier to reach the bar, make the exercise jerky. But this not only prevents proper muscle growth, but also increases injuries. Pullups should be performed smoothly and rhythmically, both during the ascent and during the descent.
Full elbow extension in starting position. During pulling up, the elbows receive a large load, so you should not unbend them completely neither during the lifting of the body, nor during the descent. This will lead to injury to the elbow joints.

How to increase the number of pull-ups?

How to increase the number of pull-ups?

Most of those who learned to pull up ask themselves the question: how to increase the number of pullups? This is not easy. One of the important conditions is the regularity of training: pull-ups and other types of strength exercises. You must follow a balanced diet, saturated with proteins, vitamins and minerals (without fast food and too fatty foods). The effectiveness of classes depends on a good rest (at least 7-8 hours of sleep) and compliance with the regime.

There are many ways to increase the number of pull-ups. But any technique will take time and patience. The main thing is not to disturb the technique (do not sway, do not jerk), otherwise the result can only worsen, and the risk of injuries increases. The most popular method is the “ladder”, when a person gradually increases the number of repetitions in approaches, reaches its maximum and tries to add another 1-2 pull-ups. For example, initially it turned out to pull itself up 10 times, which means that in the first approach a person is pulled up 5, after a half-minute rest – 6, then, having rested – 7. So the amount is brought to the maximum, and after a thirty-second pause you need to try 11-12.

Do not give up: a body that once was able to lift its own weight can change and become stronger in order to do it again and again.

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