Pull-up exercises are a fantastic way to strengthen the upper body, and even to build your core stability when performed properly. While some people can perform a pull-up, not everyone does them properly, and bad habits can actually hinder your performance and hurt any strength gains that you would otherwise make.
With these four tips, you can improve your pull-up exercises and technique, and get more out of the exercise as a result.
4. Strengthen Your Grip
Performing a pull-up, just on its own, can greatly increase your grip strength, but you can also improve your grip strength with a pull-up bar without performing the exercise itself. In the natural pull-up position while on the ground, simply squeeze the bar as hard as you can. This can make for a good warm up to performing the pull-up, but it's also got the benefit of strengthening your hand and wrist muscles while they're in their outstretched state, as opposed to the positions they go into when you perform the full motion.
3. Tighten Your Muscles
By contracting the muscles in your stomach, you can help to not only maintain proper form throughout the pull up, but also to avoid injuries to the body. The stomach contraction that you would perform here is similar to one performed during a squat– the idea is to gain and maintain core stability, and to keep your spine aligned throughout he motion. It should be held throughout the pull-up. The additional bonus is you will strengthen your core, although not as much as you would with squatting exercises.
2. Keep Your Lower Body Stable
Clenching your glutes, and keeping your tights together, has the benefit of keeping you from swinging your legs while you perform the routine. Like the core tightening, keeping your glutes and thighs tight throughout the pull up is the best course of action. More tension means more stability, and more safety.
1. Make Your Body Rigid
Combining the second and third tips will make your entire body rigid, more or less. Tensing all of the muscles in your body should be performed throughout the exercise. It's also a good idea to lower yourself slowly as you descend, as opposed to a quick drop. Not only is it safer and easier on your arms, but the tension of slowly lowering yourself helps to build your arm and back muscles. This sort of slow lowering technique can also work with other exercises, like pushups and squats.
Remember to Breathe!
Breathing is always an important part of any strength training. Exhale when you pull yourself up, and inhale on the way down for a stronger core, and more oxygen for the body.