Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

The Benefits of Adding Pullups to Your Exercise Routine

February 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While the idea of a simple pullup sounds pretty easy, actually doing one is much more difficult. Sure, it seems simple to pull your body up with your arms and then return to your original position. However, it takes physical and mental strength to do this seemingly simple exercise.

While some people find pullups to be extremely difficult, they are also very beneficial to the body. It is a good idea to include pullups as part of your regular exercise routine because it will pay off.

Benefits of Pullups

Pullups do far more than build and strengthening the upper body. Because it uses almost the entire body, pullups require trunk stability and strong back muscles as well. Doing pullups is an effective way to both strengthen and elongate the core muscles, which can ultimately improve your posture. Pullups also build core strength, which in the long run can help reduce your risk of falls as you age. Pullups also build strength in your grip because you are using your hands and arms to hold yourself up.

Pullups work a lot of muscles at the same time, including:

  • Biceps brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis
  • Middle and lower trapezius
  • Infraspinatus
  • Subscapularis
  • Pectoralis major and minor
  • Dorsi
  • Flexor digitorum superficialis
  • External oblique
  • Flexor digitorum profundus
  • Palmaris longus
  • Erector spinae

Pullups also build the broad back muscles that run all the way from the back of the shoulder to the lower back.

Pullups are ideal with you are using your own bodyweight for resistance. These exercises are great because they can be done in many places because they don’t require excessive special equipment. They can also be customized to your level of strength.

Proper Form

It is important to have proper form when performing a pullup. Place both hands on a pullup bar with your palms facing forward. Make sure they are a little more than shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up while keeping your legs together and slightly bent.

Pull up with a slow count of three with your stomach pushing forward and your sternum high. You do not need to get your chin entirely over the bar. Come down at the same pace you pulled yourself up. Hang on the bar between reps.

Pullups for Women and Tall People

Some believe that genetic factors may impact one’s ability to do a pullup. One study showed that women who were trained to specifically increase the muscles in their biceps, which should have helped build their strength to do a pullup, actually had an effect on very few women. This suggests that there is more to completing pullups than upper-body strength.

Some men may also struggle with pullups, especially tall men with longer arms. This is because the longer a limb is, the more difficult it is to use it to pull up one’s bodyweight.

However, both women and men are able to do pullups, but it may take longer for some to build up the necessary strength to do them. Practicing the techniques of a pullup is a great exercise in and of itself, though.

Improving Your Pullups

If you are new to this type of exercise, it is important to start slow and work your way up with gradual advancements. Here are some examples of how to do pullups for all skill levels.

Beginner Pullups

Beginners can use tools such as an assisted pullup machine, a band pullup, or a chair. These tools can help a beginner perfect their form without having to use their entire body weight before they are ready.

Intermediate Pullups

There are also techniques that can be used by intermediate level pullups. For example, jump pullups helps provide a boost because the jump propels you up. To do a jump pullup, hold on to the bar and then give yourself a jump start. Intermediates can also vary their grip positions for their own comfort, or only pull up half way.

Advanced Pullups

To add to a traditional advanced pullup, you can wear a weight belt during your pullups. This will add to the total weight your muscles are lifting, activating them even further.

Pullup Alternatives

Without a pullup bar, you can still target the same muscles by using simple items you likely have at home. You could use a chair, a door frame, or a towel. For example, use a sturdy table and chair and underhandedly grip the edge of the table. Put your feet on the chair about four feet away from the table. Pull your body up towards the table.

You can also use a door by opening it and putting a towel around both doorknobs and holding the loose ends. Straddle the door and lower your body away from the door with your upper body strength. Slowly lift yourself back up.

No matter what level you are when it comes to doing pullups, doing any part of this exercise will benefit your health. It activates many different muscles in your body and promotes balance and strength. Start out small and work your way up to doing a full pullup before adding in some alternative moves.

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Frank Salvatore