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The Step-by-Step Guide to Nailing Pullups | Master the Move

There’s nothing like banging out a pullup or 10 to let everyone in the gym know not to mess with you. Maybe that’s why so many of us want to learn how to conquer the notoriously intimidating exercise.

“Pull-ups are associated with military bootcamp training, hot fitness professionals, Olympic lifters and everyone else who is badass. They represent the epitome of pure strength,” says Rachel Vaziralli, co-creator of Pure Strength and creative manager of group fitness at Equinox. “Plus we all have memories of the presidential fitness assessment in elementary school and the humiliation that ensued if we were unable to do the pullup test!”

The secret to success isn’t such a secret: You need to do pullups. “To get strong at a movement, you must do that exact movement,” Vaziralli explains. “Pullups are not just about having a strong back and biceps, but also about the body’s core strength and neuromuscular coordination too, so you must do that specific movement pattern to adapt.”

Luckily, there are exercises you can do to strengthen your grip and the key muscles you need to work your way up to pullups.

YOUR PULLUP TRAINING PROGRAM

Start with Circuit 1. Do the circuit on nonconsecutive days 2–3 times a week. When that circuit feels easy, move on to Circuit 2 and eventually Circuit 3.

CIRCUIT 1

Do 4–6 sets of the following exercises back-to-back, resting between sets.

Lat Pulldown

  • Using an overhand grip, place hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar. Pull your shoulder blades back and down your back.
  • Without leaning back, pull the bar down until it lands on your breastbone.
  • Slowly return back to the start position. Do 2–8 reps.

Forearm Plank

  • Lie facedown on a mat. Prop yourself up onto your forearms with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Tuck your toes under and come onto the balls of the feet to press your knees and legs off the floor. Draw your navel to your spine and brace your core.
  • Hold for 30–60 seconds.

CIRCUIT 2

Do 4–6 sets of the following exercises back-to-back, resting between sets.

Assisted Pullup Machine

  • Step onto the foot holders of the machine to mount. Place one knee at time onto the padding and grab the bars with a wide overhand grip.
  • Pull your chest up to the bar.
  • Lower down slowly, resisting the weight. (Going slowly helps build strength.)
  • Do 2–8 reps with a weight that fatigues you to do that many reps.

Straight Arm Bar Hang

  • Place a bench underneath a pullup bar. Step onto the bench and grab the bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • Hang from the bar for 30–60 seconds, which helps build grip strength.
  • Gently release yourself back onto the bench or jump down to dismount.

READ MORE > 4-STEP PLAN TO A FULL-BODY BARBELL WORKOUT


CIRCUIT 3

Do 4–6 sets of the following exercises back-to-back, resting between sets.

Inverted Row

  • Sit underneath a low bar. Grab the bar with an underhand grip and either bend your knees (to make it easier) or extend your legs straight (to make it harder).
  • Pull your body up to the bar so it’s below your chin.
  • Lower back to the start position. Do 2–8 reps.

Flexed Arm Hang

  • Place a bench underneath a pullup bar. Step onto the bench and grab the bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip.
  • Jump up or have someone spot you up so your chin is over the bar.
  • Hold for 30–60 seconds.

Now try a pullup! “There’s nothing more rewarding than sticking to your training program, feeling yourself get stronger and doing that first unassisted pullup,” Vaziralli says. So follow her guide, and you’ll be a badass pullup pro in no time.

If you still struggle, start with a chin-up, Vaziralli says. For a chin-up, you use an underhand grip and your hands are shoulder-width apart. That makes it easier than a pull-up and can help you build more strength to nail the final exercise.

The post The Step-by-Step Guide to Nailing Pullups | Master the Move appeared first on Under Armour.

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