How to Master Pullups: 5 Easy Tips for Strength, Grip and Posture

Say this with me, "Pullups shall not be the boss of me."

best tips to master pullups

Pullups is one of the most effective strength training workouts, and it is meant to work the upper-body.

But oftentimes, people tend to stay away from the pull-up bar as they may find this drill quite challenging. 

While it is true that it’s hard to perfect the art of pull-ups, there are several ways that can help you master it in no time.

In this article, you’ll learn five easy tips you can use to master pull-ups.

Let’s get started by first looking at what exactly is a pull-up and how it’s done.

What are pullups?

Pull-up is where one hangs by the hands from certain support and pulls oneself up to the level of the chin. This support which is usually a horizontal bar. 

A complete pull-up maneuver requires you to perform both the concentric or up-phase and the eccentric or down-phase of the pull-up.

Concentric pullup phase 

The concentric phase consists of grasping horizontal overhead support with both hands and using the back muscles and shoulder-arm-forearm muscle complex.

You lift your body so the feet don’t touch the ground and the chin is along or above the level of the support or bar. 

Eccentric pullup phase

In the eccentric phase, the body is lowered from the chin-level lifted state to the starting suspended position. 

This entire exercise is done with the palms facing outward. Comparatively, a pull-up performed with inward-facing palms is often referred to as a chin-up.

Pullups benefits

Pull-up is usually used as a performance test to measure and evaluate and muscular strength.

For example strength of the shoulder, arm, and upper-body muscles as well as overall physical fitness.

As an example, the US Marine Corps employs a physical fitness program and assessment test where pull-up is a major component. 

But military men aren’t the only ones who can do and benefit from doing pull-ups.

Individuals who perform the following activities are also greatly benefited from practicing pull-ups:

  • swimming
  • rowing/paddling
  • rock climbing
  • rope climbing
  • gymnastics
  • pole vaulting
  • wrestling

But even if you’re not a soldier or you’re not into the abovementioned activities, no one can stop you from doing pull-ups and getting its amazing health effects. 

Here are a few benefits of doing pullups as part of your daily workout routine:

That’s plenty of reasons for you to do pull-ups.

Tips for mastering pullups

If you want to master pullups, there are a few tips you need to pay attention to.

For example, muscle strength, body mass, as well as movement style are the factors that determine the success of performing multiple pull-ups.

And many have been doing this exercise the wrong way because although it may look easy at first, a pull-up is a complicated action to perform perfectly. 

With that in mind, these five tips on movement and performance will help you to easily and effectively master pullups.

1. Start with assisted pull-ups

For beginners, it is better to start with assisted pull-ups rather than pushing yourself to do the actual maneuver right away. 

This way, you can avoid subjecting your muscles to unnecessary strain which may cause some damage or worse, muscle tear. 

You certainly wouldn’t want to injure yourself when you’re just getting started.

Advantageous to novice trainees, machine- or band-assisted pull-ups will gradually increase the upper-body strength until they can perform the full pull-up exercise.

Besides, this paraphernalia isn’t going to make the whole process conveniently easy.

These will just mostly help with stabilizing your body mid-air.

So in the end, you would still need to exert great muscular effort which you’re meant to do in this training. 

2. Use shoulder-wide grip distance

It is possible to vary the distance between your hands when doing pull-ups. 

However, a grip distance that’s too spread apart is not advised because this will put your elbows too far to the side.

With this position, the shoulder will have to take much more effort with lifting your body which may eventually lead to an injury.

Meanwhile, a close grip won’t pose danger to your muscles but maybe suboptimal at working your latissimus dorsi muscles. 

The best grip width that won’t strain your shoulder but still effectively train your lats would, therefore, be a shoulder-wide grip.

3. Do an arched-back body position

There are two ways you can position your body when pulling up. 

A straight body position will have the advantage of working your core but then again, a proper pull-up should focus on training the back muscles, not the core. 

This is where the arched-back position enters. With this form, the back muscles are engaged and utilized properly. 

4. Practice active hanging

Don’t just hang there like wet laundry. Get tight right at the start! 

A common mistake when doing pull-ups is starting with a passive hanging position where one just grasps the bar and hang freely. 

Although this is good with stretching and opening the shoulder, activating the back muscles are more important at lifting your body.

To turn a passive hang into an active one, pull your shoulder blades backward and downward. This activates the back muscles as this is where most of the pulling force comes from. 

5. Aspire for a full range of motion over repetition

One of the most important tips if you want to master pullups is keeping good form. Let me explain.

Sacrificing good form for a greater number of repetitions is very counterproductive. 

Keep in mind the phases of a complete pull-up and do the full range of motion they require. 

It is acceptable to use explosive force to pull your body up but it is rather unwise to rely on momentum in doing so. 

The descending phase should also be done steadily where your muscles should be subjected to sustained tension.

In this manner, you’ll work the muscles that this exercise intends to strengthen.

Takeaway

It’s true that when done properly, the pull-up could be a potent tool for improving your strength and overall health.

But remember that there’s no shortcut to greatness. Use these tips to master pullups.

Practice these five tips in your upper-body exercise routine and let it make a pull-up master out of you!

As a future doctor, providing relevant, interesting, and accurate health information is one of Julia's passion. Through her writing, she is pleased to share her knowledge on health, fitness, and nutrition to other people so that they may live a healthy, happy life.