CHAPTER 2: PULL-UPS The upper body King of exercises!
Pull-ups, the Upper body King!
As squats are to the lower body, so are pull-ups to the upper body! Is there any muscle not activated when doing a pull-up? If you have ever attempted to do a pull-up, a real pull-up not one on a machine that gives you a counterbalance, then you know how hard a pull can be!
Many people have to begin by just learning to hang and hold their body weight on a bar. If you are overweight, then this can be a real challenge! You may have to cheat for your first try, but after you realize that your body can move up and down, get strict on your form! A pull-up should be performed from the bottom at a full hang! Believe me, that is much harder than swinging your body half way down then up again! You will see tons of people do that in the gym, but that does not make it right!
Multiple Muscle Groups
Pull-ups are primarily a back exercise (latissimus dorsi), but you get so much more from this wonderful exercise! The muscles that work with the back include many that are important to healthy shoulder function. The levator scapulae, teres major, rhomboids and lower trapezius are among the main synergistic (helpers) for pull-ups.
Muscles in use
When you begin a pull-up from a dead hang, your abdominals immediately contract to stabilize your body and act like a corset with your low back to create a strong mid-section. Your abs will be sore the day after you do pull-ups properly! You back has to work extremely hard to get the rest of your body up to the bar. Remember, your legs are your largest body part and that is a lot to lift! Just like your legs, the back requires a great deal of energy to work and that is what makes it a metabolism booster! The back is complex and made up of many smaller muscle groups. Any added lean muscle keeps the metabolism fire burning without the creation of bulk!
Confusing or Neglected Body Part?
The back tends to be a neglected body part. Maybe since you can’t see it? Or because it is strenuous work to exercise it? Is it because the various smaller muscles make it a confusing body part? Whatever the reason, this neglect must stop! It is not sufficient to do a few sets of rows and pulldowns and call it a day! Your back should be treated like the large body part that it is! And just because you can’t do a pull-up right now does not mean you can skip pull-ups. Of course, if you don’t want to boost your metabolism and you don’t want to maintain a low body fat percent with ease, then you could skip pull-ups. Yes, you can try to get used to the movement and gain some strength with the assisted pull-up machines, but eventually you just have to do one! I promise you, your first pull-up attempt may not be a pretty site to see, but you will amazed at the intensity of just one repetition or even half of one repetition!
You’ve heard this before, if it was easy everyone would be doing it! How many people in the gym have you seen do a real pull-up? Not one where they look like Tarzan swing from tree to tree!
Grip does matter! A close grip underhanded pull-up is NOT the same as a wide grip palm down pull-up! Again, you may want to start with the close grip (ie-easier) underhand pull-up (aka a chin up), but the wide grip (which looks like a front pulldown with out the machine) will work more areas in less time. And isn’t that what we want? Better workouts in less time for better results in less time! Throw in easy maintenance in less time and the wide pull-up becomes a no brainer as part of your routine!
The close grip or even medium grip underhanded pull-up can also be done in the same workout as a wide pull-up. The underhanded grip employs a significant amount of the biceps and shoulders. For this reason, it must be distinguished from the prone grip pull-up.
The great thing is you can do pull-ups at a park while the kids play! DO one repetition, come back in 10 minutes and do another. Don’t expect to do a set of 12! Just 1 to 5 reps will make a significant change in your metabolism and body fat! There’s no more excuses for not doing pull-ups!
Bottom line benefits of Pull-ups:
- Upper body gets worked
- Lower body acts as a stabilizer
- Core muscles get strong and tight
- Abdominals are active
- Can be done at a park (no gym needed)
- Helps to keep shoulders healthy
- Metabolism boosted
- Mega calorie burner
- Body fat burned
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