Despite being able to literally lift my entire body over my head with ease when I do yoga, the simple act of a pull-up basically causes my arms to metamorphose into human ramen noodles. Seriously though, whenever I hop up to the bar and attempt to lift myself up, it's like my body gives up on life, like "Nah, fam, try again next year." But lately, my goal has been to conquer the coveted pull-up once and for all, which means incorporating a whole slew of new exercises that'll (hopefully) help me figure out how to do a pull-up.
If I've learned anything through all my pull-up struggles, it's that it takes more than just strong arms to get the job done. Like, you can absolutely slay all your HIIT circuits, and do handstands for days, but your chin still just won't get above the damn bar. If you're discouraged and mildly pissed off by the prospect of a pull-up, trust me, you're not alone.
But it's important to realize that being able to do just one of these bad boys requires your entire body's stability, not just arm strength. Your shoulders, back, and core are all key parts in mastering just a single pull-up, which is why total body-toning movements and back-strengthening exercises are important to incorporate into your quest to peek over the pull-up bar.
As amazing as it will be one day to reach your goal, remember that pull-ups are not indicative of your fitness level in any way. You're a strong, independent woman who don't need no pull-up.
But setting goals always keeps your fitness routine fresh and interesting, and with just a little consistency and commitment, pulling your body right up to the bar won't seem so wildly far-fetched one day. Here are five exercises that'll help you get there.
Planks are honestly so deceiving. They look incredibly simple from afar, but the many variations of this strengthening exercise require total body engagement.
Planks condition your core while simultaneously working your glutes and hamstrings. And, in addition to helping you get your chin above the pull-up bar, planks help your posture and improve your balance.
Try different variations of this bad boy to mix things up and challenge your body.
2. Lat Pull-Downs
The lat pull-down machine is probably available in your gym, and it's a great tool for understanding the proper form to take to the pull-up bar.
Your lats are a key muscle involved in the strength needed to do a pull-up. But, since the lats are often underused, you need a little proper training in that part of the body. But soon, you'll begin to feel stronger than ever, and pull-ups won't feel like some urban legend.
3. Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
Dumbbell rows are a pretty basic back exercise, but they're incredibly effective when it comes to those pull-up gains.
If you're just starting off with this exercise, begin with lighter weights, and adjust accordingly as you get stronger. After a little while, you'll be ready to make your debut on the bar.
4. "Hang and Pack" Method
This exercise basically involves you trying as hard as you can to do an actual pull-up, but allowing yourself to not quite be there yet.
The "hang and pack" will feel a lot like your work on the lat pull-down machine, as both build tons of strength in your entire body.
Even if you can't get anywhere close to the bar, don't sweat it (well, technically, you'll probably be profusely sweating during this). The point is to get as far up as you can, to practice for that fateful day you'll be able to get your chin all the way up.
5. Assisted Pull-Up
Many gyms have assisted pull-up machines, which allow you to practice the movement and adjust the weight to your needs.
If you have access to this, it's a great way to practice your pull-ups. If not, there are workout bars you can find online that allow you to practice similarly at home.
BRB, going to take an ice bath for the next year.