Help with pull-ups

Craig Sheppard

Hall of Fame
So say you want to do pull-ups and don't have access to one of those cool machines that lets you set a certain amount of weight to assist you. All you have is yourself and a pull-up bar. Well, when you're starting out, especially if you weigh a good amount, it's pretty hard to do a lot of pull-ups.

Is there a way to make pull-ups are easier at first, so you can do more of them? I doubt if you can do 3 or 4, you're really getting a good workout doing that.... Ideas?
 

tennis08tarheels

Hall of Fame
Have someone hold your legs. Dangle from the bar, bend your knees, and stick your legs out behind out at a 90 degree angle to your body, if you can picture that. Then have someone hold onto your feet, and do as many as you can.
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
You would need someone to hold your ankles and push you up a bit to get you started if you can't do them. Or, stand on a chair and start by doing half pull-ups. Eventually, you will be able to go all the way down.

-Robert
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
Try reducing the weight you use for the excercise (ha-ha).

I would suggest using a chair. Put it near enough so you can "cheat" a bit when you start getting fatigued to get a few extra in.

Basically, the more often you do these, the better you get.
 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
Let me suggest a few different ways, supposing that you can at least do 1-2 full pull-ups:

1. Take as much time as you'd like in between sets. Say it totally tires out your muscles after a set of 2. Take 10, 20, or 30 minutes, and then come back to do another set. You can even take a half day off and do another set. This does not get you any kind of cardio workout, but it will train your arms, shoulders and back muscles to help you do more in a row.

2. Change grips. For most people, wide-grip pullups are harder to do than narrow-grip pullups. Also, change the muscles you use. If you turn your palms inward, then you use more of your biceps. A lot of people find this easier than the regular pullups that stress your triceps. Switch your grips for each set, and you should be able to squeeze in some more.

3. Use momentum and cheat: Let your body swing and you will be able to double or triple the number of pullups you can do. Some people regard this as cheating and not worth doing. But this certainly has some real-world applications. For example, let's say you need to climb up over a high fence for some reason. The dumbest thing you can do is to minimize your body momentum and try to pull yourself up just by strength of a few muscle groups. In real-life and sports, you need to learn how to use your body's momentum, so as to move more effortlessly. Anyway, I digress....

4. Lower your bar: If you have a door-post bar, lower it after you've tired yourself out. You want to lower it to the point where you can touch the bar at around your face- or chest-level. Now, stretch your legs out forward, and let your feet touch the ground. This should take some of your weight off. Let your knee extend all the way, so that your legs won't be helping you. You just want to take some weight off, that's all. Now you will be able to do a few more.

5. Squeeze your grips and buttocks hard. This is a tip I got from the Russian fitness guy Pavel Tsatsouline. If you pre-squeeze those body parts, you should be able to do the pullups and pushups more easily, he says. I think it works for some people.

Good luck.
 
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Ano

Hall of Fame
Do negative pull ups.

Stand on a chair and use your legs to lift you body to the top position of pull up, then lower your body slowly (4-6 seconds). That is one rep.

Do as many reps as you can until you can't control the lowering phase.

Perform 1 set two times a week in the first week.

Perform 2 sets two times a week in the second week.

Perform 3 sets two times a week in the third week.

Perform 3 sets two times a week in the fourth week.

After that, you can easily do normal pull ups for 6-10 reps/set.

Good luck.
 

Craig Sheppard

Hall of Fame
Ahhhh very good ideas, esp. scotus & Ano! It's just something I've thought of doing when I can't get to the gym... I can do about 4 or 5 I'd say... not a lot, for some reason I find it really hard to pull up my 185 lbs. I do mostly cardio (cycling, running, etc) & tennis, and not too much on the weights. I'll def try these ideas.
 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
Ahhhh very good ideas, esp. scotus & Ano! It's just something I've thought of doing when I can't get to the gym... I can do about 4 or 5 I'd say... not a lot, for some reason I find it really hard to pull up my 185 lbs. I do mostly cardio (cycling, running, etc) & tennis, and not too much on the weights. I'll def try these ideas.
You are very welcome. And I think it is great that you are placing more emphasis on cardio. Best wishes.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
+1 for the "negatives" on the pull-up bar.

I've been pull-up challenged pretty much forever, but whenever I get into a stretch (usually in the winter) where I can get into a pool for a good swim once or twice a week, my pull-up capacity skyrockets. I don't worry about pull-ups at all if I'm swimming, but if not, the negatives are the only way I can get good lat work without a machine.
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
If you have access to a park may find monkey bars, rings, and even dip bars. Even a straight bar only 3 feet off the ground that will allow you to rest your feet on the ground while performing pull-ups. Monkey bars may allow a different grip that feels easier.
 
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