In the Marine Corps, we loved pull ups. A pull up is a demonstration of upper body strength and endurance , and one of the toughest body weight excercises to master. For men to score 100 points on the fitness test we had to do 20 pull ups, and women had to conduct a flex arm hang for 70 seconds. ( Easier said then done)
A few weeks ago at Cressey Sports Performance we had an inservice from the guys over at Iron Body Studios on the pull up. And while I thought I had learned a lot about mastering the pull up while in the Marines, they showed us some pretty cool ways to master a pull up.
Mastering the pull up
The first step to mastering a pull up is to master your core awareness. When you hang from the bar, you should be able to maintain tension throughout the entire body. Your speed should be kept steady, and each rep should be conducted with explosiveness. Always train with a purpose , ensure your chin gets above the bar, and your arms come all the way down at the bottom.
You don’t want to be this guy…
So you are ready to start doing a proper pull up?
The first step to mastering a proper pull up is to teach your body how to maintain proper core control. Since pull-ups require a great deal of overall body strength, it is important to train with exercises that will help carry over to the bar.
The Floor Hollow ( aka, the floor banana)
Work your way up to 5 sets of 3-5 reps or hard breaths
TRX /Ab Wheel Rollouts
The ab wheel rollout is great way to teach the body how to get tight, hollow out the core, and learn explosion over the top.
Try 3 sets of 8-10 reps
On to the the bar
Once you have mastered the hollow body and ab wheel rollout, its time to move you to the bar. Nothing gets your core fired up and muscles working the right way when you can hang from the bar properly.
Hanging from the bar
Perform 3 sets of 10-15 leg raises , 5 sets of 5-10 second flexed arm hangs
It is best to start with hanging leg raises and hollow positions on the bar. From there you can try, straight and flexed arm hangs.
There are many ways to perform an assisted pull-up. Try utilizing a band to assist in getting yourself over the bar.
Perform 3-5 sets of 5 pull-ups or chin ups
Remember, it is much better to perform 1 solid pull-up then to attempt 5 crappy ones. Try to practice some of the mentioned exercises at least 2-3 times a week, and give yourself time. If you stick to these exercises and work on perfecting form, there is no reason why you can’t be approaching the bar and cranking out pull-ups sooner than you think.