01 Feb 5 Ways To Improve Your Pull-up Form And Performance
Pullups are one of the most popular compound exercises for fitness enthusiasts. They improve core, posture, and enhance functional strength. In one fluid motion, pull ups work out delts, lats, pecs, traps, biceps, and abs. Unsurprisingly pullups are used as markers for fitness tests the world over. Improving pullup performance is no mean task. It requires motivation and commitment. It also requires understanding and intelligence. Following are techniques that improve pullup form and performance.
Starting off correctly
How a person assumes position is key to how they will eventually perform. All too often, people jump up and grab the bar and land in the pullup posture with a mild jerk. Resultant slight rotation of the wrist means the skin in the top of the palm gets folded under the grip and the bar is positioned over the fold. With each subsequent rep, the skin is pinched, and the pain increases. Eventually the pain restricts pullups performance.
It is better practice to ease into pullup position by reaching and placing hands on top of the bar so the bar rests on the top of the palm. Slide the hands gently into position ensuring there are no folds in the skin, allowing good grip.
To complete a pull up, the chin is required to clear the bar starting from an ‘arms extended’ hanging position. If a person is looking straight ahead the chin is tucked into the neck. Tilting the head backward elevates the chin a couple of inches. This is that much distance that the body travels less to complete the rep, conserving strength, and energy for the next rep.
It is a common practice to cross legs while performing pull ups. There is minimal involvement of lower body muscles compared to those of the torso. Given the concentration on upper body, the role of the lower body is marginalized, and legs are often tucked without any real thought.
Pull ups facilitate functional strength. Functional motion hardly ever requires legs crossed or tucked away. By keeping legs straight one can flex quads and part of the strain passes on to the lower limbs. It also aligns the effort with functional strength and over time the number of reps performed increase.
Having a wider grip on the bar means that the body travels lesser distance from the ‘arms extended’ position. Having a shoulder width grip mean the body had to be pulled up almost the length of the whole arm. Widening the grip means the arm length is extended at an angle. The distance to be covered to the bar decreases and so does the effort required to cover this distance.
Reduction of the Eccentric phase
Pullups comprise of two phases. The concentric phase where the effort is directed against the gravity in the upward motion. And the Eccentric phase, i.e. the lowering down of the body. Reducing the eccentric phase allows a faster completion or reps. Instead of letting the body fall with gravity, pushing the bar to get into the lower lockdown position quicker speeds up the rep. It does have an impact on the elbow joints so should only be attempted once the body is properly warmed up and stretched out. But by pushing the body down the number for pullups that can be performed per minute can be improved.