A pull-up is an advanced training exercise used to strengthen the upper body. To do a pull-up, you will need to have a pull-up bar to grip/hold and have your body extended. As the name suggests, this is an exercise where you grip on the pull-up bar and hang as the body ‘pulls up’ until the chin is above the pull-up bar. The elbows flex and shoulders extend, bringing the elbows to the torso. The motions are repeated to form a close-chain movement. When performing a pull-up, the palms face away from you instead of the ‘chin-up’ exercise where the hands grip the bar with palms facing towards you.
The variations of the pull-ups are quite a bunch depending on how high the body moves. The complexity of the exercise may as well vary depending on the technique used. This could be dependent on the width of the grip. A shoulder-width grip is a little less difficult than a narrower or wider grip, which may limit the range of motion.
Pull-ups have been used in the past in the military as a physical fitness test.
Like all forms of training exercises, pull-ups have several benefits. Some of them are as follows:
Strengthening of the arm and shoulder muscles
The Gym Goat has mentioned, when performing this exercise, the arms and shoulders are engaged in the majority of the work. By regularly performing pull-ups, you can greatly strengthen the arms and shoulders.
In case you find the process difficult or are exercising as a beginner, you can try pull-ups on an assisted machine. You can also work your own pace by getting in position and making a complete motion, which will help achieve this benefit.
During the closed-chain movements, the entire body gets lifted to improve physical fitness and overall body strength
to perform a successful pull-up. This improves your overall body strength and helps in enhancing cardiovascular health and muscle development.
For best results, perform pull-ups 2-3 times a week.
Improvement of mental health
A study conducted in 2010 showed a directly proportional relation between strength training and reduced fatigue, increased self-esteem, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved cognitive function.
Pull-ups help in improving mental health and relieving stress.
Improvement of grip strength
Pull-ups are done using pronated grips. Your grip prevents you from falling when performing a pull-up. As such, the grips may match each other, or they may be mixed. A mixed drip is where one hand is placed in a pronated position while the other is in a supinated position, which provides a variation in the elbow flexors being used.
In daily living, grip strength helps in most tasks such as carrying shopping, digging in the garden, and opening cans. It is also very helpful during sporting activities such as rock or mountain climbing.
Pull-ups will help in improving grip strength.
Improvement of Physical Health
Studies have shown that strength training helps manage two types of diabetes and reduce visceral fat. It can also reduce back pains.
Before carrying out any strenuous exercise, you need to check with your doctor. When the proper techniques are used, pull-ups are a great way to improve your physical health.
Strengthening of back muscles
The back muscles engaged when performing pull-ups are:
- i) Trapezius- a muscle located from the neck out to the shoulders.
- ii) Infraspinatus-a muscle located on the shoulder blade that helps with shoulder extension.
iii) Latissimus Dorci- the upper back muscle running from the mid-back to under the armpits and shoulder blades.
- iv) Thoracic Erector Spinae- they are three muscles running along the thoracic spine.
By performing pull-ups, the above muscles become stronger.
Challenging body muscles
Some muscles are worked when performing pull-ups which includes:
- -Flexion of the elbows
- -Isometric flexion of fingers
- -Extension and adduction of shoulders
- -Isometric anti-extension and anti-rotation of the spine.
By adding pull-ups to your daily routine, you will help in improving your fitness and strength.
Pull-ups help burn some calories but not as much as other training exercises such as running the treadmill. However, performing pull-ups frequently, with increased intensity and less resting time in between, will lose some weight.
Exercising prompts the release of endorphins and serotonin, which is a happy chemical. Endocannabinoid helps in making the body more relaxed and at ease.
When performing pull-ups, there are many variations to choose from. Each variation targets exercising a different muscle in the body. Some of these variations are; behind-the-neck pull-up, mixed grip, commando pull-up, climber’s chin-up, kipping, extended-leg-pullup, sternum chins, and muscle-up pull-ups, among others.
According to the American Council on Exercise, one should be careful when performing pull-ups, and you should avoid putting pressure on the shoulders. Using improper techniques or doing excessive pull-ups could cause elbow pains. One should exercise safety and caution when performing pull-ups.