When we were kids on the playground, climbing the monkey bars was one of our favourite activities. Now, as adults, we look to pull-up bars for fitness instead of fun. But who says it has to be one or the other?
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Yes, performing exercises with a pull-up bar is an excellent form of resistance training — but with the right attitude and some interesting variations, it can also make for a fun and enjoyable workout.
Pull-ups are one of those basic, foundational exercises that are great for strength training. As a general rule, if you can do a pull up, chances are you’re in pretty good physical condition, since pull ups require stamina, flexibility, and lots of upper body strength.
For a great upper-body workout, try these 10 easy pull up bar exercises on for size.
1. Learn To Hang
Sounds easy enough, but learning to hang is essential when it comes to mastering pull-up bar exercises. A strong grip is needed along with the strength to lift your own weight. Check with an expert before beginning. With hands gripping the bar (overhand), lift your chin towards and up to the bar. Release slowly to a dead hang position, extending your arms. For added resistance, add leg and arm weights, or a weight around your midsection. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and release.
2. Chin Ups (Pull Up)
A basic pull up bar move, pull ups have been around for centuries (probably since the beginning of time). Pull ups, as well as most pull-up bar exercises, engage your entire core; back, biceps and forearms. With an overhanded grip, hands shoulder-width apart, grab the bar and pull yourself up until your chin is even with the bar. Slowly lower your body until your arms are fully extended. Repeat for 5 to 10 reps.
3. Use A Chair
Sometimes you’ll need to use a chair to assist you in completing your pull-up bar workout. Remember, you are using your upper body to pull up your own bodyweight. It’s resistance training. Place a chair at the bottom of a horizontal bar. Stand on the chair with our chin above the bar. Pull yourself up off the chair and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 5 reps.
4. One-Arm Hang
Try out this one-arm hang position, raising your legs simultaneously in front of you. Keep toes pointed and back straight. Enlist the help of partner if you are not strong enough. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and release. Repeat for five reps. Do not force the exercise; move naturally and at your own level. You can do it!
5. Exercise Band Pull Ups
Find an exercise band that supports your fitness level. Choke one end of the band around the centre of your pull up bar. Place the other end securely under your right bent knee. Pull yourself up with elbows tucked inward, attempting to pull your chin over the bar. Do not strain or jerk.
Negative pull-up bar exercises require you to be in control. Negative pull ups work best when you move intentionally and slowly so that you feel the resistance. Begin in the flexed arm hang position – chin above the bar and arms flexed – gripping overhead and at the top of the pull up bar. Slowly lower your body down, fully extending your arms. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat.
A great move to stretch your core body and improve strength, the crisscross pull up is a cinch. Using a pull up bar, hang freely. Lift your right knee up towards your left side while turning your entire body to the left. Repeat with the left knee and turn to the right.
Certainly a challenging workout, cliffhangers engage your entire upper body, creating tension during the exercise. Standing sideways, grip your hands to the pull up bar in a vertical line. Pull yourself up to the right side of the bar, come down slowly, and then pull yourself up to the left side. Complete 5-10 reps for an awesome workout.
9. Applauding Pull Ups
This is an advanced variation for those who have strength and confidence in their pull-up moves. Applauding pull ups require you to build enough momentum to propel yourself upwards far enough to release your hands, clap your hands, and return to the bar without jerking or pulling.
10. Take The Stairs
The invisible stairs, that is. Not for the weak, this pull up variation requires maximum core and upper body strength. Begin with a basic pull up, jack up your favourite music, and pretend that you are climbing invisible stairs. Climb as high as you can go without straining. Do not jerk or overexert.
There is a progression to these pull-up bar exercises, one more intense than the next. Do not exercise beyond your fitness level. Seek a personal trainer or fitness expert to determine where you are physically. Begin your workout with the appropriate form and technique, and build from there.
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