When it comes to pull-ups and all the variations, it’s important to hit your back musculature from various angles and grip widths. Change your vertical pull of choice every 4-6 weeks. If pull-ups are a job requirement for you ensure you are hitting some variation at least twice a week.
Vertical Pulls 101
Pull Ups and Lat Pulldown — Setup
1. Exercise selection
Choose a variation that you like and stick with it for a minimum of 4 weeks.
- Ensure that you can fully express the entire range of motion comfortably for whichever variation your choose.
Pull Ups and Lat Pulldown — Execution
Your breath is intrinsically linked to core tightness. Nothing ruins a pull-up more than extra movement or swinging. The best way to prevent extra movement is to keep your core tight and locked down. This means you should:
- Inhale and brace at the bottom
- Execute a rep, or 2, or as many as you can on one breath.
- Take a breath at the bottom and repeat.
If you are good at pull-ups or the weight is very light you can:
- Exhale on the concentric (when you are traveling toward the bar or the bar is traveling towards you).
- Inhale on the eccentric (when you and the bar are parting ways).
2. Range of motion
Allow the shoulder blades to move through their full range of motion.
- Rows are a back exercise with secondary effects on the biceps. If your shoulder blades (scaps) are locked into a position you are by definition NOT going through the full range of motion for your back muscles.
Don’t use momentum
- Especially with pull-ups, the goal of this plan is to work the lats so you can be stronger at pulls. It is not to do as many bullshit shitty McShit shit pull-ups as possible. You can do those in Crossfit class or during your next PFT. Don’t steal precious time from yourself to get stronger.
Pull Ups and Lat Pulldown — Coaching Cues
- Full range of motion in your shoulder blades
- Breathe with the movement
- Maintain control through both the concentric and eccentric phases
Pull Ups and Lat Pulldown — Adjustments
Choose a variation that doesn’t cause pain. There are many variations that all do an adequate job.
Pull-ups are a skill as much as a strength exercise. If these are in your job description you need to do them. In order to get the most out of your pull-up training start implementing eccentric pull-ups, and assisted pull-ups into your workouts. Check out this article to get a free pull-up programming plug-in to ensure you get to that max rep set of 23 on the next PT test.
Back pain is often caused by arching the chest into the bar as you close the distance between you and the bar. Don’t do that.
If a particular variation bothers your wrists, switch to a supine or neutral grip variation.
Caveat: This exercise guidance should never usurp the advice of your medical professional. If there is a question in your mind as to the suitability of this exercise for you confer with your doctor. WATM is not liable if you do something ill-advised after reading any of our fitness content.