If you want to have a well-rounded and strong back, chances are you will have to do pull-ups. Find out how to increase your pull-ups, even if you can’t do a single one.
Fitness trainer and Kinesiology graduate Jeremy Ethier has shared 3 science-based tips on how to increase your pull-ups. According to him, this exercise is arguably the best to increase the size and strength of your upper back and arm muscles.
“Most individuals have yet to even achieve their first pull-up. And for those who have, they’ll then often struggle with increasing the total number of pull-ups that they can perform,” Ethier says.
If that is your case, you have landed on the right webpage. Here are 3 science-based tips on how to increase your pull-ups. And lat pulldown machine and assisted pull-up is simply not the answer you are looking for.
How to Increase Your Pull-Ups
1. Strengthen the Prime Movers
According to a study published in 2018, the muscles most activated during the pull-up are the core, the biceps, the lats, and the mid and lower traps. Those are the muscles you should be strengthening.
“By training each of these muscles with alternative pulling exercises, you’ll be able to strengthen them to a point where they’re accumulated to be strong enough for you to achieve a pull-up,” Jeremy explains.
The best exercises to strengthen these muscles are:
- Scapular pull-ups – lower traps and grip strength.
- Kneeling lat pulldowns – lats, core, and arms.
- Inverted Row – lats, core, mid-traps, and arms.
2. Neural Adaptations
You need to train your body to be able to understand the movement and what it requires your muscles to do. If you cannot do a single pull-up, then you can start by doing some banded pull-ups because it’s the closest to the pull-up exercise itself.
Jeremy Ethier explains that you should start with heavier bands and progressively change to lighter resistance bands once you can do 10 pull-ups so that you are pulling more and more of your body weight.
He continues to exemplify that the assisted pull-up machine can be used, but it won’t force you to engage your core, which is one of the prime muscles you will need to engage during the pull-ups.
Also, practice some negative pull-ups to “work on strengthening the eccentric portion of the pull-up and to also get you more comfortable with feeling what it’s like to control your body weight against gravity.”
After performing the 5 exercises mentioned above to engage your prime movers and teach your body how the pull-up feels, you will be able to do pull-ups without any assistance.
After you reach 10 unbroken reps in a single set, how to increase your pull-ups game even further? With progressive overload.
Utilise a weight belt to continue pulling up even more weight and start constructing a bigger and stronger back with the logic of hypertrophy.
Once you get to the overload process of how to increase your pull-ups, start adding pull-up into your training routine twice a week with 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps. Also, you might want to do a different variation of the pull-up, such as chin-up or hammer grip pull-up.