The pull-up is one of the most important muscle-building exercises all the time, and it should be included in any of your strength training plan.
without further ado, here are 3 simple tips to improve your pull-ups and get the most benefits of this movement.
Tip #1 To improve Your Pull-Ups: Activate Your Back Muscles
First of all, you need to know that the most strength for your pull-ups comes from your back and not from your arms. and for this reason, you should activate your back muscles first before you bend your arms and pull yourself up.
Now the question is what’s the difference between the passive and the active hang?
In the passive hang, you just hang from a bar with straight arms and almost no activation of your back muscles.
In the active hang, you pull your shoulder blades down and together which is known as depression and retraction.
In both positions, you don’t have to bend your elbows at all, because the passive hang is mostly about the handgrip strength and can also be used to stretch your lats and pecs which will result in better opening of your shoulder (good for a straight handstand position).
The purpose of the active hang is to activate your lats, traps and lumbar. So when you do a pull-up, the first thing you should aim for is the active hang position, you should use your shoulder-blades only without bending your arms to get the movement started.
This is important to engage a lot more muscles in your back and to keep your shoulder girdles strong and healthy.
You can do your pull-up with the release of the active hang and switch to the passive hang for each rep, which is very good to learn the right technique. but you can also hold the active hang during the complete motion of the movement. No matter which variation you choose, make sure you always fully extend your arms when you’re in the bottom position.
Tip #2 To improve Your Pull-Ups: The Optimal Back Engagement
Moving on to the next tip which is also about the optimal back engagement. When you do a pull-up, you can imagine that the resistance is right under your elbow. Driving your elbows down to your body as much as you can will activate your back muscles in an optimal way.
When you do this, your arms will bend systematically and of course, you’ll work your biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis during the movement. But to achieve maximum outcome in terms of back activation, you should conceive this elbow movement.
To get the true imagination, you can practice this with a resistance band. Fix the band right under your elbow and try to pull it down without grabbing it with your hands. By doing this, you will be pulling the band down only with your elbow and this will make you do the right neural muscular input.
Tip #3 To improve Your Pull-Ups: The Muscle Tension
The last tip is about the muscle tension. There’re different ways to do a pull-up. You can do them explosive or slow and more control. If you want to increase your explosive strength, you can quickly move up and down, but you should never smash into your joints when you hit the bottom.
Many people want to do as many pull-ups as possible to set the new personal record. But when we speak about building solid strength and muscle mass, the time under tension is very important.
When you pull yourself up explosively and you let yourself fall down quickly, your muscles will be under less tension than if you do your pull-ups slower.
Let’s take a quick example. Imagine that we compare 2 people with the same height and weight at the same experience and training. The first one is able to do 15 pull-ups in 15 seconds by pulling up explosively and falling down quickly with nearly no tension.
The second one is able to do 10 pull-ups in 30 seconds by also pulling up quickly, but going down much slower and more controlling.
Now the First-person does more pull-ups, but he has only half the time under tension of the second person, so the second person is able to hold his muscles under tension for a longer period of time, because he is stronger than the first one, although he does fewer reps. If you are wondering why does it take so long to improve your pull-ups, check if you considered these tips. And if not, make sure to implement them into your workouts.