Improve Your Pull-Up Performance
Primary muscles used: Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
Secondary muscles used (Stabilizers): Trapezius (Traps), Rhomboids, Biceps, Serratus Anterior,Transverse Abdominus, Obliques
One of the most invaluable body weight exercises in your arsenal is the pull-up. It improves your strength, overall shoulder flexibility, joint stability and balances your pressing strength. There are more than 10 different pull-up variations; however, you should avoid all variants until you can properly perform a standard pull-up without compromising your form. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when performing a stand up pull-up. Keep your hands just outside shoulder width, make sure your shoulders are fully open, that your chest is forward, and your feet bottoms are facing backward. Bring your elbows to a full extension at the bottom of your pull-up and bring your clavicle to the bar at the top of your pull-up.
There are 3 different key ways to improve your pull-up performance; however, choosing which method is best for you should be based on your current fitness level and your goals.
First, you will need to figure out how many reps (repetitions) you can perform before you "fail out" (are unable to continue) during each of your 5 sets of reps. Add up the number of reps you performed and divide this by 5 (the number of sets you performed) to calculate the average number of reps performed per set. This average will determine the number of reps you should perform per set. Now you can begin a routine of 5 sets of pull-ups with your determined amount of reps per set. Do this routine 2-3 times per week for a minimum of 3-6 weeks. Then slowly start increasing the amount of repetitions you perform within the same number of sets until you reach your rep goals.
If you can do more than 15 reps per set and can perform 4-6 sets per workout, then this is probably a great method for you because the periodization method focuses around adding extra weight to your body to further improve your strength. First, you will want to figure out your "One Repetition Maximum" (1-RM) for weighted pull-ups. Your 1-RM weight is the maximum amount of weight you can manage to carry for a single rep. Be cautious in measuring your 1-RM because continually adding on weights until you are no longer able to lift them can be damaging. Once you know your 1-RM weight, you will enter into a 5 week training schedule. During week one, you will proceed to perform 8 single repetitions per set, 5 sets per session lifting approximately 80% of your 1-RM weight. During week two you will perform 6 single repetitions per set, 5 sets per session lifting approximately 85% of your 1-RM weight. Follow this pattern for the following weeks at 4 reps per set lifting 90% 1-RM, then 2 reps per set lifting 95% 1-RM and finally on your last week you will perform 1 rep per set lifting 100% 1-RM weight. You should notice impressive strength gains. Measure your new 1-RM weight and perform the same program for another 6 weeks.
The bodybuilding method involves individually building both the primary and secondary muscles. The program works because it focuses on building each muscle group's strength and endurance. Each session consists of:
Lat pull downs (exercises the Latissimus Dorsi): perform 6 sets of 20 reps,
Barbell shrugs (exercises the Trapezius): perform 6 sets of 6 reps with heavy weights,
Dumbbell hammer curls (exercises the Biceps): perform 4 sets of 20 reps,
Sit-ups with twist (exercises the Abdominals): perform 3 sets of 20 reps
Sessions should be performed at least 3 times per week for 4-6 weeks. Once you have finished your program you should begin the 'Adaptation Method.'
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