Pull-ups are one of the most basic exercises, but definitely NOT one of the easiest. Hanging on a bar and lifting your entire body weight can be a challenge to many and even impossible for some. While they may not be the most entertaining exercise, pull-ups have many health and fitness benefits.
What are some of the ways that pull-ups can help you in your quest for fitness? They are a fantastic way to build upper body strength fast. Not only do they increase arm, back, and abdominal strength and muscle tone, but hand and finger strength are increased as well. General posture and flexibility can also improve drastically! Pull-ups are one of the most convenient exercises that you can do – they can be done in many places in addition to the gym. At home? Install a pull-up bar in a doorway. At the park? Monkey bars or a sturdy tree branch that is parallel to the ground can be used! Even if you are short on time it can be easy to do a few pull-ups in just a few minutes.
Many people attempt pull-ups and are discouraged to find that they are unable to do even one. It can be very difficult because you are lifting your own body weight, and, not surprisingly, the more you weigh the harder it may be. The best way to build up to doing pull-ups is to start with circuit training and do pull-downs, gradually increasing the weight used. Continue to attempt pull-ups, even if you cannot make it all the way. Eventually all the muscles needed to do this compound exercise will begin to work together and they will become easier to do.
Finally able to master the pull-up? There are variations that can be done which work different muscles in different ways. Experiment with spreading your hands farther apart on the bar, then placing hands closer together on the bar. Try a chin-up, which is done with your palms facing you in an underhanded position (pull-ups are done palms out). If you want something even more challenging you can add on some weight, such as a weighted belt or a kettle bell attached to your foot.
Sometimes you have to push yourself to reach your ultimate goals, and pull-ups are one of the best ways to bring your fitness up a notch. Upper body strength will be dramatically improved, and being adept at this exercise may even make your other workout routines seem too easy!