When it comes to fitness goals, a lot of women don’t even put the pull-up on their list. Sadly, many women have bought into the myth that females are incapable of doing them. If you put that stereotype to rest you’ll soon earn a truly feminine physique.
It’s true that men have the genetic advantage of having more muscle mass in their upper extremities compared to women – we naturally have about 40% less. That makes this move more difficult, but not impossible.
There are many different methods to approach training for your first pull-up: from pull-up assist machines to resistance bands, wrist straps and even endless practice of kipping chin-ups. While there’s a time and a place for those strategies, they aren’t ideal if you want to learn the mechanics of a strict chin-up.
These are the tools and progressions you need to learn the pull-up and master what you may have thought was impossible. By the time you hit the first rep you’ll have transformed your physique, shape, performance and confidence.
What muscles do pull-ups work?
The great thing about pull-ups is that they work a lot of muscles, including:
• Hands and forearms
1. Australian chin-up
Get underneath a bar that’s about waist height. Grab it with an underhand grip just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your body straight. Bend your knees to make it easier, allowing you to push with your feet for assistance if you need to. Pull your chest to within an inch of the bar, then lower yourself slowly. Try not to use your momentum.
2. Bar hang
Grab the bar with an underhand grip. Your arms should be extended and feet suspended above the ground. Pull your shoulder blades down and back by lifting your chest and pushing your shoulders away from your ears. Think about squeezing your armpits down to activate your lats and help you hang longer. Hold for as long as possible without losing form.
3. Flexed-arm hang
Grab the bar with an underhand grip that’s shoulder-width apart and get into the top-most chin-up position with your chin above the bar. You may need to use a bench or partner for assistance. Try to hold your chin above the bar for as long as possible without any support other than your hands.
4. Slow negatives
Start in a flexed-arm hang with your chin over the bar. You may need to use a bench or partner for assistance. Tense your body and lower yourself slowly without using any momentum. Aim to make this negative phase last 4-10 seconds. You should end in the bar-hang position with your arms extended.
5. Chin-up (the master step)
This is it, the culmination of your four weeks of preparation. Start in the bar-hang position with your arms extended and pull your torso up until your chin is above the bar. Then slowly lower your body to the starting position to complete the rep.
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