For many, pull ups can seem out of reach, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. If you haven’t done one since the fitness test in PE, there’s good reason to reconsider them. Pull ups may be considered a primarily back exercise, but they work every muscle group in the upper body, says Kyle Stull, Senior Master Trainer and Education Content Manager for Implus, LLC, the parent company of fitness equipment maker Perfect Fitness. “From shoulders, chest, upper and lower back to abdominals, forearms, and hand and grip strength, pull ups challenge the whole upper body.” In addition to the efficiency of this strength builder, pull ups are more accessible than you might believe. “Pull ups are a great exercise for everyone and can be scaled to any ability level,” Stull adds.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with the team at Perfect Fitness to bring you a 30-day workout to take you from zero to pull-up pro. On top of that, we’re giving away a Perfect Pullup®! This home pull-up system features an adjustable swing arm to bring the bar down for a variety of strength exercises. Read on to see how you could win!
The 30 Days to a Perfect Pull Up Workout
This program consists of 5 exercises:
Just like the name implies, you’re simply hanging with your body as dead weight to improve your grip strength. With your palms facing forward and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, grip a pull-up bar and hang with your body weight entirely or mostly off the ground. Don’t forget to engage your shoulders. Hold as long as you can, rest 30 seconds, then repeat.
Jumping Eccentric Pull-Up
Stand below the pull-up bar and jump up to grab it with the same placement as you would for dead hangs, but instead of hanging, use the momentum of the jump to pull yourself up to the bar. Hold at the top for a second, then let yourself down as slowly as possible. Repeat 8-10 times per set.
Use an assisted pull up machine, resistance band or a friend to perform a pull-up with assisting weight. Focus on using your lats and upper back to pull yourself up, not the momentum of the assistance. Shoot for 8-10 reps per set (set the assist weight accordingly if using an assisted pull up machine.)
Using a Smith machine bar set roughly at rib cage height or TRX straps, grip the bar the same way you would for a pull up, lean back and step your feet forward so your body is at a 45° angle to the ground (adjust higher or lower as needed.) Keeping your body in a straight line, pull your chest to the bar using your upper back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower back down to the starting position, and repeat for 12-15 reps per set.
Using a lat pull machine with a bar or two separate cable arms, sit in an upright position, lift your chest, and pull the bar or cables toward your chest by engaging your upper back and lats to draw your elbows in to your sides as close as possible. Repeat for 10-12 reps per set, and set the weight so that your last rep is the last one you could possibly do in that set.
Take a day or two to practice these if you’ve never done them before, then follow this 30-day calendar:
Day 1: Dead hangs x 3 sets
Day 2: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Dead hangs x 3 sets
Day 5: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Dead hangs x 4 sets
Day 8: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 9: Off
Day 10: Dead hangs x 4 sets
Day 11: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 12: Off
Day 13: Dead hangs x 4 sets
Day 14: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 15: Off
Day 16: Dead hangs x 5 sets
Day 17: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 18: Off
Day 19: Dead hangs x 5 sets
Day 20: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 21: Off
Day 22: Dead hangs x 6 sets
Day 23: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 24: Off
Day 25: Dead hangs x 6 sets
Day 26: Assisted pull-ups, inverted rows, lat pulls
Day 27: Off
Day 28: Dead hangs x 6 sets
Day 29: Off
Day 30: Pull-ups or jumping pull-ups
If you complete this 30-day series and have officially (re)mastered the pull up, congrats! If not, that’s ok! Keep building strength until you can, and then keep on going. “Always remember that body gets stronger gradually and it takes time to see results,” Stull says. “Don’t forget that hydration, nutrition and sleep play a key role in every exercise regimen as well.”
On the road? Keep building your strength without equipment. Try a traditional plank for 20-30 seconds or side plank to challenge your shoulder stability and work your core from a different angle, Stull says. Push ups are another great exercise to build upper body strength, or try using a simple device like the Ab Carver Pro, which focuses on both stabilization of the core and building strength in the shoulders, he adds. “Also remember to stretch and/or foam roll your chest, upper back and side torso to increase your range of motion.”
Editor’s Note: We might opt for the Ab Carver Sport, which would pack easily in a carry-on when you travel!
ENTER THE PERFECT PULLUP® GIVEAWAY
For your chance to win the Perfect Pullup®, enter between July 4 and August 15, 2016 (up to 11:55 PM EST) in one or both of the following entry methods:
- Sign up to receive monthly updates from Travel Well (no spam, we promise!) by opting in to our mailing list >
- Share your pics from your pull up workouts with the hashtag #PerfectPullup and tagging Travel Well (@travelwellmag.) One entry per day on each of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (three total) will qualify.