Body Weight Exercises - The Pull Up

Continuing on with the theme of body weight exercises, here is a feature on the pull up - otherwise known as the chin-up.

While not as minimalist as the push-up, it can still be done easily in your house with the purchase of a chin up bar that can be place in pretty much any doorway. I want to prefaces this post with saying that pull-ups look a lot simpler than they are. Many women will be unable to do them - not because of a lack of upper body strength, but because of the carrying angle at the elbow. a man's elbow is typically much more straight than a woman's; this gives them a bio-mechanical advantage with certain activities, such as the pull-up.

The Science-y Bit
Pull-ups mainly involve the following muscles
MusclesAction
Bicepselbow flexions
elbow/wrist supination
Latissimus Dorsishoulder adduction
shoulder internal rotation
shoulder extension
Rhomboidsscapula retraction
Teres majorshoulder internal rotation
As you can see the pull-up is a extremely useful exercise in that it utilizes a activates so many muscles in the back, as well as the arm. Taking into consideration grip strength even more musculature could be listed, but I think that you get that idea - pull-ups are the ultimate back exercise.

The Practical Bit
If you've managed to sift through the boring science bit above congratulations. Your prize is a clear, concise explanation of the usefulness of pull-ups.

  1. It is ridiculously easy to adapt. Simple by changing to an underhand grip with a narrow grip (aka chin-up) the exercise changes to place more focus on your biceps and lats.
  2. All you need as a door frame and one of these nifty contraptions and you can do them pretty much anywhere you want.
  3. Easy to progress. start with a step (milk crate or chair for the minimalist) and you can give yourself a boost. Move on to not using a step and - when you're really ready for a challenge - weigh yourself down; tie a bag of oranges to your belt for example.
  4. As I've mentioned above, this exercise is compound. This is great because you're working more than one muscle group at a time, meaning you're being as efficient as possible
  5. finally, it mimics a functional movement. By that I mean it's an exercise that's akin to something you would do in real life. For to rock climber it's pulling yourself up on a ledge, for the regular person it's pulling yourself up to see what's on the very top shelf or in the attack. 
So there you have it folks. The pull-up. Compound, efficient, and easily adaptable.

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