A guide to pull-ups for beginners
It can always seem scary to try something new at the gym, but pull-ups have to be among the most daunting exercises. Watching people with huge muscles effortlessly support their entire bodyweight makes pull-ups seem impossible to achieve.
Pull-ups are so great because they work your back, arms and chest. And thanks to our beginner's guide, you'll be there in no time.
For anyone unsure, a pull-up is when you grip an exercise bar, with your palms facing out. When your palms face in it's called a chin-up, which is slightly easier. You then use the strength of your arms and upper body to pull your body up till you're chin-level with the bar, then lower again.
It's a good idea to start with some strengthening exercises at home, especially if you don't like to practise in a gym full of other people. Of course being generally fit is a good place to start, too: the less you weigh, the easier a pull-up will be. Work on your press-ups and weights and you'll be in a good place to begin your pull-up journey.
Once you're ready to hit the gym, start with an assisted pull-up machine, It counterbalances weights, so you can start off with a higher weight to make things easier. Aim to get to a place where you can comfortably manage five reps, then slowly reduce the weight so you're doing more of the hard work.
If you're ready to move onto the bar, you could start by placing something like a chair underneath you. This means you can allow your feet to rest on something should you need a breather. Or go for a jump pull-up, where you can use the momentum from the leap to get your chin up to the bar.
If you're feeling confident, here are some tips on getting the most out of your proper, full-strength pull-ups. Grip the bar with your palms facing away, then tense your core and bring your chin up to just above the bar. Don't allow your body to swing - it's all about the control.