Not being able to do many pull-ups can be frustrating, and trying to increase the number of them even more so. I know, I’ve been there too. The important thing is to not give up. The Pull-up is such a powerful exercise, one that can transform your upper body, so you don’t want to leave it on the sidelines. Below is a list of the best practices to beef up your Pull-up number.
How to Increase Your Pull-ups
- Do More Pull-ups. As with many things, you get better with practice. Nine times out of ten, you just need to practice doing more Pull-ups. Walk up to the bar, and try to do one more Pull-up than you did last time. Every time you attempt Pull-ups, try to beat your previous record.
- Use Resistance Bands. Loop a resistance band around the bar and hook it under your knee or foot. This will make it easier for you to do Pull-ups with proper form and build up muscle strength and endurance.
- Do Negatives. Grab onto the bar and either jump up to the top position or stand on something to get up there. Lower yourself slowly – as slowly as you can. Once you get to the bottom, hop back up and do it again. This will build up loads of strength which will translate into increased Pull-ups.
- Avoid Assisted Pull-up Machines. These types of machines balance the weight for you and eliminate the need for you to use your stabilizer muscles. They also force you into a fixed movement which doesn’t translate into more strength during real Pull-ups.
- Vary Your Rep Ranges. Alternate training with low reps for strength and high reps (assisted with resistance bands) for endurance. By alternating your routine you avoid letting your muscles become used to a particular type of training, and promote faster muscle growth and greater strength.
- Use Momentum. Use your hips to give you a slight burst of momentum at the bottom of the movement to help you up. This is a relatively subtle movement, you definitely shouldn’t be swinging your entire body around.
- Use A Spotter. Get a friend to grab you by the sides and help you during a Pull-up. Make sure they don’t lift when you don’t need it, though.
- Try Chin-ups. Chin-ups are easier than Pull-ups and are extremely useful for building up the strength necessary to do Pull-ups. If you can do these, concentrate on increasing the number of them you can do, then go back and try Pull-ups again.
- Don’t Go To Failure. Yes, you read that right. I know as well as you do that you should almost always take your weight training sets to failure, but Pull-ups are the exception. Too often I see people trying to squeeze out the last few reps of a Pull-ups set with horrible form. They’re hanging there, using every ounce of their might to bang out another horrible looking rep. They’ll swing, Kipping themselves up, or start climbing some invisible ladder. This won’t make you any stronger, and it will probably actually end up making you weaker. Do yourself a favor, when you get 3/4 of the way up a rep and struggle to finish, make that your last rep.