Why pull-ups are the best bodyweight exercise

When it comes to bodyweight only exercises, there are a couple of bare basics that everyone should master before moving on to more difficult things.

Performing your very first pull-up

Pull-ups are not only one of those bare basics moves you should master, they are arguably THE best body weight only exercise. Pull-ups often get a bad rep from absolute beginners for being too damn difficult to master, but that’s simply not true.

Yes, pull ups require a lot more upper body strength than push ups and are more demanding for the beginners, but where there’s a will there’s a way.  To be able to perform the pull-up, all you need is some creativity.

For starters, you have to master hanging from a pull-up bar because there is no point in trying to do a pull-up if your arms don’t have the grip strength to support your own weight. Once you are able to hang from the bar for at least half a minute, move on to band assisted pull-ups or simply jump up towards the bar and try to lower your self in a controlled manner.

Now, once that is no longer a challenge for you-regular pull ups are the next step. Of course, all this requires time, repetition and patience. However, once you are able to perform your first „chin to bar“ pull up, you have entered the awesome world of pull ups and all of its benefits.

„How to“

Ok, now before we start listing why you should be doing pull-ups, let’s just get a quick run down of proper pull-up form. Look, how it should be done:

The basic variation requires you to grip the bar at shoulder width with your thumb wrapped around the bar almost touching or touching your index finger. Keep your legs straight but if you find it difficult you can crunch them a bit which will flare out your chest a bit more.

Now that you grabbed the bar and adjusted your body position, pull yourself up towards the bar and don’t stop until your chin is over the pull- up bar. Once your chin clears the bar, commence the lowering in a controlled manner.

Benefits of doing pull-ups

  1. Increases Grip Strength

grip strengthOne of the first things you get once you master pull-ups is grip strength. All that pulling up and hanging from a bar puts a lot of strain on your grip and in order to become better at performing pull-ups your grip strength will have to increase dramatically.

You can also increase your grip strength by just performing standard bar hangs, aim for a time at least a minute of holding. Once you get into 60+ seconds of comfortable bar hangs your grip strength should be pretty good.

  1. Increases Overal Body Strength

This one is a bit of a no brainer but it should be noted none the less. Pull-ups require you to raise your entire body weight for a repeated number of times and repeated number of sets. That requires strength, which you can gradually increase with regular performance of the exercise. So if you don’t feel all that strong and you want to change that, you should really start including pull-ups into your workout routine.

  1. Lots of Variations

This is a benefit because regular pull-ups can get pretty boring and repetitive once you start performing double digit numbers. So adding some variations to the initial exercise can help a lot in keeping you entertained and adding more difficulty to the exercise.

Adding variations to your pull-up routine also attacks more muscle groups and will add more strength and muscle to your body. Wide grip, close grip, commando grip, mixed grip, one armed, chin ups, muscles ups…etc. The possibilities are endless.

  1. Multijoint/Compound Exercise
pull up anatomy

                     Source: Pinterest

While most exercises only hit one specific muscle group, a pull-up hits several muscle groups and requires several body joints working in synchronicity to be performed properly. Try performing a pull-up without using your elbows or shoulder blades-impossible.

It’s also incredible in building several muscle groups at the same time. A proper pull-up hits your lats, shoulders, back, biceps, forearms, core and triceps, the entire upper body is used.

  1. Great for Other Sports

The title here is a bit confusing, I know- so just hear me out. We mentioned that it uses your entire upper body and that it has many variations and as such it is a great exercise that can transfer over to other sports and sports related movements.

For instance, if you are an MMA fighter-grip strength and explosiveness are one of the most sought after skills. You have to be able to react at split second and have the ability to control the fight.

Pull-ups build up your grip (like we already mentioned) and explosiveness is one of the key factors when performing pull-ups, especially when your arms are tired and you still have to bang out few more reps.

You can’t just casually pull yourself up, you have to explode with all your might upwards. Let’s say you’re a rock climber, pull-ups are basically what you have to perform on a daily basis.

You don’t even have to practice any kind of sport, to have benefited from doing pull-ups. Any kind of real life situation that requires you picking up something heavy or you climbing somewhere and having to pull your body up will benefit from you doing pull-ups.

Quick Tip For The Road

Once you master doing your first few pull-ups the next challenge is adding more pull-ups to your set. This frustrates a lot of people because they often stall and can’t quite break their plateau. There are several ways of adding more numbers to your set, but one of the best ones the „pyramid“ method.

Pyramid method is when you start with a max number of repetitions then decrease the said number by one and continue doing so until you are performing your last set with only one rep.  If your max number of pull-ups per set is 5, the first set will be five reps, then the second one will be four…and so on.

 You can also use the reverse pyramid method which is the same thing only your first set is just one repetition and that number increases until your final set is your maximal number of repetitions.

About the Author Dumbbellsgeek

Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!