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How to Do the Perfect Pull-Up

By Chris Brown

I have always been awful at pull-ups. Whenever I'd watch old prison movies and see the inmate exercising by pulling himself up on the bars of his cell, I was envious. The pull-up, like the push-up, is a simple, yet effective exercise that uses body weight to strengthen the arms, back, shoulders, and abs. It is useful as an exercise because it copies common everyday movements which can immediately impact your life. However, many do not know how to perform a proper pull-up, which can cause it to be more difficult and dangerous for the body. It's possible, even, that I may not be incapable of pull-ups, but that I have simply been trying to do them incorrectly.

Why Your Pull-Up Form Matters

Incorrect pull-up form not only makes the pull-up more difficult, but it can also put undue stress on joints and ligaments (leading to traumatic or chronic injuries). The most common injuries from incorrect pull-up form are shoulder injuries. Two of the worst improper pull-up shoulder problems are caused by limply hanging on the bar (can strain your shoulder ligaments, bicep tendons, and rotator cuffs) or allowing your shoulders to move in front of the bar as you pull upward (causing rotator cuff injuries). Similarly, the kipping pull-up method, popular in CrossFit gyms, of swinging the body up quickly can cause a range of shoulder injuries if the form isn't spotless. Therefore, it is best to master the simple controlled pull-up before moving onto more advanced techniques such as kipping.

The Perfect Pull-Up

The perfect pull-up is made up of a few steps:

  • Start with arms straightened fully down, but with your shoulders and back tensed
  • Hands should be shoulder width apart
  • While pulling up, picture you're pulling your shoulder blades down with elbows towards the floor, but don't squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Don't allow your shoulders to go in front of the bar, even though your hips may
  • Keep pulling upward after your chin is above the top of the bar while maintaining ab and glute tension
  • Control your motion back down and do not drop your body weight

If pain or bodily alignment problems are keeping you from executing pull-ups, visiting your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic may help. The Joint offers affordable treatments designed to optimize bodily functions and improve posture and mobility. Its convenient walk-in sessions, and extended night and weekend hours, allow you to seek treatment at a moment's notice.  

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hurst, Tex.

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