Accelerate Physical Therapy

The Benefits of Pull Ups and the Proper Technique

When it comes to building upper body strength, pull ups might be one of the top exercises to consider. Don’t be fooled though, if others make it look easy. They are a difficult exercise to perform, especially in the beginning. In fact, at first, you might not even be able to do one proper pull up.

However, don’t let that discourage you. The more you work at it, the more you will be able to do…in time. So, if you want to build upper body strength, read on to see how pull ups can benefit you, as well as learn how to do them properly.

The Muscle Groups that are Worked the Most

Before we get into technique, let’s take a look at the muscle groups that will most benefit from pull ups…

Latissimus Dorsi – Commonly referred to as the “lats”, the latissimus dorsi group most likely will benefit the more than any other muscle, if done properly. This group contains the muscles that run through the shoulders, both the top and outside, and down your back.

Rhomboids – The rhomboid muscles are located in the back, attached to your latissimus dorsi. Strengthening these back muscles will help you with balance and posture.

Forearms, Triceps, and Biceps – The muscles throughout the arm, both upper and lower, will also benefit from pull ups as they work in tandem to pull your body weight up during the exercise.

These are the muscle groups that will most benefit, adding strength and tone, all while improving balance and posture.

The Extra Perks of Pull Ups

In addition to adding strength and tone to your upper body, there are a few other benefits to adding pull ups to your workout routine. Take a look…

Simple Technique – The pull up exercise is not a complex one to do, as far as technique. While it’s difficult to pull your weight up, it’s not a complex position or movement.
On the Run – A pull up can be done at a gym, home, or during physical therapy…just about anywhere. The reason is because you don’t need any elaborate equipment pieces, or space. A portable bar can be taken with you wherever you go, so you can do pull ups on the go. In fact, you could use playground equipment or a sturdy tree branch.
Quick Results – Once you learn the proper technique, pull ups have the potential to provide quick results, as it uses your own body weight as resistance. And, while it focuses mainly on your shoulders and arms, you might also see beneficial results in the glutes and abs.
Inherited Benefits – After you are comfortable with the proper technique and gradually increase your reps, the strength you gain will help you with other exercises as well, such as deadlifts and bench pressing.
Improve Athletic Skills – Other physical activity that requires pulling or grappling movements may see noticeable improvement, such as rock climbing or wrestling.
Improved Posture – By strengthening upper body muscles, your posture should also improve, as the muscles that work to support your upper body become stronger to better hold you up for longer periods of time.
Pain Relief – It might be slightly painful at first, as any new exercise can often bring on. However, as you build strength and improve posture, it should also help to diminish typical back, shoulder, and neck pain resulting from poor posture throughout the day.

Even though it’s not a complex exercise, the benefits you will most likely receive from making pull ups part of your routine, are ample.

The Proper Technique

So, now that you know the benefits of what proper pulls ups can provide, let’s take a look at proper technique…to maximize the benefits. After you find the right apparatus to use, whether it is a pull up bar or a tree branch, do the following:

1. Grip the bar more with your fingers, as opposed to the palm of your hands (to reduce the risk of callouses), while getting into a dead hang position, elbows straight, feet off the ground.
2. Take a deep breath before starting the pull.
3. Make sure your shoulders do not lean forward, and then lead with the chest as you pull up.
4. Keep looking upward, at the bar and in the direction you are pulling your body towards.
5. To insure your back muscles are utilized properly, the motion should feel as though you are driving your elbows into the floor as you pull up.
6. Bend your knees, and keep your feet crossed to maintain control of the lower body.
7. Squeeze the glutes on your way up during the pull.
8. Make sure your chin clears the bar at the top of your lift.
9. Breath out on the way down.

This is the proper technique to do pull ups for optimum results. If you are just beginning, don’t be surprised if you can only do one…if that, actually. But, don’t give up! If you have further questions or want to know if your technique is correct, speak with a physical therapist or trainer.