Pull Up Challenge

Pull ups are one of the best all around exercises you can do, although many people forget to include them in their workout programs.  Pull ups, especially in the minds of women, are a forgotten exercise….a pursuit that tends to be associated with military men in boot camp sweating it out in the hot sun (which is a lovely thing to contemplate…but I digress).

Actually, pull ups are a fantastic exercise to add to your fitness program.   You can see from the illustration how many upper body muscles are targeted by this one simple exercise.

 I always included them in my workout but until recently I relied heavily on the assisted pull up machine to give me that little bit of extra help getting up.  After thinking it over, I decided to try my hand at unassisted pull ups to see what I could do.  I was pleased that with a little bit of practice,  I was able to do several by myself.  One morning, inspired by a friend who was out doing a heavy duty Boot Camp workout I decided to put my pull up ability to the test.  You can see how it turned out by clicking on the following link.


The following is an article by Anthony Meyer posted in Muscleclass.com.  He does a great job summing up the benefits of this particular exercise.


Pullups are one of the most convenient exercises around. You can do this exercise pretty much anywhere. All you need is a bar and your body. When I first started working out I took a metal pole that I found in the garbage and hung it my laundry room. Voila! I now have a sophisticated piece of modern  muscle building exercise equipment .


Fundamental Compound Upper-body Exercise

I’ve stressed the importance of compound exercises in the past. Compound exercises are important for a number of reason, such as targeting several muscle groups and releasing a large amount of growth hormone.

I’ve also talked about squats and what a great lower-body muscle building exercise they are. Well, pullups are like squats for your upper body. There is no other excise that will cause upper body growth quite like pullups will. Specifically, pullups do a great job of targeting the back and biceps.

If you want that V-tapered physique pullups are a must. They will make your back wide. Combine a wide back and shoulders with a slim waste and you’ve got the V-taper.


Can Easily Increase Intensity

Progressively increasing the intensity of your workouts is one of the secret ingredients to the magic muscle building recipe. Some exercises require your to get fancy with your workouts in order to increase the intensity, but not pullups. You can boost the intensity of your back workout simply by strapping a weight plate to your waist or hanging a kettlebell from your foot while you perform your pullups.


Many Variations

One of the best benefits of pullups is that there are many different variations of the pullup. The best thing is that one version doesn’t require any additional equipment than another variation. All you’ve got to do is switch your hand placement around.

My favorite variation is the regular old wide, overhand pullup. This is the best variation for getting your lats to grow. Some other good variations are close grip pullups , and reverse grip pullups (also known as chinups). I find that all of these variations do a great job of targeting my back, but reverse grip pullups (chinups) place more emphasis on the biceps. I saw a lot of progress in my bicep development once I started doing chin ups.


Grip Strength

If you’re a serious bodybuilder, than having good grip strength is a must. Fortunately, hanging from a bar and supporting and lifting your body weight does a great job


Fat Loss

It’s not quite like running on a treadmill or jumping rope, but pullups will get your heart rate up and really kick your butt. If you want to boost the fat loss capabilities of doing pullups you could decrease the time in between sets and also super set your pullups with another exercise.

That’s it. Those are my top 6 benefits of pullups. Below you can find a list of pullups tips that should help you out in your quest to build a bigger upper body and do more pullups.


Pullups Tips:

1. Pullups are superior to pull downs – Go to the gym any day of the week and I guarantee your chances of finding a free pull up bar is much higher than finding a free pull-down machine. People are lazy these days, they would rather do what’s easy and comfortable than what’s hard, but more beneficial. Pull downs are O.K. but they should be added to supplement your pull ups, not replace them


2. Assisted pull ups are superior to pull downs – Get out of your comfort zone. Even if you can’t do a pullup, try ditching the pull-down machine for the assisted pullup machine. It’s not as embarrassing as you think. Each week you’ll make a little bit of progress and before you know it, you won’t have to use the assisted pull up machine. You’ll be able to do a real pullup.


3. Even if you can only do 1 or 2 pullups, do it – Practice makes perfect. If you can only do 1 or 2 pullups, but decide never to do them, how will you ever reach 10 pullups? Stop making excuses and start doing pull ups. When I could only do 1 or 2 pullups I would perform 3-4 sets of assisted pull ups, and then do a couple of sets of body weight pullups,, even though I could only do 1 or 2.

Now that I’ve broken that big 10 barrier doing my pull ups, I’m determined to get 20.  I’ve given myself until June to accomplish this (not necessarily the beginning of June, just sometime in the month).  Now you know what I’ll be concentrating on.  20….here I come!


16 responses

  1. Great article, I like the way you squeezed out that last one and hung on to get it out. When I started the 12 week transformation program, I could only do 1 pull up. Now I am up to 12 with 20 pound ankle weights. Agreed, they are a good exercise for the V-Shape which is coming along. 🙂

    1. Oh!! WITH ankle weights? that’s impressive. Gosh…you came a long way in 12 weeks. Very nice indeed. I sometimes do weighted pull ups but I can only do 3 with 20lbs (feels like 100lbs). I can do 5 with 10lbs…I’m going to keep at it!

  2. Wow, now you really pulling out all the stops. Finally an exercise that I’ve been doing for 100yrs. (still not good at doing them he he he) Have a wonderful weekend my special Sis

    1. Hi! I just saw your comment…took me a minute to answer. Sorry. I’m giving it my best. Rotten pull ups. I’m currently stuck at 12 but I’m working on it!

  3. Pull-ups are a must! I do them 5×10 on upper back days. Superset them with bench pressing on chest days & sometimes just for old time sake pull out the harness & add some 45 lbs plates. Always stress the eccentric & lower slooowly. Later.

    1. Ohhhh,,,,45lb plate? Oh heck. I sometimes hold a 10lb dumbbell between my legs and that’s all the extra weight I can manage!

  4. Everyday pull ups are on the menu…Love them!!!

    1. Not a lot of people do them but they’re so effective! I like what they do for my back!

  5. Yes i agree..i have incorporated them in my workout and I must say the results are noticeable now…I even posted a new BB profile pic that results from pull ups.

    1. Yep – every week I’m getting better (like I said at Youtube) and I hope in a couple of months to be doing them unassisted. I’m not at all embarrassed about using the assist machine – I don’t give a s*** about what others think, and I’m doing more than most are by making a determined effort to get there! 🙂

      1. Yes you are! It’s pretty rare to see people doing pull ups at the gym but I swear they do amazing things for your back…not to mention arms and shoulders…I love them!

    2. I just love them for what they do to my lats…make them wide! Not that many people do them…I’m glad you do!

      1. Give me time…give me time…;-)

      2. Now I’m stuck at 12! I’m still working on the things however….bit by bit I’ll get to my 20…

      3. Remember to let us all know when you do! 🙂

      4. I will! Seems I’m still stuck at 12 BUT I’m learning some new ways to do pull ups (variations are supposed to help your overall numbers) and that’s been fun. Happy Wednesday…

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