Thread: Pullup Question
11/14/2007 11:20pm, #1
I've been trying to do ONE pull up for 10 weeks now. I'm beginning to think it's just not possible. I'm doing a fairly comprehensive upper body and lower body weight workout two to three times a week. I don't feel like I'm any closer now then I was 10 weeks ago. I'm 6'1" 295lbs. I'm down from 315lbs which is good. I don't know why I want to do a pull up, just do. Suggestions?
11/14/2007 11:49pm, #2
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Do you do anything such as seated v-handle rows, standing barbell rows, cable pull downs (in particular pull downs)? That is, what type of "pull" exercise do you do? You need to do workouts that have carry-over to pull ups and chin ups while you work on decreasing your weight.
295lbs is still a lot to pull up cold-turkey, so don't be discourage. You just have to train that gradually. Ross Enamait has stuff on that subject in one of his books, but more or less it goes like this (IIRC).
Start with half chin ups. Get a chair or platform that allows you to reach the bar and position yourself at the top part of the chin up. Then lift your feet off the platform and force the descend as slow as possible until your arms are completely stretch. That's one rep.
You can start by doing 4-5 sets of 5-8 reps each, or choose 2 sets with those reps done to failure. It doesn't matter if in the last reps you cannot hold the descend as long as you did in previous sets. What matters is the effort. Your body will adapt and soon follow.
Another exercise to do that will lead to better chin ups is the vertical (or incline) chin up. See the pics below (from t-nation)
Last but not least, there are the jumping chin ups. In this case, you jump up, either off the floor, or from a platform, towards the chin up bar. The jump assists you in completing the ascending part of the chin up. However, proceed with caution if you jump off the floor. Your joints may not like it.
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11/14/2007 11:49pm, #3
Good job cutting weight. As your weight gets lower, pullups (obviously) become easier, and that would be the first method of getting to your goal. Considering that you're already doing that very well (20 pounds in 10 weeks is pretty impressive), you can also train the muscles used during a pullup.
There are a few ways to train the muscles used during a pullup (primarily the latissimus dorsi). These are all the exercises that I do for the lats, along with a few that I don't do/used to do.
There are pull-downs; that is, simulated pullups with a machine. Because it uses a machine, the amount of weight can be controlled, unlike a pullup, where you're using your body weight. The advantage is that you can train high volume. Personally, I can't do that many pullups in a row, but with pulldowns I can exercise using less than my body weight for many more reps.
Some people say pullovers train lats, but I don't do them, so I wouldn't know. Ask someone who knows more about this exercise.
There's the obvious one: chinups. Pretty much a pullup, except you grip from the other side. Slightly easier
Ring pullups. These are also slightly easier than pullups.
Assisted pullups. These will help you train the full range of motion with slightly less weight. These helped my a lot; I used to only be able to do three pullups in a row. Now I can do more.
Bent-over rows/sitting down rows. Another option for training the lats, but the bent-over rows are pretty technical, especially if you're using a barbell.
There are probably a number of other exercises, especially compound exercises, that train these muscles. If you don't already have some of these exercises in your routine, they'd be a good thing to add.
PS. I'd also like to add some more personal reccomendations from this list: I greatly improved my ability in this area with assisted pullups, ring pullups, bent over rows (with one of those "wavy" barbells, whatever they're called), and pulldowns. Right now, in my routine I have everything on that list except ring pullups, assisted pullups, chinups, and pullovers. At your weight, a pullup should be pretty difficult.
Last edited by Uri Shatil; 11/14/2007 11:56pm at .
11/15/2007 12:00am, #4
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You can also try negatives in your routine - start in the "up" part of the chin and lower yourself as slow as you can until you are extended all the way out.
Varying the grip width also helps and I find "hammer chins" easier - the ones where the hand grips stick out at 90 degrees to the frame
Edited for - just re-read Macho's post and he said the same thing but called them half-chins
**** it, I'll leave my post up so I'll look knowledgable.....
Last edited by Hanniballistic; 11/15/2007 12:04am at .
11/15/2007 12:02am, #5Originally Posted by Hanniballistic
EDIT: Also, I forgot to mention in my first post that lats are certainly not the only muscles at work during a pullups. Like and compound exercise, there is a host of assisting muscles.
Last edited by Uri Shatil; 11/15/2007 12:05am at .
11/15/2007 2:38am, #6
My lats are incredibly weak. I do front pull-downs on a universal doing 10x2 reps with ~120lbs of weight focusing on pulling my elbows down over bending my arms. I'm told this helps engage the lats more. I don't have my book in front of me so I can't give exact numbers. For lats I used to use a cable machine but it didn't seem to do anything, now I use a free weight machine to failure once or twice a week.
Also, so I don't clutter with another new thread. I'm looking to drop a decent amount of weight (50lbs or so) safely. I'm in no real hurry either. I've been lifting but I know that cardio works best. Unfortunately I've been told by several doctors and PTs that running at my body weight would be detrimental to my knees and hips. Given that at 23 I already have bad knees this is something I would like to avoid. I would like to start stationary rowing or swiming. Can anyone point me to a good program for either.
11/15/2007 3:51am, #7
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In Reply to Your Fat Loss Issues ...
High Intensity Interval Training has been proven to burn significantly more fat than steady state aerobics
Try adding a couple of sessions of high intensity interval training every week.
You can use exercise bike/rowing machine or kettlebells etc. to avoid hurting your knees.
Start with 10 minutes at a comfortable pace(warmup) then do intervals of 1 minute at a sprinting pace followed by 1 minute at a comfortable pace (active rest).
Aim for 4 -5 intervals in the beginning .
End with another 10 minutes(cool down) at a comfortable pace.
As you improve in fitness gradually reduce the active rest to 30 secs and increase the intensity of the sprinting .
You can increase the number of intervals as well but focus on GRADUALLY increasing intensity first .
Increasing muscle will also add in burning fat as it has a higher metabolic cost (your body requires more calories to build and maintain muscle tissue than fat)
In order to do this ensure your diet has a high enough protein content ( 1 - 2 g per lb of bodyweight) and carry out a weights program concentrating on the big free weight lifts ie. Deadlift, Squat ,Clean and press, Bench press,Dip, Pulldown/Pullup , Barbell/seated Row.
The emphasis here should be on lifting consistantly heavier weights in the 5-8 rep range.
Try to do at least 2 heavy weights sessions and 2 HIIT sessions per week.
Cut down on carbs after 2 pm and cut them out completely after 6 pm (except after workouts when you need some carbs to replace glycogen in your muscles)
Try to eat 5 to 6 small meals spaced out through the day as this speeds up the metabolic rate and further assists in putting your body into Muscle Building / Fat Burning mode.
Last edited by drunkenmonkey; 11/15/2007 3:56am at .
11/15/2007 10:07am, #8Originally Posted by ignatzami
Suggestion on technique for pull-downs - concentrate on pinching your shoulder-blades together as you bring your arms down, that'll force you to arch your chest out and engage your lats.
On the flip side of that, chins can be pretty technique driven too, and reliant on engaging a lot of supporting muscles not directly driven through basic pull-downs/rows. Do you have an assisted dip/chin machine at your gym? they'll help you get the technique and "feel" piece right while still enabling you to get to a "chin". Then as you progress you can drop the assistance weight down until you don't need it.
Negs - as others have said - can be a useful way to start training your muscles too - it's well explained in the above posts.
Keep doing what you're doing on the weightloss front, that's going to pay the biggest dividends for any of this. Chin-ups will come eventually, not going to crazy and injuring yourself early on (e.g. which you're obviously aware of) while building your base is definitely a good way to go.
11/15/2007 10:08am, #9Originally Posted by drunkenmonkey
11/15/2007 11:52am, #10Originally Posted by Marrt
I've looked into HIIT but I have a hard time gauging intensity. I tried doing a HIIT running workout before I was told not to. I'll keep digging, see if I can find something that works.