Chances are you are self taught when it comes to pull ups. And for many that first lesson began and ended with: I can’t do a pull up. But even if you step up to the bar and neatly knocked out 10 flowing reps, you might have a few things left to learn about form – and more importantly how pull ups affect your functionality, flexibility, strength, and endurance for the muscles in your upper body.Your Pull Up Work Up is designed to make your best better and for the beginners we are providing six assisted pull up variations that work all the right muscles and let you complete full reps for every step of the program.

Levi Sowerby How to do Pull Ups

Levi Sowerby – Corrective Exercise Specialist

To help revamp our understanding of pull ups we’ve teamed up with Levi Sowerby, a physical trainer and corrective exercise specialist who knows a thing or two about how your muscles work in the body. Levi always strives for balance between the muscles responsible for push and pull movements.

When it comes to developing the chest, shoulders, arms, and back, Levi tells us most people are doing too many push ups and the imbalance allows the pecs to pull and roll the shoulders forward both in use and at rest. Overworked muscles compensating for that imbalance are not able to utilize your full strength and both flexibility and endurance are diminished.

Assess your Shoulder Position

Before you begin with a new pull up regimen Levi recommends starting with an assessment. Get the help of a friend or stand with your side facing a mirror and shoot a photo of your shoulder hanging at rest. You will clearly see the relationship between your shoulders, chest and back. Compare your shot to these positions, and unless your shoulders are in position 2 you will want to ease up on your push ups until your new pull up work can naturally pull your shoulders back. You’ll want to keep your photo to track your progress over time.

pull-up-how-to-shoulder position 1

Out of balance shoulder: Shoulder pulled forward with blade & back visible

how to assess your shoulders for pull ups

Correct at-rest shoulder position: No shoulder blade or back showing

 Levi says: You almost never see someone with their shoulders drawn to far back.

Stretching Lets you Apply more Power

Most likely your assessment will indicate that you need more pull ups. But to get there effectively you’ll want to open up your pecs with Levi’s two step stretch. Levi stresses this point to all of his athletes and therapy patients – to achieve proper joint stability and mobility and to harness the power you have now you must begin with stretches.

How to stretch your pec muscles in two steps

Step I: Lightly fatigue your pec muscle for 10 seconds

how-to-stretch-pec-muscles-2

Step II: Gently pull you arm back for a count of 2 seconds

Start (and end) Every Pull Up with Good Rhomboid Form

Before you engage your biceps and start pulling, draw your shoulder blades together and push your chest toward the ceiling. Maintain that posture and draw your chest to the bar – not your chin. If the top of your pull up does not look like Levi’s, step back and master proper form with one of the assisted exercise variations.

ho to pull up form rhomboid hang

Step 1: Hang from bar with rhomboids relaxed and chest in low position

hot to pull up form rhomboids engaged with chest up

Step II: Rhomboids engaged, shoulder blades drawn together with chest up

how to pull up form rhomboid up

Continue to draw Rhomboids in and push chest toward ceiling through top of stroke.  Use Assisted Variations until you have form mastered.

Understanding Assisted Variations

With help from Levi, we’ve designed a 30 step workout plan to help you move naturally and easily to the next level with pull ups. Some of you will begin with full pull ups as your starting point but most will start with one of the assisted variations.

We’re providing 6 variations of assisted pull up to keep everyone moving through the rep counts… your goal is to not worry about how many full pull ups you can do, it’s completing all the reps in as few sets as possible. When you need to stop for a break, that’s a set. With this program we are providing rep counts – and as your endurance improves you will need fewer sets to complete the reps.

Get Oriented and Pick your Starting Point

Get familiar with the various exercises included here. Expect to use all or most of them before you reach the full rep counts on Day 30. Complete 5 reps of one movement in a single set and you have found your starting point. Your Ultimate Body Press Push Up Rings extend low enough so that you can scale the resistance to suit your needs.

Here are the exercises starting from the easiest (least resistance) and progressing in difficulty.

Leaned Back Row

Knees on Ground

how to leaned back row knee position

This is the place to start if you are new to Pull Ups

how to leaned back row from knee position

All skill levels can use this position to complete full rep counts

Leaned Back Row

Standing Both Legs / Single Leg

Standing Leaned Back Row:  Start Position

Increase resistance by starting with feet closer to the wall or by lifting one leg.

how to standing leaned back row

Remember to draw shoulders together and push chest toward ceiling

Horizontal Row

Both Legs / Single Leg

how to horizontal row

Horizontal Row increases challenge. Keep your torso nice and straight

horizontal row up position

…and remember to keep your shoulders drawn in and your chest up

Jumping Pull Up w/ 3 Sec Fall

Full Pull Up

jumping pull up negative pull up

The Jumping Pull Up will showcase your new form. Now you can build on your pull up count daily.

Progressing and Digressing During your Workouts:

Once you can do 10 reps of a single exercise variation in a single set, you are ready to move up to the next exercise. That can happen anytime during your workout. Same holds true for digressions, if you cannot complete 3 reps of a motion in a single set then it’s time to regress to an easier motion. Your real goal is to complete your reps in single sets so be sure to adjust early and often.

Grip Positions and Muscle Targeting

Your Ultimate Body Press Pull Up Bar is designed to give three primary grip positions – each targeting unique muscle groups:

Hammer grip on the Parallel Grips

how to do a hmmer grip pull up

Hammer Grip Pull Up

Primary: Rhomboids, Upper and Mid Traps, Posterior Delts.

Secondary: Biceps Lats

Under hand grip with hands close together inside the Parallel Grips

How to do an under hand grip pull up

Under Hand Grip Pull Up

Primary: Biceps Rhomboids

Secondary: Traps, Posterior Delts, Upper and Mid Traps, Posterior Delts

Over hand grip with hands far apart at the outer grips

how to do a wide grip pull up

Wide Grip Pull Up

Primary: Lats and Lower Traps

Secondary: Biceps, Erector Spinæ

Each workout will have a rep count intended to be repeated for each grip position. For your exercise variations, you will also be altering you grip positions accordingly. Leave your Push Up Rings mounted to the inside up the parallel grips and simply mimic each hand position at the grips.

Begin the Challenge

The outline for day one sets up the workout for each subsequent day. Each day, you’ll simply be adding reps to each of the three grip positions. For Day 1 it’s 5 reps of each position for a total of 15 reps. Make sure you really do stop for the rest days and on your rest days, shoot new photos of your shoulders so you can track your progress.

 

Day 1: 5 Reps per Grip Position

Day 2: 6

Day 3: 7

Day 4: 8

Day 5: 9

Day 6: 10

Day 7: Rest – Update your Photo

Day 8: 12

Day 9: 13

Day 10: 14

Day 11: 15

Day 12: 16

Day 13: 17

Day 14 Rest – Update your Photo

Day 15: 19

Day 16: 20

Day 17: 21

Day 18: 22

Day 19: 23

Day 20: 24

Day 21 Rest – Update your Photo

Day 22: 26

Day 23: 27

Day 24: 28

Day 25: 29

Day 26: 30

Day 27: 31

Day 28: Rest – Update your Photo

Day 29: 33

Day 30: 34

Day 31 Bonus Day: 40 of Each Grip Position for a total of 120 reps!

Next Steps

At the end of you first run through of the 30 steps, you will be stronger. And with your stretching and improved balance across your chest and back, you will be better able to apply your strength with greater endurance. That means it’s time to reassess your starting point and move up if you are ready and begin again. Remember to assess your shoulder position and strive for working your push and pull exercises in balance.

Recommended Equipment:

Ultimate Body Press Pull Up Bar

Ultimate Boy Press Push Up Rings