Get In Condition: Exploring Pull Up Variations

by Marnie Bii | June 26th, 2014 | Assorted Workouts, Cardio

pull upAre you looking for a way to incorporate back strengthening activities into your calorie-burning cardio workouts? Well, look no further. You can set up a full pull-up regimen that takes care of both these goals in one fulfilling workout.

There are many different pull up types to try that target all of the muscles in your arms, back, neck and shoulders. Pull ups get your heartbeat racing to its optimal target zone with just a few reps.

However, not many people can simply go pump out eight reps of eight pull ups on their first try. Instead, you need to work your way up the difficulty levels from negatives to rings.


If you struggle to perform just a few pull ups in a row, you’ll want to start with negatives. You need to perform a few reps to get your heartbeat up, so negatives are a great place to start. The basic premise is to slowly lower yourself down from the bar, rather than pull yourself up.

You can start off by standing on a bench or having someone boost you up. You can also pull yourself into position once you have the arm strength. Once you find yourself completing many negatives in a row without help from a friend or bench, move onto the hanging position and traditional pull ups.


The hanging position sets you up for the proper form needed for traditional pull ups. While negatives use your entire upper body, hanging pull ups focus more of the work on your upper back muscles and arms.

You can start off by hanging from the bar in the pull up position. Practice pulling your chin above the bar and lowering back down slowly. While pulling up and lowering down, you need to keep your lower body completely rigid to focus all of the work on the upper muscle groups. You don’t want to use momentum from your lower body to complete each pull up or you run the risk of hurting yourself.


Once you can make it from a hanging position to a full pull up, work on holding your chin above and below the bar. You can maximize the work your back, neck and shoulder muscles perform by holding at the peak of the pull up.

Your muscles may scream for mercy at first, but this move will eventually make you feel stronger than ever. Hold the pull up for about ten seconds at first and work your way up to one minute at a time. Remember to break the hold while you still have enough strength to lower your body down slowly.


Finally, up the ante by switching from a pull up bar to rings. You have to hold the rings still in addition to keeping your body rigid, which takes a lot more muscle effort. Once you master the rings, you can go back to the bar and try out different grips and even one-armed variants to further improve your workout.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.