Pull-ups are one of the most "complete" exercises that I have ever done. A workout consisting mainly of pull-ups and related exercises will give you strength benefits that are almost unparalleled. You'll build your ENTIRE upper body - especially your back, shoulders, arms and core. And if you do them right, some of the "related" exercises can give you a decent cardiovascular workout as well.
YES, you heard me right - certain types of exercises that fit into the "pull-up" category do have the ability to give you a cardiovascular workout as well. I'm sure your agog to find out just how, and I'll speak about it in a later post, but for now, let's concentrate on another question that is very common. That being "What if I cannot do a single pullup?"
And the reason I'm focusing on this for now is simple - more than 90% of adults cannot do a proper pull-up - and I'm being generous by saying 90% - it's probably more like 95% or so.
The reasons for this vary - some people may not be strong enough, and some are too overweight to do them (I've seen many cases of this). Some may just not WANT to do them because they've been brainwashed into using the lat pulldown machine with false assurances - and if you know someone that falls into that category, well, your not alone.
But whatever it is, the fact remains that a lot of people are unable to do a single full pull-up with proper form and range of motion - even those that genuinely want to get good at this amazing exercise. So, what next? How do you get that first elusive full rep in?
Well, my answer may surprise you. It's NOT doing "negative reps" as is written on most of the Internet, although the concept of negative reps is not a bad one in itself. It's NOT developing the strength to do pull-ups by lifting weights. And I won't even say the secret lies in losing weight if your overweight - though that also helps.
What is it, then.
Well, simply put - just put yourself in your shoes when you were a "young un" runing around in the playground - and do what you'd do back then to improve.
Huh? What good can that do, you might ask. And I can see why your saying that - but still, think about it for a minute. When you were a kid unable to do an exercise (let's say pull-ups), or were just starting out, did you research hours on the Internet for how to do them?
When a baby starts to walk - does it ask others or research how to start walking before it does so?
The answer to both these questions is a big fat NO. The kid simply tries doing pullups until he can do them, and the baby keeps on trying to walk until it can - it's that simple.
The kid does "half-pullups", or "quarter pull-ups" (or whatever he can). He then comes back the next day, and the next, and the next - and does much the same thing. He's not in the least bit worried about "focusing on the lats", or "negative reps", or "slow reps", or anything of that sort - he simply DOES what he can - and before he knows it, he's banging them out with no problem at all - without even thinking about it.
And thats what you need to do as well if you cannot do a single pull-up in proper form. Keep doing what you can, and you'll eventually improve. If all you can do is "half pullups", do sets of those regularly. If you can do one pull-up, but can only do halves after that - then do that - and your strength will improve.
YES - the other things I mentioned (negative reps and all that) do help as well, but what helps the most is doing things naturally. Do what you can - do it regularly, and you'll improve for sure.
And while I'm sure there are some folks out there that will titter upon reading this and say "oh, thats nothing so complicated" - well, no, it's not - but it's also a fact the simplest and most effective things are often ignored by most people!
And as I close out today's email, here's a quote to remember - "Do the thing and you will have the power. But they that do not the thing, had not the power." ~ Emerson, Ralph Waldo.
He's said it better than I ever could.