The pull up is a very diverse exercise and can be performed almost anywhere you go. When it comes to being in an actual gym, the pull up bar is one of the most effective tools any athlete, male and female, can utilize to help build strength. Performing a pull up is often difficult for many people and performing pull ups for reps is even harder.
Why? Because you aren’t fighting against a machine with an adjustable weight stack or weight load. Instead, you are fighting against yourself. Every time you hang from a pull up bar and try to perform a pull up, you are fighting against your own body weight because you have no choice but to lift your entire body weight upwards and slowly lower yourself back down all the while controlling the movement. If right now you are struggling to perform pull ups for reps or just struggling to perform one rep of a wide grip pull up, try out some of these training tips and you’ll soon begin to build the strength needed to perform more and more wide grip pull ups with ease.
✓ The first exercise I recommend to help build your upper body strength is Lateral Wide Grip Pull Downs
The reason being, is even though this exercise incorporates an assisted weight stack to fight against, you are still activating the same muscles as you would in a pull up since Lateral Pull Downs and Pull Ups work the exact same muscles and use the same range of motion as each other. The difference between the two exercises is one uses your bodyweight and the other uses a weight stack. Also when performing pull ups you are lifting your body to the bar in an upwards fashion, while in Lateral Pull Downs your body is seated and you are pulling the weight downwards to yourself.
The best way to take advantage of this machine for help with pull ups is to use a weight that is close to your own body weight for starters. This will help build the strength needed to lift yourself up to the bar with ease. Avoid leaning back too much while you pull the bar down to your body. You will want to pull the bar down far enough that it actually touches the top of your chest and try to hold the bar and weight there for at least 2 seconds or so before slowly releasing and returning the weight back to its starting position.
When you have the weight pulled down to your chest, it is important to squeeze your muscles in your back together as tight as you can as this will help build the mind to muscle connection of what is being worked. Doing this will help when you perform pull ups, making it easier to be able to hang on to the pull up bar when you have pulled your body up. Try performing these wide grip lateral pull downs for about 6-10 reps using no less than 70-80% of your bodyweight. If you can perform 10 reps at 80% with ease, increase the weight to your bodyweight or heavier and keep trying for 10 reps at the heaviest weight you can control.
✓ The second exercise to focus on to help build the strength needed for wide grip pull ups, is to perform pulls ups with a narrower grip
Start with some Chin ups, which involve using an underhand grip in which your palms are facing you, and lift your body up to where your chin is touching the bar before releasing yourself down. For this exercise to help benefit your pull ups to the maximum potential, you will want to focus on the release or lowering stage of the chin up. Begin by lifting your body upwards until your chin touches the bar, hold at the top for 1-2 seconds and slowly lower your body in a controlled manner. Try to achieve a 3-5 second negative while lowering yourself to help build that upper body strength of controlling your own body weight while hanging. By slowly releasing down you’re now fighting gravity and using upper body strength to the maximum capacity your body can offer.
Ready For Wide Grip Pull Ups?
✓ Now it’s time to begin with performing the wide grip pull up. With your palms facing away from you, grab the bar at the point in which your hands are located just outside shoulder width of your body. Lift your body upwards until your chest is touching, or almost touching, the bar and hold this position for a second or so.
✓ Next, slowly release and focus on the negative again by lowering yourself over a 3-4 second release. You want to focus on controlling the negative as this will help build strength as opposed to allowing your body to move with gravity and just drop or fall from the bar.
✓ Lower your body all the way to the bottom until your arms are fully extended upwards above your head and you cannot go any lower. Repeat and pull yourself up towards the bar again to perform the next rep.
✓ Perform this for as many repetitions as you can achieve. If you only manage to get one rep, don’t feel discouraged. Feel proud you managed to pull your body weight up in a controlled manner as it’s something most people struggle with.
Take Home Message
To help build the strength required for the wide grip pull up, keep performing the exercise every time you step into the gym, as the first exercise you do. Each day make sure you perform the same number of reps or more, and no less than the day before!
With each week that passes, set a goal to perform 1-2 more reps each week. It won’t be long before what seemed like the most difficult thing in the gym, the ability to perform 1 wide grip pull up, becomes easy, and you will soon be performing 10-20 reps no problem at all and wont’t even be thinking about how hard they used to be.
It’s also important to note that just like with any other exercise, you will want to stretch before and after your workout to avoid injury. If for any reason you are performing a pull up and you feel a pain in your shoulders or back region, try stretching or rolling out the area in pain before performing more reps. If the pain doesn’t go away, stick with assisted pull ups until the pain is relieved before going back to bodyweight pull ups.