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How to get better at pull ups, 5 useful tips

If you are a new calisthenics athlete you might be searching for the best tips to get better at pull ups.

Evidently, you will end up with a bunch of tutorials, blogs, and videos that might share similar or different methods. Due to the massive amount of resources present out there, you might get overwhelmed thinking about which is the best method to follow. First, our questions to you are:
What are you looking for? Is it to increase your reps? Pulling strength?
Obviously, you need to set a target in order to narrow your research scope. In this blog post, we selected the best tips which can be helpful regardless of the end target you seek.

Now, let us proceed with these tips…

In order to maximize the pulling strength, it’s essential to generate torque with your scapulas and humerus. Individuals often neglect these factors, which drastically decreases their power and technique. Remember that with a proper technique the amount of power required will be less. In order to achieve that, an external rotation of the humerus is required. You’re probably wondering how to do that.

We will make it as simple as possible. Imagine bending the bar or even better breaking a stick in half. The generated stiffness increases the torque in the arms, causing the biceps to contract and improving shoulder stability.
While maintaining shoulder retraction and back muscle engagement you are basically floating on the bar due to the stiffness generated. We can’t put enough emphasis on the continuous activation of the properties mentioned above, throughout the whole movement.

By performing the above, we allow the latissimus dorsi (the biggest muscle used in the pulling motion) to generate more force.

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We mentioned in the tip above that the scapula should be depressed, in order to get better at pull ups. This means that your shoulders should be pulled down (that is away from the ears). This improves back muscle activation and reduces the possibility of a shoulder injury.

To perform this movement, grab the bar as if you are doing the actual pull up. Now activate your shoulders as mentioned above (depressed and retracted, also known as the active hang). This should always be maintained, otherwise, you lose stiffness and overall posture.

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Scapular adduction is also quite relevant (scapulas close to each other), but the rate of adduction is subjective to the individual. Some individuals prefer their scapulas to be at a neutral position, while others have better mobility permitting them to change the position.

The universal key point is to maintain scapula depression.

Most people think that they should pull their body towards the bar. On the contrary, you should pull the bar towards you. Therefore, you direct the generated force towards the bar only.

An easy cue for this is to grab the bar and pull your elbows down towards the ground.

Glutes are very important in producing a huge amount of stability for the core. This leads to an increase in the overall stiffness of the body. Maintaining a straight posture transmits all the energy from your toes to your wrists, creating one closed loop with maximum efficiency that increases overall strength generation.

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A brief explanation regarding the posterior muscles anatomy, the lats and glutes are connected to each other by the fascia (connective tissue). Therefore, activating these muscles will improve your technique.

In general, glutes activation also assists scapula adduction.

Remember, during the final phase (chin over the bar), your body needs to go forward in order to get your chin over the bar. Therefore, the muscles activated in this phase are opposite to the starting phase. 

It is necessary to contract your abdominal muscles a bit and slightly relax your glutes. When you reach this step you achieved the completion of the pull up. Contracting the abdominal muscles is more involuntary than contracting your glutes at the starting phase. Your subconscious will do that for you automatically.

In any case, if you are struggling with the final phase keep this tip in mind (as well as all the tips above).

These are the 5 tips that we recommend to get better at pull ups. They will definitely create a difference and assist you in your training. You might have heard of them or not, but nothing is wrong with confirming your pre-existing information. We advise you to be more practical and technical when you train. Knowledge is an ocean and what we know is a drop.

Check bartans.com for more blog posts with respect to the pull up and its progression.

We would like to thank The Calisthenics Club for giving us their platform in order to share our knowledge.

Michele Delle Noci

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BARTANS

Michele is a Calisthenics athlete and official author of bartans.com. He has been practicing for 5 years, starting with sets & reps and later expanding his style with skills, max strength and weighted Calisthenics.

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