The Perfect Pull-Up: How to Master This Upper-Body Building Move

Pull-ups are one of the trickiest exercises to successfully execute. Not only are they rather difficult — many beginners can hardly do one or two, let alone a set — but learning the proper form is also much more intricate of a process than most realize. Still, pull-ups are an excellent exercise in their own right, and give your entire upper-body a thorough workout.

For that reason, they’re fantastic for adding to your routine, particularly if you want to add some bulk to your arms or chest.

But again, it all starts with nailing your pull-up form. And luckily for you, The Cheat Sheet has come through with a step-by-step procedure for learning how to perform the perfect pull-up. Check out the video below, and then read through the following pages for a detailed account.

Before you know it, you’ll be busting out rep after rep. Here’s how to do the perfect pull-up.

1. Arrange your hand just outside your shoulders

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First and foremost, you’ll need to position yourself correctly on the bar. You may be using any number of things to perform your pull-ups — from a bar in your bedroom doorway, to a street crossing sign — it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you get yourself on the bar in a way that is going to correctly target your muscles, and not lead to injury. Grasp the bar as shown above, with your hands just outside of your shoulders.

Step one, in the bag.

2. Hang with locked elbows

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Step two: actually beginning the exercise. After you have your hands in the correct position, slowly let your weight down so that you are literally hanging from the bar. The important thing here is to make sure that your elbows are locked, and that you don’t hyper-extend your arms. Also, if your feet are on the floor, lift them up, or bend your knees and interlock your feet — if you’re using your legs to give yourself a boost, then you’re defeating the whole purpose of the exercise.

3. Bring your chin above the bar

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Now, you’re going to actually engage in the act of the pull, in order to get yourself up. The goal is to get your chin above the bar, by using all of your upper body strength — that includes your chest, arms, and back, working together — to get you there. If you can’t make it, keep trying; you’ll get there after a few workouts and are able to build up some strength. But either way, remember that your goal here is to get your head above the bar.

4. Keep your shoulders back and drive your elbows down

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Now that you’re fully engaged in the exercise, you’ll want to keep form in mind. Yes, you’re trying to get your chin above the bar, but you’ll also want to keep tabs on the rest of your body. Chiefly, make sure that you’re keeping your shoulders back, and that you’re focusing energy on your elbows, in order to drive them down. This will help you maximize the force your muscles are exerting, and concentrate your power toward lifting your body upward.

5. Keep your wrists locked

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Finally, make sure you’re keeping your wrists locked while performing the pull-up. Floppy wrists can lead to injury, and won’t help you get your chin above the bar. This is probably something that you will do without thinking about, but if you’re unaccustomed to lifting or exercise, do a spot check of how you’re pulling yourself up. Remember to keep your shoulders and elbows in the correct position, your wrists locked, and your hands in the correct spots, and you’ll be performing the most perfect pull-ups in no time.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger

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