I, like many others, fell for the trap. I joined a gym, paid my membership, put my trust in the shiny machines, and soon found myself coasting along. I wasn’t getting results, and found myself paying more attention to whatever was on the television than the exercise I was performing. Something had definitely gone wrong somewhere down the line.
The essence of what exercise was had been lost. I thought that it was time that we went back to simplicity, back to exercises that work, and back to the foundational movements that make us uniquely human.
Around this time, a close friend invited me along to an adults gymnastic class, to, in his words, “show you how exercise is meant to be”.
He wasn’t wrong.
Here were young people and adults using equipment no more complex than a pull-up bar and some floor space, doing things that I couldn’t even comprehend, and they had the physiques to match!
Needless to say, I was extremely humbled and annoyed that I had invested money in a gym membership that seemed to have been of no benefit. The next day, I cancelled my gym membership, searched for “pull-up bar” on the Internet, found one that was cheap, ordered it, and waited for the delivery.
I still remember the day that my pull-up bar arrived. It felt like I was part of a revolution, albeit one that only involved myself, but I can still recall the excitement I felt. I was taking my health and fitness back from the industry, and it felt good!
So, the bar went up and I attempted my first pull-up. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I persisted. Every other day I would spend thirty minutes practicing my pull-ups, in as many different ways as I could think of. Soon, I reached a personal goal of ten perfect repetitions, and never looked back.
It has been five years since I first used my pull-up bar. I am stronger than I have ever been, more athletic than I have ever been, and have the physique to prove it.
To close we will look at my pick for the top 5 pull-up variations. Some are easy, some are hard, but all will transform your physique and show you just how effective the simple movements can be.
1. The Row
The starting point for all pull-up type movements, the row can be used by beginners to build up strength for the more advanced variations, and also by stronger people as part of a larger circuit. In these days of suspension training and the increased popularity of Olympic Rings, the row is accessible to everyone.
2. The Pull-up
The standard exercise and one that eludes many. Ensure the chin goes over the bar on the way up, and the arms lock out on the way down. Swinging or kipping is not allowed!
If you want to work your core and isolate the muscles responsible for pulling then the L Pull-up is a variation you should start looking at. Holding the legs in a horizontal position is challenging, but when you combine it with a pull-up then the difficulty is amplified a great amount.
4. The Muscle-up
Another advanced move that is often out of reach of many of us is the muscle-up, both the fast and slow variations. Combining a pull-up and a dip, this exercise builds huge rotator cuff strength, not to mention it looks completely badass.
5. The Front Lever
Without a doubt this is the hardest pulling exercise of them all. Very popular in the gymnastic and climbing community, the front lever is almost unknown in the mainstream fitness world. To perform it requires a complete contraction and cooperation of all muscle groups, and develops huge pulling strength.
These five variations are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the exercises that are available on the pull-up bar. Check out the full catalogue of Pull-up exercises in my ebook, “The Pull-up Bible” available on Amazon. Click Here to learn more.
The pull-up revolution is here, and you should be part of it.
Ashley Kalym was born in the UK and has trained for a number of years in different sports and disciplines. He spent time in the Royal Marines where his passion for bodyweight exercise grew. He now trains using gymnastics and bodyweight conditioning, and enjoys writing books on those subjects. Find out more.
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