Anyone else need to commit to getting a strict pull-up? It is the goal I have set in my mind, yet just haven't committed to with honest effort. Why? Because they are HARD! Attempting them makes me feel weak AF! My hands get blistered. Ya know- the usual bologna complaints I need to get over. So, I've decided to get over myself and actually commit to following some progressions. Hope is not a strategy they say! Pull-ups are a great body weight movement that involves the coordination of multiple muscle groups to complete a functional skill that not many adults have developed. It is often one of the first goals athletes have when they join a CrossFit box and is one of the most rewarding to accomplish next to those unbroken TTB and dubs. Creating a solid foundation by learning basic technique and following progressions can help you build the required strength you need to perform this highly sought-after skill. This is not a time to skip steps, jump ahead, or shorten the range of motion… you will only cheat yourself in the long run.
DISCLAIMER- because we all know this will be a question anyways.
Before we go much farther-let’s talk about kipping for a second. You want- wait, wait wait.... You need to have a solid base for your strict pull-up before moving on to kipping and butterfly pull-ups. There is a lot of debate over how many unbroken strict pull-ups an athlete should be able to perform before moving on to kipping and then butterfly. My opinion arises from owning a chiropractic office that often sees shoulder injuries. I believe you should be able to perform a solid set of ten unbroken strict pull-ups before kipping; along with working a solid shoulder pre-hab program consistently. The point of the kip/butterfly is to create momentum, making the movement less physically taxing and quicker to perform large sets. This puts our shoulder into compromising positions, very quickly. I would strongly advise against throwing momentum at muscle groups that haven’t gained the strength and stability necessary to control the movement safely. THE BASICS GRIP Meaty overhand grip, knuckles over the bar, thumb wrapped. This allows the best leverage on the bar, helps increase grip strength, and provides better security once kipping is introduced.
Check out this graphic- I can't even remember where I saved it from, ya know cause I saved it pre-COVID life and am finally getting around to writing this!
GRIP WIDTH Hands just outside shoulders. The narrower the grip the more your biceps will work. As you widen your grip, your lats will come in to play. It is a good idea to vary your grip width from time to time to engage more muscle groups in your pull up work, resulting in greater overall strength. If you have earned the kipping or butterfly movement, your grip will need to stay wider in order for the complex shoulder joint to move safely. Another graphic stolen from the same site as above!
SET UP Tight, hollow body. Minimize any rocking or swinging movement.
Pro Tip: It might sound silly, but instead of thinking about hoisting your body up to the bar, imagine pulling the bar down to your chest. Now... you PULL UP (and if you are like me, regret your diet choices from the last months of quarantine life and stress!) Wanna join me for actually nailing a pull-up? Check out our blog on progressions next!