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RANT: Why Pull Ups are Awesome, and how to get better at them.

REMEMBER: This is a Rant.

Pull ups are one of the most common movements for me to add to a workout. I have a crazy idea on why they are so important to your health. I will discuss posture and my theory as to what led to this thought.

Through human evolution we evolved all the things we needed from our animal ancestors to survive in this world. Farther back in time there were no cell phones (*gasp, it must have been terrible), no computers, no desks, no chairs, no couches, or even writing. Anatomically modern humans have been around for approximately 195,000 years, that we know of. Reading and writing have been around for only about 8,000 of those years. Yet most of us drive a car, ride a bike, work on a computer, read a book, spend hours a week on our phones. Reading shit that, really is just making us more stressed out and high strung. Everything has turned inward and we have a focus point usually right in front of us whether it be a phone, computer, or book.

This all leads to what is called Kyphosis, or the internal rotation of the shoulder and upper arm and more rounded back posture. The muscles on the front of your body become tight from over use and the muscles on your back become lengthened and will eventually lose some of their strength. This will eventually lead to a bad posture of the cervical (neck) and thoracic (mid to upper back) spine .The reason for this is that our skeletal structure is not designed to do these things. Humans are amazing creatures and we can build all sorts of cool tech gadgets, write poetry, and create endless virtual worlds. But, we have advanced faster than evolution and are now functioning in a world we have built and programmed ourselves into thinking is the greatest thing in the world. We keep forcing our body into a position that is not really natural for it, based on the fact that our set of motives has changed with a switch in consciousness to being self aware.

Within our society we also tend not to want anything to do with anyone else, unless we know them and in most cases (train, bus stop, & DMV) we try to ignore the people around us because they do not directly impact our life. This can cause people to have lower self-esteem on a subconscious level. Notice when a confident person walks into a room with other people present, they have their chest out and psychologically this can relate to that persons view of the world. They are not scared of being harmed so they do not feel the primal need to shelter the soft underside. Through the manipulation of bio-energetics it is possible to help release those pent up tensions. If you are interested in this process, watch the video below. Two guys have totally different responses to this process. The video was made by Elloitt Hulse who has many other videos on this sort of bio-energetic response. The position in the video is called the Bow and it opens up the soft part of you to help release the neuromuscular tension caused by anxiety, stress and negative past experiences. As you feel exposed those emotional stressors start to show and then once you have them out in the open you can begin to address them. This is just to prove a point that our mental tensions can affect our body in ways we do not even notice.

We evolved to be as aware of our surroundings as possible, which in turn led to us being able to look up and around. You wouldn't be looking around with your back hunched over, hand right in front of you. Also what is the pose everyone strikes when they are outside somewhere beautiful? Answer: arms extended to the side, head up, and chest out looking over the land.

This is all really interesting, but what does it have to do with pull ups. Well the more you do pull-ups the more engaged and the stronger those muscles will get. As long as you stretch your anterior muscles while working on posterior strength you can decrease the risk of having kyphotic posture.

So now how do you start doing pull-ups when you can't do any. Here is the progression.

Phase 1: Double leg bench-assisted Pull up. Place a bench or chair under a pull-up bar. Do as many regular pull ups as you can, then step on the bench and get yourself to the top. Gradually reduce assistance from your feet slowly and using your lats to resist gravity for 5 seconds on the way down. (the key here is not to shrug your shoulders and stress the biceps, maintain a wide open chest and keep your shoulders back, down and together.) Complete for 15 reps.

Phase 2: Single leg bench-assisted pull up. Advance to single leg, assistance (still doing as many as you can without the bench first then finishing with single leg assistance. Complete for 15 reps

Phase 3: Negative pull ups. No bench this time You should be able to do at least 5-7 pull ups unassisted. You will want to pull up to the top hold for 2 seconds and slowly lower yourself to the bottom taking no less then 5 seconds.

Phase 4: Regular pull ups. Do them often in sets of 5-10. I like to use them as a burn out for almost any exercise just knock out like 5-10 after a set of bench press or deadlift.

Now you have all the crazy info I have to offer on why pull ups are so important to me and how to do more of them. If you have any questions about this please drop a line in the comment section below. This is by no means a fix for kyphotic posture and you should consult your doctor before attempting any new diet or workout regimen.

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