The pull up is one of the most practical, powerful and multi-functional exercises there is. Simply hanging from a bar and lifting yourself up is something that requires very little space and no more equipment than an iron bar or a tree branch. However in doing so you will greatly train your lats (an oft-forgotten bodypart), your biceps, your shoulders and your core. There are few better ways to train your abs and obliques than doing pull ups, and there are few better ways to train such a wide range of muscle groups and get a cardio workout at the same time.
But that’s if you just do boring normal pull ups like everyone else. The far more exciting way to train with a pull up bar is to do some gymnastic and acrobatic moves that will really get your body working while at the same time being a lot more fun and dynamic.
If you don’t know what I mean then go to YouTube and type in ‘Bartendaz’. This is a group of guys who use pull ups bars to launch themselves in the air, do handstands, spin around and do flips, and generally perform pull ups like you’ve never seen them before. To them it’s a form of art, but it’s also a great way to build muscle and explosive power.
Here we will look at a few of the moves you can use yourself and how to do them…
The Muscle Up: This is a very basic pull up move in which you pull yourself up so that your chest is at the height of the bar, and then continue going so that you are balancing on your hands above the bar. This is a great way to involve your pecs in your pull ups, and to develop the kind of explosive power you will need for many of the other moves too. However in order to practice you will need to have a pull up bar that isn’t right beneath the ceiling or in a door frame.
One Armed Pull Ups: These are a relatively simple exercise where you hang from a bar with one hand and pull yourself up that way. It requires a lot of strength, but you can learn to do it by holding the bar with two hands but just pulling up more on one side than the other.
Clapping Pull Ups: These are pull ups where you are going to throw yourself up past the bar to then clap before grabbing again. Once again this requires fast twitch muscle fibers for explosive power, and the key is to get enough swing into the movement.
Around the Worlds: Here you hold your body out from the bar slightly and then gradually lift yourself up and around rather than straight up and down – so that you draw a circle with your upper body. This requires a lot of control and dynamic strength, and you can develop the ability by trying to just rock from side to side during normal pull ups.
Turns: By including turns in the pull ups you will be engaging the obliques. You can do this by turning your whole body as you pull up, or just turning your lower body.
Hand Stands: If you’re feeling brave (don’t try this at home kids) then you can even perform a handstand on top of the bar after your muscle up. Practice both parts of the move separately first – by doing handstands using dumbbells on the ground and muscle ups on the bar, and try combining the two when you have a good spotter nearby to help.
Pauly Singh is an established gym instructor who has trained many Hollywood personalities. You can read his blogs in the website www.ellipticalreviews.net.