If there’s one upper body exercise every strength athlete should include in their training program, it’s pull-ups. I like to think of pull-ups as squats for the upper body; no other exercise gives you as much bang for your buck, so to speak. The pull up is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups while at the same time developing functional strength as well as a powerful grip. Plus, they’re convenient; all you need to do them is your own body and something to hang from! If regular pull-ups are too boring for you, try out some of these variations to spice up your training routine:
1. L-sit Pull-Ups
If you want to really blast your core, try lifting your legs and holding an L-sit whilst simultaneously doing pull-ups. Warning: it’s much harder than it looks!
2. Behind the Neck Pull-Ups:
For an extra burn in your upper back and traps, try doing pull-ups with the bar behind your neck. Make sure to squeeze at the top of each rep!
3. Typewriter Pull-Ups:
These are called “typewriters” because that’s exactly what you look like doing them! Using a wide grip, pull your chest to the bar, and then shift your weight from one arm to the another, extending the opposite arm out.
4. In-and-Out Pull-Ups:
If you can’t decide what grip width to use, why not use them all? Start with a narrow grip, then a medium-width grip, then a wide grip, then keep alternating in and out.
Popular amongst rock climbers, Frenchies are a killer. Pull your chin over the bar, hold for 5 seconds, then do another pull-up, this time only lowering one-quarter of the way down, hold for 5 seconds, then repeat, each time stopping and holding slightly lower than the previous time.
6. Two-Finger Pull-Ups:
If you seriously want to challenge your grip strength, ditch the full grip and instead try doing pull ups hanging by just your index and middle fingers. For an added challenge, try to do them slowly.
7. 60-Second Pull-Ups:
To build static strength and control (and burn your forearms), try doing one single pull up over the course of a minute. 20 seconds up, 20-second hold at the top, 20 seconds down.
8. Around-the-World Pull-Ups:
Pull-ups are an extremely effective upper body exercises and around-the-world’s are a challenging core exercise. So why not put them together and challenge your core strength as well as your coordination?
9. Archer Pull-Ups:
These are called “archers” for the reason you’d expect—the motion resembles an archer shooting a bow-and-arrow. Start in a dead hang, and then pull up to one side with the other arm extended straight. For an added challenge, add a typewriter before lowering down!
10. One-Arm Pull-Ups:
One-arm pull-ups are perhaps the ultimate test of superhuman strength. If you’re not quite there yet (like me), hold onto a resistance band—the lower you hold, the harder it’ll be.
Still think pull-ups are boring? Yeah, I didn’t think so!
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