There is not much that impresses someone more than watching a someone knock out a few perfect pull ups.
These days, it has become more and more common for people to crave the ability to complete body weight based strength movements and women are no exception.
It’s not at all unusual to see a girl with a big deadlift or squat, however, still not able to pull their own bodyweight up on a bar.
So what gives?
Sport Scientist, and Strength and Conditioning Guru, Brando Hasick explains, “One of the biggest problems people face, is not based on gender, but more based on your training history and exposure to producing force”.
It works both ways, he explains “there can be extremely strong women and there can be very weak men. The key factor in this scenario is determined by previous environmental and training stimulus”. Those who have been exposed to producing large amounts of upper body force (whether that be through training or just daily life) will be stronger.
Those who have had a fairly mediocre attempt at lifting heavy objects, tackling and palming off sporting opponents or experience with gymnastics, will more than likely be weaker because they would have lacked the stimulus that would require an adapatation.
Exercises that enable men to build lean muscle, work the same for women too; in fact strength training is the most highly recommended aspect that will achieve every woman’s goal of a tighter, more ‘toned’ body.
Hasick explains three of the most common mistakes people make when performing pull ups, and how to fix these with specific exercises- providing women with a secret for success.
Problem 1- General Weakness
- Which stems from both lack of muscle density, along with the inability to switch those muscles on.
- Despite the super-human characteristics, we all possess, if you’ve never forced your muscles to undergo the stresses needed to do a pull-up, chances are, you probably won’t be able to do a pull-up (both men and women).
- How to fix that? Begin progressive overloading techniques which enable your body to slowly adapt and begin producing more and more force over time as it is required. The easiest way to picture this is to imagine you weigh 100kg. To start with, use some assistance (band) which helps lift up 90kg of your weight, so you only have to lift 10kg. Each week, reduce the resistance so that eventually it is you doing all of the work and there is no help from the band.
Problem 2- We aren’t training the right way for our desired outcome
- Being worried about building bulky muscles shouldn’t be an issue for pull ups.
- Although there is a correlation between musclier people and strength, it doesn’t mean you can’t be strong without having big muscles. Strength training involves increasing the signal from the brain to the muscles we have, not necessarily growing bigger or more muscles.
- How we can build strength for a pull up (all of these are necessary): A) work on sub-maximal strength in high volume i.e. 5 sets of 10 reps with about 50% intensity. B) Work on Maximal strength with low reps at high intensity: i.e. 2-3 reps with a really hard intensity. C) holds and lowering: we are a lot stronger at holding ourselves at the top of a pull and lowering ourselves down slowly, compared to trying to pull ourselves up, however, working on long holds and slow descents will help us build strength for the way up. Try 30 second holds and 15 seconds from top to bottom.
Problem 3- A disconnection of the body- we don’t link our whole body together.
- Mind and muscle connection is just as important when performing pull ups as it is with any other given exercise.
- An effective mind-muscle connection will enable you to keep the entire body tight and locked together. Tightness within the body allows you to produce more force through what’s known as “summation of forces”.
- Have you ever had someone push you when you weren’t ready for it? Now compare that to the time you knew someone was going to shove you with all their might. What did your body do differently? It squeezed every muscle possible as tight as it could and allowed your body to be the strongest it possible could. You need to develop this strategy every time you go into battle with a pull-up. Squeeze your fists, squeeze your abs and bum and try and pull that bar down as hard as you can.