Health and fitness have been a major concern and significant part of my life for quite a while now and having knowledge of different types of exercises to work different muscle groups has helped me obtain a better physique and live a healthier life. Also, practicality it’s helped supplement and benefit various aspects of my Wing Chun.
For all those fitness enthusiasts out there and people who have an interest in working out and keeping fit, I’m sure you would agree and say that pull ups are the king of the back exercises and one of the best to improve strength.
Now, when it comes to recognising the benefits of such an exercise, it can be dialled down to create overall back strength, increase core strength & stability and help improve your grip, plus so much more. I know you are thinking, why am I telling you things that you already know? It’s because there are a lot of benefits to this infamous bodyweight exercise that you might not be aware of, so let’s dive right in.
Intensity & Variations
Firstly, let’s talk about intensity and adding a bit of fire into your pull ups, through variations. The same way your body would adjust to a weight that you’ve been squatting or bench pressing etc. Your body goes through similar effects when performing pull ups, but it is possible to break this barrier. The great thing about bodyweight exercises is the fact that you can create so many variations to really ‘shock your body’ and ensure the next time you look at a pull up bar, you’d think again before jumping onto it.
The simplest way is to increase your sets and reps, heading towards the point of burnout; driving your muscle endurance through the roof!
On top of that, varying the technique can lead to other progressions:
- Archer Pull ups.
- One armed Pull ups.
- Negative Pull ups.
- Varied grip (wide, supinated and pronated)
- Bar or Gymnastics.
If you really want to spice up your session when you do pull ups, these variations will definitely keep your muscles guessing and even BETTER you can make these HARDER by:
- Using a weight vest
- Attaching plates or Dumbells
REALLY feel that pump.
Great for Weight Loss
Secondly, this may come as a shock considering I am not mentioning a treadmill or a cross trainer but pull ups are an amazing way to lose weight and burn those calories. It’s actually due to the fact that your body has to actively engage so many muscles, such as your:
- Latissimus Dorsi
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Pump That Heart
This will get your heart racing very quickly, along with your body burning a lot of calories at the same time. In fact, it is one of the best ways to increase your metabolic rate, which will lead to more food being burned than being stored, so happy faces all around!
Recapping on my first point, the harder you make the exercise, it will lead to more calories being burned and bring you that step closer towards your fitness goals.
The third point, which may come as even more of a shock is that it can sometimes be considered a cardio workout.
“WHAT”! “WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT IS A CARDIO WORKOUT”? “IT’S CLEARLY MUSCLE BUILDING”
Well yes, primarily the exercise is for the sole purpose of muscle building, however if you were to change the tempo & speed and how many you can bang out within a certain time limit, it can be considered a cardio workout.
AHHH I SEE! I thought you would understand, see I am not implying that you would do pull ups for 30 minutes straight, unless you’ve decided to pay Batman to be your personal trainer… I heard he isn’t cheap, but that is beside the point, you can very easily incorporate this fantastic bodyweight exercise into a circuit to really get your heart going.
That being said, increasing the speed and the effort in doing the pull ups will contribute to the idea of it becoming a type of cardio. Those benefits being:
- Working your heart leads to a longer lasting life and better overall health.
- Stronger heart = slower resting heart rate.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Ultimately prevents heart and artery disease.
It can also be said that a stronger heart means more blood is pumped around the body in a more efficient manner, which would lead to more oxygen in your muscles, therefore leading to an increased physical performance. This should set you up well to be smashing those pull ups for the rest of your life.
“JUST MAKE SURE YOU STAY AWAY FROM BATMAN’s TRAINING PROGRAMS…!”
Makes You Happier
On to our fourth point, probably something you wouldn’t immediately think about for pull ups, but as we all know any form of exercise can lead to your brain releasing endorphins; serotonin being the key one. Serotonin is the chemical that gives you that sense of happiness and critically helps fight depression, anxiety and many other physical and mental health issues.
I am sure we can agree that we all wish we were thousands of miles away on a beach having an exotic drink rather than enduring the energy drain and agony (Batman’s back again) of what is a very gruelling and tiring workout. But here is the super positive factor, once you have completed the workout you feel that sense of accomplishment and glow of completing such a task.
Yes, undeniably we are sore as hell at times but there is a certain joy to it, which shows that you have clearly done some work. Believe me, pull ups will be leaving you 100% with aches but I believe that if you are finding happiness in fitness and the grind, AND still being able to power through – day in – day out, then you are a far better person than when you started, for sure.
A Head Turner
Awesome. You’ve stuck with me to the final piece of the message and it’s an outstanding point. Frankly, pull ups are an impressive skill to have in your toolbox. You should feel a sense of pride for the crazy amounts that you can showcase; the different and impressive variations you can demonstrate too. But remember, everyone started by doing ‘one’. Then ‘two’, then ‘three’…
Start Your ‘One’ Right Now!
The truth of the matter is, many people cannot perform a ‘lot’ of pull ups in one go, which shows the significance of the movement, the strength and athleticism needed to perform such a movement. So, go ahead and gladly pat yourself on the back, you’re doing a great job so far! Although I do like weight training a lot, I have been leaning more towards the side of bodyweight training recently; being able to manipulate my bodyweight in order to achieve these incredible feats of strength. Especially through pull ups (my favourite body weight exercise).
“Highly recommended exercise”
I highly recommend you to incorporate pull ups into your routine, no matter your preference of training, it will leave you with long lasting benefits. Access to an improved physique, stronger arms, back and core. Not to mention an overall increase in your health through cardio and potentially weight loss. For me, the most important thing when it comes to training your fitness is making sure that it is fun and luckily pull ups are exactly that! If it is fun, you will see yourself wanting to fight through the aches and pains.
Getting that buzz to run back through the doors of your gym or wherever you train for that next session. Fun, equals consistency, which equals results which then leads to more fun and the cycle goes on! Train hard, Have fun!
Article Written By – Muhammed Jubair Ahmad
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