3 Tips for Better Pullups
May is PULLUP month at CrossFit Simsbury! Whether you can already do a strict bodyweight pullup or are still working towards it, the goal is to increase our pulling ability with our upper body. Typically you might see upper body pulling once or twice a week in CrossFit. During May however, you will see it three times a week on average. Here are 3 quick tips to improve your pullups!
Back muscles, not arms!
Typically the muscles of the mid and upper back are underdeveloped in new athletes, and for good reason. These are not muscles we use in everyday life. Therefore, we must make the mind-muscle connection to use the correct muscles at the right time. What I’m referring to is using your big back muscles (latissimus dorsi) instead of your arms (biceps). When we grab onto the pullup bar, we see our hands and our arms, so naturally we think about using them to pull us up. What we need to think about is pulling our elbows down to our ribs. Some also prefer to think about pushing the bar down instead of pulling our body up. The goal is to get our back to do the majority of the work, with the biceps being secondary. This is when true pullup success is achieved.
When you grab on to the pullup bar, get your knuckles to face the ceiling. Think about hanging on to the bar by your hand, NOT your fingers. It is significantly harder to pull by your fingers then it is by you hand. Also, you want your hands to be about shoulder with. Going too narrow can result in my arm activation instead of the lats.
If your grip fatigues before you can finish your pullup work, consider adding in addition grip work, such as hanging from a pullup bar for 30 seconds, or doing weighted farmer carries with some kettlebells or dumbbells.
If you come to CrossFit 5 days a week, you are solid, you’ll get the pullup work in during May. If you come 3x/week or less, you may miss one or two of the pullup classes. Do not worry, just make sure before of after class you do some pullup work. Don’t over-complicate it, just get the muscles activated and working. Think 3 sets of 10 reps of banded pullups, or ring rows. The more often the muscles are worked, the more likely they are to activate and grow!