So you think you’re strong?
As well as a clear test of relative upper body strength, the Pull Up is the undisputed heavyweight champion of upper back builders! Every armed forces test and training facility uses the pull up as a staple indicator to the recruits’ and prospects’ strength levels for a good reason.
Gymnasts use pull ups to help maintain and build the strength in their upper body to aid them in performing spectacular bar manoeuvres and fighters use them to help control their opponent and prevent injury while they’re being push and pulled about at different angles.
So how many should I do?
Whether you’re looking to build muscle, strength or endurance, the load can be manipulated by adding weight or assisting yourself with a band or partner to decrease the load. Treat them as any other exercise, with reps ranging 3-5 for strength, 6-12 for strength/hypertrophy and 12+ for endurance.
To put things into perspective, the Royal Marine PRMC Test requires candidates to do 1 full pull up and the Navy SEALS require potential recruits to do a minimum of 8 full pull ups.
So how do I do them?
- Grasp a pull up bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder width apart.
- Allow your body to ‘dead-hang’ from the bar, then shrug downwards with your shoulders to engage the scapular stabilizers and pull your upper back muscles into a downwards V.
- Pulling your elbows down in towards your body, pull your bodyweight upwards, ensuring that the chin is higher than the bar.
- Slowly lower the body and repeat.
If you’d like any advice on how to include the ‘exercise of the month’ into your workout routine just ask a member of the Club CHF fitness team.
Andy Knight, Personal Trainer, Caversham Health & Fitness
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