Bodyweight Exercise Series: Pullups- How to Build Muscle Without Going to the Gym

You must include bodyweight pullups in your exercise routine!

The pullup is one of the best exercises you should be doing! If you haven’t done a pullup since grade school, you need to bring the pullup out of your workout closet! If you can’t do any, start doing one pullup and progress (assisted pullup machine or a spotter are also options).

The pullup is not just a back muscle exercise. Pullups work your lats (and other back muscles), core, shoulders, arms, chest, biceps and improve grip strength.

why you should be doing pullups

  1. Hang from a pullup bar with your palms facing away from your body, your arms straight and your feet crossed together with legs bent about 90 degrees. Pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar.
  2. A wider grip (greater than shoulder width) will work your lats more. A closer grip (shoulder width or less) will work your middle back muscles more.
  3. If you lack grip strength, you can use straps to help.

Proper technique when doing pullups

  1. Don’t jut your chin out (it strains your cervical spine).
  2. Don’t swing. It makes the pullup easier by using momentum. You need to pullup, not swing up.
  3. Don’t let your chest collapse because that puts too much stress on your shoulders.
  4. Don’t arch your lower back too much. You want your abdominal muscles to be engaged when you do the pullup. Keep your torso braced (as if taking a punch to the gut) during the pullup.
  5. When you start the pullup, drive your shoulder blades down and squeeze them together. This will engage your shoulder stabilizers more.

Don’t be afraid of the pullup exercise! Pull it out of the closet and start doing them!