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Proper Pull Up Technique

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Proper Pull Up Technique

Postby PellucidWombat » Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:12 pm

So lately I finally seem to be getting decent at pull ups (completing sets of 10, static, with good form and reasonably fast recovery). However, I've also noticed that the pull ups seem to be much easier if I combine the pull up with a mild leg lever. I understand why in terms of it keeping my center of mass less eccentric as my torso moves away from the line below my grip as I pull up. However, I notice that most people maintain this balance/stability instead by curling the torso, bringing the knees forward and the feet slightly back. For me, this second method isn't nearly as easy as the first.

So I'm wondering why I'm finding the "lever" method so much easier than the "curl" method and what the pros & cons could be for me to continue levering my feet vs. learning to do pull ups 'correctly' for training for rock & ice climbing.

For a bit more elaboration, I have loose ligaments, and therefore loose shoulders, so it is hard to do upper body exercises without risk of dislocating my shoulders. I also think this is why pull ups are so hard, as I am usually fighting a feeling of suffocation and an inability to breathe deeply as I hang (I think due to my shoulders collapsing inward, and it occurs in differing degrees in other upper body exercises) and sometimes some popping in my wrists, forarms, and shoulders.

The "lever" eases this 'suffocation' feeling a lot, and strangely, it is most beneficial/pronounced when I do a wide grip (harder on the back & shoulders, but the body is closer to the grip which seemingly would require a less pronounced "lever") than when I do a narrow grip (harder on the biceps, and the body is farther from the grip).

Also, even though it might be 'cheating' in a sense, I'd hope that it is a way I could indirectly improve shoulder stability by still increasing musculature around the joint, and then I could/should work back to the "curl" form?
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Postby MoapaPk » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:09 pm

I just tried what you describe -- seemed stunningly harder for me (at least with palms pointing out). If you want to do pull-ups this way, power to you.
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Postby nartreb » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:41 pm

By "leg lever" you mean bringing the legs forward with knees straight? Extreme version would be pike position, right? Most people find even a mild version of that position very tiring, but for some reason raising the legs with knees bent feels much easier. I know it's easier for me, partly because I have very tight hamstrings.

Anyway, if you're concerned about a "proper" pull-up, I was always taught to keep my waist perfectly straight. If you do pull-ups slowly, your whole body ends up slightly tilted back - your shoulders move back and your feet swing in to balance, but you don't bend anywhere except at the shoulders. Takes some effort to maintain that position; just bending the knees so the ankles come back (without raising the knees) gives you similar tilt for less effort, and is a good way to make sure your feet don't hit the ground.

When I'm tired and trying to get that last rep, raising the knees is the best way to cheat the center of mass upward...

In climbing, you're never in "perfect" position anyway, so be prepared to do any of the variations.
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Postby PellucidWombat » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:57 pm

By "leg lever" you mean bringing the legs forward with knees straight?


More or less. When I'm more relaxed or lower in the position, I'm in the slightly titled back position, which is how I usually try to do them. When I pull up, especially if I'm tired, it feels more natural with my body tension to let my knees rise. My legs aren't necessarily straight throughout, but the more I raise my knees, the better it feels to keep my legs more straight and taught.

Also, I've been doing this palms out.
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Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:04 am

Here is what Mark Twight has to say on the subject: http://www.gymjones.com/knowledge.php?id=20
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Postby Tanngrisnir3 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:09 pm

ExcitibleBoy wrote:Here is what Mark Twight has to say on the subject: http://www.gymjones.com/knowledge.php?id=20


The photo of the guy called "AJ" reminds me of "HULK SMASH!!!!!!"
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Re: Proper Pull Up Technique

Postby tommarchall » Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:16 pm

Hi,
I do quite a bit of weights for a sport I practice pretty intensely. Part of our testing involves as many reps as you can do in two minutes in various exercises one of which is chins. Essentially any leg movement can help you quite a bit, we call it a swing, and as an example without a swing some of us can do somewhere around 40-50 chins in the two minutes, with a swing you can get over 100.

It's all about rhythm and, sadly, not about using your muscles properly. If someone is perfectly healthy and in no risk of injuring themselves (wouldn't that be nice) i would say do chins with as little body movement as possible to get the maximum benefit. if you lever your legs up and hold them there the entire time that is great, it become as ab exercise as well. But there should be no leg movement if possible. I tend to have my knees bent and ankles crossed over, but i try my best not to move them at all.

As for the wide vs. close, i too find the wide slightly easier and i have one bad shoulder. The reason i like the wide grip is because, as you point out, it feels easier on the shoulder. I think it is easier on the shoulder joint, and if you think about it and go wide enough you're not pulling yourself up as far because you've spread out your hands.

Here is a hint for shoulders and loose joints: stop if it hurts. I know it can be hard to do so, but i've hurt myself more than a few times and watched people hurt themselves numerous times. The best way to strengthen your shoulders isn't chins but various rotator cuff exercises. Here is a link to the best video, i could find, of the most effective exercise i've ever used for building shoulder strength: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KUzqNBeqAw&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Remember to use very light weight 1-2lbs at most! and go slowly with your movements. I personally find it more effective when i don't support my upper body with my elbow, as in the video, but when i am lying totally horizontally. There are more exercises but this one is great.
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Re: Proper Pull Up Technique

Postby Ze » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:02 am

this Mark Twight character doesn't say anything about leg position, but he does talk alot about what he thinks is a "proper" pullup. Whatever that is.

What the hell is "proper"? Depends on what you are training for. For some activities, perhaps more explosive pull ups are beneficial. For some, focusing on a certain range of motion might keep specificity. For general "fitness", sure full ROM makes sense.

Anyways interesting question on the leg position. I had to think and see what I do, and I tend to use both. I think I'm more likely to use the lever approach than the knees lifted. When I carry a weight in my legs, I use with the knee's flexed but can't tell if its just better for holding the weight.

Preference probably depends on 1) amount of mass and distribution between legs and upper body. This would change how much a person would need to "tilt" 2) mass proportion on shank and thigh. More mass on shanks and lower legs would be more costly in the lever position (long moment arm). 3) Preferred hip flexor muscle length. Muscle force is a function of muscle length, peak force could be generated at different muscle lengths for different people. A person who generates peak hip flexor forces at shorter muscle lengths may prefer the "knees up" method more.

I'm just hypothesizing, mostly of it is likely BS :)
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Re: Proper Pull Up Technique

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:50 am

[quote="Ze"]this Mark Twight character[quote]
You're new to climbing, aren't you?
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Re: Proper Pull Up Technique

Postby bird » Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:18 pm

Ze wrote:I'm just hypothesizing, mostly of it is likely BS :)

Agreed. ;-)
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Re:

Postby radson » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:52 pm

ExcitibleBoy wrote:Here is what Mark Twight has to say on the subject: http://www.gymjones.com/knowledge.php?id=20


Interesting that he states that burpess should be done with feet together and the pic shows otherwise. I cant imagine doing burpess with my feet always together.
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Re: Re:

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:45 am

radson wrote:
Interesting that he states that burpess should be done with feet together and the pic shows otherwise. I cant imagine doing burpess with my feet always together.


When I do a burpee I try to remember to keep my mouth closed. Its more polite.
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Re: Proper Pull Up Technique

Postby Ze » Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:48 am

ExcitibleBoy wrote:
Ze wrote:this Mark Twight character
You're new to climbing, aren't you?


I'm somewhat joking. I don't care about climbing specific training but have heard of this guy via you fellas. That's the first thing I read, and it really had little substance.
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