Why Women CAN and SHOULD Do Pull-ups

Why pull-ups are a good exercise for women:

Although pull-ups are generally easier for men than for women, mainly due to differences in upper-body strength (men tend have greater upper-body strength than women) and body-fat distribution (women typically carry more fat in their lower body than men which can make the mechanics of the exercise more challenging), it is still a terrific exercise for women, whether done assisted or unassisted.

Muscles engaged:

Pull-ups are one of the best, most efficient and effective upper-body exercises that exist. It is a total upper body exercise. By engaging your back muscles, arm muscles, abdominal muscles, and shoulders, this exercise strengthens, sculpts, and tones your entire upper body (arms, shoulders, back, lats, core, waist, etc.) with every rep you execute.

Help build strength and shred body fat:

Pull-ups help you build strength and lean muscle mass, which in turn helps boost your metabolism as well as lose body fat. Therefore, it is a win-win exercise; you can gain muscle + lose fat- all in one. So ladies, you do not have to worry about getting bulky with pull-ups because they will help you tone your upper body and lose body fat, especially in your waist.

So if you’re looking for an exercise that will not only help you gain strength and lean muscle but also shred fat, pull-ups are an amazing exercise to incorporate into your routine. Not to mention, if you have an open back dress you’ve been dying to wear, then pull-ups will help you show off your beautiful, newly defined back!

How to master a pull-up?

Practice, practice, and more practice. Like many things, the only way to get better at something is practice. I mean practice does make perfect right? Well, in this case it really does! The best way to be able to perform or master pull-ups and chin-ups is to practice often (3+ times/week). Many people will say well I can’t do a pull-up or chin-up and there is no way I will be able to do one. The response I give them: practice and determination.

Last year I set a goal for myself to be able to achieve at least 3 unassisted pull-ups/chin-ups. I practiced them every weight workout I did, whether at the start, during, or at the end of a workout session. At the start, I was barely able to do one unassisted pull-up so I started by doing assisted pull-ups using a band. Once I got comfortable and was able to properly execute pull-ups using a band, I starting doing unassisted pull-ups. At first, I could only perform 1-2 pull-ups without a band and then kept practicing until I progressively reached my goal of 3. Currently, I can do 4 unassisted pull-ups and chin-ups but my goal by the end of the summer is to be able to do 5-6.

Some technical things to keep in mind:

  • Grip
    • Grip hard
    • You need a good, strong grip to be able to perform chin-ups and pull-ups because you need to be able to stay on the bar
    • Train by hanging off the bar with both hands holding onto the bar
  • Shoulders
    • Always start a pull-up or chin-up from a dead hang position
    • As you pull up, pull your shoulders down toward the body and pack them into your torso
  • Back
    • Use your back- this exercise is primarily using your back muscles, specifically your lats
    • You should feel your back muscles working as you perform pull-ups or chin-ups because these are the most dominant muscles you are engaging

Strength boost while performing Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups:

  • Cross your legs
    • Known as irradiation- allows neighboring muscles to make each other stronger when contracting
  • Squeeze your glutes
    • Will give you an instant increase in strength

Once you are comfortable performing a regular chin-up (underhand grip) or pull-up (palms in an overhand grip), you can mix up your training and target different muscles by doing other forms of them, such as wide grip pull-ups or sternum chin-ups/pull-ups.

So whether you want to be able to 5 assisted pull-ups or you’re already a pro at chin-ups and want to be able to master them, set a goal for yourself this summer and make it happen! All it takes is some PRACTICE and DETERMINATION!!

XO Meg