Pullups, one of the best things to do for overall fitness

in #fitness3 years ago

I go to a gym. I like going to the gym. I go there almost every day and while I wouldn't say that I always have a great workout, the mantra goes like this: The only bad workout is the one you didn't do. This is the reason why I go almost every day, even if I am not really feeling up to it and don't accomplish much while I am there - It is going to be far more beneficial than sitting on my sofa watching TV no matter what I do in there.

However, I do realize that not everyone has time for the gym, has money for the gym, or in the case of Covid regulations, that ability to even go to a gym. Therefore, let's talk about the one exercise that might be one of the most beneficial that anyone with access to a horizontal bar can do: Pullups


There are a lot of varieties of pullups but for the sake of this article lets start with the ones that I and most of the real experts agree, are the "easiest" ones - the ones where your palms are facing your head and many people refer to as "chin-ups."

It is a compound exercise

What this means is that it is exercising multiple parts of your body. Unlike certain exercises in the gym that focus on one small muscle group, pullups focus on a wide range of muscle groups and different parts of the overall motion. Therefore, you are engaging a large portion of your overall upper body and get a more complete workout than say, just doing shoulder and bicep reps at the gym - which consequently is something I am guilty of on a regular basis when at the gym.

It is extremely difficult to work your lats, traps, deltoids, pecs, biceps, and forearms all in one exercise at the gym - unless of course you do pullups at the gym which is something I have always thought was a pretty stupid thing to do at the gym anyway since you can do it for free outside.

Rapid progression and easier to track


It is not at all uncommon for beginners to struggle to do 2 or even 1 pullup when they first attempt doing this and this is completely normal. Think about it: Why would you be good at really anything the first time you do it? Recently, my gym instituted even more restrictions on attendance (covid-related) and now the wait time to get into the gym is far too long and you are only allowed 30 minutes inside, which for me is not long enough. Therefore, I suspended my membership which thankfully was something the gym allowed all of us to do for free. I am now out in the park using the bars that they have there and pullups are one of the few strength-training exercises that I do.

When I record my progress on weights in the gym there is a notebook involved because there is so much to track and remember. With pullups I only need to remember one number... how many I was able to do the day before...and then try to meet or beat that the following day.

I was a bit shocked when I, a guy who can bench press his own body weight, struggled to do even 5 pullups. Yet here we are just 4 days later and I am close to being able to do 10. This is very encouraging to me to see such rapid improvement and I believe this will also be true for most other people.

Much safer than most gym-weight exercises

It is not uncommon to damage your joints in the gym because so many of these exercises focus so closely on just one muscle group that people tend to overdo it and overload their stacks. Even though they might not realize it at the time, they are damaging their joints. Pullups, because it is a natural body movement that humans have evolved to do over the course of millions of years stand very little chance of doing this sort of damage. You are performing a very "normal body movement" that has a real-world purpose and therefore your joints are built into your DNA to be able to easily handle this stress.

Also, one of the things that weight-lifters experience the most is lower-back problems later in life. Since you are in the air and not really engaging your lower back at all when doing pullups, you are not going to have this problem. This is why you never see a guy doing pullups with a weight belt on (unless said person is an idiot.)

It's free!


Gym memberships are sometimes extortionate. This is especially true if you live in an urban area like I do. It is not uncommon for memberships to be around $100 a month and for a lot of people that is too much money. Almost every single park in the world has a bar of some sort that you can do pullups on and the last I checked, I've never seen a single park that charges an admission fee.

Overall, this being "kicked out of the gym" has really opened my eyes to the benefits of doing more "natural" exercises and honestly, I might not return to the gym right away. Pullups combined with the running I would like to improve anyway, is probably enough of a full-body workout for me in my life.

I am enjoying seeing the day-to-day progress and the improvement seems to happen a lot more rapidly than with traditional exercises in the gym. I think that for a lot of normies out there, this might be a better way to go than joining a gym in a lot of ways. I'm going to stick with this routine for the time being, at least until the gyms jump off the covid bandwagon and even then, since I enjoy the extra money in my pocket, I might still do it then anyway.

I am not a professional trainer or dietician: I did however go from elite athlete to fat-ass, and back to quite possibly the best shape of my life... and you can too


Yeah, I like pullups. I can do them at home with a minor set up.

I have never realized that they are actually one of the least damaging exercises you could do.

calisthenics in general pose a much lessor chance of injury than weight stacks simply because if it is something that you can accomplish with using just your body and a stick, it is almost certainly a natural motion that your body was designed for already.

Great read. Welcome to the world of street workout / calisthenics :) I have already seen a few of those who were kicked out of the gym start doing outdoor workout and sticking to it ever since :) Oh and btw pull ups are awesome. Very complex indeed. I sometimes even feel my abs the other day...

I haven't gotten to the point where I can do leg lifts from a hanging bar for my abs but i hope to be able to do so before too long.

I actually didn´t mean this, I sometimes feel my abs after doing just normal pull ups as it puts the entire core in work...

My son has a bar in his bedroom doorway, so I have been doing a few chins when I pass. I have graduated from 3 to 5 reps and sometimes more. I feel I ought to do better considering I am not that heavy for my height.


well persistence is key. I struggle with 5 but do 4 sets of them with several minutes' break in-between. I am surprised that you can't do more also. I am carrying around some extra weight in my gut thanks to my continual beer consumption but you seem very trim.

I think I need to do more sets to improve. My son does daily workouts with the bar and some other kit as he can't get to the gym lately. He's as tall as me and probably close on weight too.

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it is my understanding that you have realized the error and have changed your keys so this can stop posting from your account. I'm not going to downvote because I realize that this is not your fault. But for anyone reading the comments do not click on this link