Pick up my pullups...

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    Jul 13, 2007 12:34 AM GMT
    I've trained off and on for years, and just now getting heavy into it. Looking to get bigger (aren't we all?) and doing well in every department except for pullups. I'll get maybe 5, then 4, then 3, and that's it. Any suggestions for a way to beef up my back and let me pull my weight? Is the pull down bar the best alternative?
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    Jul 13, 2007 8:04 AM GMT
    Try 3 sets of dips ( 8-12 reps) to build up your strength and then after a month or so try pull ups again.
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    Jul 13, 2007 1:56 PM GMT
    I've found that my grip tends to determine how many pull ups I can do...the wider my grip becomes , the more challenging the pull up. My gym has the bar option (for wide grips) as well as the handle option which seems a lot easier (it's a much more narrow grip and I think the handles allow me to engage my biceps more during the pull up which makes it easier...though, it's probably less effective for my back workout). My trainer sometimes makes me wear a weight belt when we do pull ups -- obviously, wearing the belt limits the number of reps, but when I take the belt off, the excercise feels much easier and I am able to force a few more reps than usual.
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    Jul 13, 2007 4:25 PM GMT
    Does your gym have an assisted pull up machine? It looks like this:


    It lets you do the actual exercise, but it has a counterweight that lets you (in effect) reduce your body weight.
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    Jul 13, 2007 7:27 PM GMT
    No assisted pullup option available at my gym, unfortunately. I'll add more dips to my regimen and see if that adds some strength- give it about 2 weeks. After that, the weight belt might be an option...

    Thanks for the advice guys! Anything else ya think of, feel free to pass on.
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    Aug 21, 2007 6:45 PM GMT
    I would not perform dips, they are notoriously bad for your shoulders. If you want a long lifting career, do not do dips. There are other much better exercises to target the muscle groups dips focus on (lower pecs, lats, triceps) and in much better effeiciency and safety.

    Your question is a bit difficult to answer because lats is a BIG muscle with multiple insertion and orgin points with fibers running in different orientations. As with the pecs, any fan shaped muscles will require diferent exerciese to targte different portion of the muscle group.

    If you cannot perform pull ups at this time, you can perform pull downs with a bar with a lat pull down machine. This way you have a choice of not immediately going for your full body weight as a source of resistance.

    The key to remember with pull down machines are these:

    1. Do not jerk the bar down with your trunk. You are not doing trunk extension here...

    2. Do not pull down the bar behind your neck. this actually will target alot of the upper trapezius (as according to EMG studies) and the posiition is terrible for your shoudlers.

    3. The narrower the grip of your hands, the more you will use your biceps. To grab the bar with hands much wider than your scapular angle (V shaped from your shoulder blades) makes the movement very akward. This is because the insertion of lats is on the front side of your shoulders (yes lats is a shoulder internal rotator) and grabbing the bar too, too wide does not give you full range shoulder adductions with internal rotation.

    4. Grabe the bar with your palms facing away you. If you grab the bar with the palms facing you, youa re doing forearm supination. one of the 3 major functions of biceps is forearm supination. If you grabe the bars this way, you will recruit more of the biceps again...

    5. Make sure youa re not performing the lat pull downs with just bending your elbows (elbow flexion). This is not fully utilizing the lats inthe areas of shoulder depression. You want to perform both shoudler depression AND shoulder adductions. Meaning you do not only have to pull the bar down with bending your elbows, but your shouders should not be as high as your ears... Shoulders both have to come down as the elows bend...

    Again, there are many other lats exercises to be performed. Pull ups and pull downs tend to recruit the lateral (side) portions of the lats, which achieves the wide look. To recruit the middle/lower, and lumber (back) lower portions to achive that thickness look, you need to perofrm other exerciese such as different kinds of rows..

    Best luck with your training, and train safe!