To many avid bodybuilders, the pull up is the king of all upper body exercises. No other exercises work more muscle groups than the pull up. It strengthens and increases the muscle mass in your forearms, biceps, lats, upper back, trap. However, not many people know how to do the pull up properly. And like any other exercise, there are also many injuries associated with the pull up. Pain in the elbows, shoulders and neck is the most common.
Here in this article, I will show you three tips you can try to improve your pull up performance and avoid any potential injury.
Keep a Distance Between Your Shoulders and Your Head
You should do pull ups from a dead hang. That may sound very easy but many people usually put their shoulders in a dangerous position by bury their head inside the shoulders. You can compare what they do with a turtle going back into its shell. So in order to avoid injuries to your shoulders, always keep the shoulder blades down when you are in the dead hang position.
However, the term dead hang is not precise here. There should be a natural and healthy elevation for the shoulders when you are hanging. Do not let your shoulders rise all the way up to your ears since it is not a good position to pull your body up from. There should be a slight momentum when you do pull ups. So try to find a spot that you feel right in the dead hang to do pull ups.
Pull Your Elbows Down
The trick to strengthen and activate your lat muscles the most effectively is to pull your elbows down. Try to pull until your elbow joints cannot flex anymore then lower your body under control and always keep your shoulders away from your ears in the hang.
Be Careful with the Hand Positions
Like with other body weight exercises, it is favorable to do pull ups in a high frequency to build up the muscles as fast as possible. Your back muscles are very difficult to over-train and that is the reason why you can see a lot of guys doing pull ups everyday in the parks. And these guys usually have the best upper backs. However, elbow injuries are also common in people who start doing pull ups everyday. The problem is that they do pull ups with a fixed bar. When you grip a fixed bar, your wrists cannot rotate naturally to take stress off the elbows. The chin up is usually the worst type of pull ups for your elbows since it will put your elbows in an excess strain right from the start.
So if you are suffering elbow injuries from doing pull ups, the solution is very simple: do pull ups from rings. The rings will allow your wrists to rotate freely so your elbows will always be in a neutral position. If rings are not an option for you, try to do pull ups with a hammer grip hand position since this is the less stressful grip for the elbows.