T Nation

Don't Feel Pull-Ups Work Back Enough

I know pull ups are said to be a great back workout, but when I am doing them, I dont feel like my back is getting workout hard enough. I do weight pulls, with some what of a wide grip. Should I do certain stretches of something so that my back is more stimulated during the pull ups.

When you are doing the move,make sure you feel the pull coming from your back first,not your arms-it is common to pull with the arms first (it also works your biceps) try to feel your shoulder blades moving down and back slightly.

If you still can’t feel it,try doing negatives/eccentric reps at first,
i.e. lower yourself very slowly from the highest position,with your shoulder blades back and down.
It should help you feel the muscles activated.
This may help for you,it worked for me and several others I know,but it may be down to individual biomechanics,I didn’t read it anywhere or anything.

Make sure you are working them hard enough. most people don’t treat pullups like they treat other exercises. they do like 5 and think its a good job since they didnt strain too much. If you stopped every squat set as soon as something felt tired you wouldnt get very far, in the same way put intensity into your pullups.

I also had difficulty with pullups without feeling it primarily in my bi’s.

It takes a while to be able to get the motion down without pulling with your bis.

You have to make an effort to think about using your back, your body doesnt know your trying to strengthen your back…it only knows your trying to lift it in the air.

Your body will use anything it can to get you up there, you have to control what you allow it to use.

[quote]JCUNN wrote:
I know pull ups are said to be a great back workout, but when I am doing them, I dont feel like my back is getting workout hard enough. I do weight pulls, with some what of a wide grip. Should I do certain stretches of something so that my back is more stimulated during the pull ups. [/quote]

Make sure your arching your back as much as you can so its the chest coming up to the bar not just your chin. You should also feel like you could squeeze a tennis ball between your shoulder blades at the top. Also try to imagine pulling your elbows back as far as possible rather than just getting your body up there.

Hope this helps.

make sure your not wiggling and swinging to get it up there.

heavy negatives will work your back too.

mix up your grip

wide grip
neutral grip
chin ups
towel-chins

enjoy!

work on pushing your elbows down

Explode off the bottom, just like you would with any other movement.

Focus on pulling with your elbows, not your hands. Your hands are just hooks.

Arch your back and squeeze you shoulder blades together, like Intersweat said. But not through the entire rep. Try to get to this posture about halfway up. If you try to maintain it through the entire rep, your pull from the bottom will suck and you’ll use more arm than back.

Well, that’s how it is for me, anyway. Anybody else notice this, or the opposite? I really don’t remember any discussion of it.

thank you very much, suprisingly all I had to do was think about pushing my elbows down. I never knew how important pull ups really were until I read about them.

Like the others said, arch your back and shrug your shoulder blades downwards. A good tip that someone told me was to imagine the back of a bodybuilder (Dorian Yates?) contracting when doing pullups or any other back exercises.

As weird as it sounds, it worked for me. Maybe it has got to do with the mind-muscle link. Correct me if I’m wrong though.