T Nation

Pull-Ups; Great Exercise, but a F*'n Bitch!


Everybody knows pull-ups are fucking awesome for your back and really smacks on the size and strength especially if you can do them w/ weights on a dip belt.

BUT, I always have to pause on the top portion (when bar is on same lvl as the chest) b/c I tend to swing so the pause halts the momentum built from the swinging (I don't want to look like a guy having a seizure on the pull-up bar). The bad part is it takes a lot of energy out of me so I can't pull out as many reps (I'll do 12reps, then drops to 8reps, and steady decline from there)

So, are there any ways to stop the annoying swinging or are my back muscles just not that developed/im not that experienced with pull-ups?

Also, I feel that I can do a lot more, BUT my biceps tend to really get the "pump" which also holds me back from doing more (b/c my back feels like it can take more)...a friend says it's b/c im "bicep dominant", and just left me stranded with that statement




I posted awhile back asking for a solution to this same problem, the answer I got was your not strong and that is why you swing.Since then I have done lots of pullups and now I dont swing, i must have got stronger.

Do recon rons pullup program.Google it


I'd say weak abs. If your abs are weak you wont pull yourself up completely straight. This will cause you to swing.


I consider myself to be pretty good at pull ups, and with my first set I am pretty explosive so I do tend to swing (not as much as I used to) but after that when I get a bit fatigued I steady out.

Just concentrate on exploding up and slowly coming down. I also make sure to stick my head between my arms on the way down.


If you grip the bar harder and activate more of the muscles in your forearms it may help you to tame the swing more throughout the movement thus negating the need to pause at the top. I squeez the bar harder than I used to now and I don't swing as much.

If you can do more than 7 or 8 reps then try putting a 25 on a dip belt and pulling with that. Sometimes a free moving counterweight makes you more concious of you movement throughout the rep.


Thibs wrote a good article on improving your pullup strength:


Sounds like you have the kipping syndrome.

Just put on a dip belt and add some weight that will help keep you down or, try not to be so explosive on the pull and go up slowly.

I think the fact that you have to stop at the top could be beneficial for you back so make the best of it.


It's your back muscles not being able to hold your body angle. Once you start using weight and you get stronger your lats will be better able to hold you in place as you pull. You may even be able to alter your body angle over the course of the pull so you get that semi-horizontal angle at the top. Training the rings with former gymnasts helped me with this.

Also try doing your pull ups in an L-sit [with your legs and toes pointed straight out in front]. This will invariably cause you to stay still as a pond on the way up and down. Warning: L-sit pullups are way way harder than regulars. Your abs will hurt.



It is as simple as changing your dominance yourself. Instead of performing the movement pulling yourself to the bar, mentally think of pulling your elbows behind your body. Pre-exhaust your back with one arm dumbell rows and finish by doing high rep (30+) lat pulldown, or something like that. Just remember if you are dominant with a muscle group, you will always stay that way until you force your body to balance out. Your body will always use the strongest muscles first, just because it is more energy efficient.


I'd listen to this. In the same vein think about pulling your elbows down in your chin ups rather than thinking about pulling you up.