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Essential Exercises: The Pull Up

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The evil twin of the push up, the pull up is another highly effective exercise that should be part of every martial artist's training. Like all bodyweight exercises, pull ups can be used to develop a wide variety of attributes, from maximal strength to anaerobic endurance.

The pull up focuses on developing the in the shoulders and upper back. The degree of difficulty depends on your own strength, and on which variations you are using.

Popular  variations on the pull up include:

  • The Chin Up: sometimes considered a separate exercise, the chin up and pull up are basically the same thing. The chin up is done with the hands supinated (palms facing towards you), while the pull up is done with the hands pronated (palms facing away from you).
  • The One Arm Pull Up takes a lot of time and practice to develop, but will give you some serious arm and shoulder strength.
  • The Clapping Pull Up is great for developing explosive pulling power.
  • The Wide Grip Pull Up provides a greater challenge to the muscles in your shoulders.
  • The Kipping Pull Up engages the entire body into the pull up, allowing for more reps at a faster pace.

You can also add resistance by wearing a weighted vest, a dip belt, or by holding a dumbbell between your legs. The variations are endless.

The pull up is more equipment intensive that the push up, but not by much. Most exercise facilities will have a pull up bar somewhere, or a large piece of equipment that you can hang on. If you work out in your apartment or home, there are a number of reasonably priced home pull up bars available. Some, like The Door Gym, fit into the door frame without any kind of attachment, while others need to be screwed into the wall. If you really can't find anything else, go outside. Boston's tree-lined streets offer a pull up bar on every block.



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