Pull-up Woes? Maybe it’s time you change your perspective.
Looking to build strength towards your first pull-up? It starts with scaling.
The strict pull-up is an elusive body weight skill that seems so easy, yet is quite the opposite. So much so that some folks work all of their lives to attain just one and never fully get there. Whether you’re striving to achieve your very first pull-up or add more reps to your current level, it'll take either enhancing your strength (building muscle) or reducing the total amount of weight you’re pulling upwards (losing weight/fat). To some, the pull-up can seem like an elementary skill but for most people starting out on their personal fitness journey, accomplishing one seems so far out of reach that this fear can sometimes be a deterrent from even starting in the first place!
Let me explain.
Often times, the sheer thought of having to attempt something you might fail (like a pull-up) amongst a group of people who you may believe are “more fit” and “more capable” than you are can stop you in your tracks, long before you even start.
The reality of things is two-fold.
One, the thought that everyone in a group fitness class is fitter and more capable than you are is rarely true and two, pull-ups, like most movements are absolutely doable for YOU and for EVERYONE because they’re scalable.
“Scalable? What’s that?”
This means that movements can be digressed (and progressed) to meet your current fitness/ability level regardless of where you’re at in your fitness journey. With any new exercise, you’d likely start at ground level with a lighter weight, less reps or even an easier variation of the exercise and over time earn the opportunity to enhance those correlates as your fitness, abilities and confidence grow.
In this same light, pull-ups can somewhat be compared to going out for a run for the first time. It’s unlikely that you’d shoot for a full 26.2 marathon, right? With that same line of thinking in mind, how best could we make adjustments to help break down a pull up and achieve success? We’d scale down the amount of weight we were pulling, i.e your body weight.
Scaling sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at how we scale the pull-up for the masses right here at Behemoth Gym: Enter the Behemoth pull-up.
During a traditional pull-up, you’re hanging from a bar with your arms fully locked out. You initiate the movement by pulling yourself (usually your chin) above the bar you’re hanging from before lowering yourself all the way back down to a full hang.
During the Behemoth pull-up, we’re doing the exact same thing and covering the exact same distance, just using the assistance of other parts of our body to accomplish it.
Pretty awesome, I know.
A few great things are happening here when we scale this movement.
For one, this option allows a usable variation of the pull-up that can enhance the intensity of a workout. Pull-ups, when done during workouts, are usually never done as just one rep. They’re done in multiples, sometimes upwards of 10 or more and that may even just be per round! By reducing the difficulty of this movement to meet your current ability level, you can now do pull-ups at the desired intensity of the workout! For you, this means less resting, more movement and more effective workouts.
Secondly, this option preserves the pull-ups original intent. Although you’re using an option of the movement that is the most appropriate for where your current fitness level is at, you’re still covering the same distance and getting the exact same benefit as if you were hanging from a bar. As long as the shape of the movement looks and feels the same, a pull-up is a pull-up is a pull-up.
Third, scaling movement makes for safer movement. BGYM is big on “earning” the ability to accomplish movement. If you haven’t “earned” the ability to hop on a bar and pull yourself above it, then you’d be putting yourself in harm’s way of doing it just to say you did. By finding an option fitting to your current ability level, this allows you to move safer through movements which doesn’t just mean better workouts, but safer workouts too.
Lastly, finding options that are fitting for everyone’s ability level help promote a feeling of “equal to” and eliminate any feeling of "less than”. Sure, we’re scaling movement, but falling in line with an option that is comfortable to your current fitness level is light years better than attempting and failing at one you haven’t earned yet. If you can learn to respect the ability you have right now, workouts will be safer, more effective, more fun and progress will come quicker than if you didn’t. Now, all you’ll need is a lot of consistency ☺
So, don’t fret if you can’t currently do a traditional pull-up and most importantly don’t allow the fear of “I can’t…” or “I’m not fit enough…” deter you on your personal fitness journey. Give the Behemoth pull-up a go or even better, come and learn it here with us.
-Aja Barto, owner Behemoth Gym