6 Moves To Master A Pull-Up In 8 Weeks

In Health and Fitness


© Silvrshootr/iStock/Getty Images There are two exercises that, together, will target and tone every muscle in your upper body: push-ups and pull-ups. Push-ups strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, and lower back, while pull-ups strengthen the lats, traps, rhomboids, abs, and biceps. This plan strengthens each muscle group needed to perform a pull-up. Stick with the program and perform the exercises 3 days a week to master a pull-up in just 8 weeks. (Get a flat belly in just 10 minutes a day with our reader-tested exercise plan!)

Lat Pulldowns

© Provided by Rodale Inc. This move targets your latissimus dorsi, or lats. Wrap ends of a flat band or resistance tube around hands and take up slack until there is just a short distance of tubing. Lift hands overhead, slightly in front of ears. Exhale, softly bend elbows, engage back, and pull arms out wide, spreading band in front of chest. Hold momentarily, then inhale while bringing band overhead to starting position. (Here are 4 moves that banish bra fat.)

Renegade Rows

© Provided by Rodale Inc. This move develops a strong trapezius (traps), as well as strengthens your lats, abs, biceps, and forearms. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and assume high plank position. Maintaining body stability and control, draw 1 dumbbell to low ribcage. Try not to shift hips. Hold momentarily, then slowly return dumbbell to floor. Repeat on opposite side.

Reverse Flys

© Provided by Rodale Inc. This move works your rhomboid muscles to develop a strong upper back and prevent injury from imbalanced shoulders. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Tip at hips, keeping back flat, and pull in abs to protect lower back. Bend knees slightly and push hips back, hanging arms in front of chest. Take dumbbells out wide to sides, keeping rest of body motionless. Hold momentarily, then slowly return to starting position.

Stiff Arm Pulldowns

© Provided by Rodale Inc. This exercise targets your lats and helps to improve shoulder mobility. Anchor flat band or resistance tube around a sturdy brace, such as an iron fence. Angle torso slightly forward and engage abs to protect lower back. Hold ends of band in each hand, and reach arms out in front toward anchor point. Exhale and pull arms back straight just past hips, stretching tubing. Hold momentarily, then inhale and return arms to starting position.

Inverted Rows

© Provided by Rodale Inc. This move aims to improve grip strength and core stability, targeting your full back, lats, biceps, and traps. Recline, belly facing up, beneath a Lebert Equalizer (two U-shaped fitness bars) or concrete bike rack. Bend knees and grip floor with feet. Wrap fingers firmly around Equalizer and deeply inhale with arms straight. Exhale and bend elbows past ribcage to pull torso up toward top of bars. Hold momentarily, then slowly lower to starting position.  

Flexed Arm Hang

© Provided by Rodale Inc. This exercise works your biceps and core and gives your back greater endurance. Approach a pull-up bar or set of monkey bars. Grip bar with underhand grip. Flex biceps and engage back to pull body up, chin over bar. Tighten through abs and buns to prevent swaying legs. Attempt to keep chin at least 1 inch above bar while looking straight ahead. Hold yourself stationary in this position.

© Provided by Rodale Inc. Your Schedule:

WEEK 1

  • –2 sets of 10 Lat Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 10 Reverse Flys with a set of dumbbells, 10% of your body weight 
  • –2 sets of 10 Inverted Rows, pulling torso halfway up

WEEK 2

  • –2 sets of 10 Renegade Rows with a set of dumbbells, 10-15% of your body weight (R/L=1 rep)
  • –2 sets of 10 Stiff Arm Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 10 Inverted Rows, pulling torso ¾ of the way up
  • –2 sets of 10-second Flexed Arm Hang

WEEK 3

  • –2 sets of 12 Lat Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 12 Renegade Rows with a set of dumbbells, 10-15% of your body weight (R/L=1 rep)
  • –2 sets of 12 Reverse Flys with a set of dumbbells, 10% of your body weight 
  • –2 sets of 12 Inverted Rows, pulling torso all the way up
  • –2 sets of 12-second Flexed Arm Hang

WEEK 4

  • –2 sets of 15 Lat Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 15 Renegade Rows with a set of dumbbells, 10-15% of your body weight (R/L=1 rep)
  • –2 sets of 15 Reverse Flys with a set of dumbbells, 10% of your body weight 
  • –2 sets of 15 Stiff Arm Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 15 Inverted Rows
  • –2 sets of 15-second Flexed Arm Hang

© Provided by Rodale Inc. WEEK 5

  • –2 sets of 18 Lat Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 18 Reverse Flys with a set of dumbbells, 10% of your body weight
  • –2 sets of 18 Inverted Rows

WEEK 6

  • –2 sets of 18 Renegade Rows with a set of dumbbells, 15% of your body weight (R/L=1 rep)
  • –2 sets of 18 Stiff Arm Pulldowns
  • –2 sets of 18 Inverted Rows
  • –3 sets of 18-second Flexed Arm Hang

WEEK 7

  • –1 set of 20 Lat Pulldowns
  • –1 set of 20 Renegade Rows with a set of dumbbells, 15% of your body weight (R/L=1 rep)
  • –1 set of 20 Reverse Flys with a set of dumbbells, 10% of your body weight 
  • –2 sets of 20 Inverted Rows
  • –1 full pull-up, then 3 sets of 20-second Flexed Arm Hang

WEEK 8

  • –1 set of 20 Lat Pulldowns
  • –1 set of 20 Renegade Rows with a set of dumbbells, 15% of your body weight (R/L=1 rep)
  • –1 set of 20 Reverse Flys with a set of dumbbells, 10% of your body weight 
  • –1 sets of 20 Stiff Arm Pulldowns
  • –1 sets of 20 Inverted Rows
  • –3 sets of: 1 full pull-up, flip your grip and hold 20-second Flexed Arm Hang



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