Cant do Pull-ups Try Modified Pull-ups
Pull-ups have long been considered the best body weight exercise for your back and biceps, unfortunately about 85% of the population cant do pull-ups. Because of the difficulty in doing pull-ups and the convenience, as well, this exercise is often neglected.
If youve over-looked pull-ups youve neglected half your upper body, because pull-ups work your back, biceps and forearms. Push-ups, which are great for upper body strength only target your chest, shoulders and triceps. If you overlook pull-ups and only do pushups, you are creating muscle imbalance, which can lead to upper back and neck pain.
If you are in that 85% of the population who cant do pull-ups try modified pull ups or as some people call them Australian pull-ups. Basically you are using a pull up bar that stands about 30 inches off the ground. This allows you to slide underneath the bar and keep your feet on the ground.
The benefit of modified pullups is that you off-load about a third of your body weight, which allows most women and men to do body weight pull-ups. You receive the same benefit of free standing pullups as you do with modified pull ups, in fact, I think you get more benefit and Ill explain that later.
You will often see people doing assisted pull ups in the gym on a Smith machine or squat rack, but for those who cant afford that type of equipment and train at home you can simply bolt a pull-up bar at about 30 inches off the ground and youre ready to go. Some people will take a broom stick and hang it across two chairs. Im not a big fan of that method for safety reasons, which is why some of the home fitness equipment like the Work Horse Fitness Trainer would be a better choice. It is light weight, portable and stores very easily.
Pulling to Chin or Chest
The pulling motion, whether from overhead to your chin or towards your chest, as if you were doing a row works basically the same muscles - the latissimus dorsi (the muscles that give that nice V-shape look), biceps and forearms. The benefit of the rowing motion and why I like modified pullups is that it also targets the muscles between your shoulder blades.
Your trapezius and rhomboids are the muscles between your shoulder blades and are responsible for keeping your shoulders pulled back. They help keep that nice upper body posture and are the direct antagonist to your chest muscles, which are notoriously tight on most people and the biggest reason for upper back pain. Unfortunately a free hanging pull-up doesnt target as much of the upper back muscles as does a rowing movement, which you get from a modified pullup.
For that reason I am a big fan of modified pullups it helps restore muscle balance to your upper torso, which helps reduce upper back and neck pain. So if youve been neglecting your back muscles because you cant do pull-ups try modified pull-ups. Most women are pleasantly surprised to learn that they can do pull-ups this way, as well as, a lot of men who have added a few extra pounds and cant do pullups anymore.
I think the biggest surprise is feeling how good of a pump you get for your back and biceps when you start doing pull-ups on a regular basis. Give it a try and train your whole upper body.
Dr. Len Lopez is a chiropractic sports physician, strength and conditioning coach and author of To Burn or Not to Burn Fat is the Question. He is also the creator of the Work Horse Fitness Trainer. To learn more about health and fitness visit www.WorkHorseFitness.com