Pull up bars are unsung heroes among exercise equipment which can provide a complete full body workout for a very small investment and without any need for lots of space in your room. For around $10 it is possible to get a bar that will fit in your door frame. These are adjustable meaning that they will fit into door frames of any size and anyone can use them. While the majority will unfortunately leave screw holes, others can simply fit over the frame and hook onto the top to fix in place with no need for any hammering or screwing. At the same time these are perfect for taking with you in your suit case when you are going on holiday or travelling, and this way you can exercise on the go.
Then this can provide – anywhere – one of the best full upper body workouts and just a normal chin up will train the biceps, the lats, the traps, the forearms and the abs. What really makes the pull up bar stand out however is just how useful it is and how many different exercises you can do on one for an almost full-body workout. Many people will simply do a few pull ups and chin ups and be completely oblivious to the huge range of other moves they could be using them for. Here we will have a look at just a few of the other moves you can do.
One armed pull ups
What’s harder than a pull up? Doing a pull up with one arm. Equally one armed chin ups will have the same effect. Of course many people can’t do a one armed pull up, but fortunately there are many variations you can use to learn this skill. For example you can do a one armed pull up whilst jumping slightly – jumping up to the bar and then using the one arm to slowly let yourself descend. This is what’s called a ‘negative’, as the downwards side of the movement is known as the negative side. If you practice this enough then you will learn to do one armed pull ups. Another variation is to only have one arm on the bar, but to use your spare arm to hold onto your other wrist and use this to help pull yourself up.
Rocking pull ups
A rocking pull up is another good way to build up to being able to do full one armed pull ups as you are taking some of the weight on your other arm. Here you alternate between pulling yourself up to the left, and pulling yourself up to the right, each side isolating that bicep and that side of your lats slightly more.
Around the world
An around the world is a pull up where you draw a circle with your upper body. Of course this requires a lot of upper body strength, but at the same time it is an incredible workout for your biceps, your lats and your abs.
When you do these, you don’t do pull ups but rather hold yourself up and then move forwards and backwards slowly while remaining at that height. This again will train your lats and traps a lot, and will require a lot of muscle control to keep yourself at that position.
Static contraction is any exercise that involves holding a position rather than repeating a movement. For example then, holding yourself up on the pull up bar but not actually doing pull ups, or hanging with your arms fully extended are both examples of static contraction. This trains the same areas, but focuses on the slow twitch muscle fibres and trains your endurance. Bruce Lee used to use a lot of static contraction and believed that it was one of the best ways to build muscle strength if not one of the best ways to develop muscle all round.
When you do leg raises you essentially just hang from the bar and swing your legs up slowly in front of you (slowly is much harder than doing it quickly). This will train the tops of your abs which are notoriously difficult to target, and will also require static contraction for your arms.
Frog kicks are the slightly easier version of leg raises – here you simply bring your knees up to your chest rather than extending your legs in front of you. This is great for beginners who perhaps cannot yet perform leg raises, but is also very useful for those who want a tough workout to add to the end of leg raises when they can’t do any more of those – 10 leg raises followed immediately by 10 frog kicks is an excellently taxing workout.
Scissor kicks are a great way to train your abs again – here you lift yourself into any position, and then just make small scissor motions with your legs while holding the pose.
Reverse press ups
For a reverse press up you will need to either lower the bar, or provide the back of a chair or something to put your legs on. Here you are doing pull ups but with your legs on the floor and in front of you (so that it in fact does look like an ‘upside down’ press up almost. This way you will be able to perform many more repetitions and can get a longer workout as a result.
If you’re still unconvinced about the sheer versatility of the pull up bar, then you should try searching for ‘Bar Tendas’ on YouTube, and you’ll be amazed at some of the things people are doing with them now.