Bodybuilding Basics: Proper Form Of The Pullup

Pullups (down position)Pullups (up position)

Everyone knows how to do a pullup but few do it correctly.   The basics are very important in bodybuilding so its worth making sure you have them down.  For home workouts, pullups are the #1 most important exercise for lats and there is no substitute! Pullups are an amazing workout that you can do anywhere. Not only do they work lats but they work biceps as well If you want ‘wings’, pullups are your most important tool. If I could only do two exercises, I would choose pushups and pullups – they are that important. If you don’t have a place to do pullups now, a doorway mount pullup bar is a good option. Pull-ups are actually a very difficult exercise to do as it is very difficult to lift your entire weight unless you are very strong and lean. If you can’t yet do a single pullup, don’t despair,  read “Pullups for total beginners“.  Lets start with the basic pullup.

starting position: The basic pullup is done with your hands facing away from you.  To width of the grip should be the same as the distance between your elbows when you point your arms directly out to the sides at right angles to your body.  The elbows point outward so the are in the same plane as your body.  Your arms are nearly straight, but not quite.  Your shoulders are down and back and they stay in this position the entire pullup – pretend you are holding a tennis ball between your shoulder blades.   Dont relax into a dead-hang at the bottom and let your shoulder come up to your ears.  OK, now that we have the basic starting position, slowly pull up on a two second count.
ending position:  Pull yourself slowly up while remembering to keep your shoulders down and back and your elbows pointed directly out to the sides, dont let them drift forward.  As you go up, do it slowly and smoothly with no swinging or kicking.  When you eyes are at the level of the bar, thats far enough up.  Only in PE class and boot camp do you have to get your chin above the bar.  Getting the chin above the bar is not beneficial for strength and mass building and it causes people to use the most awful form.  If you find you hands get tired before your lats do then its best to use wrist straps.  Here is a video showing how to perform a pullup properly when your goal is to focus on lats:

6 thoughts on “Bodybuilding Basics: Proper Form Of The Pullup”

  1. Hi Scooby,
    Great video. If someone is just starting out and can’t do a pullup without assistance, what is the best way to start? Some say to use a chair and a leg to help themselves up, but do you have any tips to do that while still maintaining proper and effective form?

Leave a Reply