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Tired of the Same Old Pull-Ups? -Try These!

June 2, 2004 07:47 AM

I do not need to convince the crowd about the value of performing pull-ups. Pavel and John Allstadt have already done a masterful job of this. Pull-ups have been a staple in my workouts since I was a competitive gymnast. I have done several thousand pull-ups over the last twenty-five years. I must admit that I sometimes get bored doing regular pull-ups. In order to stay motivated, I like to vary the type of pull-up that I do. I am not suggesting that you should avoid regular pull-ups. The following exercises are some of the types of pull-ups that I have done that could be utilized as part of a rotation to add variety to your workouts. You will notice a heavy emphasis on grip in these exercises because grip strength has become somewhat of an obsession for me.

Plier Pull-Ups

Attach two chains to a pull-up bar, rafter, etc. Clamp down on the lowest link of the chains with a pair of pliers in each hand. Do pull-ups. This is a creative way to work your crush grip. Feel free to add extra weight when you can safely do so or shift most of your weight to one arm for a greater challenge.

See Saw Pull-Ups

Drape a weightlifting belt over a pull-up bar and hang from the belt by grabbing either end with your hands (You cannot see that my knees are bent and not touching the floor). Pull down with your right hand and let your left hand rise toward the bar. Stop when your left hand is just below the bar. Then pull down with your left hand. You can increase the difficulty by resisting with the hand that is not pulling down.

Grip Chins

I read an article in Klein's Bell (August, 1931) about an exercise called grip chins where you hang from two handles and perform chin-ups. They were called grip chins because the grip is usually the weakest length. I made two handles from 8" long 2 ?" diameter PVC pipe and drilled a hole approximately one inch from the top end of each pipe. I threaded a chain through the hole and hung them from a floor joist in my laundry room. Simply grab the handles and do chip-ups. Increase the difficulty by adding weight, shifting most of the weight to one hand, or getting PVC pipe with a larger diameter.

Ball Pull-Ups

Drill a hole through a baseball or softball and thread a chain through it. Hang the chain from a pull-up bar or floor joist. It was harder than I expected to maintain a grip. The larger the ball, the more difficult the exercise. As I get stronger, I will work towards holding on from underneath the balls instead of on the sides.

Half Iron Crosses

Here is a treat that I learned from Pavel. Hang onto a pair of children's playground rings and pull down with one arm like a regular pull-up. Keep your other arm straight and pull it down to the side into Iron Cross position. Lower yourself to the starting position and repeat on the other side. In the picture, I am starting from a hanging L-position. The only reason that I did this was that my rings hang too close to the floor. There was not room for me to hang my legs down below my hips.

Finger Pull-Ups sells a product called Eagle Loops that are designed to work on your open hand and fingertip strength. I have found them to be very effective. Just place any combination of fingers inside the loops and do your pull-ups. I would suggest starting with four fingers and both hands and then experimenting with other combinations of fingers as your fingers become conditioned. These things are great!

Now go do some pull-ups!