The Supermove Series: Pull-Up
Sure, there's show-off factor, but it also targets multiple muscle groups. Tier 3 trainer Simone Tchouke breaks it down.
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When it comes to marquee moves, none grant you bigger bragging rights than the pull-up. “Many clients think it’s impossible,” says Simone Tchouke, a Tier 3 trainer at Equinox New York's Flatiron location. “When they’re able to execute it, they feel like a bad-ass.” In addition to pride, the exercise is worth building up to for its many benefits. “When you do a pull-up correctly, you use your core, quads, glutes, and of course your entire upper body,” says Tchouke. “It’s pretty close to a full-body move.” And therein lies nearly everyone’s mistake in approaching it: A pull-up is not just about the back and biceps.
This series of exercises strengthens every muscle you’ll use in a pull-up, and trains your body to correctly learn the exercise’s position. (Read: you shouldn’t be wobbling like a pendulum or shimmying your chest toward the bar.) Twice a week, perform 3 or 4 sets of each exercise in order.
1. Knee-In Plank
Get in push-up position with hands under shoulders and legs extended behind you. Bring right knee toward right elbow, then extend right leg to return to start position. Switch sides, bringing left knee toward left elbow, then returning it to start position. Continue, alternating legs, for 30 to 60 seconds.
2. 45-Degree Incline Row
3. Horizontal Row
Anchor the center of a resistance band at waist height and stand facing it with feet slightly wider than shoulders. Hold an end of the band in each hand with palms facing each other; extend arms straight out in front of chest and squat until thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the squat position as you bend elbows, pulling band toward your chest. Extend arms to return to start position. Do 10 to 15 reps.
4. Kneeling Pulldown
5. Hanging Knee Raise
Grasp a pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing behind you. Extend arms so you’re hanging from the bar with legs straight. Keeping upper body still, bend knees, raising them toward your chest. Extend legs to return to the start position. Do 10 to 15 reps.
6. Chin Up
Grasp a pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing behind you. Extend arms so you’re hanging from the bar with legs straight. (Use a box to jump up onto bar if it’s too high.) Bend elbows, raising chin over bar. Extend arms to return to start position. Do 10 to 15 reps, or as many as you can with perfect form.
Photography by Anais & Dax; Art Direction by Ashley Hord