Many believe (as I once used to) that pull ups are one of the most difficult, if not almost impossible, exercises to master. The idea of lifting up your entire bodyweight, and being able to do it over and over again, does appear daunting. You are going against gravity here, and it hurts! But the pull-up benefits far outweigh the initial inconvenience.
I personally hated pull ups, mainly because I thought I couldnt do them. I also imagined they would make my back and shoulders too bulky for a delicate girls liking, so I avoided them at all costs. Until one day I decided I wouldnt anymore, and behold the magic that started unraveling! I soon began noticing all the benefits and effects of doing pull ups, and the better and better I was getting at them, the more and more they had to give in return.
The truth is, from
this perspective, pull ups are not that hard to do after all. Once you develop
sufficient upper body strength, it is all about practice. Even if you are not
quite ready for a full pull up movement, there are many exercises that may help
you get there soon.
Start, as I did, with negative and jumping pull ups, or do assisted pull ups with the help of a spotter or a resistance band, and slowly and gradually work your way to the full pull up motion. It is also perfectly fine if you cant do 10 unbroken pull ups at the first go. And you shouldnt expect it either. It takes effort and time, but if you want to see and feel the pull-up benefits first hand, embrace that pull up bar. Continue reading to learn more about all the benefits of pull ups and why they should be part of everyones, including yours workout routine.
There are so
many benefits of pull ups that it comes as no surprise that they are considered
one of the most useful exercises out there. The fact that they are undoubtedly
one of the most-widely used upper body workouts speaks for the numerous reasons
why you should start doing them today. Here are some of the top pull-up workout
They are convenient
Pull ups are one
of the most convenient exercises to do. It requires no more than a solid
pull-up bar and your own body. You dont even have to go to do gym to do them.
Most outdoor fitness parks have pull up bars which you can use for free or, if
you enjoy exercising at home, you can buy and set up a door mounted pull up bar
in your hallway. At the end of the day, you can pull yourself up on any solid
bar you can find, even the ones in your kids playground.
They are much more
that an upper body exercise
Another one of the great pull-up benefits is that the motion simultaneously works several muscle groups. This makes pull ups a very efficient exercise because with every single pull up you engage your biceps, triceps, wrists, forearms, shoulders, lats and (surprise surprise!) your core.
It means that doing pull ups regularly will not only give you strong and toned arms and back, but you will also end up with a flat and toned stomach. I am already sensing questions like Do pull ups really work the core? And are there pull-up benefits for abs? Yes and yes! Its very simple really. A developed six-back depends on engaging a large number of muscles and requires effective workouts. In order to lift your body on the pull-up bar, you must engage your stomach muscles. The entire motion greatly impacts your core muscle strength and also helps reduce your stomach calories. The result? A nicely toned upper body and a rock solid, flat stomach.
wonders for your grip power
You need good
grip strength to start with in order to manage a single pull up, but
incorporating this exercise into your workout routine will get you a long way
in increasing the power of that same grip.
By doing pull
ups you lift your entire body weight while hanging from a bar, which means that
a considerable part of the stress is concentrated on your hands. Just a few
pull ups a day will make your grip much stronger.
But why is
handgrip strength important? Well, to answer that question, think of the times
when you have struggled with daily chores like opening a jar, lifting a pot off
the stove or turning a door knob.
There are many
variations to the basic pull up
Doing the same exercise over and over again can easily get boring and cause motivation to dwindle. The good news is that the pull up comes with a stock of variations that make it impossible for you to get bored.
For example, chin ups are best for working out your biceps, the close grip pull ups are most effective for building your lower traps, inner lats and pectorals, while one of the best wide grip pull-up benefits is that they not only contract the lats, which are the largest upper body muscle group, but a variety of other muscles. A combination of all these pull up variations will help you get the most of the workout and that coveted V-taper. The pull-up muscles worked in each variation can vary greatly, so youll get a great body workout.
You can play
with wide grip pull ups, chin ups or close grip pull ups. They are a great way
to stimulate different muscle groups at different levels, increasing your
muscle and strength gains.
And even if you can only perform the assisted pull-up, that is to say a pull-up with the support of a towel of a resistance band, dont despair! One study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics shows that there is sufficient muscle activity in every one of these variations, that makes each a viable exercise for a healthy fitness routine.
They help with weight
Wight loss is
yet another of the pull up benefits. To be honest, doing pull ups cannot
compete with the cardio in the calorie-burning department, but they will
definitely give your heart a good pump and your metabolism a boost. Any form of
exercise increases your metabolic rate, and makes it stay boosted for a given
amount of time after you have finished exercising, which facilitates the fat
Pull-ups give you
improved posture and good body proportion
One of the
effects of pull ups is that they strengthen your back and help develop a
straight posture. Strong back muscles mean a more supportive back that is more
resistant to physical stress, which definitely counts among the long-term
benefits of pull ups.
Moreover, they help you create beautiful body lines and a proportional physique, and this goes for both men and women. Contrary to the popular belief that pull ups will make you bulky, which is why many women stay away from them, they wont youll only end up with nice toned lats which will, as an added value, make your waist look smaller. So if you are wondering about the benefits of pull-ups for females, how does a perfectly toned back in an open-back dress sound?
So, to recap, pull-ups offer plenty of benefits:
- Convenient to perform
- Help with weight loss
- Improve grip strength
- Develop different muscles including your core
- Fun and never boring
- Improve your posture and body proportion
How many pull-ups should you do?
There is no set definition of how many pull ups a day you should do just stick to the basic concept that fewer reps with increased weight will make you stronger and bulky, while a higher number of repetitions will your own weight will develop your endurance and muscular tone. So if you want to get stronger and bulkier, do fewer increased intensity pull ups by wearing a weighted vest or hang a weight to your ankles. If you are interested in greater endurance and carved body, go for a higher number of body weight reps. The pull up does indeed give you limitless options.
All in all, the pull up offers so many benefits that its a real shame not to consider including it in your workout routine. Stronger back and arms, stronger core or a finely toned physique whatever you are after, it is wise to include pull ups into your exercise routine. And you dont have to go strong at first allow yourself time to master the motion and then adjust your training depending on your fitness goals. Youll reap the pull-up benefits in no time!
Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?
Making the Most of Apple Fitness+
An email from Life Time hit my inbox a few days ago with a subject line that immediately caught my attention: “Action Required! Renew your Apple Fitness+ promo code to continue your complimentary subscription.”
For the past four months, Apple Fitness+ has been an integral part of my health and wellness routine. It’s been an unexpected yet awesome addition to the many offerings in the Life Time Digital app experience. As a Life Time team member, I’ve had a front-row seat to all the available features in Life Times digital app — training programs, educational content, and live-streaming classes, in addition to Apple Fitness+ — and letting the latter lapse wasn’t an option for me.
You see, I’ve been a hybrid workout routine since earlier this year, following Coach Anika’s “Leaner and Stronger” program in the app, and then supplementing the strength sessions — and often replacing the low-impact/recovery days altogether — with offerings from Apple Fitness+.
I’ve grown accustomed to taking walks with the likes of Anderson Cooper, Misty Copeland, and Jane Fonda, thanks to the “Time to Walk” feature. I like the convenience of quick-hit HIIT finishers with Bakari and treadmill workouts with Scott and Sam — or going to my yoga mat and finding my breath (and moments of peace) with Jonelle and Jessica.
These workouts, whether 10 minutes or 45, have helped keep me accountable, while also inspiring me to try new things and add a little more variety to my routine. These are a few of the reasons I’m not ready to let it lapse:
1. The wide range of options. With more than 10 categories of workout types — and new classes being offered every week in each one — there’s a ton of high-quality content to choose from. I’ve done 30-minute treadmill workouts that have left me breathless, 20-minute HIIT sessions that have made me burn, and 10-minute Mindful Cooldowns that are ideal for stretching after a long day of sitting or unwinding before bed. I’m not sure workout boredom is a possibility.
2. The array of top-notch instructors. I have yet to encounter an Apple Fitness+ trainer who hasn’t brought it all to their class. While not all of them are great fits for me, they are all knowledgeable, engaging, and energetic. They are diverse in their identities and abilities, and they are phenomenal at taking your mind off the work at hand — without compromising form or quality. The mindful strategies they use to encourage and motivate have helped me believe in myself and push through when I otherwise might have slowed down or stopped.
3. The music. Apple’s license to music of all sorts is unmatched. I’ve discovered some of the latest Latin hits, run to the top get-on-the-dance floor songs, and more. Plus, I can save the playlists in Apple Music, so I can listen again (and again) later on.
4. The integration with my Apple Watch. This might be my favorite feature: The connection between my iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV and Apple Watch so I can monitor my workout intensity is seamless. I love seeing my Activity rings close — and using the burn bar in the cardio workouts to gauge how my activity efforts stack up compared with others who’ve completed the workout.
5. The convenience factor. My iPhone is with me most of the time — and I wear my Apple Watch every day. So, the fact that I can do these workouts (along with others from Life Time in the app) anywhere helps me stay on track with my health and fitness, no matter where I am. On a recent weekend getaway with a couple of my girlfriends, for instance, we snuck in 20-minute bodyweight strength sessions each morning — a good sweat before a day of lounging poolside was just what we needed.
Apple Fitness+ also offers targeted workouts programs for beginners, older adults, and during pregnancy — I’ll be watching for future offerings that match my goals. So far, I’ve gotten a lot out of this feature and am excited to dip my toes into others as they become available.
For more about the Apple Fitness+ partnership with Life Time and how it’s included in membership, visit Lifetime.life/join/digital-membership.html.
Current Life Time members: To activate or renew your Apple Fitness+ access, download the Life Time Digital app and simply click on the Apple Fitness+ tile and follow the instructions.
Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?
Exercising After a C-Section
After giving birth, many women wonder when they can get back to their exercise routine, but it can be particularly confusing for women who delivered via cesarean, or C-section.
“[A C-section] is a major abdominal surgery, and just like any other surgery, it takes time to heal,” says Blair Green, DPT, pelvic-health specialist and coauthor of Go Ahead, Stop and Pee: Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum. Typically, experts recommend waiting six weeks after surgery before restarting your exercise routine, but women who are recovering from a C-section may need to wait longer.
Not only does the incision itself need to heal before you can start exercising, but the core muscles — which are active in every movement we make — have to be retrained.
“If we cut through [our core muscles], they’re essentially ‘injured,’ and even though the injury was a surgery, they still need time to heal and retrain themselves,” Green says.
Here are some tips on when — and how — to exercise after a C-section.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER SURGERY
- Protect your incision
“Initially, you want to protect your incision,” says Jennifer Joslyn, DPT, a physical therapist at Motion Minnesota who specializes in pelvic health. This means avoiding movements that could irritate the incision, like excessive twisting, bending, and lifting heavy objects. Ideally, you’ll avoid these types of movements for the first few weeks following surgery.
“Most women don’t feel well enough to even do much more than just household walking distances and taking care of the baby until about three weeks out,” says Elizabeth Chumanov, DPT, PhD, co-coordinator of the Active Moms Clinic at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Sports Rehabilitation Clinic.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing
While you may not be able — or necessarily want — to exercise while you recover, there are small things you can do during those six weeks to help you begin restoring core strength and function. “One thing I always recommend is deep diaphragmatic breathing,” Green says.
Your diaphragm is a dome-shaped sheet of muscle that separates your chest and abdominal cavities, and acts as the primary muscle of respiration. It actually works with your abdominal and pelvic-floor muscles — a group of muscles on the bottom of your pelvis that support your pelvic organs and help with posture. This means that simply activating the diaphragm can help restore the function of your entire core.
But also that deep breathing helps you heal, because it transports blood and oxygen to your tissues,” Green says.
To do it, lie on your back, place both hands on your rib cage, and take 10 to 20 deep breaths. As you inhale, you should feel air coming into your ribs and abdomen. “And then, when you breathe out, you should feel your ribs funneling down and in, and your abdomen should drop,” Green says.
In an ideal world, you would practice deep breathing three or four times a day. That said, many new moms are simply trying to adjust to their new routine, and may struggle with adding anything else to their plate. So, Green recommends focusing on deep breathing for five minutes at the start and/or end of your day.
- Don’t overdo it
Light walking is OK, too, as long as there’s no pain, Green says. But if you were on bedrest for any length of your pregnancy, you’ll want to take greater care with starting any kind of activity — light walking included. “I know a couple of women who were on bedrest for six months of their pregnancy, and in those situations, I would not recommend waking up two weeks after you had a baby and going for a walk,” Green says.
AFTER YOUR SIX-WEEK CHECKUP
- Start with basic strength exercises
Once your OB/GYN has cleared you for exercise, typically six weeks after giving birth, you can start incorporating basic strength exercises like squats, lunges, bird-dogs, and planks. In the early stages of rebuilding your fitness, avoid high-intensity and high-impact activities like heavy strength training, running, bootcamp-style and metabolic-conditioning circuits, and plyometrics. You want to make sure your core and pelvic floor are healed and strong enough to handle those types of dynamic movements.
- Ease into running, plyometrics, and heavy weightlifting
If you’re a runner, Green recommends giving yourself eight to 12 weeks to recover and retrain your abdominal muscles, and starting with a run-walk program. You can also do low-impact cardio exercise like biking, rowing, or the elliptical to rebuild your fitness before you jump into running again. And if you do plyometrics or heavy weightlifting, wait three to six months, Green says.
- Pay attention to how you feel
When you do exercise, listen to what your body is telling you. If you experience pain, heaviness, or pressure in the pelvic floor, doming or coning in your abdomen, urine or stool leakage, or any pain or irritation in your C-section scar, this could be a sign that the exercise should be modified, Joslyn says.
If your abdomen pushes out during an exercise (referred to as “coning” or “doming”), for example, chances are your abdominal muscles aren’t strong enough yet to handle that exercise. Or, it may mean that you need to breathe or activate your core in a different way.
- Reactivate your core muscles
“When you’re pregnant, your body has to make room for your baby, and your tissues and muscles are stretching and expanding,” Joslyn says, “and so once you have your baby, initially it may be hard to find those core muscles again and activate them.”
To help women relearn how to activate their core, Joslyn recommends an exercise that targets your deep core muscle — the transverse abdominis. Here’s how to do the move:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees and feet flat on the ground.
- With your fingers, find your hips on both sides of the front of your pelvis. Then, move your fingers in 1 inch.
- Inhale, keeping your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles relaxed.
- Imagine there is a string in-between your hip bones. As you exhale, imagine that string pulling your hip bones together to engage your transverse abdominis.
Once you know how to reactivate your core muscles, you can better activate them during any other exercise.
- Try to be patient
Remember: Just because your doctor has cleared you for exercise doesn’t mean you’re mentally or physically ready, or that you can pick up where you left off before your pregnancy, experts say.
It’s important to adjust your exercises and timeline according to how you feel and steer clear of self-judgments that tell you that you “should” be healing or progressing differently. Some women feel great at their six-week OB/GYN appointment, whereas others feel weak and fatigued and may even be in pain.
“Everybody’s just a little bit different in terms of that [exercise] timeline,” Joslyn says.
Try not to rush into exercise, or chase the unrealistic goal of reaching your pre-baby shape as quickly as possible. Remember that your body went through a lot of changes during your pregnancy — and continues changing even after the baby is born. Rather than get hung up on ideas of reclaiming your pre-baby body or achieving an unrealistic post-baby body for you, practice the mindset of meeting your body exactly as it is each and every day.
“We need to respect the recovery time,” Green says, “and that often gets lost in the shuffle.”
Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?
Stay Healthy And Active With These Fitness Tips
Overall fitness isn't just about cardio. Although cardio is a major component of weight loss and heart health, it is important to incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen. Strength training builds muscle mass and helps you burn more calories post-workout. Follow these strength-training tips to amp up your workout and get a complete workout.
Alternative sports can offer people good fitness options for people, alongside the more regular forms of exercise. Free-running is a sport that emphasizes full body fitness. Climbing, running, and general agility are main requirements to free-run as you run, climb, and jump across many obstacles. Not only are they fun, but they unleash your inner child's desire to run and jump over railings, off the beaten path of adulthood.
If you want to reach your goals in terms of fitness, then you need to work backwards. You should pick a date of completion for your fitness goals and work backwards, listing off all the short-term goals in between. This way you look at your fitness goals as deadlines.
The best way to get children interested in fitness is to be a good example and by being involved with them as much as possible. Try taking an exercise class, playing tennis or hitting a baseball together. Not only will you both benefit from the increased activity, but it's a great way to maintain a close relationship.
To help you include exercise into a tight schedule, you should walk whenever possible. That could mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office or parking at the back of a large lot to give you a brisk brief walk to the store. When it comes to working out, every little bit counts.
Add resistance training to your exercise plan. Resistance training helps build muscle. The more muscle you have in your body, the more quickly and efficiently you can burn calories. Resistance bands or light weights are good options for working out at home. You can also use your own body weight to provide resistance. Exercises, such as push-ups and squats, make your muscles bear the weight of your body and that builds strength.
After every workout, one thing you may want to do is take protein. This can be either in the form of a protein shake, a protein bar, or basically any meat product. This allows for your muscles to recover faster from your workout and overall make your muscles grow larger.
Decide to walk for 45 minutes a day instead of 30. Walking for 45 minutes has been scientifically proven by Duke University to result in fat and weight loss. This can equal up to 30 pounds of weight loss per year for just an added 15 minutes a day. For maximum weight loss, try walking up a hill instead of down.
Obviously, there are many options when it comes to working strength moves into your fitness routine. Keep doing your cardio, but additionally, choose any number of the tips mentioned to keep your muscles strong and prevent injury. Not only will you increase your calorie burn, but you'll have awesome muscle definition to boot.
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