Is it worth it to pull back?

Do you like pulling back, but do you hate joint pain? You need a more balanced approach. Here is the plan for painless pull-ups for the year ahead!

Author: John Paul Catanzaro

For years, we were told that we should not pull up on the bar and pull the top block by the head. The reasons are very well studied. In the drafts of a heavy load, the shoulder joints experience severe stress behind the head, since the shoulder is in the position of the lead with the maximum rotation outwards. Anatomically, this situation is a time bomb. Moreover, this is not a "natural movement".

"Natural" – you will often hear this word. In this context, it means that our body is not fit to pull things by the head, and we never have to do this in normal life. Even in the animal world, you will not see monkeys that are pulled on branches in this way. They know that this is unnatural!

I'm a little thickening, but the strict logic in all this is present. Now remember the pull-ups, especially their version with the reverse grip (palms look at you), and not with neutral or mixed. This movement will pass a rigorous test? Can you call it "natural"?

My opinion – it is impossible, but this does not mean that you need to forget about it and not remember it. This is only an excuse for a more rational and balanced approach to the implementation of this exercise.

Is there a second? Raise your hands above your head. Notice, your palms look at each other or forward. I guarantee they do not look back! Moreover, you will feel very uncomfortable if you try to deploy them so.

Now let's imagine this movement in the context of training. How often do you press the bar above your head with a supine grip? Perhaps you use this technique with dumbbells, starting with a grinded grip and ending with a pierced at the top point – often called Arnold's bench press. Or maybe you are doing bench presses with a back grip. But let's be frank if I flip through your training diary for the last five years (I know that every reader of our site is smart enough to keep a training diary), I'll find in it all kinds of presses above the head with different shells and different widths of grip, but the grip itself will always be either penetrated or neutral (parallel).

I say this to emphasize your attention to the fact that there are no antagonistic movements for pulling back. For comparison, pulling back grip can be contrasted with bench press by back grip, and bending with biceps with supination – press of upper block with pronation of hand. But there is nothing to counteract pulling back. And this alone should become a red flag. If you often do this exercise – muscle imbalance can not be avoided!

Do not misunderstand me; I like pulling back. I pulled myself up all my life, and at one time I could even pull up all the canons of technology with the extra 45 kg on my belt. But I had problems with elbows and shoulder joints. I injured both the proximal (on both arms) and the distal (on the left arm) end of the bicep. Is it worth all the blame for pulling back grip? Perhaps not, but they certainly did not help.

Pulling up with a back grip – to the exit? .

Do this a classic exercise or not? I've been asking myself this question all the last year, and you know what? I continue to pull back. It is difficult to refuse, because the benefits of exercise still outweigh its shortcomings.

The main advantage, of course, is that pulling back grip is an excellent activator of muscle growth. They work on the biceps, the rear deltas, the broadest ones, not to mention the effect they have on the bark muscles. When you need the maximum return on your efforts, there is not much that can be compared with them.

So, yes, I continue to pull back. However, not only the reverse.

That's how I structure my workouts with pull-ups. If you are a fan of pull-ups with a back grip that can not understand why joints hurt, I recommend you try:

How to build workouts in these months? The options are weight, it all depends on your goals. To develop strength, or if you want to progress in tightening with weights, it's better to stay in a relatively small range of repetitions – about 6 or even less – with more approaches – somewhere 5-6 and more.

If your goal is to simply tighten up 20 once in one approach, then, of course, you need multiplied sets.

After a month of rest, I repeat the cycle to complete the year of training. It turns out that I still tighten my back grip, but I do this for only two months a year. The lion's share of my pulling up is a straight or neutral grip, which is a mirror image of my pressures above my head.

Planning for presses and traction in this way is a good way to maintain the balance of the muscles surrounding the joints, and the older we are, the more important it is.

Many of us, coaches including, quickly change bench presses or even remove them if they face problems with joints. Drafts of the same close attention, as a rule, do not get.

"If it hurts, do not do it" – this advice has always been and always will be good. But what does not bother today can be a problem in the future. The balance between pressures and drafts is important, and if you apply the same weighted approach to grip, you can progress without pain in the joints.


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