View Full Version : Pull-up Problem

Joe Cavazos
12-15-2007, 12:41 PM
I think there's a problem with my pull-ups. I'm not sure what exactly it is, but whenever I get to a certain height in the pull, it's like I hit a ceiling and simply can't pull any higher, regardless of how easily I got up. This problem doesn't come into play much during regular pull-ups, but it's very limiting in weighted pull-ups and muscle-ups, which I still have yet to do even though I'm at about 16 strict pull-ups and 25 kipping.

Video (http://www.teamschoolyd.org/schoolyfit/form/pull-up-problem.wmv)

Any ideas what the problem is and how I can work at fixing it?

Jason Lollar
12-15-2007, 01:05 PM

If you're doing that many deadhangs/kipping, there's nothing "wrong" with your pullups. I think you just need to start at very light weights. With that said, try a slightly narrower, supinated grip (kinda like keeping your hands tight in a Muscle Up)...or maybe try a switch grip (my personal fav). Also, try placing the db between your knees so you can kip just a little. Or maybe even a backpack??

I think that in a deadhang the last few inches of the pull isolates your upper back more. ie. you're no longer able to assist with your biceps. Just my 2 cents.

Lincoln Brigham
12-15-2007, 04:17 PM
Pull your elbows back, that will give you more elevation. Right now they finish well in front of you.

Matthew J Tortoriello
12-15-2007, 04:47 PM
Also try incorporating more of your upper back muscles at the top and do not depend on your biceps so much at the top. Pinch your shoulders.

Juan Cantu
12-15-2007, 07:37 PM
Pull your elbows back, that will give you more elevation. Right now they finish well in front of you.

i think thats all it is .... bring your elbows back towards your sides.

David Aguasca
12-15-2007, 09:36 PM
using tension techniques has helped me pull more weight...on weighted pullups, i try to visualize crushing the bar in my hands...

as for your problem...it's that the weight is at your limit. that's probably your 1RM.

Matthew J Tortoriello
12-15-2007, 10:06 PM
I think it is also his form, not so much strength

Joe Cavazos
12-16-2007, 01:15 AM
Thanks for the tips, guys. I'll work on my form when I hit the gym tomorrow.

As for the weight, it's not my 1RM. I can make higher weights by kipping, and by going completely strict I can only pull less. Maybe this will change once I work on it.

Steven Low
12-24-2007, 08:52 PM
Haven't been in this forum much but it sounds like the problem I ran into recently (in my training journal but I'll post it for ya here). Matthew actually touched on it, but I'm going to go a bit more in depth:

Something important just occurred me to (in the shower, lol) and I feel like a retard for not noticing it sooner.

Lately, the top part of the one arm chins have been a bit of a struggle for me moreso because I'm lacking tension. I can directly relate his to weak scapular retractors (aka rhomboids) because I've been losing tension with my posture as well. What I just now figured is that with all of the activate shoulder positions I'm doing with the pseudo and wall planche pushups as well as the assisted OAC more or less the scapular retractors are more or less always activated (or protracted in this case -- activated pushing is protracted, activated pulling is retracted generally; few exceptions are cross, bench, overhead work) leading to them weakening (long muscles = weaker muscles). Since I have drastically cut down on the front lever progression pullups, this weakens them even more without the rowing retraction of the shoulder blades that you get from this. So basically I need to do some work on my rhomboids with front lever progression pullups or bent over rows or something of that nature.

Make sure you guys take note of this too.. scapular dysfunction or weakness occurs relatively easy. It's not just really anterior/posterior imbalance and RC weakness that you have to account for. I believe this is also the reason I've been able to pull the weighted pullups up to about 115 lbs easily about 3/4 of the way up but I can't do that last 1/4 because it's a lot of scapular retraction. The same is true with the weighted muscle ups as well as the aforementioned top of the one arm chin/pullup PLUS the bottom of the OAC where you first have to activate the shoulder by pulling it into the socket. It all makes sense that I was decreasing in strength in those exercises or my strength failed to improve over the past couple weeks or so, haha.

Problem solved. Now to implement the solution. I expect some significant pulling strength gains in my future. :)

Susie Rosenberg
12-25-2007, 08:11 AM
Steven, I have the opposite problem, from a dead hang I can't do the first 25 degrees of pull...if I start with bent arms standing on something, even a slight bend, I can do the pullup.

Any suggestions for me? I have to nail my pullup before Eugene Allen gets a MU....:D

(sorry for the hijack, but not too sorry, I need help!)


Steven Low
12-25-2007, 10:06 AM
Almost a problem with scapular retraction.. in this case it's activating the shoulder which would be scapular depression (although it will help to retract the scapulae as well because of more tension).

My advice would be to actually just do negatives very slow at the bottom portion of the pullup as well as shrugs with your arms straight to get the feeling of the activation of the movement. Focus on the shoulder blades at least at the top and bottom portion of the movement actively pulling them down and in right before you pull explosively with your arms. If that hasn't been working, you can obviously work these a different way. For example, get up in support on a set of parallel bars/parallettes or even rings and just start shrugging without bending your arms. Focus on the shoulder blades (well, actively depressing the shoulder girdle) to so you know how it feels.