The Biggest Pull-Up Mistakes to Avoid
Love them or hate them, you can't escape pull-ups. Getting to grips with this movement is essential if you want to improve your WOD times and get stronger.
Unfortunately, there's also a lot to get wrong! If you need to improve your pull-up tekkers, make sure you're avoiding these mistakes:
Kipping Before You're Strong Enough
Kipping is a great way to increase efficiency during a timed WOD. It's not the most effective way to build strength. In fact, if you attempt to kip the movement before you're strong enough, you risk injury.
Kipping puts the shoulders under a lot of strain, and should only be used by athletes who are strong enough to cope with this.
Can you do 10 strict pull-ups? If you can't, you should working on this first. You'll build strength much faster and, in the long run, your kipping pull-ups will be faster and safer.
If you can't do any strict pull-ups, kipping shouldn't even be on your radar. Take a look at the advice in this post to get your first pull-up.
Not Using the Right Muscles
The pull-up is all about the lats, but it's amazing how many people have a hard time using them.
Technique is everything and, as with any movement, taking the time to get this right early on will save you a lot of pain and reprogramming later.
You need to make sure the movement is coming from your back - not your upper traps, chest, or biceps. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Set your shoulders back and down before you start the movement to prevent internal rotation of the shoulder. This is a leading cause of injury to the rotator cuff.
- Gripping the bar just outside shoulder width. Go too wide or too narrow, and you'll need to recruit different muscles to help you up.
- Focus on driving the elbows down and back as you pull up.
Neglecting Your Hands
You might see ripped hands as some kind of weird badge of honour, but they're not. When you rip your hands, you hold back your training as you wait for them to recover.
This is easily avoided, with a little bit of hand care each day. It doesn't take long, and will help you build tougher skin.
We've already written about hand care, so if you need some more advice take a look at this post: How to Look After Your Hands.
Lack of WOD Strategy
In an ideal world, we'd all be able to blitz through any set of pull-ups thrown at us, without needing to break them up. However, in real life, this isn't always the case.
In WODs that feature high rep pull-ups, it's better to plan how you're going to break them up at the start - instead of going all out for the first few rounds.
It's tempted to just go for it at the start of the workout. This isn't always the best option, as you can quickly burn out your shoulders or rip your hands, leaving you in a bad position for the rest of the WOD.
In these kinds of workouts, plan your time wisely. Plan a strategy for breaking up your pull-ups, and use it from the beginning. You can always pick up the pace and push towards the end if you have more left in the tank.