What is a pull-up?
According to beach body specialist, Collette DeBenedetto, a pull-up can be defined as “a 'compound' exercise that involves a large number of big and small muscles, most notably your latissimus dorsi (lats) and biceps. In addition to working multiple muscles at the same time, the pull-up is also a multi-joint movement, an exercise that causes more than one joint to move” Pull-ups are performed with a supinated (overhand) grip. Those performed with a pronated, or reverse grip are referred to as a “chin-up.”
Pull-ups are awesome for many reasons, including the fact they build great upper body strength while requiring minimal equipment. You don't need a gym membership or fancy equipment to practice pull-ups. They can be done with a pull-up bar, on a playground, or even from a wooden ledge or deck. How convenient is that?
A second benefit of pull-ups are that they improve your posture. The primary muscle groups used to do a pull-up, or any modified version of a pull-up will no doubt improve the strength of those larger muscle groups in your back. Many people tend to focus on push-ups as an easy “go-to” exercise. Push-ups ARE a great exercise and also a great compound movement, however if you are only doing push-ups and not balancing out the posterior chain in the upper body, you're likely to develop poor posture due to this muscular imbalance.
When pull-ups become easy, it’s not hard to increase the intensity. You can add more reps or do weighted pull-ups. You don't need a weight belt to add weight to your pull-ups. Simply hold a kettlebell or dumbbell with your feet for extra resistance. Many exercises require much more equipment to progress a movement but not pull-ups.
There are different varieties of pull-ups. A chin-up as mentioned above, will target the biceps more. A wider grip pull-up will really hit those lats.
Depending on what kind of workouts you do on a regular basis, you may or may not have the goal of improving your grip strength. If you're into CrossFit, Olympic lifting, or body-building, you know that grip strength is important. Pull-ups will without a doubt improve this.
Pull-ups will also help with fat loss. Even though, pull-ups may not feel comparable to running on a treadmill, swimming, or biking, you're still increasing the heart rate and lean muscle mass. If you're looking to lose some fat, try decreasing your rest time between sets.
If you can't do pull-ups yet, that's okay! There are many modifications and varieties of exercises you can do to build up to this including inverted rows and assisted pull-ups. These exercises are equally as beneficial and will help you build up to doing your first pull-up.