I thought I would put something together to help people with how to do pull ups at home without a bar, as quite a few people don’t have them to hand when the gym is closed.
Another month another lock down, gyms are closed and were all scampering around trying to figure out once again how we can maintain our fitness levels when were having to put that soiled gym bag in the cupboard for four weeks (fingers and toes crossed its only four).
Brain Storming The Range Of Motion
Why are pull ups such a big deal for people? well, they work various muscles at once and its very important to have a strong back to help support the vertebrae and spine, plus the rest of the body in the day to day operation of movement.
When we do a pull up we are working a few muscle groups at a time and its knowing what they are as a way to unlocking the door to doing a similar type of movement, which will act as an adequate substitute to a good old pull up…without the bar.
When doing a pull up we are working not just the back but our arms, shoulders, traps and Let’s not forget grip strength with our hands too. So, what back muscles are we working when we do a pull up?
Here’s where it gets a tad technical with the names:
Latissimus dorsi – this is the largest upper back muscle which runs from halfway down the back, up to the armpit and shoulder blade.
Trapezius – the muscles which run the base of your skull to your shoulders.
Infraspinatus – this assists with shoulder extension and is located under the shoulder blade.
Thoracic erector spinae – these are the three main muscles which run along the thoracic spine.
Now we know what muscles are used, we can begin to work out what we need to do in order to work the parts required. All the exercises below are intended for beginners and intermediate people in mind, if you are advanced you can do these, but your more than likely already using bars at parks and have pull up bars already to have got to that level.
Also, if you are a heavier person, these should also work for you no problem.
Please click on the image below to watch the exercises and follow along to.
Exercise 1 – Australian Pull Up
This one is a staple for me when I haven’t been able to get out the house and need to work my back. Simply lay under a table or put two chairs next to each other and put a brush over the top (I prefer the table option every time, as the other has disaster written all over it).
Lay on the floor under the table up to the chest part of your body and place your hands on the table-top around elbow width apart.
Make sure you hold the body rigid, take a deep breath and then exhale as you pull yourself up so only your heels are on the floor and lift your chest till it touches the under side of the table, hold for a second and then exhale and slowly lower yourself back to the ground, keeping the tension on your arms at all times, then repeat the exercise for the desired number of reps.
This works well with you being able to change the grip width to tweak different muscles on your back too.
Exercise 2 – Towel or Sheet Door Pull Up – Warning!!
You can do this one either by hanging – if your more advanced – or by squatting if your a beginner. Get a towel or bed sheet and tie a knot in the middle, then put the knot part of the sheet behind the top of a door and close it. this now acts as your pull up bar. Simply hold on to the sheet so its pulled tight and then lower yourself down to a squat position.
From here inhale, get ready and exhale as you pull yourself up till you are standing only using your back to pull yourself up (your legs should be a dead weight as such), exhale and lower yourself back to the squat. As mentioned, if you are more advanced you can hang off the door (if the door is stable ONLY) and do a regular pull up. The thing with this is that its not exactly comfortable as you’re rubbing against the door.
Exercise 3 – Towel Tension Lat Pulldown
This works great for all levels and doesn’t involve you potentially ripping a door off its hinges…so that’s a bonus.
Lay on the floor on your chest, with your legs straight and touching, with your arms stretched out in front of you in a “V” shape. Take deep breath and hold towel or a resistance band (if you have one) then lift your chest off the floor, exhale and pull the towel towards your chest, as you would with a regular lat pulldown at the gym. Always making sure you keep a good tension on the towel at all times. Then inhale as you push the towel back to the starting position above your head. Repeat exercise again with desired reps.
Exercise 4 – Elbow Pull Up
Finally, this exercise is a great way for people to begin lifting their body weight and it is a great workout for your back too. With this one you want to make sure you are on a carpet or you have something under your elbows for padding, then you are ready to begin.
Lay on the floor, legs together and arms slightly lower than shoulder width with your fists facing the ceiling as if you were going to do a bench press.
Take a deep breath and push off the floor with your elbows till you can’t lift anymore, hold for a second and then exhale and lower yourself to the floor and then repeat with desired reps.
With all the exercises here, its very important to control your breathing when pushing and pulling.
How To Do Pull Ups At Home Without A Bar – Conclusion
Hopefully the four exercises above will help you to keep a good level of fitness when working out at home. With exercises 2 and 3 you can use resistance bands if you have them and would work as an alternative to your body weight.
Hopefully this post on “how to do pull ups at home without a bar” will help keep people busy and active with these alternatives, especially during lockdown and while gyms across the globe are closed.
If you have tried the exercises and found them useful, then please comment below and let me know your thoughts as I would love to hear them.
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