Why Are My Pull Ups Decreasing? All You Need To Know For Better Results
Whether you are relatively new to pull ups or you have been exercising for some time, it can be very frustrating when your progress stalls.
This can happen for many reasons, which we will look at shortly.
Getting back on track can be a quick fix if you only need to adjust the odd thing, but what could be the reason why your pull ups seem to be decreasing…
Why Are My Pull Ups Decreasing?
Your pull-ups might be decreasing because your muscles are not used to the exercise. When you first start doing pull-ups, your muscles have to adjust to the new movement and this can cause some fatigue. Additionally, make sure that you are doing the exercise with proper form. If your form is incorrect, this can also lead to decreased performance and fewer pull-ups. Other factors to consider include: do you need to change up your routine, are you getting enough rest and recovery, at what point of the workout are you doing them and does this need to change, have you had an injury or sickness which takes time to get back to where you were before, have you bulked up recently and are you fuelling your workouts? Be sure to warm up properly before attempting any strenuous exercise like pull-ups. A good warm-up will help to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for the exercise, which can help to prevent injury and improve your performance.
There could be a variety of reasons or even just one, which are making your pull ups problematic, let’s look at them and ways to get back on track.
Goals and logging progress
What is your pull-up goal? What I’m getting at here is…are you just wanting to get stronger or do you have a specific purpose for wanting to progress?
When working out, it is important to have some set goals to aim for and track your progress along the way.
This will help you to see how far you have come and keep motivated to continue improving.
There are a few ways you can do this, such as logging your reps and sets in a notebook or on your phone, using a whiteboard to keep track of your progress, or even taking photos or videos of yourself to see your form and technique.
Having a visual reference point is a great marker of progress.
If you find that you are not progressing as quickly as you would like, it can be useful to change up your routine.
Change up routine
Your body can quickly become accustomed to the same exercises being done over and over again.
To challenge your muscles and keep them growing, you need to change up your routine on a regular basis.
This could involve adding in new exercises, changing the order of your exercises, increasing the weight or resistance, or decreasing the rest time between sets.
Doing pull-ups at the start of your program may help you get the most out of it, rather than towards the end when you are fatigued from previous exercises.
You could also try working out at a different time of day, this is something not everyone is able to do with family and work commitments etc, but this can have a massive influence on your gains if you can mix up when you train.
It is important to keep your body guessing so that you can continue making progress.
Changing how you lift can have a massive bearing when mixing things up, so think about doing this also.
Change the way you train
There are various ways of lifting weights, and they can help keep your body guessing when it comes to training.
Blood Flow Restriction Training – This is where you restrict the flow of blood to the working muscles. It’s often used to help people recover from injuries but it can also be quite painful.
Isometrics – You hold a muscle in a static position for some time. It’s a great way to build strength.
Crossfit – This is training that incorporates a lot of different exercises, often at high intensity. It’s great for improving fitness but it can also be quite tough on the body.
High-Intensity Interval Training – This type of training alternates between periods of high and low intensity. It’s great for improving fitness.
Tabata – This is a type of high-intensity interval training that is very intense. Tabata training breaks a workout down into clearly defined intervals – typically, 20 seconds of a push-it-to-the-limit exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Drop Sets – A type of weightlifting where you lower the weight after each set. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle.
Super Sets – Weightlifting where you do two or more sets of an exercise back-to-back with no rest in between. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle.
Rest-Pause Sets – This is a type of weightlifting where you take a short break after each rep. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body.
Forced Reps – Weightlifting where you have someone else help you with the last few reps of an exercise. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle.
Negative Reps – A type of weightlifting where you lower the weight slower than you lift it. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle.
Pyramid Sets – This is a type of weightlifting where you start with a lighter weight and then gradually increase the weight as you go. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle.
As you can see, there are a plethora of ways to lift weights, which will all help keep your body guessing and help make gains.
Take bigger rests in between sets
If you feel like you are not progressing as quickly as you would like, it could be that you are not giving your body enough time to recover in between sets.
Your muscles need time to recover so that they can grow.
Try taking longer rests in between sets and see if that helps you to perform better.
Taking a few minutes in between sets may feel like a lifetime, but is well worth the wait and is often all that is needed to help your muscles recover.
Not having enough rest in between sets can affect your respiratory system, by not allowing you to breathe correctly when lifting.
As you are in effect out of breath, so it is important to make sure that you are taking enough time to recover to get the most out of any exercise you are doing.
Have you put on muscle/ bulking up?
If you have put on muscle, this can affect your pull-ups.
The reason being is that the more muscle you have, the heavier you are, and therefore the harder it becomes to do pull-ups.
You may need to change your routine or even the type of exercise you are doing to accommodate for the new muscle you have.
You may also need to change the way you are eating, as you will now need to consume more calories to maintain your new muscle mass.
With this in mind, consider using a resistance band or assisted pull-up machine to help you with your pull-ups, as this will take some of the weight off your body.
Change grip position
If you normally do pull-ups with an overhand grip, try switching to an underhand grip.
The reason being is that the underhand grip works your biceps more, which can help to make the exercise easier.
An easy way to change grip position is to use a towel.
Wrap the towel around the bar and then hold on with an underhand grip.
You can also try using a Chin-Up bar, as this has grips that are specifically designed for an underhand grip.
Also, the way you grip the bar is an important factor, as a pronated grip (palms facing away from you) will work your back muscles more, whereas a supinated grip (palms facing towards you) will work your biceps more.
So, if you feel like your back is not getting enough of a workout, try using a pronated grip.
Execution of exercises
The way you perform an exercise can have a big impact on the results you get.
If you are not using proper form or doing the exercise with a certain degree of intensity, this can lead to decreased performance and fewer pull-ups.
If you find that you are struggling to keep proper form, you can try doing negatives (as mentioned above).
To do negatives, start by jumping up to the top position of the pull-up and then slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended.
This is a great way to build strength and muscle because you are working against gravity.
Injury or sickness?
If you have been injured or sick, this can affect your fitness in general and pull-ups.
It can take time to recover from an injury or sickness, so be patient and give your body the time it needs to heal.
You may also need to change your routine or the type of exercise you are doing to accommodate for your injury or sickness.
A lot of people ignore the fact they aren’t still fully fit and risk further injury going back to training too soon.
I have done this myself on a number of occasions and it can be very frustrating, especially if you know deep down, that you have no business training.
I say this a lot but please, listen to your body in regards to how you and it feel coming back from injury or illness.
Stretching and warming up
It is important to stretch and warm up before any exercise, but especially before pull-ups.
Stretching helps to loosen your muscles and prepare them for the exercise ahead.
A good way to warm up is by doing a light cardio workout or some bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and squats.
Doing a light cardio workout will help to get your heart rate up and get your blood flowing.
Doing some bodyweight exercises will help to activate your muscles and prepare them for the exercise ahead.
Mood and stress levels
Your mood and stress levels can also affect your performance.
If you are feeling stressed or down, this can lead to a decrease in performance in general.
It is important to find ways to relax and de-stress.
Some people find that exercise helps them to feel better, but if you are feeling down, then don’t let the fact you aren’t performing to your best abilities weigh you down.
You have still trained and still got many benefits from the process, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t getting the reps, sets and numbers you got on previous days or weeks.
Hydration and nutrition
Your diet plays a big role in recovery, so make sure that you are eating enough food to support your training.
You need to make sure that you are getting enough protein, carbs and fats as this is essential for muscle growth.
You also need to make sure that you are staying hydrated.
Water is essential for your body to function properly and optimally.
If you are not drinking enough water, this can lead to fatigue, decreased performance and a decrease in muscle mass.
Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and especially around your workouts.
If you are training too much, this can lead to a decrease in performance.
Your body needs time to recover from exercise, so if you are not giving it enough time, this can lead to overtraining.
Overtraining can lead to fatigue, a decrease in performance and even injuries.
If you find that you are struggling to recover from your workouts, then you may need to cut back on your training volume or frequency.
Not enough rest
Sleep is when your body recovers from your workouts.
If you are not getting enough sleep, your body will not have the time it needs to recover and this can lead to a decrease in performance.
It is important to make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night.
Most people need around 8 hours of sleep.
If you find that you are struggling to get enough sleep, there are a few things you can do to help.
You can try and stick to a sleep schedule, where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
You can try and create a relaxing environment in your bedroom, by making sure it is dark, cool and quiet.
You should also avoid caffeine and screens before bed.
Range of motion
If your range of motion is reduced, this can lead to a decrease in performance.
Range of motion is the distance that your joints can move.
If you have a reduced range of motion, this can limit the number of reps you can do and the weight you can lift.
It is important to make sure that you are stretching and doing mobility exercises to improve your range of motion.
Foam rolling is a great way to improve your range of motion.
One thing that may be causing a decrease in the number of pull-ups is the correct form. This is a strange thing to consider right, given all that’s been mentioned above.
If you have tightened up your technique recently, this might be the issue.
As you may have previously been doing them wrong, using momentum or swinging, which can lead to the correct muscles not being used to do the exercise.
By tightening up your form, you may have reduced your output for a short period, however as mentioned before, it’s always quality over quantity so you are better off doing fewer pull ups with better form than lots of rubbish pull ups.
There are several reasons why your pull-ups might be decreasing.
It could be that your muscles are not used to the exercise, you are not doing the exercise with proper form, you need to change up your routine, you are not getting enough rest and recovery, or you have bulked up recently.
It is important to make sure that you are hydrated and well-nourished as this will help with recovery.
If you are struggling to recover from your workouts, you may need to reduce your training volume or frequency.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep as this is when your body recovers from exercise.
Finally, ensure that you have a good range of motion by stretching and doing mobility exercises.
Have your pull ups suffered recently, did you get back on track? Let me know in the comments section below.