Why Are My Pull Ups So Weak? (13 Critical Tips To Get Over Hump)
As you will be aware, pull ups are a great exercise that will increase your upper body strength, along with your core and arms.
A pull-up is an upper-body compound pulling exercise, which doesn’t just work your back muscles but a large portion of the body to be able to perform the movement correctly.
However, some people struggle to make any progress with them for various reasons.
Why Are My Pull Ups So Weak?
Your pull ups might be weak for various reasons, with the main one being a lack of strength. You must have a decent amount of upper body strength to do them. This also may be connected to doing the exercise with poor technique. It goes without saying, that it’s crucial to do any exercise correctly, not just pull ups. Are you getting enough rest and recovery in between sessions and do you have a healthy balanced diet? As these two can have a massive impact on your progress too. You may have weaker muscles in certain areas and also muscle imbalances, which could prevent any kind pull up progress. Work on improving the main muscles of this exercise individually and look to do some alternative exercises to build strength in the meantime before doing pull ups again. One way to gain steady progress with pull ups, is to use either a resistance band or a weight-assisted pull up machine to build reps and muscle.
Pull ups primarily work the following muscles:
Latissimus dorsi – which run from the mid-back to under the armpit and shoulder blade
Trapezius – which is located from your neck out to both shoulders
Deltoids – are your shoulder muscles – front, middle, and rear.
Thoracic erector spinae – the three muscles that run along your thoracic spine
Infraspinatus – these assist with shoulder extension and are located on the shoulder blade
Other muscles used during this exercise are the biceps and your core. Which makes this a pretty good upper body workout in itself.
Let’s look at the reasons why your pull ups are weak and what you can do to start seeing positive results when doing them.
The benefits of pull ups are many, which is why this exercise is a staple in many people’s workout routines. They work for multiple muscle groups at once, making them a great time-saver if you’re short on time. They’re also a compound exercise, meaning they work multiple joints simultaneously.
Another great benefit is that they can be done practically anywhere. All you need is a bar to grab onto, making them perfect for home workouts or when you’re traveling and can’t get to a gym.
Pull ups are also relatively easy to learn how to do. Although perfecting your technique may take some time, the basic movement is not complicated.
Lack of Strength
This is the most common reason why people struggle with pull ups. The simple solution is to build up your strength by doing other exercises that work similar muscles. Exercises such as lat pull-downs, rows, and chin-ups will all help.
You can work on this issue by using a weight-assisted pull up machine at the gym, or even a strong resistance band to help gain confidence performing the movement and also getting some reps in while building strength with this exercise. This also leads us to the next reason…
If your technique is poor, you will not be able to maximize the benefit of the exercise and will likely end up using momentum rather than muscle power to get yourself up. Make sure you start each rep from a dead hang, use a full range of motion and focus on squeezing your back muscles at the top of the movement.
Take time to focus on the movement of the exercise and once again use a band or machine to help with this if required.
Also talk to a personal trainer if this is still an issue, as they can advise on form and any other exercises needed to make improvements. They can also give you a program to work with and help increase the strength and muscle required to do a pull up competently.
Lack of Practice
If you don’t practice pull ups regularly, you will quickly lose the progress you have made. Make sure to include them in your workouts at least 2-3 times per week to maintain your strength.
Doing this will build muscle memory, so when you do perform a set of pull ups without any assistance, your body will know what to do.
However, I would assume it’s not a lack of practice if you arent seeing progress on this occasion. If it is, please increase your pull up output to get you where you want it to be.
Sometimes, people have muscle imbalances that make it difficult for them to do a pull up correctly. This can be due to tightness in certain muscles or weakness in others.
Isolating the muscles needed for a pull up and working on both strengthening and stretching them can help.
Always take time to warm up and cool down properly to avoid injury, and focus on your form to make the most of each rep.
This is something that gets overlooked all the time and is very important for people of all ages, especially if youre starting to feel some nagging pains here and there.
Related: Why Is My Bench Press Getting Weaker? (16 Crucial Tips & Hacks To Progress)
If you’re carrying around excess weight, this will make pull ups more difficult. Losing body fat will help make the exercise easier and also improve your overall health.
Cutting calories and increasing your activity levels is the best way to do this, and you may also want to consider hiring a personal trainer or nutritionist to help you reach your goals.
If you find that you’re still struggling to do pull ups, try changing your grip. A wide grip will work your back muscles more, while a close grip will work your biceps more.
You can also try a chin up, which is where your palms are facing towards you. This exercise is often easier for people as it places less stress on the rotator cuff and is an easier alternative to a pull up, which will help you increase your strength.
Switching up your grip is a great way to keep your workouts interesting and target different muscles, as well as helping you to improve your pull up performance.
Some people simply don’t have the genetics for pull ups. This doesn’t mean you can’t improve, but it may be more difficult for you than others.
If you find that you’re struggling to make progress, focus on other exercises that work the same muscles. This will help you build strength and improve your pull ups over time.
If you are not eating a nutritious diet, you will not have the energy or resources available to build muscle and improve your pull up performance. Eating plenty of healthy protein, vegetables, and complex carbs will help you to reach your goals.
One thing that has become apparent recently is that everyone does have different requirements when it comes to nutrition. As people have intolerances etc. If this is the case speak to a nutritionist and find out what will work for you to help see gains.
Related: Is Progressive Overload Important On A Calorie Deficit? (4 Things To Achieve Maximum Overload)
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is crucial for muscle growth and recovery. If you are not getting enough sleep, your body will not be able to repair the muscles you have worked hard to break down in your workouts. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
This is another common and easy issue to fix, however, I know a lot of people do struggle to get the sufficient amount of sleep needed for recovery. This is another post entirely on its own, but make sure you are doing the right things to unwind and relax during the evening.
If you are not drinking enough water, your body will not be able to function properly. This includes your muscles, which will not be able to perform at their best. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
If you are not giving your body enough time to recover between workouts, you will quickly become overtrained and start to see your progress stall. Make sure you are taking 1-2 days off per week and getting regular massages to help your muscles recover.
Listening to your body in this situation is very important and should be taken seriously. If you are feeling tired then maybe take the day off to recover. It can be good to push through and exercise if you aren’t feeling it at the time.
However, there is a clear difference between this and exhaustion, so make sure you know the difference.
If you are stressed, your body will not be able to focus on building muscle. Make sure you are managing your stress levels and taking steps to relax. This could include things like yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature.
As well as doing anything you enjoy, which can include reading, painting, spending time with friends and generally doing what takes your mind off any stressful circumstances you are facing at the time.
With the demands of modern living, stress more than ever needs to be managed.
There are a few potential reasons for why your pull ups might be weak.
It could be due to a lack of upper body strength, poor technique, or not using the appropriate weight. Sometimes, people also simply don’t have the genetics for performing well in this particular exercise.
If you want to improve your pull up performance, focus on building up your upper body strength and perfecting your technique. You may also want to consider using a weight vest or weighted belt to add resistance and make the exercise more challenging.
With enough practice and dedication, you should be able to see gains.