Pull-ups and push-ups still king!

These movements although old school still rank at the top for upper strength workouts and overall workouts. No matter your level it is really important to include these movements in your regular exercise routine and here is why …

Pull-ups exercises focus on developing the back and biceps (the “pulling” muscles), while Push-ups addresses the chest, shoulders, and triceps (the “pushing” muscles). However, both exercises are full body movements and require a strong core to stabilize the hips and pelvic muscles as well as the lower back. Pull-ups and push-up exercises also are a great way to increase your rotator cuff strength. A common cause for rotator cuff injury comes from heavy upper body weight training without proper strength in the rot cuffs and upper back muscles. Pull-ups and push-up forces one to use all muscles at once, which creates a great stabilization workout.

When first performing these exercises start with basics and beginner moves. This is where basic weight training can actually help you improve your strength for these calisthenic movements. Pulling movements such as the lat pull-down and db rows will help strengthen the pulling muscles for pull-ups and DB presses will help strengthen the pushing muscles for push-ups . The lat-pull-down is a similar moment to the wide grip pull (under hand lat pull down the same as a underhand pull-up) and bench press and db presses is the same movements as the push-up(close grip presses the same as trice push-ups), so obviously these exercises help each other out in increasing strength and work interchangeably . So that is why it is important to combine both weight training and calisthenic training.

Also ones weight and arm length can affect ones performance for these exercises. For example longer arms make pull-ups harder movements to do because more range of motion is required. Of course the weight of an individual can also make these moves harder. However, that is not an excuse not to do these exercises; I have seen many light individuals struggle with these movements as well. It all really comes down to overall strength and consistent practice and progression. Progression in reps and sets of these moments and also doing advanced variations of these movements, when ready for them, will help one continue to gain overall strength and muscular endurance from these movements.

When these movements are done with proper form, they involve major muscle groups, core muscles, and therefore provide a solid strength training workout and good workout to the cardiovascular system – the heart and lungs. Push-ups and pull-ups help one develop strength that can be used in all sports and daily activities. So no matter how hard these moves may seem to be, they are well worth the time an effort.

Jason Whalen BA Exercise Science/Coaching
Certified Trainer/Fitness expert