Jen Rulon

Today let me give you my “Rulon Rules” to a Pull Up. Pull ups, especially strict pull ups, are extremely difficult for many people. Pull ups are a FANTASTIC upper body workout; we need that heading into the triathlon season for our swims!

What muscles do pull-ups work? We got a lot here:

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Trapezius (lower and middle)
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior Deltoid
  • Teres Major
  • Pectorals Major/Minor
  • Biceps brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis
  • Wrist and Hand Muscles

Here is an example of Nick Vera from The Tribe Strength & Conditioning gym doing Strict Pull-Ups:

Here is an example of me doing Assisted Pull-Ups with a band at The Tribe Strength & Conditioning Gym:

Here are “Five Rulon Rules to a Pull-Up:”

1. Hand position for Pull-Ups: Both hands are pronated (palms facing away from you). Some people will do Chin-Ups, for which both hands are supinated (palms facing toward you).

2. The grip width will affect the shoulder movement to a certain degree. Do what is comfortable for you and what you need to work on. Think of the swimming action of pulling with your scapula: We want to strengthen the lats and the teres major.

3. Pulling Phase: With the full extension in the arms, activate the scapula and pull the scapula down towards the spine. Bring the chin over the bar to complete the pull phase.

4. Lowering Phase: Lower the body down in as controlled a way as possible. Over time, it will be easier to control yourself going down when you get stronger.

5. Maintain a tight core and keep your lower body as still as possible. Make sure you do a full arm extension and get the chin over the bar. Two crucial elements in pull-ups to utilize the whole body.

If you want to geek out, there is an excellent article on Breaking Muscle about Pull-Ups vs. Chin-Ups.

So, what if you CAN’T do a strict pull-up with or without a band? Not to worry; check out this video where Nick and I explain THREE ways to do ring rows:

I hope this gives you all an idea of options for pull-ups. Pull-ups are challenging even for me, but I LOVE what muscles they work, and they will ONLY help me in the pool and to have a strong back in that aero position!

I would LOVE to hear your comments below on what you do to strengthen your back!

AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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