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why am i not able to do any pull-ups?


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Hello Kiste,


Please tell us more about yourself, your gender, age if you want, your training history, etc. and we will be better equiped to help you.


Also, please stop by the Introductions section and introduce yourself so we can all welcome you


Thanks for finding us and all the best!


Do you do lat pull-downs or other back exercises? What about grip strength or arm training?



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wow... i didn't think i woulg get a reply that fast...


hui, you asked a lot, i try to answer as best as i can:

well, I am:


23 years old,

go to the gym 3 times a week( ever 2nd-3rd day),

am vegan since a bit over one year,

and the excercises i am doing change regularly. i don't do pull downs either, at least regularly. I'm sory, but I'm not able to give you the names of the excercises- i just don't know their english name...

but i do excercises for my back, my shoulders, my upper arms and many more....

what exactly is grip strentgh?

does this information help?



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Wow, another person from Germany! We have more members from Germany than any other place other than the US.


Pull-ups can be very hard to do and take quite a bit of strength and technique as well (which I know I need to work on).


I know there are machines you can put your knees on and hold on to the bar and do pullups that way where you have a big of weight helping boost you up. I bet if you have access to that type of machine you would eventually be able to do it without weight, and complete a pull-up.


It sounds like you are doing well hitting the gym 3 days a week, training all muscle groups. Sometimes it just takes time, alterations in training programs and different approaches to strengthen the back, arms and grip.


Grip strength training is just basically training your ability to squeeze with your hand. You can wrap a towel around a dumbbell handle to make it much thicker and that will force you to work different muscles and improve strength. I also know Captian's Crush or something like that are popular grippers over in Europe. I've never seen them used before but I know a bunch of people on here like them.


Best of luck to you and welcome to the team!



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Hi Kiste!


Great screen name!


If you don't know the exercises in English, post them in German, as Rob said, here are quite a few Germans gathered


You should do some kind of pulling movement for your back at least twice per week and slowly add weight. When you can pull at least half your bodyweight for several reps you should start to try pullups, even if you can't get up the whole way at first. Also, try negative reps: help yourself up to the bar with your legs and then lower yourself slowly.


Where in Germany are you located? Check out the "Meet-up in Germany" thread in the General discussion board!




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Hello Kiste,


Exactly what Rob and Daywalker said is what you need to do in order to build up enough strength for the pullups.


A lot of people use the word "pullup" for also "chin ups" and different variations of it. Which one are you trying to do exactly? Is it with your palms facing towards you are away from you? Also, are you trying to do it with a wide grip or close grip?


Here is the exercise in which Rob and Daywalker were speaking of:


Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown


Exercise Data

Main Muscle Worked: Lats

Other Muscles Worked: Biceps, Middle Back

Equipment: Cable

Mechanics Type: Compound







Tips: Start with your legs positioned snugly under the kneepads of a pulldown machine. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Grasp the wide bar firmly with an overhand grip. Your hands should be almost twice your shoulder width apart. Pull the bar down on top of your chest, arching your back slightly. Focus on keeping your elbows directly below the bar. Pause briefly with the bar in position right on top of your collarbone. Slowly raise the bar back to the starting position. Do NOT lean back too far and pull the weight down using your body weight!


One thing that should be noted that it doesn't state there is that you should push your shoulder blades together throughout the movement.




Here is a wide grip pullup





Exercise Data

Main Muscle Worked: Lats

Other Muscles Worked: Biceps, Middle Back

Equipment: BodyOnly

Mechanics Type: Compound







Tips: Reach up and grab the bar with a firm overhand grip. Your hands should be roughly twice your shoulder width apart. This helps work more of your lats, rather than your biceps. Straighten your arms and let your body hang from the bar. You can keep your legs straight or bend your knees and cross your feet. Slowly pull your body up to the bar so that the top of your chest nearly touches the bar and your chin is over the bar. Try to keep your body straight without arching or swinging. As you move upwards, focus on pulling your elbows down at an angle toward your rib cage. Once your lats have completely contracted at the top, slowly lower your body to the starting position. A spotter can lift your legs slightly if you need help on the last few reps. You can also add weight by using a special Dip Belt.


Chin Ups are generally easier and the palms face you, compared to this exercise, the Pullup. The reason being is that a lot of people overuse their biceps on the chinup compared to the pullup.



There are also machines that assist you on the pullup where it has a stack of weight, and you put your knees on a lever that is adjusted to the weight you selected and it assists you in doing the pullup. Basically, the weight that you select pushes up towards you, therefore it is easier to do the pullup. As you advance, you lower the weight until you have nothing there and you are doing your bodyweight alone. They generally look like this: http://www.lssc.nasa.gov/images/fitness/about/member6.jpg




Thanks to Bodybuilding.com for the exercise information as well as their pictures.



Thanks to ImageShack for Free Image Hosting

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kiste, another thing you could do, if you go with a partner, is get their assistance with the pull-ups / chin-ups. You can jump up and grab the bar and hang with your arms outstretched, and they can hold your legs. Then as you pull-up, they can push just a little bit to help you up.


But I'd also recommend the pull-downs which kollision illustrated. When I started training I couldn't do a single pull-up, and I couldn't do a single press-up, but I have become able to do them over time.

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Hi, Kiste!

Pull-ups are hard!

Most women, and many men, can't even do one.

You can work up to them by using a kitchen chair: put the chair where you can put your feet on the back of it when trying pull-ups, and use as much assistance from your feet (first, two feet, then one, hopefully making it to just the toe!) to get up to pull-up position, then lower slowly (working the negative).

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thanks to all of you...

i don't know what to try first!

in the gym , i am going to, we don't have the pulldown things,well not exactly like this.. i do one exercise where i pull down and my elbows go both down till they touch my sides... is this about the same?

oh... and i won't be able to post the german names of the exercises either, bc i don't know their names..

oh... i tried the negative reps, but i was able to do only four of them.. dissapointing!!

but to begin with, i think i might continue my exercises and add the negative reps again.. hopefully i will be better soon!

what do yall think, would special food help me to get more strength?

oh, i almost forgot:


@ daywalker:

i live near munich/ bavaria




have a good night....

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Yeah chin ups are much easier. I learned to do chin ups on my door gym bar and started by doing a lot of negatives. I could do maybe 1 to start with per set then would have to rest. So I'd pull myself up and then hang there for a while and then slowly lower in the negative. That would help almost immediately. In only about a month I was up to doing 5 reps per set. And that was my first introduction to working out again as I was sedentary for like 5-6 years prior to it, and didn't have a gym or heavy weights to lift, just 10lb dumbbells and bodyweight stuff. So you can build up fast, just be patient. I need to take that advice though for the wide grip pull-ups. I hate those. I had stuck to the chin ups cause they were doable and not as annoying.


So the wide grip pullups etc. work the back more and the chin ups work mostly the arms and shoulders right or something?

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Well, there's even the machine that allows you to do pull ups with portions of your body weight. That's what I use and while I can't do one alone, I can do a great deal of my body weight. Gotta love the graviton!!!


If you don't have that...there is a pretty good article that shows how to do assisted pullups...til you are strong enough to do a full pull up normally.



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Nik, that is correct. When people do a chin up, this mostly focus' on the biceps when people normally do it. They hardly focus on the back when they are doing it.


Again, regarding Pulldowns, I can say that a lot of people also kind of cheat themselves when doing lat pulldowns. Lean a bit back, then pulldown. Do not sway to pull the weight down. If you sway, that means that it is too heavy for you. Keep your torso rigid throughout the entire movement.



Kiste, the one you have, does it use this handle?




If so, you need to change the handles (if you can) to the bar. Normally these machines have a clamp where you can take off and put on new handles.

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If you relax your back and keep your arms (esp. elbows) perpendicular to the ground while doing pullups you'll hit your forearms and biceps pretty hard (you may even feel it in your tris and shoulders). If you pull in your lats and hold your elbows out while doing pullups you'll feel it in your back a lot more. I always do mine with a shoulder with grip for the greatest range of motion, but wide grips can't hurt either. Especially if you're working on your back

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm really late on this one, but could it be that your problem is mental?


I know I was at the point where I could pull DOWN my weight, but I couldn't do a single pull-UP. I realized that I had already convinced myself that I couldn't do one and so.. I couldn't!


Once I got over the mental block, I had no issues with them!


The power of positive thinking.


~ Adrienne

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I am no expert but this was my experience with pull ups.


I used to go to the GYM at age 17 and I could not even do 1 (barely) and I was able to do all the pushups, etc. I could also not do parallel bar DIPS (tricep & back).


I think these are best 2 upper body exercises.


A cousin of mine who could do 10+ said one thing and I did that.




I went something like this..


- Week 1: 1 or 2 only

- Month 1: A few of them

- Month 3: higher single digits

- Month 4: reaching 9/10

- Month 6: 12, 10, 8 (3 sets)


Now I am down to 6, 2. Why? Havent done it in a long time plus have gained weight.


PS: But nothing will get you doing pullups like DOING pullups. Also one thing that might help is REVERSE PULL UPS (on the pull up bar). i.e. JUMP ON TO THE BAR SUCH THAT YOU ARE IN THE "UP" position (chin near bar) and then slowly in a CONTROLLED MANNER, let yourself down. REPEAT.




If you cant install by nails etc I found 2 bars that AUTO LOCK IN withou NAILS into door frame. I bought one recently for 30$ because I cant INSTALL or DAMAGE my APARTMENT DOOR FRAME with permanent NAILS etc.

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