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Help. Can't do a single pullup, no lat development.


z0rzz
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I have a grave problem. I cannot do a single pullup (wide-grip or close-grip) unassisted, and it's awful. I have a relatively good physique so it's embarrassing to be hanging on the bars at the gym struggling to pull my body weight up. I do weigh a decent amount (currently at 203 lbs), but it still doesn't make any sense that I can't do a single one. It's starting to show on my physique as well because I have absolutely no lat spread. My partner who weighs 190-195 lbs can easily do 5-8 reps. At the beginning of the fall I was able to do a single pullup, and now nothing. Just struggles.

 

I cannot get past this plateau at all. In the past 4 months I've bulked up 12lbs but my pullups get worse and worse. My barbell bentover row is steadily increasing, along with cable pulls and lat pulldowns and other such back exercises, so it does not make any sense why lat pullups aren't increasing. Please help. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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hi mate, i swear by doing negatives. has helped people i know too.........start by doing as many negatives as you can one workout, then try to increase the amount you do the next workout and so on untill you have built up the strength to do one pull up. and do the same thing. for example do one pull and if thats all you can do, do a set of negatives to failure and so on until you can do 2 full pull up etc etc........

 

make sure you negatives are as slow as possible. you can use a step up to the bar or just jump if the bar isnt too high from the ground.

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I second negatives, but also, don't be afraid to do assisted pull-ups using a bit of kick off at the start until you develop the strength to do them on your own. Not a full jump, but even tipping off your toes a bit can give enough of an assist to really notice a difference, and if you can build to doing a few reps in each set with a little assistance, you should eventually be able to decrease the assist to where you'll manage a full hang rep before long.

 

What many people find is that they go from not being able to do one single rep to being about to do about 2-4 at some point. Then, there's often a jump again where you'll be able to crank out maybe 5-8 reps after more practice, pull-ups can be weird like that.

 

Just remember, if you don't keep after them, they won't get better. Most people who lift like to do what makes them feel strong while avoiding the things that MAKE them strong, so always put as much focus on your weak spots as the things you do well with, and it will work out in time.

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I third negatives - I'm a big girl (6' tall and 176lbs) and they are hard for me too. I do negatives and then use bands for support on the concentric. I'm down to the smallest band and can get "half" a pull up at this point. I couldn't even retract my shoulder blades from a dead hang to start and I would drop like rock trying to do the negative - now I have a controlled negative. Don't give up!!

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I was in the same situation a couple months ago. A couple tips that worked for me:

 

1) Underhand! Close grip (shoulder width or closer) was MUCH easier for me, and eventually helped with the wide grip overhand

 

2) Focus on your back as you are pulling. It is so easy to pull up with your arms and exhaust them in a couple reps. Use your mind to control your back muscles! I find leaning back while hanging helps with engaging your back muscle.

 

3)have your W.O partner standing under you to spot you. Even if you feel like you aren't doing any of the work, have him/her pushing you up while you are squeezing the hell out of your muscles.

 

4) super set everything, even if it isn't back day. I was so frustrated by my lack of back strength that even if I was doing legs, arms, abs it doesnt matter, jump on the bar and do some pullups. I am a believer that even if you can't get your body up there, squeeze those muscles and give'er, you will be surprised how quickly you can get up there!

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So many responses and pieces of advice. Thank you to all, you're all great. We do have an assisted pullup/dip machine at my gym, but my partner has been very stubborn and refuses to let me/help me do assisted pullups because he believes if I force myself to do unassisted it will help me get much better at them than doing assisted/lat pulldowns. I'm going to start with negative sets and work my way up from there.

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So many responses and pieces of advice. Thank you to all, you're all great. We do have an assisted pullup/dip machine at my gym, but my partner has been very stubborn and refuses to let me/help me do assisted pullups because he believes if I force myself to do unassisted it will help me get much better at them than doing assisted/lat pulldowns. I'm going to start with negative sets and work my way up from there.

 

 

Good luck! I am really interested to hear about your progress as im sure the others here are as well, so please keep us updated !

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Hey everyone. So I started by doing solely negative sets - 4 sets by 10 reps each going down as slowly as possible and squeezing the hell out of my lats. It's three days afterward now and my lats are flaring up with wonderful pain. Honestly I can't remember the last time my lats hurt this good; it's been a long, long while. Thanks to everyone for their advice. This week I'm gonna try jumping it to 4 sets 15 reps each before actually attempting a pullup, but I'm eating plenty to build myself up to that. I may invest in bands in the near future for that as well, too, although I've never used bands before for anything.

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That's awesome, congrats!! I'm being selfish by talking about my personal experience, but it may help to motivate you!

 

So on chest/back day, I superset Bench press with close grip pullups even though it calls for Wide Grip Behind-The-Neck pullups. I was never able to do these so I opted for the close grip.

 

Anywayssss, yesterday I did my 5 supersets, and did 5 reps of the wide grip behind the neck each time! Proof that you will get there, just stick with it!!

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