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From the Desk of Dr. Len

Pull-ups or Modified Pull-ups for Upper Body Strength

Dr. Len Lopez - Friday, September 20, 2013

chin ups for women, pull ups for women,how can women do,inverted pull ups for women,inverted pullups for overweightPull ups or any type of pulling motion is great for strengthening and toning your upper body. Pull-ups and chin-ups are great body weight exercise that give you that beautiful V-shape body and strong looking arms everyone wants. So, depending on your age, weight, sex and conditioning level will determine if pull ups or 'modified' pull ups would be better for you.


The problem for both men and women, and why so many people avoid them is that free standing pull-ups are pretty difficult to do. It is estimated that only about 15% of the population can do a set of pullups. So if you’re in that 85% bracket who can't do pull-ups or chin-ups you would probably be better off doing ‘modified’ pull-ups or 'inverted' pullups.chin ups for upper back muscles


Both free standing pull ups and modified pull-ups will target your back (latissimus dorsi), biceps and forearms. However, the benefit of modified pull-ups or as some call them inverted or assisted pull-ups is that it also targets your upper back muscles, your rhomboids and mid trapezius muscles. These muscles sit between your shoulder blades and are the direct antagonist to your chest muscles. So you can actually work more muscles doing a modified pull up than you can doing a regular pull up.


Think of modified pull ups the same way you think of ‘knee’ pushups. You perform knee pushups because you don’t have the strength to do regular pushups. The benefits to your chest, shoulders and triceps are the same – it’s simply allowing you to 'off-load' or lessen the weight so you can perform the exercise.


Modified pull-ups work on the same principle! By keeping your feet on the ground you’ve essentially ‘off-loaded’ about a third of your body weight. This makes it possible for almost anyone who struggles with pull-ups to be able to reap the same benefits as those who do regular free standing pull-ups. The upside is that modified pull-ups also target those neglected upper back muscles.


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So if you’ve neglected pullups because you couldn’t do them you should try modified pull ups - you'll be amazed how good of a workout you give your biceps and back muscles.


Modified pull-ups are ideal for

  • Most women
  • Men who may be a bit overweight
  • Anyone who has added a few years and don't have the necessary strength

It’s not uncommon to see both men and women in their 50’s and 60’s doing modified pullups at the gym.


I’m a fan of both pullups and modified pullups and encourage my patients and clients to do one or the other. If you train at home, you'll probably still need to bolt a pull up bar about 30 inches off the ground or use a portable pull-up bar, like the Work Horse Fitness Trainer. Either one is good to use, the plusses of a free standing portable pull-up bar like the Work Horse is that it’s portable. You don’t need to bolt anything so you can train in your living room instead of running out to the garage to do your pull-ups.


Bottom line is if you want to have a strong looking upper body, you need to do some type of pullups. If you can’t do regular pull-ups do the next best thing which is modified pull-ups.


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