Isometrics for Increasing Pullups

Without a Pullup Bar!

By Paul "Batman" O'Brien 

B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. IMed., Dip. Adv. OBB, Dip. CHM, Pn1, PN-SSR, PN-NCA, M.AFPA., M.C.Th.A.

Isometrics for Increasing Pullups without a pullup bar? Really, is that possible? Short answer yes, but I honestly hadn't thought about until reader Jack Night asked me. 

It's a simple enough question: 

Is there any isometric exercise that can increase the number of pull ups a person can do without a pull up bar?

- Jack

This was my answer:

"HI Jack!

Yes there isometric exercises that will dramatically increase the number of pullups you can perform,  several in fact. Off the top of my head;"

And then I listed them. 

I'm going to give you that list too - but before I do, let me explain a little bit more about the pullup or pull-ups, or chin up...or however you want to spell it. :-) And then I'll give you a list of my top 16 Isometrics for Increasing Pullups without a pullup bar!

What is a pullup?

The pullup or pull-up is an upper-body compound pulling movement. There are dozens of variation's (I can easily list over 50 off the top of my head...) but the most common is where you grip an over head bar, with palms facing either inwards or outwards and from a hanging suspended position, pull yourself up, roughly to the point where your chin is level with the bar. 

This is a VERY intense and tough exercise. It sounds easy enough right, just pull yourself up from a dead-hang, no "kipping" (using your legs to spring you up). But that's 100% of your body weight you are lifting. Considering most people can't perform a body weight bench press...well you may see where the problem lies. 

This is why the Pullup is used by nearly EVERY military unit in the world to test strength and fitness - it's an incredible exercise, that few can do for reps. :-) 

In fact - here are the details for the US Navy Seal fitness entry test for pullups - 

"The minimum is eight pull-ups with no time limit, but you cannot touch the ground or let go of the bar. You should be able to do 15 to 20 to be competitive"

Yep, 15 to 20 pullups, no momentum, in a row. I'm not going to lie. Most people can't do that. Go ahead - try it now, and see what you get - and post your numebr in the comments below. Try the exercises I'm going to gvie you for 30 days and then do your pullups again. You won't touch a pull up or do a single one during that 30 day periods but you will be SHOCKED how many more you can do. The write that in the comments and let us know how well you did! :-D

The Secret of Isometrics for Increasing Pullups 

The latissimus dorsi.The latissimus dorsi.

The Secret of Isometrics for Increasing Pullups is to know what muscles are used in the pullup. Then you know which Isometric Exercises to use to dramatically increase your pullup numbers! ;-) 

Here are the key muscles by level of importance! 

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Biceps and Triceps
  • The Shoulders (teres major,  rhomboids, trapezius, and deltoids)
  • The forearms (brachialis and brachioradialis)
  • The Abs (resctus, transverse, external and internal obliques)
  • even the pelvis floor! 

That's a LOT of muscles! 

But with this in mind we can identify the KEY Isometrics for Increasing Pullups. 

My Top 16 Isometrics for Increasing Pullups without a pullup bar...

These are all isometric exercises of course. Each of these works on either strengthening a particular muscle group used in pullups or on the pull up movement itself. 

  1. Rafter / weighing scale pinch
  2. Finger tip pull*
  3. Hand clasp
  4. Fist crusher
  5. Forearm flex*
  6. Biceps curl*
  7. Table curl*
  8. Back bicep squeeze
  9. Table elbow press
  10. Forward floor press
  11. High iso row*
  12. Low iso row*
  13. Lat book press*
  14. Hand clasp pull*
  15. Rope pull*
  16. Stomach Flattener.*

* these are taught in full in my Perfect Body program.

Developing an Isometric Pullup Program

The easiest way to develop a program for Increasing your pullup numbers without a pullup bar is to divide these exercises into body part groups. 

  • Group A - Monday Exercises: 1-5 
  • Group B - Wednesday Exercises: 6-10
  • Group C - Friday Exercises: 11-16

Hold each one as directed in Perfect Body and rotate as above. In 30 days you should be able to triple your pullup numbers. :-) Let me know how you get on in the comments below! :-D

You've been reading Isometrics for Increasing Pullups - check out some of my free Isometric Exercises for the back here.

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