Monday, May 12, 2008

Pull-up or Shut up

For the pass 12 weeks,my back-training regimen has consisted of pull-ups and nothing but pull-ups.I think you'd agree that they've done me right.If you're not happy with the way your back looks and do not perform pull-ups, then you have no room for complaint.Back in the old days,before there was such a thing as Hammer Strength ISO-Lateral High-Row mac- Hines, building a strong,V-shaped back was pretty basic.You did pull-ups and , did more pull-ups.That was it.And you know what?That was all you needed to do to develop an unbelievable backside.For proof,just take a look at the pictures of old time fighters who were famous for pumping out pull-ups as part of their training regimens.Rocky Marciano, for instance,would routinely perform 30 pull-ups at a time.By no coincidence,the Rock sported a granite-hard upper back with which he used to generate bone-crushing power in his punches.Similarly,according to old training logs, Jack Dempsey would grind out hundreds of pull-ups a day .He, too,had a chiseled, heavily muscled back and packed one helluva wallop.Unfortunately ,however,somewhere in the evolution of resistance training,pull-ups fell out of favor.Thanks in part to the marketing efforts of enterprising exercise equipment manufactures and the sissy excuses from lifters who say they weigh too much,it's rare to see anyone performing the time honored pull-up these days.And it shows, particularly in the pathetic back development of today's typical weight trainer.Now don't get me wrong.I don't mind throwing in the occasional cable pull down for the sake of variety.What I do have a problem with, however,is focusing a back training program around exercises other than pull-ups.Why?Three reasons come to mind.First studies show pull-ups involve more motor units in your lats and rear delts than do pull-downs.For any given number of reps, pull-ups will always create more demand on the muscle fibers your upper back because,unlike with pull downs, you cannot cheat and use your lower back to move the load.Second, the strength gains achieved from performing pull-ups are functional.They spill over into certain real-life tasks,such as pulling yourself over a fence or up a steep rock face.Third, there's something to be said for pulling your own weight.It's strength displayed in its purest form.It's the mark of a real man or woman.After all, U.S Marines aren't required to perform pull-downs or one -arm ISO high rows as part of their PF Ts (physical Fitness Tests).They're to do pull-ups from a dead hang.With that in mind,isn't it a good idea to pay a little more attention to pull-ups? I think so, and here's how to use em to build a great back.

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