We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This is mainly for guys, because women generally lack the upper body power for unassisted pull-ups and chin-ups. Guys under age 30 can usually do at least ten, and fit guys can do more with varied grip widths.
Guys over 40, regardless of weight issues, commonly have more trouble due to muscle disuse and decay. The US military considers 20 pull-ups or chin-ups to be a perfect score for that exercise. Few Generals can do that, but I bet Mattis can.
Like all of the Big Functional Exercises, a pull-up stresses many muscle groups. Pull-ups stress upper-body muscles from hands to abs, but the greatest stress is on back muscles - the lats.
To do a pull-up correctly, you do not focus on using your arms but you focus on driving your elbows down. It's not primarily a biceps exercise except secondarily.
To work towards doing some pull-ups if you can't, here's how:
- work on raising the weights on seated pull-downs - jumping pull-ups - pull-ups with those rubber bands
and perhaps most important, Hangs. If you can't hang on, you can't pull yourself up. To work on hanging, you hop up to the bar with an overhand or underhand grip with your elbows down at your sides or as close to that as possible. Suspend yourself as long as you can. Your muscles will slowly (or quickly) give way, but keep suspended as they collapse.
One or two sets of three of those weekly will help you move forward towards the goal of doing just one lousy pull-up with chin above the bar. I do three sets of hangs/wk and three sets of either jumpers or band-assisted weekly. If I can get to 10 pull-ups again, I will be proud of my achievement but I doubt that I will get there. When I was young I could do 15 or more.
OT - in the hopes that you might see it... really enjoyed the Carl Zeiss bio from Wed. links. I hadn't realized how many questions I had about who/what Zeiss was/is, and how important to the field of optics. Thanks for posting it.
Also, I need to bug my trainer again about getting a pull-up bar, so thanks for that too.
Chin ups and pull ups are great exercises. They really do work you hard. The problem for us older folks is that they do put a great deal of stress on the elbow joint and can result in some tendonitis. I know you think machines are bourgeois but the counter balanced pull up machine is useful in helping to build up strength without overly stressing joints. I like it better than lat pulls.
My husband is very active. He is in good shape for someone in his early 50s. He took pride in the fact that he was doing pull-ups every day, trying to do more all the time. Unfortunately he ended up with tendonitis, and the cure was to stop, full bore, all pull ups for months.
He has not tried that trick again. Aging bodies, even bodies that have been in good shape, just don't work as well as they did in their youth.
However, he also has had shoulder and back surgeries, knee surgeries...he's worn out some of his parts and probably relied more on parts that get easily stressed.