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Struggling to Progress in Pullups
Hey guys! I started P90X around a month ago and have been loving the program. I have seen great results in terms of my legs and arms but am really struggling with pull ups. Though I have seen a slight improvement, I was hoping that by month two I would at least be able to get 3-5 pullups out before I had to use the chair. Currently I can barely squeak out two before needing to move to the chair or bands.

I am curious to know if my form might be the issue. The other night I strained a muscle in my neck doing the towel pull ups and that started me thinking about whether there is a general form issue that might be causing me to not perform as well with this exercise.

Does anyone have any tips to make sure I am engage the right muscles and not relying on weaker muscles to do what my back should be doing? Is it normal starting month two to still be barely able to do 2 pull ups as a guy? I have the desire to improve my overall fitness, I just need some help getting there. I'm not sure if my physical dimensions have anything to do with getting help but just in case: male, 5"10, 170 pounds. Starting the program I was only able to do one pull up.

Thanks!
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RE: Struggling to Progress in Pullups
11/6/12 5:37 AM as a reply to Goracle.
I'm fairly certain that this is indeed a form issue, so here are three tips that I've used in the past:

1) Before you do your pull-ups, concentrate on the placement of your shoulderblades. You want to pull them back and down; think of this as though you are trying to tuck your shoulderblades into the back pockets of your pants. Once there, keep them locked in place throughout the movement, as this will help engage your scapular muscles and rhomboids.

2) Try wrapping your thumbs OVER the pull-up bar grip (along with your other fingers) instead of under the grip. The 5-finger overhand grip disengages the forearms and forces you to use your back muscles to execute the upward movement.

3) Try to focus on squeezing the back muscles between your shoulderblades together to move your upward. It is difficult, but once you get the hang of it (no pun intended), you'll notice a huge difference.

Hope that is helpful.
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RE: Struggling to Progress in Pullups
11/6/12 10:32 AM as a reply to TheBandit27.
Great advice from Bandit. Given your weight and height the issue is not your weight but one of relative strength. Are you experiencing progress in other moves and exercises? Are pullups the only thing giving you trouble? I'd also say to skip all the fancy variations like towel pull-ups until you can just do some plain-old regular ones. Do you have a chin-up assist? That's a good way to bang out a lot of reps and gain strength.
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RE: Struggling to Progress in Pullups
11/6/12 10:52 AM as a reply to Goracle.
Above poster gave some good advice.

Another thing I would recommend you try is to do the 5 and 5 pullup.

It will engage the parts of the muscle that most people neglect to engage when they do pullups.

You hang all the way at the bottom, count to 5, pull yourself up to the top and count to 5. rinse and repeat. It;s quite difficult but I found it helped me with my pullups.
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RE: Struggling to Progress in Pullups
11/6/12 12:10 PM as a reply to Goracle.
I'd also add to try and work the negative side of the rep when you come down. Lower yourself slowly and controlled to get a better burn.
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