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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Brandon’s Fitness Corner

    Last week, I went over the benefits of adding pull-ups to your fitness regimen and also laid out the basics of doing them. Here is a brief recap:

    1. Using a pronated (palms away from you) or a supinated (palms towards you) grip, grab a sturdy bar or other fixture capable of supporting your bodyweight.

    2. Come to a dead-hang, where your arms are completely extended and your body is perpendicular to the ground.

    3. To begin the exercise, pull your body up until your chin passes the bar.*

    4. Lower your body and return to the dead-hang position.*

    *It is essential that you perform your pull-ups with a complete range of motion, bringing your chin above the bar at the top of the movement and locking your arms out at the bottom. Equally as important is the idea that you must not use momentum to bring yourself above the bar.

    For those of you who are experienced with pull-ups or for those trainees looking to add an extra bit of hurt to their routine, here are a few juicy variations of pull-ups that will be sure to make your hands, arms, and lats scream for mama. Keep in mind that most if not all of these variations can be done with either a pronated or a supinated grip.

    Mixed Grip Pull-up

    Grip the bar with one hand facing away from you and one hand facing towards you. Pull yourself up as you normally would. So easy, a caveman’hellip;I’ll avoid the lawsuit and stop right there.


    In this variation, your body will be in the shape of the letter ‘L’. From the dead-hang position, lift your legs until they are straight and parallel with the ground. Lock your knees out. Pull yourself up, keeping your midsection tight. Do not allow your legs to dip below parallel. Make it hurt.

    Side to Side Pull-up

    Grasp the bar with a pronated, shoulder width grip. Pull yourself up to your left hand and kiss it. Lower yourself back to the starting position and then repeat for your right hand. Kiss that hand, too. Wow, you can practice kissing while you workout. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

    Crossover Pull-up

    Stand under the bar so that your shoulders are perpendicular to it (as opposed to a regular pull-up where they are parallel). Grasp the bar as you would a baseball bat. From this position, pull yourself up until your shoulder touches the bar. Repeat for your opposite shoulder. If desired, you can lace your fingers around the bar, as if praying, and alternate shoulders after each repetition. You certainly will be praying once you do enough of these.

    Towel Pull-ups

    Take a towel (and please don’t use a face towel, bright one) of sufficient length so that you can throw it over the bar and have the ends hang down low enough for you to grab them. Once again, stand with your shoulders perpendicular to the bar. Grab the ends of the towel and pull yourself up as far as possible. Avoid the temptation to swing with the towel. Don’t be a pendulum.

    Finger Pull-ups

    Before you attempt this variation, you’d better make sure you don’t have any jammed or broken fingers. Instead of using all five fingers of each hand to grasp the bar (or four fingers and one thumb, depending on how you look at it), try using less. For example, try using four, three, or two fingers on each hand to pull yourself up. You can even use one finger per hand if you’re feeling like a stud. Use your thumbs as well. Everyone can always use stronger hands.

    These are but some of the many variations of pull-ups that exist in the realm of fitness and physical training. Give one or two of them a shot during your next trip to the gym and I am sure you will agree that, although they are tough, the rewards gained by doing them will compensate for their difficulty.

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