Vertical Pulling Exercise Progressions

The chin up / pull up exercise is by far one of my most favourite exercise to perform as well as prescribe to the non injured client because it requires them to conquer moving their own body weight against gravity.  Add horizontal pulling exercises to ones program ensures that you are hitting all the primary back muscles.  What I commonly see in practice though is an imbalance on push to pull movements or a total lack of pulling exercises.  Rather than going off on a tangent, the aim of this article was to describe some of the common vertical exercise pulling progressions.  When performing pulling movements, be sure to train all grip variations (pronated, supinated, neutral, offset and varied mix hand grips).  Don’t forget to also train different grip widths (use of narrow and fat bar) as well as grip strength (bar, towel, rope holds).

  • Chin up with band assistance (this assists in the pulling phase of the movement) OR chin up with eccentric lowering + jump to bar
  • Chin up (no band assistance)
  • Chin up + external load (once you can hit 10 strict reps of bodyweight chin ups across multiple sets, look to start adding external load i.e. med ball (between legs), weigth vest, dip belt.

One thing that annoys me often is the failure to perform a chin up through a full range of motion i.e. elbows locked out at the bottom of the movement and chin to bar.  For those wanting to really chin up well, get your chest/sternum to the bar.

Accessory lifts such as lat pull down (bar), cable pull down are great to help build conditioning into the back for vertical pulling.  My primary aim though is to have my client master their own bodyweight rather than pull the bar down to them with a lat pull down of their own weight.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.  Heath has a particular interest in exercise rehabilitation and strength and conditioning.  He has completed ASCA Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Course, Powerlifting Association Level 1 Coaching Course, FMS and many more.  For all of your injury treatment and management needs, touch base with us at  Principle Four Osteopathy are one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.