Injury Free Pull Ups

I was recently in Las Vegas with a big group of fitness professionals and met up with my good friend Rick Kaselj.

As you know, I LOVE doing pull ups. Rick is passionate about injury prevention so we had a great talk about injury free pull ups.

I have three key tips that will help you get a pull up, increase the number of pull-ups and reduce the possibility of injury.

Tip 1 – Engage
You really need to engage your back muscles. Often people try to just use their arms. Even if you have super strong arms you still need to engage your back to do a proper pull up. Think about – Scapular retraction – rotating the shoulder blades inside and engaging the lats and the larger back muscles. Using the back muscles, in addition to the muscles of the arms (biceps particularly) will get you much further when executing a pull up.

Tip 2 –  Grip
You don’t need a death drip to do a pull up. Loosen your grip. It’s also super important to change up your grip. Try a different bar like a straight bar or angled bar. This will help avoid over use injuries. You can also try mixing in a few chin ups. Pull ups use an over hand grip and chin ups use an underhand grip which will engage more of the biceps.

Tip 3 – Eccentric Contraction
Remember the key to strengthening your back is to slowly lower yourself from the position at the top of the bar to a full hanging position. If you can’t pull your self up to the bar yet, it’s ok. Get up how ever you need to, then s-l-o-w-l-y lower yourself. This lowering of the body from the bar is the eccentric contraction. It’s the lengthening strengthening phase. It also causes muscle soreness, so train with caution.

Not everyone can just walk up to a bar and do a pull up. Most people need to build up to a full pull up. The great news is that you can build up to a full pull up in a short period of time.  Keep in mind my three key tips to help you avoid injury in your pull ups.

However, I’ve had a few clients that have had some shoulder issues when working towards their pull up best.

Lucky for them that I had my pal, Rick K, as my ‘go to’ injury prevention and rehab expert. I highly suggest you check out his Shoulder Pain Solution program if you have any shoulder issues. Rick really has it going on when it comes to preventing and recovering from injury.

Here’s my pal Rick Kaselj and I:



I recently got this email from someone who used my pull up program:

Hello Shawna,
I CAN DO PULLUPS NOW!!! Not just one, but 2 pull ups..Yaaaah, it was a very exciting moment for me. I actually did my first one 2 Sundays ago after completing Phase 2 workout #1 the day before. Yesterday I had to show the ladies at kickboxing that I could now do a pull up. (they are a great support group) So after we finished the class I proceeded to do 2 pull ups for them. They were impressed (me too). In fact the instructor was so impressed that we decided to challenge each other every Friday to see how many pull ups we can each do. He could do 10 yesterday. So just wanted to say thanks, I don’t think I can thank you enough. It is truly an amazing feeling to be able to work towards a goal and accomplish it. Luv ya, Colette

Use these tips and my program to stay injury free while you get your first or fiftieth pull up!