When it comes to excelling at pull-ups, lumbo-pelvic stability, and being able to generate the requisite levels of tension in certain regions of the body, is imperative. Many people struggle to perform pull-ups because they either cannot develop, or at least fail to maintain tension in the areas around the hips, spine, and even lower body.
Put it this way, do you think it would be easier to pull a stiff and stable object, or an equally weighted limp and floppy rag doll? I hope you chose the first option. In order to develop this requisite level of tension, your entire body needs to function as a synchronized unit.
In the video tutorial below, I discuss this common mistake, and I also provide some solutions. In the section below the video, I share some of my favorite exercises that will help you improve your lumbo-pelvic stability, and your ability to generate this necessary tension. This will have a positive carryover to your ability to perform pull-ups and many other exercises in the gym. And make no mistake, improving your lumbo-pelvic stability will also enhance your ability to perform basic daily activities and movements.
1. Dead Bugs
1. Proper breathing - Depending on the exercise, your breathing will vary. But as a whole, you want to focus on taking 360 degree breaths in (through your nose), and slowly exhaling through your teeth. Avoid just breathing into your chest. Instead, you want to breathe into your belly and chest, and imagine that you are trying to fill the entire area around your spine with air. While your lungs obviously do not reside there, so hold the comments, practicing this will help.
2. Proper bracing - Again, the type and intensity of bracing will depend on the exercise, and the amount of resistance that is being used. Like breathing, you want to focus on a 360 degree brace. Your front, back, and sides should expand. One cue that works for many is to pretend that you are about to get punched in the stomach. You do not want to suck in, or hollow. When you brace properly, if you were to place your hands on the front and back of your torso, and then on your sides, all of these areas should press out against your hands.
3. Proper rib positioning - When you are performing all of these exercises, you need to be very mindful of your rib positioning. You should never allow your ribcage to flare (lift), or for your lower back to hyperextend. This generally implies that you are not bracing properly, and are not engaging your core muscles (all of the muscles around your spine) to their full potential. With many exercises, one subtle key I look for is whether the shirt is wrinkled. For instance, when you are in a supine position and are performing dead bugs, if your ribs are properly positioned, your shirt should be wrinkled. If your anterior core muscles disengage, your ribcage will usually flare, and your shirt will suddenly smooth out. This is often reflective of poor lumbo-pelvic stability, or just going through the motions and getting sloppy with form.