​Why Pull Ups Are So Hard To Do


Pull ups are the bane of many people’s lives because they are so hard to do. However, once you are able to get into them, they will be insanely effective. There are a number of reasons why pull ups are so hard to do and you need to understand these reasons. They will help you overcome any mental blocks that you might have with this exercise and understand why you need to persevere.


ceiling pull up bar

Why they are so Hard

The primary reason why pull ups are so hard to do is the fact that you are lifting your entire body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, when you do a pull up, you are going to be trying to lift 150 pounds with only your upper body. This is no small feat and is generally something that people spend a lot of time working toward.

The weight that you are trying to lift cannot be decreased like when you are lifting weights. This is why it is very hard to start doing pull ups. Additionally, when you start trying this exercise, you will generally not be at your fittest which increases the weight and the strain on your muscles.

Another reason why pull ups are hard will be the number of muscles that the movement engages. Many people do not realize that pull ups not only engage the arm muscles, but the back muscles as well. The muscles in particular that make this hard is the latissimus dorsi.

This might not seem like a major issue, but the engagement of this muscle will highlight all the weaknesses associated with a more sedentary lifestyle. The primary weakness will be poor back strength caused by slouched positions and a lack of muscle engagement. When you start exercising, you might think that you are engaging these muscles, but you might be focusing on the biceps and chest muscles more than the back.

grips
chin up

This is one of the reasons why those bicep curls and bench presses do not seem to help make pull ups any easier. These muscles are not the primary ones that you need to use when doing a pull up. While strength in these muscles can help, if you have weak back muscles you will still find the pull up a serious challenge.

Another reason for the challenge that pull ups present is the mechanics and physics of the movement. The movement of the exercise will force you to control your weight in multiple planes. During the upward motion, you will be pulling all of your weight in one direction while using your core to stabilize yourself. This will reduce the swinging motion of the pull up, but will also be working your core muscles.

core workout

Your Body Type Can Play a Role

There are few exercises where your body type will play as large a role in success than the pull up. The distribution of your weight due to your body type can make doing a pull up even harder. This is something that women, in particular, will need to consider because of weight distribution in the female body.

If you are carrying most of your weight in your bottom half, you are going to have a harder time doing pull ups. Additionally, if you have particularly long arms, you will also have a harder time doing a pull up. These two physiological factors will create more of a challenge for women because they are more likely to have these factors. The additional challenge will come with the change in the distribution of weight on a lever.


To better illustrate this point, you should think about carrying 10 pounds of rocks in a shovel that is held straight in front of your body. Would you rather have a long or a short handle for the shovel? The answer will generally be a short handle because the shovel with a long handle will be much harder to control. The long handle will lose the mechanical advantage that you have with the short handle.

The same principle can be used for the pull up. People who have a pear-shaped body and long arms will struggle more. This is due to the fact that there is less control when compared to someone who carries more weight in the upper body and has shorter arms.

challenge

Is the Challenge Worth it?

Understanding why pull ups are so hard is important, but you also need to consider if the challenge is actually worth it. Pull ups are a compound exercise and, like other compound exercises, will engage all the major muscle groups of the upper body. This will include the back, core, forearms, biceps, and shoulders.

One of the benefits that pull ups provide that you will not get with other compound exercises is the engagement of the back muscles. These muscles are often ignored during training, but pull ups provide a one-stop shop to counter the effects of slouching. The fact that so many muscle groups are engaged will also make pull ups a good all-round workout which is something that you need to include in your exercise routine.

garage gym

Features:

  • ​​​​Uses comfortable high-density foam for padding.
  • Made with steel tubing for frame.
  • High durability standard.
  • Designed for use with all kinds of weight.
  • Compact size.

Breakdown:

The high-density foam that is used to pad the upper part of the bench is comfortable even for extended periods of time. The frame itself is made with a strong steel tubing, which will increase the lifespan of your bench as well as add a high degree of durability. Another way this flat bench is reinforced is with a powder-coated finish to protect it against typical wear and tear, but also to ensure its safety against corrosion caused by moisture.

marcy 3

​How to Train for Pull Ups

If you want to get all of the benefits from pull ups and lower the difficulty, you need to train before you start doing the exercise. The first step will be to build up your strength by working on the muscle groups that are engaged during this exercise. Lat pull downs, single arm rows and bicep curls will help you prepare. Building up your arm and back muscles are important if you want to be able to lift your body weight.

You should also look at starting with assisted pull ups. To do this, you should use a low bar with a height between the hips and chest. Grasp the bar and step under it while extending your legs. Assisted pull ups will engage the back muscles and get your body ready for the traditional pull up.


Pull ups are hard to do for a number of reasons. The primary reason is the fact that you are lifting your whole body weight. Another reason is the number of muscles that are engaged including ones that are not often used in daily life.

The Final Rating

Features:

  • Uses comfortable high-density foam for padding.
  • Made with steel tubing for frame.
  • High durability standard.
  • Powder-coated frame.
  • Tested to support weights up to 1000 lbs.
  • Comes with 10-year warranty for frame.

Breakdown:

Much like the entry before, we see some repetition of what the Marcy Utility Bench had to offer, and we are likely to see some of these options repeated again. The comfortable padding is needed in order to use the bench appropriately, and the added grip to the fabric over the padding is a great touch. The bench is made of steel tubing and is tested to support a weight of one thousand pounds and powder coated for increased resistance to corrosion and rust. It also comes with a ten year warranty that covers damage done to the frame, which positively sets it apart from the competition. Other than that, costumers get a thirty day warranty to return the product if there is a problem with the padding.

rep fitness flat bench 2

Features:

  • Uses comfortable high-density foam for padding.
  • Made with steel tubing for frame.
  • High durability standard.
  • Powder-coated frame.
  • Tested to support weights up to 600 lbs.
  • Lightweight.

Breakdown:

Now we are really starting to recognize some standard features. Once again we see the high-density foam padding and the steel tubing used to make the frame. It is also powder-coated to protect the bench against rust and corrosion, which is ideal if you will be keeping the bench in a humid area. This bench recommends a weight of six hundred pounds, but has also been tested for weights up to one thousand pounds. The bench itself is less than thirty pounds. Quite impressive, if you ask me.

adidas flat bench 2

Features:

  • ​High-density foam with box stitch padding.
  • Made with steel tubing for frame.
  • High durability standard.
  • Powder-coated frame.
  • Tested to support weights up to 3​​​​00 lbs.

Breakdown:

The CAP Barbell Flat Bench has everything we have come to expect in a bench with high-density foam to help absorb the weights you’ll be lifting as well as a sturdy steel frame for durability. This flat bench is also powder-coated in order to help protect it from moisture and corrosion. It is tested to hold weights up to three hundred pounds.

cap flat bench 2

Features:

  • ​High-density foam ​for comfortable padding.
  • Made with steel tubing for frame.
  • High durability standard.
  • Powder-coated frame.
  • Tested to support weights up to 5​​​​00 lbs.

Breakdown:

This bench has a high-density foam cushion on top and the frame is made of highly durable steel. It also boasts a powder-coated frame to protect it from wear and tear in humid conditions. Tested to support weights upwards of 500lbs, those who are getting super serious into lifting will find that this Reebok product meets their needs.

reebok flat bench 2
bench press hurt shoulders

​Why this Happens

The simple truth is that the human spine isn't designed to lie straight. It is flexible, but just because it can bend straight doesn't mean it's comfortable.

It's not just your spine, however. Your shoulder blades are designed to sit on top of your spine and muscle system, not parallel to it.

What does that mean in practical terms? That when you lie on a flat bench that's too flat and too hard, you push your muscles and bones out of place. No wonder you get so sore after a workout.

shoulder anatomy

​How to Avoid this Problem

The flippant answer is "get a padded bench", but that's only partly true. Getting a bench that's padded is important, but it's even more important to get a bench that suits your body size and shape.

Too much padding will throw off your weight and make your pump less stable. Not enough padding and you won't fix the problem at all. So make sure to try various benches. You might also mark down material and thickness, just in case you ever need to replace it.

Ultimately, getting a flat bench that doesn't leave you in pain is simple. That doesn't make it easy however. You'll have to do a lot of research and be absolutely certain that the bench suits you. Otherwise, you may never manage to fix the back pain after every workout. You're already dealing with stress on the skeletal system with increased muscle mass. No need to risk further injury due to lacking equipment or lack of certain exercises!

chest flat bench workout

​Dumbbell Press

Hold a dumbell in each hand, similar to how you would for a barbell press. Let the dumbells touch your chest then push them upwards, straightening the arms. Try to move in a straight line, not 'arcing' the dumbells as you go. Pause for one second at the top, then lower the dumbells towards your chest, pausing for one second at the bottom.

Perform 2 sets of 5 repetitions with a light weight. Then perform 3 more sets of 5 repetitions, increasing the weight slightly with each set.

​Dumbbell Flys

Lie on the bench with a dumbell in each hand, resting on top of your thigh. Use your thighs to help raise the dumbells and lift them, so that you are holding them out in front of you, shoulder with apart, palms facing in. Open your arms out away from you until you feel a good stretch in your chest, then bring the dumbells in to touch again.

Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions.

back flat bench workout

Dumbbell Rows

Stand in front of the bench with one knee up, slightly bent over. Hold a dumbell in one hand. Perform an upward 'rowing' motion, pulling the dumbell back and up. Switch to the other side and repeat the motion to work both sides.

Perform 3 sets of 10 reps per side.

Dumbbell Back Flys

This works in a similar fashion to the chest-focused dumbell flys, but you are lying on your front with the dumbells on the floor in front of you, and then using your back muscles pull the dumbells back and out, as if you are flapping your wings (slowly, and with full control).

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a moderate weight. Take care not to go too heavy with this exercise because it is a hard one to perform with good form.

abs flat bench workout

Leg Raises

Begin working the abs with leg raises. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight in front of you. Slowly raise your legs so that they are at a right-angle with your body, keeping your back pushed against the bench (do not allow it to round). Slowly lower your legs again.

Repeat 12 times for one set. Perform 3 sets with a short rest in between.

Sit Ups

Lie flat on your back with your knees up. Rest your hands on your legs. Slowly sit up to touch your knees (do not 'fling' your arms to help you). Slowly relax to lie down again.

Perform 10 repetitions for one set. Repeat 5 times.