Whether you’re a CrossFitter, triathlete, swimmer or climber, it never hurts to have exceptional pulling power. Being able to generate huge amounts of power from your back and shoulders, can mean just seconds difference in a race, or be the limiting factor in a made lift, compared to a missed one.
These movements, compiled with the help of our friends and functional fitness gear stockists KITBOX, will help to maximise your pulling power. Try them out.
Fully Functional Movement
On this occasion, we’re taking a CrossFit and lifting approach to improving your pulling power, which might seem off-putting at first, if you’ve heard that CrossFitters cheat their pull-ups by ‘kipping’ them. The kip is another kettle of fish.
For any kind of pull-ups, we recommend buying some JAW Wraps - they’re durable, comfortable and will help to protect your palms from unnecessary tearing.
Ring/Inverted Bar Rows
These are the easiest movements we’re going to cover, and ideal if you’re just getting into strength training. The rings will work your biceps a little bit more than the bar, because of the side grip position, but both will really tax your lats and shoulders, getting them used to hauling your bodyweight around.
If you have problems or pain in your elbows, the Rehband RX Elbows Sleeves are great for lending some support.
- Lie on the floor underneath a set of gymnastics rings, or a barbell set in a squat rack
- Grab the rings/bar and extend your legs fully, keeping your butt and belly tight
- Your back should be completely off the ground with arms extended
- Pull yourself (under control) towards the rings/bar, until your chest touches either
- Lower yourself back down and repeat (8-10 reps)
Strict pull-up with Negative
When done right, strict pull-ups are great for building strength through your entire core. Let your body hang loose as you pull, and you’ll make life harder for yourself. Engage your abs, pull your belly button towards your spine and point your toes to switch your body on completely.
For the negative
Negatives allow you to make use of the descent as well as the pull-up itself. Instead of dropping straight down, keep your whole body tight and lower down slowly, taking 2-3 seconds to reach full extension again.
We’re talking about the power clean instead of the regular clean (squat clean) since the power variant requires you to pull the bar higher. If you see a movement prefixed by power, it means that you need to catch the barbell without letting your knees break 90 degrees.
Clean pulls are intended to make full cleans easier. By overloading the bar to 120% or more of your maximum clean, you’ll build strength and explosiveness, which will translate into improvements when the weight goes back down. They’re an advanced movement, so be careful, and if you need to, wear some RockTape Shin Skins to protect your shins on the way up.
- Load the barbell with 110-120% of your maximum full squat clean
- Set up in regular clean stance
- Chest up, butt back, weight in your heels, control the first pull up past the knees
- Sweep the bar up to a launch position and violently shrug
- A little elbow bend is fine, but the key is the shrug. Let the bar come back down
A favourite of the Chinese Olympic weightlifting team, these rows completely isolate the lats and arms, so there’s no way to cheat. We’d love to give you a more detailed explanation, but they’re pretty simple, and if some of the best lifters in the world use them, we’re not going to argue.
Take a look:
It’s a slow movement made for building raw strength, but done correctly, deadlifts work your entire posterior chain (core, lower back, glutes and hamstrings.) Work them into your programming to build a solid base for loading up your cleans and clean pulls.
You might already be taking a protein supplement, which is essential for recovery, but your pulling power is also linked to your explosiveness. Creatine is by far the most effective supplement for boosting your explosiveness. We recommend Blonyx HMB+, available at KITBOX.
Look out for our next KITBOX collaboration, where we’ll be walking through improving your pushing power.
Having been involved in functional fitness in the UK from the beginning, in one way or another, KITBOX always try to give something back when we can. We have many friends within the community and help out a growing number of athletes. Whether it be supporting individual athletes, sponsoring throwdowns, helping to organise grass roots competitions or just training with our friends at our local box, we are always listening and learning and trying to help out where we can.