Pull ups again

Where ever I go I find people abandoned by the fitness industry!

My evidence for this  is the failure of so many people to be able to do a pull up.

Ive written about this phenomenon in the past. Often in slightly rude, slightly risque, terms.

But let me, again, emphasise how to get your first pull up.

Obviously any arm strength helps. If you’ve been bicep curling , doing push ups, tricep extensions, some other weird body building isolation exercise you got off the internet, you must be better of than someone who hasn’t used their arms since birth, but as my rude article  “Pull ups and girls” proved, generic exercises do not give you pull ups.

Its better to learn how to do a “negative”

you have to think a lot about how to get  up to the  bar to  be able to lower down from it. I cover this crucial issue in patronising detail in my article “If you do not have any pull ups, no one will want to marry you”.  Read it carefully

But here are some extra ideas for you to build in:

To help structure your training, here is an interesting regime that builds your pull ups from a single negative to 20

20-pull-ups_ilka-helo copy 2

As always, if you want to book a Pt with me in Bethnal Green  or Blackfriars, do drop me an email Andrew@andrewstemler.com

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Isometrics revisited

in the 60’s to 70’s  you would have been hard pressed to ignore the isometrics movement. Vic O’beck published “How to Exercise without moving a muscle” in 1964 and it became very popular.

During the late 60’s early 70’s the Daily Express ran a regular cartoon in its pages which popularised the exercise regime. The cartoons were eventually bundled into a book Isometrics. How to exercise without moving a muscle, in strip cartoons from the Daily Express.

Like many fitness fades, the interest faded from main stream use, due in part to silly claims. A regime that promises to get you fit and trim in 90 seconds a day is bound to sell you the book or course, but fail to deliver much , if any, fitness.

This is a shame, as given the right objectives, the static hold has a really useful role to play. According to James Hewitt who wrote Isometrics for you: Get fit and trim in 90 seconds a day in 1966  “without special apparatus and without moving a muscle you can grow stronger and build, or reshape your body to nearer your hearts’ desire. The static  contraction has been part of physical culture systems  for a very long time. Hatha yoga contains postures  held without movement”.

Put simply, isometrics are a system of physical exercises in which muscles are caused to act against each other or against a fixed object. It’s a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.

The popular regimes focused on basic body building type exercises and suggested a 6  second static contraction  with a maximum, or comfortable maximum contraction. This bicep curl picture gives you a good idea.


Whilst this had some value, the use of the extended static hold in functional fitness is probably in developing the capacity to simply hold postures which contribute to actual exercises. The reality is that if you want to kick up to a rock solid free standing handstand, or do 20 plus pull ups, you better be able to hold a static ( albeit “leaning” ) handstand against the wall, and hang for 60, 90, 120, 180 seconds. Extra grip strength is always useful!

Btw you could find yourself struggling at 10 seconds when you start. Just do what you can and build up

So think about your regime and hunt out obvious postures to practice: the side planks, lunging pushes against a wall and deadlift holds spring to mind. Adding the L sit, a horse stance ( the old martial arts favourite) and a “hip up” hold can , when combined,  make a really useful home exercise regime.

No more, “I cannot get to the gym”!!

Home pull up bar and gymnastic rings

When working through my home training courses, the chances are you will need a pull up bar. Many landlords won’t let you screw them into a wall, so get one that slides in and out of a door way. I’ve liked the JML one because, like me, its been around for ages,

JML Awesome Gym Door Frame Workout/Pull-Up Bar Home Gym for Upper Body Exercises

but there are lots of cheaper ones around too

I have to say that I own my own home so, Ive screwed mine into the wall.

Once you have a pull up bar, you can get a set of gymnastic rings. I started importing them in 2005 in tiny batches, and I think they cost £50 plus.

Today £20 gets you a nice wooden pair. Here is a good example, opt for wood if you can.

Sundried Wooden Gymnastic Rings with Straps Exercise Gym Rings Crossfit Gymnastics Athletic Dip Rings

If you want to start using your Gymnastic rings, anf you can afford  99p  ( or £1 less 1p) you can get a copy of my old ring training guide, thats rudely been scored as a 1 star!! Try and be more generous

Ring Training: Using gymnastic rings in the fitness Environment