It’s Okay to Cheat

by admin on October 31, 2012

Guest Post By Shawna Kaminski of

I can do a LOT of pull-ups… that’s not a big deal for most men… at least it shouldn’t be. But I’m a woman so that changes everything.

I’m often asked how I learned to do so many effortless pull ups. I mean I have every reason NOT to be able to do pull ups.

First, like I said, I’m a woman. And if you saw the recent article in the New York Times and Globe and Mail, researchers ‘proved’ that women ‘can’t do pull ups’. Nonsense.

Next I’m almost 50 and a mother of two and I can knock out 25 pull-ups in a row. So the whole “women can’t do pull-ups” business is a load of crap if you ask me.

Now, not only can I do a bunch of pull-ups… I can also teach anyone to do the same.   I know, that’s a bold claim, but I’ll prove it to you.

What’s my secret? I’ll share a few tips with you here.

I don’t advocate cheating with anything other than movement (especially loaded moves), but I’m cool with cheating to help with the pull up. The reason for this is you can’t train the pull up as you do traditional progressive resistance moves. You can either do them or you can’t. I allow myself to use some ‘controlled cheating’ techniques.

These ways to ‘cheat’ won’t cause injury either. One way is to use a resistance band to assist you and the second is to use a ‘kip’

First of all, the band assist…

The best way to use a band is to place it around the knee(s) and hook it to the pull up bar. The band assist helps support you on the way ‘up’ to the bar and allows you to take as much of your weight on the way ‘down’ from the bar. Controlling the eccentric contraction, which is the strengthening portion of the movement.

Secondly, the kip…

Many people seem to think that using the kip is cheating BIG time with the pull up. The kip allows you to use a bit of momentum to ‘cheat’ just like the band assist helps you ‘cheat’. Once you get up to the bar, you can work on the eccentric lowering of your body to increase strength. The kip is also sort of like a ‘forced rep’, once you’re fatigued, you can get a few more reps and continue to work on the eccentric strengthening contraction.

Of course the only way to be successful at pull ups is to be able to get in the correct body position in the first place. Remember your goal with the pull up is to get the upper chest to the bottom of the pull up bar, versus getting the chin up and over the bar. With the latter, many people tend to inwardly rotate the shoulders, which is not a position of strength. Look upwards, roll the shoulders down and back and squeeze the shoulder blades together.

It all starts with a scapular retraction (I teach you how to do this in my program too).

This video gives three of my best tips on how to do better pull ups.

You should know that by rocking the pull up bar, you’ll also improve your bench press and other strength moves.

Although possibly looking super fit is one of the biggest benefits of the pull up.

For more info on how YOU can improve your pull up. You can check out my program and see if it’s right for you.

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