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TOPIC: Pullups hurt my arms

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August 8, 2011 3:12 PM
Is this normal? I've been doing 4-5 sets of pullups every other day. I do them until failure each set. Which isn't saying much... At first I didn't actually DO any pullups, I just tried and failed for a while. Then I got the point where I could do one pullup, and I'd fail on a second attempt. Now I can do two successful pullups, and fail on the third.

Anyway, about half the time my arms will ache pretty badly after I am done doing pullups. Very uncomfortable. I don't get anything like this from any of the other strength exercises I do. This isn't normal soreness like I get from lifting weights, it feels more like something is stretched too much maybe. I'm really not sure.

Is this normal for pullups? Something to be concerned about?

August 8, 2011 3:17 PM
Forgot to mention.. taking 2-3 ibuprofen seems to clear the pain up quickly and easily.
August 8, 2011 3:18 PM
I don't know if it's cause for concern or not, but I thought I'd mention that I have a similar problem. When it hurts, I take some extra time off, perhaps 4 days or so. That works for me.
August 8, 2011 3:19 PM
Might also want to try glucosamine/chondroitin.
August 8, 2011 3:20 PM
over time, your arms will stop hurting. you just have to get them stronger/used to doing the pull ups. pull ups are so damn hard- good work!
August 8, 2011 3:21 PM
try taking a week off from performing pullups and see if that helps at all. It might be that your over training your arms. It takes a while to master pullups, i generally do pullups on saturday's only and do 5 sets of 12 (every grip). However, this takes time to work up to. If you would like some tips on how to improve let me know.
August 8, 2011 3:26 PM
You're probably activating too much of your forearms instead of your lats, back muscles. One way to activate your back muscles more are to use a wider grip on the bars and to think about pulling your elbows DOWN to your obliques.
August 8, 2011 3:30 PM
you are probably doing them too often and your arms are compensating because your back muscles haven't recovered from the last workout. try working out your back only once a week. start with pull-ups so that you can track progress in that exercise. then do some other back excercises - bent over rows, upright rows, pull downs, etc... and then give that muscle group a week to rest before having another back day...
August 8, 2011 3:38 PM
First, I should say that i'm actually doing CHIN-UPS. I didn't know the different until a few minutes ago.

So... sounds like I shouldn't be doing this every other day huh? I can cut down to once or twice a week I guess. I do my other body-weight exercises (like pushups, situps, etc) 3 times a week, so figured this would be fine too.

I don't really understand how pull-ups engage the back so much. As I look at videos of people doing pullups it sure seems like it's just an arm exercise. How does the back get so intricately involved?

I definitely want to get keep getting better at pull-ups and chin-ups. If you'd like to recommend an effective regime to get there, that would be great. I am still losing weight, so that should help all by itself, but I want to be a bad-ass who can climb buildings or whatever, so more progress is required! :)
August 8, 2011 3:51 PM
a chin up engages your biceps a lot more than a pullup does. if you look at the range of motion of your arm during the excercise, it is basically contracting similarly to a curling motion.

a couple ways to add reps are by having someone hold your feet and spot you, or by kipping (swinging your hips to gain momentum). but i would do as many as i can WITHOUT assistance before resorting to a spotter or kipping...
Edited by boopiejones On August 8, 2011 3:52 PM
August 8, 2011 3:58 PM
I haven't even tried doing pull-ups, just chin-ups so far. So, on my next day for this (probably Thursday) I was thinking of starting with a couple sets of pull-ups, to see if I can do this (and if so, how many reps), then doing the rest of the sets in chin-ups. Assuming that pull-ups will be harder for me.

Between the two I will do 4-5 sets, depending how it goes. I do use kipping sometimes, to get a final rep, but mostly I figure when I'm done I am done.


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