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All The Reasons Why You Can’t Do A Pull-Up

You must have seen this in some indoor or outdoor gym, some ripped guy or some super fit girl happily lifting their own bodyweight on something that looks like a monkey bar. And you just stand that staring in complete awe, that is until you notice that they’re feeling uncomfortable with you looking at them with your jaw wide open. 

Just so you don’t completely embarrass yourself, you wait until they leave so you can try it out. And what happens? 

Your palms hurt, your fingers hurt, and you can barely do one pull-up. So, you’re standing there now, feeling like less of a gym goer than ever before. You can probably bench or squat a lot of weight, but you just can’t lift your own bodyweight. Feeling like a failure sucks, but you can correct it. 

The Problem 

You can’t just go up to a monkey bar and expect that you’ll know how to do pull-ups successfully. It is a severe strength test, that can bring plenty of men and women to their knees begging their bodies to do it. You think you know what the problem is, just lift more weights, right? 

No, buddy, just no! Your problem is not with the weights you are lifting! You might think that because the muscles you feel burn are your lats, biceps, and traps that they need to get stronger. But, you’ve missed the most important muscle, the serratus anterior (SA). 

This is the muscle that holds the shoulder blade against the rib cage. If your SA is failing to work properly, then you’re bound to fail by letting the 17 muscles that connect to it down. 

Just think about it, how do you spend your day? 

Slouched over your phone, stuffed in front of a laptop, and anything that is making you look like a hunchback. So, how can you expect your SA to work properly? 

Exactly you can’t. But, there is hope, you can fix it. 

The Solution 

You need to release all the muscles that connect to your shoulder. So, use a foam roller, do some yoga, and then work on building your strength with exercises like Lower Trap RDLs, Downward Dog Push-Ups, Scapular Stabilization Push-ups, and SA Stabilization Pushups.