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Pullup bars allow you create a variety of exercises beyond the traditional pullup and chinup. While these exercises can be so difficult that some people can't even perform one, variations of the exercises can help you build upper0body strength, including core muscles. Take another look at your pullup bar if you've put it away or think it's just for the strongest people at the gym or your house.
Traditional Pullups and Chinups
Pullups are performed with your palms facing away from you, emphasizing weaker muscles so the exercise is more difficult than chinups. Grasping the bar with your palms facing you, you'll recruit more of your biceps and chest muscles, making this exercise easier. Start from a hanging position, then lift yourself slowly, slightly arching your back while keeping your torso straight. Don't twist and turn your hips to try and help you up or you may strain your back. Perform the reps slowly on the way up and down, taking a short pause between each uplift and downlift if your goal is maximal muscle building. Perform the reps more quickly, letting gravity drop you and momentum bounce you back up if your goal is improving muscular endurance or burning calories. Perform one-handed reps if you're strong enough.
You don't have to move to create beneficial muscle contractions with a pullup bar. If you've ever held something in one hand until your arm muscles start to burn, you've experienced isometric muscle contractions. Lower your bar until you can place your hands on it while you are standing with your feet flat on the floor. Pull down on the bar for 30 seconds to create one repetition of this exercise. If you can't do full pullups or chinups, try anyway, taking advantage of isometric muscle contractions that help build muscle. Assume the starting position for a pullup or chinup and raise your feet off the ground. Hang still for at least 30 seconds to create one repetition of this exercise. Try this one hand at a time, alternating arms.
Whether you've got strong muscles or have trouble performing pullups and chinups, performing only the lowering portion of the exercise will help you work your muscles. Set the pullup bar low enough that from a standing position, you can grasp the bar and jump up until your head is above the bar. From this position, slowly lower yourself. If you can't move your pullup bar, stand no a platform that lets you easily get to your starting position with a short jump.
To work your core with a pullup bar, add Kipping pullups and chinups to your workouts. Raise yourself as normal, then swing your hips forward and raise your knees toward your chest. Hold for one or two seconds, then lower your legs, then your body. Use your core muscles to bring your hips and knees upward and down in a controlled manner to avoid back strain. You can also raise your knees and hold them while hanging straight, or with no uplift. Another exercise to work your core has you bring your knees to your chest while you hang straight, then straighten your legs in front of you, forming an L with your body.
Hanging upside down, you can perform crunches, moving yourself forward just a few inches, holding, then returning. For maximum safety, you'll need a bar made for this type of exercise and inversion boots. If the bar fails while you're hanging upside down, you can seriously injure your head, neck, shoulders and back.