Pulling Strength Tips - Kathryn Bruni-Young
  • October 30, 2016
  • Kathryn

Building pulling strength from the ground up is something I know a little bit, maybe a lot about. When I first realized there was a world outside of my yoga mat I was introduced to pulling strength. It didn’t take long to notice I had absolutely zero pulling, grip or upper back strength and these were likely contributing factors to my lower back instabilities and shoulder mobility struggles. Here are some tips for the non-puller to add into their practice.


Pulling Tip 1 – Hang from the bar!

It doesn’t matter where you go, park, gym, or a bar in your living room doorway, you have to hang. There are different types of hangs, the first two are active and passive. Passive hang means to hang from the bar and let yourself almost relax into it, let the shoulders slide up to the ears, this is more of a mobility exercise for most people. The active hang is the opposite, keep the elbows straight but pull the shoulders away from the ears, you will feel the armpit and upper back muscles contract. Go back and forth between these two for between 5-12 reps and feel the blood flowing.


Pulling Tip 2 – Don’t try a chin up on your first day!

A chin up might take months to understand, for some students even a year could be necessary. There are many progressions for the shoulders, lats, biceps, grip, traps and more that need to be addressed before you think about pulling yourself up.


Pulling Tip 3 – Different types of hangs

In my instagram video from this morning, you will see different types of hangs, for the purpose of a one minute video they aren’t held for very long. When practicing different types of hangs, aim to hold each one for between 10-60 seconds, this will vary from person to person. One arm hangs are for students who have built up a lot of shoulder and grip strength, not for beginners! Another tip is to keep your feet on the floor in the early stages, some people might not have the strength to support their full body weight.


Pulling Tip 4 – Build up to 3 minutes

I’ve heard teachers tell students to build up to 7-10 min of hanging a day, this can be a lot for beginners, I would hate for someone to develop tendonitis from their restorative exercise practice. For a beginner student I recommend building up to one minute first, meaning over the course of maybe 15 minutes you can accumulate one minute actual hang time. If you are consistent with practice after a few weeks you may start thinking about two minutes and even three minutes. Some people will be able to get this done in 2-3 sets, others might do groupings of 20 seconds. Let your hands adjust, this will likely be the worst of it, sore fingers, tired grippers, enjoy.


So there you have it, a simple go to guide to developing you upper body strength. My UPPER BODY STRENGTH AND HANDSTANDS online course gets into different topics, but follows a similar approach. Hope to run into you soon.




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