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It’s commonplace on the internet to claim certain exercises are King and there’s some type of hierarchy to exercises and sometimes depending on the particulars I believe this to be true, but sometimes it’s just sexy marketing, ad copy, or the person making the claim simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about. When it comes to the Pull Up I believe saying it’s superior or “King” is B.S. Allow me to explain why.

 Because the lats are much bigger then other back muscles they will often take over especially if pull up/chin-up variations are done too frequently. It is important to pay special attention to some of the smaller muscles of the back such as the lower portion of the trapezius often referred to as Trap 3. The Trap 3 fibers run in the same direction as the lats. Because the lats have a larger cross-sectional area/much bigger they will take over if smaller muscles aren’t trained enough or trained properly. Claiming that Pull-Ups are King is probably going to result in people hearing that doing Pull-Ups all the time. I know that I would’ve when I didn’t know better.

Where the lats attach on the humeral portion there is also the teres major, teres minor, infraspinatus, long head of the triceps and the posterior deltoid all attached in very close proximity. This can easily knot up this area if exercise selection and execution are not adequate. Some stretching and soft tissue work are often very helpful.


A Lat stretch I like: Turn hips away from the lat you’re stretching.
If your lats are tight try doing this stretch between each set.

“Claiming that Pull-Ups are King is probably going to result in people hearing that doing Pull-Ups all the time”


Offsetting some Pull-Ups or Pulldowns with good quality rows is essential to avoid any problems created from over-use. One of my favorite row variations is the Inverted Row. One inherent issue with this exercise is that once you can bang out quite a few reps with bodyweight you’ll need to find ways to make the exercise more challenging. Here are a few ways that I like.


With the feet on the ground, you can and should get a good glute contraction with a little co-contraction of the hamstrings. You also get some core stability by bracing to keep your torso in a neutral position. There should be a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.

Allow your scapula to move as opposed to keeping it rigid and simply moving your upper arms back. Your shoulder blades and your upper arms should move congruently.

There are many row variations that we do at USI. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Seated Rows
  • 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • Bent Over Rows
  • T-Bar Rows
  • Standing Cable Rows
  • Half-Kneeling High Cable Rows

I like to rotate them in no particular order. This is important so you are getting strong in many different positions and angles.

And then when you get into the different handles your holding onto or the different positions of your hand from pronated, supinated, semi-supinated, neutral, supinating, the variations and options add up to many.
At USI we have some pretty unique handles that people always notice and ask us about. Not the typical handles you’ll see at a big box membership-based gym like LA Fitness or Export Fitness.

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