This week I created a video demonstrating seven simple, natural movement exercises on a pull-up bar. In this post, I explain why I recommend these exercises for beginners and discuss the benefits of incorporating these movements into your natural movement practice.
The seven exercises:
- Active Hanging
- Side Swinging
- Sideways Traversing
- Single arm hangs
- Forward Traversing
- Leg hooking
- Leg hooking and mounting
What, no pull-ups?
I haven’t included pull-ups in this list for a few reasons. First, everyone already knows what a pull-up is, and it’s usually the first exercise people think of when they see a pull-up bar (hence the name!) You don’t need me to show you a pull-up, but if you’ve spent most of your movement / fitness life in a gym context, you might not know that these other exercises exist, let alone how beneficial they can be.
The other reason to not include a pull-up in a list of beginner exercises is because… what is the point of a pull-up? I’m not saying they are bad, I am genuinely asking – what is the point of this movement?
I’m a pretty creative thinker (I like to think, anyway!) so here are some reasons for needing to do the isolated movement of a pull-up (where only your head is raised above the bar/branch etc):
- You want to peek over a wall to spy on someone
- You want to take a single bite of an apple without having to pick it.
- You want to lift your feet safely out of the reach of a low-slung but vicious creature such as a puff-adder or Shih Tzu.
Anything I’m missing?
Pull-ups have their place
Of course, a pull-up is a way to train a particular type of strength and it is a building block for more complex movements like muscle-ups. But a muscle-up is hardly a beginner movement, hence why I haven’t included pull-ups in this beginner video.
By all means, do pull-ups, just know the reason why you are choosing to do them. And don’t let lack of imagination or knowledge of alternative exercises be one of the reasons! Work on these seven exercises first, then build up your pull-up strength once you are ready to start working on muscle-ups!
The benefits of Doing these exercises on a pull-up Bar
Hanging and swinging from a bar might not seem like much work, until you try it for any length of time and you realise that it is! These movements train your grip strength, activate your lats and engage your core in an amazing, functional way. These movements are incredibly transferable to a natural context. Try climbing a tree, or simply swinging from a low branch and you’ll see what I mean.
And, once you have mastered these movements and feel confident doing them, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be able to look at low-hanging tree branches without feeling the urge to grab them and swing around. And that, my friends, is why we train!
I’d love to hear how you get on with these beginner exercises on a pull-up bar. Feel free to email me with your questions, comments or suggestions. I reply to every email that I receive. And be sure to check out my free natural movement fitness starter guide. it’s full of tips and ideas for starting your own natural movement practice.