No Pull Up Bar? No Problem (for now)

Don’t panic. If you don’t have a pull-up bar, you can still start The Simple Workout today.

The good news. The pull up is only 1 out of the 3 greatest strength training exercises. That leaves 2 out of the 3 greatest strength exercises that you can do without any equipment what-so-ever. Think about it, 2/3 of the greatest strength training exercises is better than 0/3 of the greatest strength training exercises.


How to do The Simple Workout without a Pull-Up bar.

  1. Squat: 4 sets
  2. Push Up: 3 sets
  3. Push Up (variation): 2 sets *I recommend a wide grip push up

How it works. With this modification, you will still get the same amount of total sets, so about the same total level of work/difficulty. In the push up you not only engage your chest, shoulders, and triceps, but also your back and biceps for stability and control. However, the push up does work your chest, shoulders, and triceps more than it does your biceps and back, which leads to the bad news.

The bad news. This is a temporary fix. If you follow this program for an extended period of time you might be at risk of developing a muscular imbalance, or simply put, your chest, shoulders and triceps will become stronger, larger, and tighter than your back and bicep muscles. This could cause several problems down the road, mainly bad posture. Exercising with a pulling movement is vital for effective strength training, so you can’t ignore it forever. But don’t fret, you can do this program for several weeks, get stronger, get well on your way, and not worry about developing an imbalance. Just make sure you get that pull-up bar within a month or so. Doorway pull-up bars are cheap.

WARNING! Detail. Because the push up moves your body, it not only works your chest, shoulders, and triceps (muscle groups typically used by pushing movements), but also muscles on the other side of your joints including your back and biceps (muscle groups typically used by pulling movements, such as the pull up). The push up moves your body, which requires a high level of stability and control. Stability and control requires compression of all involved joints, as follows:

  • At the elbow: Your triceps (backs of your arms) extend the joint, while your biceps apply force in the opposite direction, thus compressing your elbow joint so that it doesn’t move in an unexpected direction and cause you to fall on your face.
  • At the shoulder: your chest and some shoulder muscles pull your arms together, thus moving your body upwards. Because your body is moving, your shoulders must be INCREDIBLY stable in order to avoid falling on your face. This is accomplished by applying force on the shoulder joint from all different directions, activating not only your shoulder muscles, but your back muscles as well.

Confused? Let me put it another way. Many people wrongly believe that the push up only works your chest, shoulders and triceps. However it works your back and biceps in the following ways:

  • Back:
    • Muscles in your mid-to-upper back apply force on the shoulder joint, compressing it, so that you can be stable and not fall on your face.
    • Muscles in your lower back apply force at the hip joint so that your body doesn’t flop around and hinder movement.
  • Biceps:
    • Your biceps apply force on the shoulder joint in the beginning of the push up, when you first start to move your elbows together. (Many people forget, or never learn, that the bicep crosses the shoulder joint. TK).
    • Your biceps apply force continually at your elbow joint, in order to stabilize your arms throughout the movement so that you can avoid falling on your face.

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