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  1. #1
    You mirin? VTLifts's Avatar
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    Injury risk from heavy pull-ups?

    I love pull-ups and been doing them for probably 20+ years.

    I do pull-ups twice per week. Always medium width pronated grip. One day I go for 3x10 (currently with 1 plate) and one day I go heavy 3x3 (almost at 2 plates) with some back-off sets. My other back work is usually weighted inverted rows, then a cable or chest-supported row, and maybe a close grip pull-down.

    I'm late 30s and pull-ups cause me no discomfort at the moment. I always try to use good form, but obviously my final reps under heavy load aren't perfect.

    But as I approach 40 and have already eliminated other exercises due to injury risk (mostly low back), I'm wondering what issues might heavy pull-ups cause and what signs should I look for?

    Any other 40+ lifters still doing heavy pull-ups? Or conversely had to give them up due to injury and what was the injury?
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  2. #2
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You shouldn't be eliminating lifts unless you have a permanent injury. Muscular problems can usually be fixed by correct appliance of resistance training... I'm 50 now and I've had to troubleshoot a lot along the way BUT the only issue I have is a reduced amount of cartilege in one knee (from 25 years ago) but even that hasn't stopped me squatting heavy.

    But to answer your question, pullups are generally quite safe but you can end up aggravating your elbows IME, especially at heavier loads.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    I'm not 40+ but I do heavy pull-ups (personal PR is with 155 pounds at a body weight of 155) and I cannot imagine there being an injury risk as long as you avoid jerking your body upward at the beginning of the rep. Obviously you always can get injured but I don't see this being the type of exercise where the risk would be unusually high.
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    Registered User Darkius's Avatar
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    I injured an albow tendon back in 2005 whem my stupid a## decided to go from unweighted parallel arm pull ups 15 reps till failure, to extra wide grip pull ups with 25 pound weight. No build up on between. The tendon never recovered.

    Nothing wrong with the exercise. I just was not ready for it. Now I have to stick to half body weight and go for high reps. I don't dare do a regular pull up, which is very embarassing for me.
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    Registered User Rsurf72's Avatar
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    Very solid advice above. I do agree that without the jerking, a controlled pull up is quite unlikely to cause injury.

    I've just began weighted pullups and I am not sore in my lats or back, the next day my chest is sore.... Should I skip working out my chest in this case? I'm not sure what I'm doing incorrect, possibly pushing my hands together while executing the motion..
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    Registered User EiFit91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Rsurf72 View Post
    Very solid advice above. I do agree that without the jerking, a controlled pull up is quite unlikely to cause injury.

    I've just began weighted pullups and I am not sore in my lats or back, the next day my chest is sore.... Should I skip working out my chest in this case? I'm not sure what I'm doing incorrect, possibly pushing my hands together while executing the motion..
    It’s a compound movement. I also get chest soreness occasionally from pullups - ironically my chest never gets sore from heavy pressing. Soreness is not necessarily a good indicator of what muscles are primarily being worked IMO.
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    Some people get sore elbows if they do too many of them, particularly if they go extremely heavy. Less common is injuries of the shoulder, ie impingement. I recommend avoiding a super wide grip for the sake of shoulder health
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  8. #8
    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ironface View Post
    I recommend avoiding a super wide grip for the sake of shoulder health
    That and there just isn’t any benefit to going wide.
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  9. #9
    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    Yeah..
    So there is No basis to that 'shoulder health' bro lore for wide pullups being bad for you. That old bs still lingering I see.

    But You won't miss out on anything not doing them tho.

    Every variation is just a small change in ratio of what muscle is used.
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  10. #10
    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    I use my neck muscles a lot on wide.
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  11. #11
    Registered User TheShadowMan's Avatar
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    Just opinion, but I think the wides are vital, but unwise to use on a straight bar - I always elect for one with angled ends. I like to superset either wide or narrow pullups with wide or narrow bent rows and boy lemme tell ya. My back never was so thoroughly challenged before. There aren't a lot of other exercises which accomplish the same level of lat emphasis as with the wide pullups, they're tough but the return on em is unmatched. You instantly discover if you have any weak points in the back, and that's pretty useful to know. Even if you gotta use a band due to bodyweight limitations, a wide grip vertical pull is irreplaceable in any program. As for weight usage, i'd say start with bodyweight and do those for awhile - when you can hit past the final rep of your range, add a little weight to it. Not too much though, take it slow and easy and let your body gauge when you're ready for more. Let your body be your guide.
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  12. #12
    Kiwi Battler BenMcLeodNZ's Avatar
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    I do weighted chins since they're way better on the rotator cuff. I can do over 100kg, although not many times. They're better on the lats anyway and the strength still translates to pull ups.
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