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Which half of the complete Pull up works the Lats more ?

For eg : If I do the lower half of the pull up will it involve my Lats more OR if I do the upper half of the pull up ?

My problem : I can't do more than 5-6 full pull ups in my first set and the number quickly falls down to 3-4 in the 2nd set. I finish my routine at 30 reps. I am considering doing half pull ups to a count of 50. I hope this might cause improvement in the max pull ups in the first set.

Please help.

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Nix the half-pull-ups and do full-range-of-motion negatives. That is, jump or step to the top using a chair, and lower yourself down slowly. Careful with too much volume. Alternatively, work on holding the top or bottom position for 10 to 30 seconds at the end of a set. Is there a particular reason you want to work the lats or do half pullups, or is the question about improving your max pull-up count? – Dave Liepmann May 1 '13 at 17:37
@Geek: Why do you think that isolating the lats more increases your max pull up count? If you want to improve your pull up performance, shouldn't you just be doing pull ups? There is a technique called 'Grease the Groove' that is often used for increasing pull ups. Full ROM negatives as suggested by Dave are great as well. – zero-divisor May 2 '13 at 4:29
@DaveLiepmann ,zero-divisor : I think if I have a better mind-muscle connection with the Lats I will be able to do more pullups. Though after doing 30 reps I do feel my lats have worked out well but I am not sure I use them well when I am doing the exercise. I will give you a reason.Like I said I am able to do 5-6 normal pullups, recently a bloke taught me how to do behind the neck pullups and I was able to do 10 of them and I felt like I was pulling more with the Lats but I feel shoulder pain after doing that, so I want to stick to the normal pull up.Goal is to learn to engange my lats more. – Geek May 2 '13 at 6:05
@zero-divisor : I think if I have stronger Lats I will do more pullups, right now may be the arms give up before the lats do :( – Geek May 2 '13 at 8:42
Grease the Groove and Dave's idea both have merit and I am all set to apply it :-) but the answer to my question.. Lower half pull up or the upper half which works that Lats more ? – Geek May 2 '13 at 8:50
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Geek! I like your question.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. EMG studies show that pull-ups and chin-ups to not target your lats as much as bent-over rows.
  2. Half pull-ups at top or bottom has no significant difference when it comes to lats activiation.
  3. Behind the neck pull-ups hurt your shoulders because you have placed the greatest amount of stress on your biceps tendon and the rotator cuff - not good.
  4. Your arms get tired quicker than your lats when doing pull-ups because the pull-ups isolate the forearm more than the lats. Read number one answer.
  5. If you want to increase the number of pull-ups, then you should try one of these techniques:

a. Eccentric training - going down slowly
b. Train more often - pretty much work-up to doing pull-ups everday eventually
c. Supersetting - pull-ups, then perform a few reps of lat pull-down

Here is a qretty good book about "pull-ups."

Good luck!

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Interestingly the book you shared says that the Pull movement of the pull up is initiated by rotating the scapula which is done by Rhomboids/lower traps. I find both of these areas as my weak points, any tips to fix these ? – Geek May 3 '13 at 7:35
@Geek You may want to start adding exercises that will isolate your scapulae a little more. For example, you can try 3 sets of 15-20 reps (3-5 lbs) of Stability Ball Prone T's and Y's. Try to focus on squeezing your scapulaes together, instead of trying to lift your arms up higher. I treat lots of overhead athletes, and this is a very common problem that I see. You also should try the push-up plus to strengthen your Sarratus Anterior as this is one of the most important scapulae stabilizer muscles. Hope this helps! – QikMood May 3 '13 at 14:38

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