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Visualization can be an important part of doing an exercise right. I recently came upon a bit of advice on another website and I could immediately feel an improvement in my form (despite having done probably thousands of pullups before). My question is: do you know any good visualizations for doing pullups?

For the record, the sentence which inspired this: During this initial movement, pretend that you are squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades and do not let the pencil drop during any phase of the pull-up.

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I agree with Tony R, but I also add two other elements of focus:

  1. On the upward motion, I focus on driving first my elbows, then my shoulders back and as I reach the top I flex - squeeze as Tony R suggests. Also, this starts when arms are fully extended and requires a pause at full contraction.

  2. On the way down, I go very slowly and shift the focus to my lats and push my lats out as if they were wings...bat wings is what I picture.

The more controlled and slower the overall movement, the more conducive it is to visualization and driving blood into the exercised muscle group!

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I think the visualization technique you mentioned is good. You have to imagine yourself squeezing your shoulder blades together to really target your back. Otherwise you may find yourself cheating a little by using your biceps!

If you want to take this visualization into reality, ask a friend to straighten their hand and put the tip of their fingers in between your shoulder blades (their hand should be vertical). As you do the pull-up, your goal is to squeeze their hand with your shoulder blades.

This simple technique helped me so much because I was cheating too much with my arms. In my case I did have to lower my usual weight (i.e. machine assisted) until I got used to the new form.

Note this works for other back exercises as well, like rows.

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Some people visualize their muscles growing (I think Arnie S is known for that), when doing pull/chin ups I think of mountain climbing and pulling myself up/over a ridge - a distraction from the effort...

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