Pullups and Chinups Build Primate Strength
Pullups are one of the most beneficial overall muscle and strength developers. A single pullup is often one of the most difficult exercises. Many adults can remember how humiliated they felt in grade school, when they couldn't do a single repetition. And this experience often led to "throwing in the towel."
If that person was you, not to worry - there's still hope ... even if you failed high school gym class.
Take a look at monkeys and apes in the wild. They're in far better shape than human beings. They have greater endurance and flexibility, and they possess far superior strength. The exercises that resemble what these primates do most are pullups (and chinups).
Monkeys and apes that climb trees for a living work with their own bodyweight. They don't lift weights or use machines. And so, is it any wonder that a 60 pound chimpanzee has triple the strength of an athletic male - while a gorilla has the strength of 10 Olympic weight lifters?
And just how can monkeys be so incredibly strong, you ask? The answer is simple. From doing all those pullup type movements. They've mastered their own bodyweight while pulling, hanging, climbing and swinging from limb to branch.
Matt Furey performing pullup and chinup variations on the monkey bars
Pullups and chinups are one of the hallmarks of an advanced strength athlete. The pullup builds grip strength in its entirety because the fingers, hands and forearms are all used. Pullups also develop the biceps, triceps and shoulders, giving you powerful strength and superior muscularity. Muscles throughout the entire back are bombarded with enough stress to make them grow stronger, especially the latissimus dorsi and trapezius. Additionally, your abdominal muscles are given a good workout due to the stabilization needed through the entire core.
Back when bodybuilders were strong (hint: most today are NOT), the pullup was a staple in their workouts. They knew that pulling one's entire bodyweight through space builds phenomenal strength. They also knew it would give them a thick, wide upper back - the kind that the bodybuilding enthusiasts supposedly train for.
In the olden days, bodybuilders got many of their exercises from gymnastics. This meant that instead of dangerous exercises like deadlifts and mediocre movements like lat pulldowns, pullups and chinups reigned supreme.
All of the above helps explain why primates are so powerful. Ever see a monkey on a lat pulldown machine? Neither have I. But I have seen some big, dumb steroid-freak gorillas in the gym yannking off on them. You know the bodybuilding fools of which I speak, don't you? They are the ones who use momentum to cheat their way through their repetitions, only to ultimately injure themselves, tearing muscles in their shoulders and backs.
If you're ready to master your own bodyweight, don't be afraid to really test your inner and outer strength with some good ol' natural pullups.
In Matt Furey's Gama Fitness program he shows the benefits of many different variations of pullups and chinups.
Related Articles on Pullups
Pullups vs. Lat Pulldowns - Which is Better?
When You Should Listen To Your Body