The elusive pull-up. It takes a great deal of upper body and core strength to become proficient. For this reason, many find it challenging to improve their pull-up performance. Are you at a plateau with your pull-up?

Say hello to eccentric training. Eccentric training, otherwise known as “negatives,” is an amazing tool for improving your pull-up whether you can already string together 20, or if you are training to get your very first one.

Let’s talk about why. First of all, eccentric training helps build muscle mass. Muscles are stronger eccentrically–about 1.75x stronger according to this helpful article from Breaking Muscle. This means you can work through your plateaus!

It also improves and strengthens the connective tissue, which means a reduced risk of injury.


Eccentric training has been proven to even increase flexibility.
How to do it?

You have a couple options depending on where you are in your goals.  If you are able, you can do a traditional pull-up to the top and then slowly lower until that bottom position.  Combining the concentric with the eccentric offers exceptional muscle growth.

If you haven’t mastered a pull-up or are healing your diastasis recti, then you will want to start at the top of the bar and ONLY focus on the eccentric lowering portion. Remember my post from yesterday where I said to watch yourself complete the movement in a mirror to look for doming or a protrusion that looks like a ridge or a cone-shaped abdomen? Do it! Set your mirror up, and then grab a box and hop to the top of the box. Slowly lower yourself, watching for doming. As soon as you see that protrution, hop off the bar, reset and go again. Your stoping point is where you lose core function.

If your like me, the pull-up will be one of the first exercises to drop-off pregnant and one of the last to get back. Not because of lack of strength, or if you CAN do it, but because it is SO challenging to do while maintaining that transverse abdominis engagement. If you can’t maintain that core engagement throughout the movement, you will worsen your diastasis recti, and are setting yourself up for injury.  You have to trust the process. You will be stronger than ever if you learn to do the pull-up with core control. I’m proof! I only did negatives for about a year postpartum and now I can easily string together 15 strict pull-ups.