When people talk about the squat or deadlift they usually say it’s the KING of all exercises. Which is true when it comes to recruiting the most muscles in a compound movement, the squat and deadlift both target a majority of your lower half like your quads and hamstrings while still engaging your core, upper back and calves.
Now if you wanted the most bang for your buck in an upper body movement, would you choose a bicep curl or lateral raise to recruit the most muscle fibers? I think not, bicep curls and lateral raises are still complex in a sense because you still use other muscles to help move the weight, but they still don’t place significant emphasis on your other muscles like the squat, deadlift, bench press and pull-up.
Pull Ups are the King of upper body exercises because not only do they target a wide range of muscles there also very challenging to do unassisted. Unlike the bench press or shoulder press where you can use light weights to perform the exercise, in order to do a pull up you need to pull your own body weight which recruits and engages more muscle. Pull-ups target your lats, rhomboids, teres major, biceps, core, forearms and grip strength which make it superior to any upper body exercise.
Try this phase 1 training program if your unable to do a pull up:
A1: Neutral Grip Chin-Up 3-4 sets, 3-6 reps, (10-0-0-0) tempo, 60sec. rest
A2: Single Arm Shoulder Press 3-4 sets, 6-8 reps, (3-0-1-0), 60sec. rest
B1: Single Arm Row 3 sets, 8-10reps, (3-0-1-1) 45sec. rest
B2: Military Press 3 sets, 8-10 reps, (3-1-1-0) 60-75sec. rest
C1: Bent Over Row 3 sets, 10-12 reps, (2-0-1-1) 30sec. rest
C2: Lateral Raise 3 sets, 10-12 reps, (3-0-1-1) 45sec. rest
Give this a go for 3-4 weeks and your strength will increase in the eccentric portion of the lift, setting you up for phase 2 of this pull-up program.
This video is a portion of an advanced pull-up program that incorporates 3 different variations of the pull up starting with pronated grip pull-ups(as shown in video), narrow grip chins, then neutral grip chins. Let the GAINS begin!