One of the best ever upper body exercises is the overhand, hands wider than shoulder width apart pull-up, but being over forty I’ve lifted approximately 4160ton in 25 years of training (approximate body weight x number of reps doing pull-ups per week x 52 x years of training). That’s a lot of weight supportet by the elbow and shoulder joints. Work out how much weight your elbows and shoulders have lifted.
If you have bicep tendinitis I suggest you first make sure it’s nothing too serious, check this out: bicep tendinitis.
I’ve researched and tried different ways of doing the pull-up, hoping not to give up on training the lats altogether. I’ve tried using ring pull-ups and underhand pull ups with only a little relief. So I tried a different way which feels so good, and nearly eliminates all the pain from my bicep tendonitis problem. I call it Monkey Pull-Ups. It’s like doing horizontal rope climbing, except you don’t use your legs and you use a pull-up bar instead of a rope. If you don’t have a pull-up bar, find anything with enough length for a bit of travel, most parks have something like this.
Just a note: this exercise works for me, give it a try, but stop doing it if you experience any pain.
Monkey Pull-Up instructions:
Step 1. Hang off the bar with the palms of your hands facing each other about a hand space apart. Keep your shouldsers close to perpendicular to the travel of the bar.
Step 2. Like a rocket, pull yourself up aiming for your right shoulder to touch the bar just behind your right hand.
Step 3. Lower slowly until both arms have a slight bend. Now travel forwards by placing the trailing hand in front of your other hand.
Repeat steps. Now pull yourself up again as in step 1 and repeat.
If your bar isn’t very long you may not be able to travel very far, 3 easy fixes:
- While hanging at the bottom, turn around when you’ve reached the end of the travel.
- Go in reverse.
- Keep alternating back and forth, but don’t let one arm do too much work holding your body weight up.
This great multijoint/compound movement can be done anywhere: parks, tree branches, and my favourite, on my patio support beams. Did you notice my weird pull-up bar in the photo, I placed a bar in my gymnastic ring straps, it’s a bit “swingy”.