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Why your ring rows aren't getting you to pull-ups!

So you've been doing ring rows for a while now and let's say you've gotten pretty good at them and can knock out 15 unbroken. That's awesome! But you still can't do a pull-up? I mean, ring rows are the modification for pull-ups after all. Why can't you get that pull-up yet? (Hint: No it's not because you weigh too much)

The ring row, while it is a pulling motion, pulls at more of a horizontal angle. Your body is ~90 degrees to the pull. A pull-up is a vertical pull with the pull being 0 degrees or directly in line with your body (See pictures below for a visual of that). What does this mean?

You are using entirely different muscles. You are getting super strong in your scapular retractors but minimal gains in those lats with a ring row. So you may be great a ring rows but still can't get a pull-up. The opposite may also be true, you could be able to knock out some pull-ups but burn out rather quickly on ring rows.

So if you are looking to still get that first pull-up or muscle-up or to just be able to knock out some more- look to your lats! You can continue to modify with ring rows in a work-out; that's totally ok!! However don't expect to all of the sudden get better at pull-ups if you aren't using those lats more.

The demand is also higher in a pull-up because you do have to lift ALL of your body weight off of the ground. Ring rows are lifting only a percentage of your body weight; and that varies depending on how far under the rings your feet are. But even if you put your feet up on a box for an elevated ring row, the pulling angle is still not that of a pull-up.

So work those lats!

Try the following exercises to build lat strength:

1. Straight arm pull-downs

2. Bent arm side pulls

3. Hollow hold pulldowns

4. Toes assisted pull-ups

Just a personal opinion, don't use the bands as much either for band assisted pull-ups. It will help you build strength but it does make for a harder progression from 1 band to another. It gives you a lot of help out of the bottom of the pull-up where it can be the most difficult position. If you want to use bands for pull-ups: stand on a band that is hooked to the j-hooks on the rig down lower. You can then gradually lower the j-hooks making it much easier to progress and make the exercise harder. You are still getting help out of the bottom but this can be easily changed. Plus, it is just a little bit safer than strapping a foot into a band and hanging from a bar.

Now, go get those pull-ups and BE PATIENT! It takes time and work to build muscle.

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