If you're trying to increase the strength and endurance in your upper body, then doing pull-ups every day should be part of your fitness routine, correct? Well, not necessarily, because when it comes to fitness, the old saying that "more is not necessarily better," is true on so many levels.
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To get a better idea of how this question applies to your fitness goals, it's important to first understand the benefits of performing pull-ups. Once you match the benefits to your goals, it's time to learn how you gain strength by allowing time for adequate rest and recovery.
Since pull-ups are a strength-building exercise, you need to allow at least one day of rest between workouts that include this move.
The Benefits of Pull-Ups
Walk through any gym or fitness facility, and you're bound to see someone grunting, straining and successfully pulling themselves up and over a pull-up bar or machine. That's because the pull-up is one of the best ways to increase muscular strength and endurance in the upper body. And when done correctly, it also gives your core muscles a fantastic workout.
The American Council on Exercise says the pull-up exercise specifically targets the latissimus dorsi, or large back muscles, the deltoids or shoulder muscles, trapezius and biceps. It also relies on assistance from the muscles of the trunk, including the rectus abdominis and external obliques to get the job done safely and effectively.
But it's not just strength and aesthetics that make pull-ups so beneficial. It's also the functional aspect of this move that makes it one of the best exercises to add to your line-up. The functionality allows you to work muscles and parts of the body that you normally use for daily activities, such as reaching up and pulling something heavy off of a shelf.
And by targeting multiple muscle groups at one time, this compound exercise also utilizes multiple joints. Plus, experienced and recreational athletes will be able to apply the movement pattern practiced in the gym to real-life scenarios.
Read more: 5 No-Equipment Upper Body Exercises
Pull-Ups Every Day
So, the question remains: Can you do pull-ups every day? There's no denying that the list of benefits is impressive, but doing more can compromise recovery and growth, which means, you should think twice before performing this move daily.
In fact, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, recommends scheduling sufficient recovery into your strength training program by taking at least one day between resistance training workouts when you train the same muscle groups.
Their guidelines align with a March 2017 research review published in the Journal of Applied Physiology that explains why it's important to rest between resistance training sessions that target the same muscle groups. Their findings show that the damage from inflammation is at its peak somewhere between 24 and 48 hours.
With that in mind, it's easy to see how daily workouts targeting your back muscles may not be in your best interest, and that allowing your body 48 hours to recover may help you reach your fitness goals a lot sooner.
To maximize your gains, consider performing pull-ups two to three days a week. You can accomplish this by incorporating them into a full body workout that you do on nonconsecutive days or by using them as a finisher at the end of your back or chest workout.
Read more: Can I Do a Full Body Workout Everyday?
Putting It All Together
Mastering the pull-up definitely takes time, patience and a series of steps to get it right. That said, if you're not ready for the full move, you can always try a modified version of the pull-up until you build your strength.
There are several ways to make this exercise easier to perform, including machine-assisted pull-ups, partner-assisted pull-ups and band-assisted pull-ups. All of these techniques still deliver the same results, but they allow you to focus on isolating the muscles, rather than struggling to keep your form tight. You can also build upper-body strength by adding specific back exercises such as the lat pull-down, bent-over row and seated row to your routine.
And if it's advanced you're after, consider adding a weight belt or a dumbbell between your ankles for a more intense workout. Just make sure you can maintain the correct posture and not compromise your form.