Women typically don't have the same upper body strength that men do, but that doesn't mean they should stay away from the pullup bar. As simple as this piece of equipment is to use, it's versatile enough to allow for a range of different exercises for a range of different abilities. Although exercises using a pullup bar usually target the upper-body, pullups and variations offer effective full-body workouts. You can work the major muscles of your arms and back as well as the stabilizing muscles in your core.
Simple pullups done with an overhanded, wide grip target your lats and the major muscles of your back. Pullups also recruit your pecs, triceps, forearms and traps to give your upper body an exhausting workout. You can change your grip to a narrower, underhanded position, which focuses on your biceps. This simple change may make it easier to execute.
Pullups might make you flex your abs a bit, but you can use the pullup bar to perform one of the most effective abdominal exercises around in the form of knee raises. A 2001 study conducted at San Diego State University pegged the Captain's Chair abdominal exercise as the second most effective ab exercise. Hanging from a pullup bar, you can simulate the same exercise by raising your knees to your chest in a slow, controlled manner. You can make the exercise harder by clinching weights between your ankles or by locking your knees and keeping your legs straight as you raise them in front of you.
Pick up the Pace
If pullups and abdominal exercises on the pullup bar just aren't enough for you, and if the added resistance of weighted exercises is too much, consider increasing your pace by doing kipping pullups. To perform a kipping pullup, start at the top of the pullup bar, drop down into the pullup and use the momentum of your drop to swing your legs back. Then swing the legs forward to launch yourself toward the bar, pushing out your chest as you do so. The idea behind kipping pullups is to go fast and do as many reps as you can.
Pullups might not be right for you if you have chronic shoulder injuries or if you don't possess the upper body strength to perform them without causing serious discomfort. Any exercise using a pullup bar places a lot of strain on your elbows and shoulder joints; this is especially true with a fast, intense movement like a kipping pullup. Consult your doctor before doing these exercises if you're not sure how your body will respond.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.