For those individuals that attend the gym purely for aesthetic reasons, there are certain body parts which are considered desirable. Although this might alter slightly from person to person, often on the list is definition around the chest, arms and abdominal region and a ‘V’ shaped back to top it all off.

The ‘V’ shaped back is developed and created in the main through targeting and strengthening the large back muscle known as the Latissimus Dorsi. One of the best exercises to target this muscle is through the wide grip, overhand pull-up, using your body weight as the resistance.

The problem with this exercise is that a significant proportion of the population, including those that regularly attend the gym, cannot actually perform this movement. It really is one of those exercises that look easier than it is! So what can you do if you fall into this category? One option is the leave the exercise behind and move onto another. Although there are other exercises that somewhat mimic this movement, this attitude is a little defeatist.

Rather than viewing the exercise as an impossible challenge, let us instead view it as a hurdle which we will overcome. One exercise which will help to achieve this is called the Negative Pull-Up. As the name suggests, this is the downwards part of the pull-up exercise without the initial lift. During this variation, your muscles are working eccentrically to lower your body gradually without just letting yourself drop. It is still a challenging exercise and will also assist building strength for the upward lift phase.

It should be noted at this stage that this Negative Pull-Up is not just for novices. In fact, if you can easily perform a pull-up then why not try this eccentric variation with additional resistance in the form of weights hanging from a belt. You really will appreciate not only this exercise but the difference it makes to your normal pull-ups.

So what’s required of you during this exercise then?

The Negative Pull-Up

Initially, find a chair or raised platform and place it underneath a pull-up bar. Stand on the chair, grasping the bar shoulder width apart with an overhand grip. Under control, step off the chair and slowly begin to lower yourself. Continue to lower under control until your arms are fully extended. At this point release your grip and let go. This is one repetition. Repeat as many times as required.

The Negative Pull-Up Demonstration Video

Final Word

So there you have the Negative Pull-Up. This exercise really does suit all, whether a novice attempting a pull-up for the first time, an intermediate looking to enhance the number of pull-ups they can achieve or an expert looking to stress their muscles in new ways through loaded eccentric movements.

It really is a phenomenal exercise and if performed regularly and correctly, you will start to achieve developments in absolutely no time at all. Next time you have a back session planned and you’re thinking of exercises which should feature, why not try the Negative Pull-Up as part of your regime.