The events that have taken place around the world in the last few years really have changed the way we do things.
More people are working from home now and with gyms having to close sporadically more people are finding alternative ways to exercise.
In Australia, I am seeing an increase in the number of people using outdoor gyms and pull-up bars.
This has been my favorite way to train for a few years now.
On the Gold Coast, we have plenty of outdoor gyms set up right next to the beach.
Who doesn’t like the idea of working out right next to the beach!
The ocean breeze, out in the sun.
But as simple as the setup is for a lot of these types of gyms, they sure do confuse a lot of people.
What else can you do with a pull-up bar?
Sure you can change your hand grip between and pull and a chin.
Check out this article I wrote going over the difference between the two here.
But what else is there?
And more importantly, what are some pull-up bar exercises for abs.
For starters, pull-ups themselves are a great movement for your core.
And hanging leg raises, hanging knee raises and windscreen wipers are dynamite for building a solid core.
But first, let’s look at the difference between your abs and your core.
Your core is made up of 4 major abdominal muscles.
The transverse abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques and the rectus abdominis.
Your six-pack or your abs are the rectus abdominis.
So it’s short and sharp to answer this question.
Your abs are just one of the 4 major muscles that make up your core.
So instead of focusing on one muscle, you should train them all.
Your abs will grow and you’ll also improve your posture and problems with lower back pain.
You can’t just train your biceps and think that you’ll get bigger arms.
And it’s the same thing for your core and abs.
And pull-ups are a great movement to work the muscles in your core as well as your back and biceps.
Whether you’re using a pull-up bar or not, you should definitely get yourself a copy of my Ebook ‘Train Wherever The F*ck You Want’.
For now, I have it up for FREE! So get it while it’s hot!
Let’s start with the pull-up itself. When you picture this movement you’ll probably see someone doing it with their legs tucked backward. And while this is fine for working the primary movers in your back, it’s doing nothing for your core.
So before I even start to pull myself up, I bring my legs together, point my toes and drive my hips back engaging my core.
Now when I keep myself in this position as I pull up, my core is firing the whole time.
So after a few sets of that, your core is already fatiguing before you’ve even done anything core-specific.
But if we want to look at a few core-focused movements on a pull-up bar we set up very similarly.
Just a dead hang is a great ab exercise, it’s going to work all your core muscles and your grip strength, the starting position is the same for a pull-up, or if you want you can use the same grip for chin ups.
But grab the pullup bar at shoulder width and hang on.
It’s not a difficult exercise but just by holding up your own body weight and engaging your entire core, it’s pretty effective for improving core strength.
Let’s start with a hanging knee raise.
Too many people make the mistake of having momentum help them with this movement.
And this stems from things like CrossFit where you’re trying to do sets of exercises in a short period of time, meaning focus on form and technique go out the window.
But when we have our core braced and ready before we start as I mentioned with the pull-up.
You’re already working before you’ve started working if that makes sense.
So start off in the hollow hold position.
Slowly pull your knees up towards your chest and then lower them back down slowly.
At the bottom of the movement reset by pulling your hips back again.
You’ll only need to do sets of ten like this to really feel the burn right through your core.
And honestly, for a lot of people, this is going as far as they can do with the pull-up bar.
The next movement is a hanging leg raise, now we’re going to keep our legs straight and try to raise them as high as we can.
The aim is to get your toes all the way to the bar without bending your knees.
This takes time and practice to get to this stage but is definitely achievable.
But for starters see how far you can bring your legs up while keeping them straight. Hold for a few seconds and then lower them back down slowly.
Next up windshield wipers.
And admittedly this is a very advanced movement to do with a pull-up bar, but let’s have a look at it anyway.
Pull yourself up high enough so that your body is horizontal.
Bend at the hips and bring your legs up so your toes are pointing towards the sky.
Just holding this position is tough, so if that’s as far as you can get for now that’s great.
While holding your body in this right angle position, the next step is to slowly lower yourself from side to side.
This is really going to punish your obliques.
And finally, dragon flags.
This is going to use the base of the pullup bar, or the post.
Lying on your back at the base of the bar, lift your hands above you have so you are holding onto the post.
Now lift your whole body up, remembering to stay straight as possible and slowly lower yourself back down again.
Straight legs the entire time, keeping your body in a straight line makes this one of the most effective core exercises you can do.
As I said earlier, pull-ups are great for your core and in turn your abs.
Just look at the bodies of people who train calisthenics.
They all have a great six-pack.
Pull-ups and push-ups are two of my main core movements.
With both movements, when done correctly, you are keeping your core either straight like a plank or in a slight hollow hold position.
Both of these positions are firing all the muscles that make up your core.
As I mentioned early, training your whole core rather than just focusing on your six-pack or your abs is a lot better for you in the long run.
But a slight adjustment to how you do pull you will be working your core more, and in turn your abs also.
So yes, if you do more pull-ups, especially if you do them the way I’ve mentioned you will get abs.
Remembering though that a lot of the work that goes towards getting abs is actually done in the kitchen.
You can read more about that in this article I wrote recently about how long it takes to get a six-pack.
You only have to look at the physiques in gymnastics or calisthenics to see that you can get ripped from the pull and all other bodyweight training.
But you need to understand that it’s the choices you make with the food that goes the furthest when it comes to your body fat percentage.
I’m not going to say it uses your entire body because there is almost no lower body in this at all but when done in a slow controlled manner it does use almost every muscle group in the upper body.
For some people, it’s one of the most challenging exercises but for others, it’s a basic pull on a simple pull-up bar.
Using a resistance band to help you at first is a good idea, but always focus on the proper form until your a ready to go to the next level.
Obviously, exercise plays a part, you need to be burning calories.
You need to burn more calories than you eat, that’s how you lose weight, that’s how you get ripped.
There’s a little bit more to it than just that. But that’s the basics of it.
Burn more calories than you consume and you’ll lose weight.
Keep your protein intake high and you’ll go a long way towards getting that ripped body you’re after.
You can read more about that here.
Pull-ups are a great compound movement to add to your training routine though.
Compound movements work more muscle groups.
When you train more muscles not only are you getting more bang for your buck with that exercise.
But you’re also burning more calories.
While we’re at it, check out this video I posted on youtube recently showing some simple hacks to get better at pull-ups!
100% Hanging from a bar works your core.
And when you do those small adjustments I mentioned earlier, feet together, toes pointed forward and hips pulled back, you keep your core switched on.
When you have your core engaged while hanging for a bar you are working those muscles, training those muscles to be stronger and more effective.
Then you can take it a step further and start to bring up your knees, or raise your legs, even alternating your legs you are going to set your core on fire!
Training with a pull-up bar is a great way to add some extra core training into your routine.
And remember, you are and your abs, while they are the same thing they are also different.
You should always aim to train your whole core, not just your abs.
Then you have a strong core it’s going to make your life so much easier.
And in the process of building a strong core, your abs will start to shine through as well!