I have to admit, before P90X I had never spent too much time developing my back. My legs and back were my two weak areas in college, and looking back I wish I would have dedicated more time to developing those two muscle groups. Monday and Wednesday were usually my chest and back days when going to the gym, but my back exercises consisted of lawnmowers and lateral pull-downs, and that’s it. I rarely did pull-ups, mostly because I hated them. However, the reason I hated them was because I never could do them, and would get embarrassed when one of my friends would bust out 15 wide grips when I could only do 7. When I started P90X, though, that all changed.
Are pull-ups effective? To be honest with you, if you want to get ripped in your back (which is possible), there is no better back exercises than pull-ups. When I started P90X, I dreaded Chest & Back and Legs & Back, only for the sole reason that I had to do pull-ups. During the first few weeks, I was only able to do around 4-5 wide grip pull-ups during the first half of each workout, and then after that I was done. I was able to maybe do 1-2 during the second half. As much as I just wanted to stop doing them all together and substitute them with other back exercises, like lawn mowers and back flys, I knew that they were placed in the program for a reason, so of course I sucked it up and kept chuggin’ along. After a few weeks, I noticed that the pull-ups kept getting easier, and I was able to do more and more. Finally, by the end of my 90 days, I was able to do close to 22 wide grips. Since then, the most I’ve gotten is 32, and that’s using proper form too, which is very important with pull-ups. Too many people like to cheat by not going down all the way or only going up to a certain point. The picture above is of me around the 10 month mark of doing P90X. As you can see, I’m not using the P90X Pull-Up Bar because it wouldn’t fit anywhere in my house!
So are pull-ups the best back exercises? I think so. The great thing about pull-ups is that you can use many different grips (as long as you have the right pull-up bar of course), which will develop different parts of the back. I’ve had many people tell me that it looks like I have abs in my back, which I attribute solely to the thousands of pull-ups I have done while doing P90X. If you are looking to develop your back and want to get ripped, pull-ups are the way to go!