If your lifting program has only one exercise in it, well, you should find a new coach—but is there one super-effective muscle-building move that deserves a place in pretty much any effective workout routine?
We asked Chris Hemsworth’s trainer Luke Zocchi to pick one, and his answer came as a surprise.
Long-time admirers of Hemsworth’s physique might have expected bodybuilding staples like the bench press, while fans of the functional fitness offerings on his workout app Centr may have guessed bear crawls or unweighted squats. Neither would be right.
“I’m going to have to say pull-ups, just for injury prevention,” says Zocchi. “I have bad shoulders and, just from hanging, it has got my shoulders out of a lot of pain.
“As basic as it is, just learning how to do that hanging movement, and how good that actually is for you, is usually overlooked.”
Shoulder health is no trivial matter. One study, published in the Best Practice And Research journal, cited population surveys saying “shoulder pain affects 18-26% of adults at any point in time”.
But strengthening your shoulder muscles, both while hanging and moving through the pull-up, is far from the only benefit of this exercise.
It will also help you build strength and size in your biceps and the muscles across your back such as the trapezius and lats.
There’s also a lot to be said for mastering bodyweight exercises before progressing to free weights. Zocchi agrees. “Chris and I do a lot of bodyweight movements: chin-ups, push-ups, squats—they’re the base. That’s where you should always start.”
If you’re new to the movement, buy yourself a sturdy pull-up bar and a long looped resistance band, and follow this pull-up workout plan. You’ll be knocking out a set of pull-ups comfortably in four weeks.
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