Did you know in order to do a full functional pullup you most definitely need your lats to be kicking in?!
Did you also know that if you are trying to execute a pullup that involves rolling your shoulders forward even slightly that you are making it increasingly difficult for your lats to engage?
Try this little exercise now:
- Place your hand under your armpit
- Making sure your shoulder is NOT rolled forward (chest open)
- Draw your shoulder blade down and squeeze your arm into your armpit
- You should feel your lat pop out into your hand
- Now roll that shoulder forward and try squeezing again
Much harder isn't it? You probably won't feel the lat pop out half as much and will struggle to connect with it in the same way you did previously.
This is what happens when you try and execute a pullup without utilising your large, powerful lats which should be doing the majority of the work. If you are over using your pecs and upper traps (which is often the case) you will only land up with neck and shoulder problems and a weak pullup.
This was the case for one of my clients. His brain was unable to locate his lats when tested using Neurokinetic Therapy and he was using his pecs and upper traps to try and gain the movement required. Much to his surprise, his pullups were a lot different after changing his motor control within the session.
Your shoulder blades should be drawn down during the pullup movement. You should start from a full hang and then draw your shoulder blades down to engage the lats and lower traps and from there comes the pull up towards the bar.
Always worth remembering: Just because you have well developed musculature doesn't always mean they will be functional.