How to Get Your First Strict Pull-Up
By Colette Beyer, NASM Certified Personal Trainer
If the thought of hoisting your body up and over a bar brings back bad memories from gym class then this article is for you, regardless of your gender. There are many reasons why the pull-up is a difficult exercise but rather than focusing on the obstacle let’s look at the workaround.
To start, we’re talking about a pull-up here (overhand, palms facing away from your body) rather than a chin-up (underhand, palms facing toward your body). However, we will use chin-ups in our progressions below, they’re a great place to start!
– No kicking, flailing, or kipping to help you get over the bar
– Reach full extension = elbows completely extended after lowering yourself from the bar
– Pull until your chest reaches the bar
Tip: tuck your chin to your chest to protect your neck and resist tilting your head back
Starting from Scratch – Using Progressions to Work Up to a Strict Pull-Up
There are many great ways to prepare your body using progressions, and we’ve included a few below to get you started. Pick one of the following progressions and perform it three times per week (with at least one rest day in between) to begin building the muscles needed to perform your first strict pull-up.
(10 reps x 3 sets – 1 minute rest between sets)
1. Stand on a plyometric box (see image below) under a pull-up bar. Pick a box tall enough so that you can easily get into a flexed arm hang position (see image to the right)
2. With hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, grab the bar with an underhand grip so your palms are facing your body (“chin-up grip”)
3. Slowly lower yourself down until your elbows are fully extended (in this progression and those to follow make sure that you keep tension in your muscles the entire time…do not drop quickly!)
Pull-Up Negatives (10 reps x 3 sets – 1 minute rest between sets)
1. Stand on the same box you used to perform chin-up negatives and with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, grab the bar with an overhand grip so your palms are facing away from your body (“pull-up grip”)
2. Slowly lower yourself down until your elbows are fully extended and pull-up will help you build the muscular stability and endurance necessary to perform the eccentric (pulling) portion that give people, even ones that are fit, so much trouble.
We Want to See Your Progress!
Snap a picture of yourself performing these progressions and post it to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #pullupprogress and #vidafitnessdc Colette Beyer is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer at VIDA Fitness Metropole.
Have a question about this post? Email Colette or mention her on Twitter, @myechoboom.