Breaking Down the Pull-up

When I ask my clients what their strength goals are, the most common response I get is I would like to be able to do a pull-up. Being able to do a pull-up is a great measure of strength. It is a benchmark for a lot people. I've broken this down into 3 easy steps.

Step 1 - Negatives

The best way start developing the strength need for a pull-up is start with doing negatives. To start, grab the bar and either jump or climb up to the top. From there, hold on as long as you can and then slowly lower yourself to down. Begin with doing 3 sets of 8 reps of negatives.

Step 2 - Bands

Once this becomes easy, progress to using a band. Simply girth hitch the band around the middle of the bar. Place one knee in the band, the band will assist you as you begin your pull motion. The band is a great tool to use because it allows you to develop the core strength necessary to prevent swinging while at the same time counter balancing enough weight to make doing a pull-up possible (as opposed to using an assisted pull-up machine). Do the same progress as with doing the negative, build your strength to doing 3 sets of 8 reps. Once this becomes easy, start to decrease the reps and increase the sets. For example, progress to 5 sets of 5. 

However, just doing pull-ups will make this process more difficult and will take longer. Not only do you need to develop your back, but your shoulders, biceps and core all play a role in being able to successfully performing a pull-up. 

The best way to develop your shoulders and core with the least amount of equipment is to do push-ups. If you are new to push-ups, check out this article I wrote on Braking down the push-up. As for biceps, any type of curl will work, dumbbells, bands, TRX, kettle bells, etc. 

Step 3 Get out there and do it!

The final step is to just get out there and try it. You can train and prep all you want, but at some point you have to just walk up the bar and pull yourself up. This requires confidence, attitude and some aggression. Tell yourself over and over again, “I got this,” and make it happen! I know you can do it. 

If this post has inspired you, I would love to hear about it. Let me know how your pull-ups are going and if there is anything I can do to help.