Pull-Up Routine for Anyone


We've all been there. Staring blankly at the bar above us thinking, "how in the world will I ever do it, how will I get a pull-up?" Pull-ups can be one of the most frustrating movements to learn, but also one the most satisfying. It's the ability to lift your body weight again and again and again. But for most of us, this doesn't come naturally. Pull-ups are actually pretty hard. And as a beginner, the task is almost daunting. If you already have a pull-up, learning how to do more pull-ups can also be a constant challenge.

The biggest issue with learning how to do a pull-up or increasing your reps is finding a good pull-up routine to follow. Therefore, whether you're looking to learn how to do a pull-up for the first time or how to do more pull-ups, we've created a pull-up routine that anyone can follow.

Step 1: Dead Hang

The first part of any pull-up routine should start with a dead hang. To master pulling exercises, we must first master hanging exercises. Dead hangs are designed to help you build grip strength, core stability and proper form for how to do a pull-up. Whether you're a beginner or advanced, this step offers numerous benefits.

One common mistake in the dead hang position is engaging your lats. Don't! You're not ready to perform a pull-up just yet. Focus on relaxing your upper body while your arms hang straight.

Once you're able to complete a 30-second hang without crashing to the floor, move onto the flex hang.

Step 2: Flex Hang

The flex hang is a static bar hold that involves holding yourself at the top of the pull-up position (on the top of the pull-up bar) with your chin over the bar. You may need to use a bench or a partner to give you an assisted pull to achieve this position.

As a beginner, you may find it easier to start with an underhand grip. If not, try the overhand grip! If the movement is too difficult to perform, try using a resistance band to reduce the body weight used. Make sure to engage all upper body muscles to help build tension and support throughout the body.

After you can hold a strict flex hang position for 30+ seconds, you're ready to start training for the 2-inch chin-ups.

Step 3: 2-Inch Chin Ups

It's time to start adding movement to the pull-up routine with the 2-inch chin-up. This was designed to help with the bottom part of the pull-up where most of us tend to get stuck. This type of chin-up is performed by hanging from the bar and then pulling yourself up 2-3 inches and then holding for several seconds. Repeat this repetition until your grip gives out or you can no longer pull those 2-3 inches. The key to this movement/pullup is to hold that position for at least a couple seconds to get target stress on that specific muscle group.

Once you can complete 10 repetitions of this partial pulling and hold progression chin-up, it's time to move on to negatives.

Step 4: Negatives

We've come to one of the most critical parts of the pull-up routine for building pull strength. The negative pull-up is known as one of the best ways to develop strength for a strict pull-up, even if you already know how to do a pull-up or pull-ups.

You start in the flex hang position and slowly lower yourself to a dead hang. The key term used here is "slowly." This slow downward movement is known as eccentric training. Eccentric training has been known to cause more significant muscle tissue breakdown than regular concentric training. If you're wanting to learn how to do more pull-ups, start adding negative pull-ups to your routine or workouts.

The idea of this exercise it to actively fight gravity all the way down. Try your hardest to pull yourself up when gravity is pulling you down. With you fight all the way, this should generate a slow downward rep. When you get to the bottom of the hang, let go, get back on the pullup bar and repeat the repetition.

Perform this step until you can get 6 or more reps in a set. If you're crashing down with less than a second or two resistance with the last few reps, you're not ready to move on to the next exercises. It's very important to master this step.

Step 5: Pull-Ups

You're finally here! The last step of the pull-up routine. Let's first go over how to do a pull-up properly.

  1. Grab the bar shoulder width apart with your palms face down. 

    (underhand grip, not overhand grip).

  2. Grip the bar with a full grip.

  3. Start in the hang position with your elbows locked at the bottom. This is also a good stretching position for warming up pull-ups.

  4. Begin to pull yourself up by engaging your lats and pulling your elbows down towards the floor keeping them close to your body.

  5. Bring your chin past the bar while making sure to engage your abs. This is the full pull of the pull-up position.

  6. Repeat by lowering yourself all the way back down until your arms are straight again.

When performing a pull-up in workouts, concentrate on isolating your abs, back, and biceps. You want to have complete control of your body. This will help your body stay engaged and perform the movement more easily.

So now do a damn pull-up!

Once you can do a strict pull-up, work on doing them in sets. Start by doing a pull-up, drop down, wait a minute, and then perform another one. After getting proficient in doing one, start doing sets of two pull-ups. When you master that, do sets of three and so on until you are doing supersets!

Can't quite get the pull-up? Go back to Step 4 and work on negative pull-ups.

Pull-ups are a great bodyweight exercise to add into any training program. Along with push-ups, they are a timeless exercise that can be performed virtually anywhere. So whether you're into powerlifting, boxing, bodybuilding, cardio or just trying to improve your overall physique, this pull-up routine will help you master and strengthen the pull-up movement.

If you’re looking to train for the Army or the Marine Corps, these routines are a great place to start. Especially if you're looking to improve your pullups and pushups for the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) that test the pull-up and pushup closely.

Don't have access to a pull-up bar? You can use the table or chair method. For the table method, get under the table and grip the edge of the table to perform body rows. Using the chair method, face two chairs towards each other about a yard apart and place a stick or a large dowel between them and use this as your bar. Alternatively, you can always use the nearest playgrounds monkey bars as well!

This pull-up routine will help improve your pulling strength, but a good nutrition plan will boost it! Make sure you’re recovering properly after your pull-up workouts to get the most out of your hard work. PROGENEX Recovery uses high-quality ingredients to give you real results and it tastes great too! Learn more about this product here.

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  • Love this blog. Super helpful! Thanks Jeremy!

    Tilly on
  • Great article! It works! I am up to sets of 2, from zero, and feel like I am getting stronger. Thanks ProgenexUSA!

    EJ Smith on
  • How many times a day should you do each of these steps?

    Christine Schwartz on
  • This is so beyond helpful! Thank you so much for putting it together! Would love to see more PROGENEX tutorials on other movements. Can you make one for Muscle Ups? And some video demoing the steps would be an epic next step. Just love and appreciate all you guys do. xoxo

    Janelle on
  • Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly
    this weblog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the last phase :
    ) I take care of such information a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a very long
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    Angeline on

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