We've all been there. Staring blankly at the bar above us thinking, "how in the world will I ever do it." 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. It's actually pretty hard. And as a beginner, the task is almost daunting. If you already have them, learning how to do more pull-ups can be a constant challenge as well.
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. 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 with your chin over the bar. You may need to use a bench or a partner to assist you to achieve this position.
As a beginner, you may find it easier to start with an underhand 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. It's performed by hanging from the bar and then pulling yourself up 2-3 inches and then holding for several seconds. Repeat this until your grip gives out or you can no longer pull those 2-3 inches. The key to this movement 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, 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.
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.
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 fighting 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 bar and repeat.
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. 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.
- Grab the bar shoulder width apart with your palms face down.
- Grip the bar with a full grip.
- Start in the hang position with your elbows locked at the bottom.
- Begin to pull yourself up by engaging your lats and pulling your elbows down towards the floor keeping them close to your body.
- Bring your chin past the bar while making sure to engage your abs.
- Repeat by lowering yourself all the way back down until your arms are straight again.
When performing a pull-up, 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. 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, or just trying to improve your physique, this pull-up routine will help you master and strengthen the pull-up movement.
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!