Road to Your First Pull-up


Looking for fitness challenge? The pull-up is a worthy goal.

If you have ever tried to do a pull-up, you know that it is not as straightforward or

easy as it can appear. Pull-ups are an intense exercise that requires both physical and mental strength. They are also hugely beneficial.


Jacque Crockford, an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist noted, "Because performing the pull-up involves moving the entirety of your own bodyweight up against gravity, it takes incredible upper-body strength and trunk stability." Your back muscles are also involved, "Traditional pull-ups work great as a corrective exercise to improve posture," says Pavel Tsatsouline, co-founder of StrongFirst.com


Here are three exercises that can help you get to your first pull-up.


Doing these exercises in this order every other day will put you on a great path to doing your first pull-up.


We’ll start with the specific and move to the more general. Watch a tutorial of all three.


The Eccentric Pull-up

The eccentric pull-up is a great and specific starter to move you towards your first pull-up.

  1. Begin by finding a box or a chair to stand on so you are not far away from the bar. The idea is to start from the top down.

  2. Place your hands on the bar and jump up to bring your chin above the bar.

  3. Hold this position for as long as possible and then lower yourself as slowly as you can until your arms are all the way extended and you are hanging from the bar. This allows you to benefit from the full range of motion of the pull-up and to start to strengthen the muscles required.

  4. Do this for five sets of 1-5 repetitions depending on how difficult the motion is for you.



The Scapular Contraction or Half Pull-up

Now this is a really fancy way to fail at doing a pull-up. The hardest part of the pull-up is going to be beginning, the pull from the bottom position.

  1. For this exercise, try to do a pull up by pulling as hard as you can while twisting your elbows forward and in towards one another.

  2. Once you reach the top of your pull, hold as long as you can and lower back down slowly.

  3. Do this for three sets of 3-5



Now the generic strengthening:


The Row

To a certain degree you might just have to get stronger. The row is a great way to accomplish this.


Dumbbells/Kettle-bells

  1. Place your hand on any object that is roughly waist height and keep your back as flat as you can by pulling up your chest. Ideally you want your back angle to be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, but get as low as you can.

  2. Let the weight hang in your hand and then pull the weight up and back.

  3. Go as heavy as you can for 5 sets of 5 on each side.



Barbell

  1. Pick the barbell up or take the bar off of the rack and hinge at your hips keeping your back as flat as you can by pulling up your chest.

  2. As with the dumbbell or kettle-bell, you want your back angle to be as close to parallel with the ground as possible while getting as low as you can.

  3. Let the weight hang in your hand and then pull the weight up and back.

  4. Go as heavy as you can for 5 sets of 5.


View an instructional video on our Facebook page.