The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your First Pull Up


Pull ups are one of the hardest exercises to complete, but they are not impossible. The reason that the pull up is so difficult is because of the amount of strength needed to perform the movement. You cannot fake your way through it.

It is is one of the most effective in building upper body strength. Even if you cannot do a pull up yet the process of working on one will still build SO much upper body strength. The secret to performing a pull up is to have the right mindset and plenty of repetitions.

Many women cannot perform a pull up without some sort of assistance. Generally, females have different perceptions of their capabilities than males. The first thing to complete a pull up is to begin believing it is possible. Even taking it one step further and visualizing you have already performed one.         

There is a difference between a pull up and a chin up. A pull up is when your hands are facing away from you. A chin up is when your hands are facing towards you. Although this works your back, it has more emphasis on your biceps.

During the pull up, the primary muscle being worked is the back. It requires many different muscle groups, also known as synergist muscles, to work together in order to get your chin over the bar. The primary muscle worked in a traditional pull up is the Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), but you cannot execute the movement without using other muscles; rhomboids, trapezius, posterior deltoids, pectorals minor, transverse abdominis, and internal/external obliques. Failure to use the Lats properly will result in over use of the smaller muscle groups such as the trapezius.


Exercises you need to master to get your first pull up:

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1.) Horizontal Pulling Movements            

The first step in achieving a pull up is to focus on the horizontal pulling movement and bringing your shoulder blades “back and down”. These row movements will help build the foundation to a strong pull up. Make sure to go slow and feel the proper engagement of your Lats. TRX Rows are one of my favorite exercises for pulling. You can begin by doing 3 sets of 10 and progress to single arm!

2.) Scapular Depression

Here you hold onto a bar, bring your shoulders blades down and together, pause for a few seconds while you hold that position without moving your arms.  Make sure you can at least hang from the bar for 10 seconds. If this is a struggle for you then begin with 5 seconds and do about 5-10 sets. This will also test your grip strength which is vital to getting your first pull up.

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3.) Flexed Arm Hang

Complete a pull up and rather than lower down, continue to hold your chin over the bar and work on feeling the scapular depression in the back. Start with holding this for 15 seconds and build up to 30 seconds.  With this exercise you want to get your chin over the bar with a band or some assistance.

4.) Negative Pull Up

This is another one where you will want to start with your chin over the bar. Once you are there you can begin to lower down as slow as possible. This is easier than the pulling phase but the eccentric is where you will build a lot of the strength required for a pull up.       

5.) Band Assisted Pull Ups        

Another way to get more repetitions in is through assistance. Tying a band around the bar and put both knees into the band. Pull your chin up and over the bar with no momentum or swinging. This exercise can be done easily with too much assistance from the band so make sure it is very challenging.         

6.) Practice, Practice, Practice

The more time you put in, the quicker your results will come. Just with anything a clear plan and commitment will get you there.


Pull ups are possible. The results you want ARE possible. You CAN reach the best physical condition of your life. Even after 50. But you HAVE to be fully committed to making a change. And that’s where I come in. So let’s break the pattern of staying in your comfort zone and email me today .


Yours in health & fitness,