5 Tips To Help You Do Your First Unassisted Pull Up
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5 Tips To Help You Do Your First Unassisted Pull Up


10 July 2018


A pull up is a closed kinetic chain exercise (exercises where the arms and/or legs are connected to an immobile object like a bar, so there is no free movement in the limbs) that stabilises the shoulder girdle and strengthens the upper body.

Muscle groups working during a pull up include the trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, biceps, subscapularis, and even the pectorals. There are very few bodyweight exercises that are as hard to master as a basic pull up. The ability to do pull ups is an incredible testament to an individual’s upper body strength.

Pull ups are often interchanged with chin ups. They are similar but the key difference is in the grip. Pull ups start with a pronated/overhand grip; palms facing away from you. Whereas chin ups start with supinated/underhand grip; palms are facing towards you. Additionally, with chin ups, where is slightly more emphasis on the biceps vs. the pull up.

Doing any amount of pull ups is a feat; so, here’s how to get the first unassisted bodyweight pull up.




1. Strengthen the grip

There is nothing fancy to working on the grip strengthening. The easiest way is to find a bar and start by holding yourself up for 10 seconds or for as long as you can for 3-4 rounds. Over time, slowly increase the amount of time you hang to 60 seconds or more.

During this time, it is completely normal for calluses to start developing on the hands. Just think of the calluses as battle scars — it speaks to the grind.


2. Start with scapular pulls


 Scapular pulls train the body to retract and depress the shoulder blade to go from a dead hang to an activated hang. That is just a fancy way of saying start pinching the shoulder blades together and pull the shoulders away from the ears.

Another way of thinking about this is lifting your collarbone and chest towards the ceiling. Meanwhile, learn to keep the abs braced and squeeze the glutes to prevent swinging.


3. Negative pull ups


 Once you’ve learned how to engage the muscle from a dead hang to an activated hang, start by tackling the eccentric/negative portion of the movement. For the most part, the eccentric movement is the tougher than the concentric portion. In the case of the pull ups, the eccentric phase is the fight against gravity by controlling the descend.

To do this, jump up till the head is above the bar and then slowly count the seconds it takes to get back to the activated hang. The idea is to increase the amount of time the muscles are under tension, thus strengthening the muscles; so, take it nice and slow when coming back down. 


4. Utilise accessories

There are a few accessories that could help with accelerating the journey to a pull up. Resistance bands with various degrees of resistance are great, not only for helping with the first pull up, but they are also great for increasing the number pull up repetitions. With resistance bands, start with a band with highest resistance and progress towards bands with lighter resistance. 

In order to measure progress, use your facial features. Start with 3 pull ups to the chin and 1 last pull up to the eyes. Keep repeating the pulls up until you get 4 pulls to the chin. Once this achievement is completed, move on to a band with slightly less resistance. 


5. Consistency and patience

To achieve maximum results for the pull ups, consistent practice the movement. On some days, progress may feel stagnant. However, there are lots of way to overcome the plateau. Doing accessory back exercises such as rows, along with appropriate progressive overload will definitely help with achieving your pull up goal.


Mastering a pull up goal requires more than just physical ability; it also requires patience and perseverance.


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