So You Want To Do A Pull-UP: A Path To Upper Body Strength

So you want to do a pull-up, huh?! Well I am here to tell you it’s not an easy path, but a simple one. You will work hard, but the fruits of your labor will lead to a rock solid body that feels impervious as you dangle your feet underneath you and effortlessly hoist your body using your upper body.


Pull-ups are cool as hell. They build tremendous upper body strength. From grip, to arms, to shoulders to upper back and core, the pull-up affects small and major muscle areas if done right. So, why pull-ups? Two reasons, they have huge benefit when it comes to working out. Firstly, they can be done pretty much anywhere you have a bar above you. Secondly, they train the body on how to integrate core control and require a great amount of tension.


If a push-up is a moving plank, than the pull-up is a pulling plank.


So, today I am here to give you a break down of progressions and strength exercises to nail the Perfect Pull-up.


Too many times, I run into people that say they can do them all day or they can’t even imagine doing one. Well, you didn’t learn to read in a day and you are constantly refining that skill. Pull-ups should be treated the same.


Let’s start with rows


Ring Row/TRX Row


Rows are important. They build upper body strength in a pulling motion that can be adjusted to the individuals current level of ability, while also priming the body for the all over body tension that is needed for the pull-up.




Check out video here. Active Hanging


After rowing, comes hanging. Hanging is a beautiful thing. When done with focus, intention , what my baller strength coach in crime, Pat Eble, calls “Super Stiffness” the benefits can be endless. The overall focus should be opening up the shoulder joint while maintaining core stability and scapular activity.(Side note: The scapula is a wing looking,bone, and joint that anchors the shoulders when doing pushing and pulling motions).




Check out video here: Flexed arm Hanging


After learning how to create all over body tension in an active hang its time to starting flexing. Why, flexed arm hangs? Two reasons! First, it trains the end range of the finish position of a pull-up, secondly, it builds strength in that end range through shoulders, arms, back and core.




Check out video here: Eccentric pull-ups


Once you trained the end ranges and have stability and control in both positions it’s time to add some movement. We begin with the eccentric or negative position of the movement. Reason is, we can create strength by reversing the movement and getting use to maintaining the tension and control as we lower ourselves to a box. This is highly effective and often overlooked aspect of pulling strength.


Steps: (Side note: Start with a band to allow room for error without the risk of getting hurt. A band is there to take some of the resistance away and make the move easier. Too many times we struggle through the transition and lose the tension we have created by adding a bit of motion to a movement. A band can change that).


Check out video here: Pull-up (supported/unsupported)


It’s time for the grand finale. The big show. All of that work and it’s time to see if it’s paid off. The pull-up is best when performed for more than on rep with good form. Now, as much as one is great, two, three, ten can be amazing. So train with a band and focus on the parts need improvement when pulling your body up to a bar.



Check out video(s) here:

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