How To Do Pull-Ups

When I set out to attempt pull-ups about a year ago, I knew it would be a daunting task. I had been doing weight training with my workout partner for some time to try to build up my upper body strength. Being able to do a pull-up was one of my fitness goals that I wasn’t able to check off yet. I am happy to say that they are now a regular part of my workout routine! This post will outline the steps I took and be your how-to guide for doing pull-ups.

Step 1: Build Up Your Back Muscles

Your back muscles are a huge part of being able to do pull-ups. You can build up your back muscles by doing weight training and descending pull-ups. To do a descending pull-up, start by jumping up so that your chin is above the bar. Begin to lower yourself down as slowly as possible so that you end up fully extended in a hanging position. Start by doing 6-8 of these and add 2 each week. Try to work on building up your back 3 times per week.

Step 2: Assisted Pull-Ups

how to do pull-ups- Assisted pull-ups

For assisted pull-ups, you will need a partner. If you don’t have a partner you can also try standing up on a stool or bench. Get yourself in position and put your feet on your partner’s thighs. Pull yourself up and use your their legs to assist you as you pull up. Start with 6 of these and try to add 1-2 more each week. Aim to do at least 2x per week.

Step 3: Full Pull-Ups

After 4-6 weeks of being diligent in your back workouts and assisted pull-ups, you should be ready to attempt the full thing. Deep breathe. Keep in mind the closer you place your hands together, the easier it will be to pull yourself up. Start with doing 1-2 at a time. Each week try to add 1-2 to your set. As you get more comfortable doing them, challenge yourself by spreading your hands out further and further to achieve a wide-grip pull-up.

Video Credit: Kate S.

Good luck! Remember that it can be a long process, but the results will be worth it. For extra practice, consider getting a Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar. It has helped me get to my pull-up goal faster.

32 thoughts on “How To Do Pull-Ups

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  1. Great job working up to unassisted pull-ups! I could do 3 unassisted ones a couple of years ago before letting it slide. Now I’m back using a little assistance again. I need to try the descending ones.

    1. Thank you! Assisted and descending pull-ups are a great way to build your back and upper body strength. I am sure you can get your 3+ pull-ups back in no time.

  2. Pull -ups are so hard! The only time i’ve ever been able to do them (besides when I was kid) was when I did P90X. But once I stopped doing them I couldn’t do one again. I’m also tall which doesn’t help (I know, excuses!).

  3. My upper body is definitely the weakest part of my body and I need to be more diligent about devoting strength training time and focus to working on it. Pull ups would definitely be a challenge for me right now, but would also help in making me stronger.

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