If you’re struggling to even perform one pull-up and want to learn how to get above the bar, then you’re going to want to read this article on pull up progression.
- The Pull-Up and it’s many variations should be included in everyone’s workout program. It’s just that effective at targeting the back and multiple other muscles. However, if you can’t do one yet, there are many ways to get started.
- Exercises such as dead hangs, assisted pull-ups, and negative pull-ups are great for building up the back muscles required for regular pull-ups, however, there are extra tips to help you get even more pull-ups done.
- Losing weight is the easiest way to make pull-ups easier and reveal more back definition. You can do this through weight training, yoga, cardio, and keeping your diet in check. Keep reading to learn how.
Before I get into the pull-up progression program for this article, I want to show you something important.
The next couple of videos I’m about to share, I haven’t really shown to anyone (sorry in advance for the cringe).
The reason why I want to show them now is to give some inspiration to those of you who think that getting to one pull up is impossible.
I used to think the same exact thing.
I used to think that being able to do pull-ups was out of reach and that my I would never be able to do pull-ups, let alone weighted pull-ups!
Well, the first 30 seconds of this video is proof that it’s possible.
I show this not to brag.
My hope is that those videos inspired you to try and progress on your pull-ups.
I mean, if my curly-headed, potato-looking, old self can progress on pull-ups then so can you.
So, if you’re somewhat inspired, keep reading.
The Benefits of Doing Pull-ups
1. It’s A Compound Exercise
Compound exercises should be the main focus of every exercise program for beginners.
A compound exercise is one that targets and uses multiple muscle groups to perform.
Examples would be the squat, dead lift, overhead press, bench press, and yes, the pull-up.
If you want an exercise that targets your back and creates that v-taper physique, pull-ups should be your go-to exercise!
2. Super Convenient
A pull-up bar for your house costs about 20-50$.
That’s how I started and how you can too.
This is the one I used in the first two videos above…
The handles started to really tear away at my door and my mom was not happy about that at all!
So, I had to upgrade to a better one that wouldn’t ruin my door 🙂
There’s no excuse to NOT start doing pull-ups.
3. Different Variations of the Pull-up
Of course, I recommend that you should start out with the normal variation of the pull-up (how I did them in the videos), however, since you can make the pull-up harder in many different ways makes the pull-up an amazing exercise not only for beginners but advanced individuals as well.
There’s the neutral grip pull-up, the chin-up (or reverse pull-up), and there’s weighted versions of each.
You could do it with legs perpendicular to your body…
There’s a million and one ways to make the pull-up even harder, which makes it in one of my top 5 exercises for the back.
3 Exercises to Help you do more pull-ups
So the following 3 exercises should be incorporated in your current workout routine.
They can be done:
- At the end of your workouts
- During the workouts in place of “Pull-ups”
- Or whenever you have time
Think of these exercises as a separate pull ups workout routine or circuit.
For example, if you were to do these at the end of a workout, you would do 3 sets of each exercise.
Here are the exercises for your pull up workout plan 😀
1. Dead Hangs
This is where you just literally hang from the bar.
All you want to do is hold it for as long as you can.
The point is to increase your grip strength and practice getting your body still and straight.
If you attempt to do pull-ups and your whole body is moving everywhere, it’s going to be a lot tougher to do them.
You’re whole body should be in one straight line and still.
That’s why dead hangs are important.
They allow you to practice 🙂
Do 3 sets of this.
2. Negative Pull-Ups
3. Body Weight Rows (Modified)
The bodyweight row is a common exercise that people do before progressing to pull-ups.
However, there’s a better way.
Jeff, from Athlean X, has a great video on how to do bodyweight rows for the pull-up but modified in a way to get the core involved, which is heavily involved in the movement of the pull-up (more on this later.)
This modified version of the row is important to utilize because it makes you realize how involved the core really is.
As I said before, if your whole body is loose before you “pull-up” to the bar, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to perform the pull-up.
This isn’t necessarily a “how to do pull-ups” article, but when you do try them, make sure you have all of these done:
- Legs straight together and flexed.
- Have your feet pointed downwards and have your legs slightly in front of you.
- Make sure your glutes are squeezed.
- Tighten the core.
Once all of these things are checked off, only then, do your pull-up and ONLY then.
Extra Tips for Doing More Pull-Ups
1. Don’t Bend Your Arms When Doing Pull-Ups
You heard what I said!
Don’t bend your arms.
This is a technique to use right before you do your actual sets of pull-ups.
I talked about this a bit in the video above, but this explains it better 🙂
Do this 4-8 times before your actual set and you’ll see how much lighter you feel and thus, you’ll be able to perform more pull-ups.
Why does this work?
It gets your muscles that help you pull-up ready and stabilized.
Once the base (you) is stable, the more pull-ups you can do.
Trust me, you’ll feel a lot stronger after applying this simple technique before doing pull-ups.
This is something I learned from Meghan Callaway (the women in the GIF above).
2. Pull-Ups = More Ab Definition?
Yes, you read that correctly.
The pull-up is actually an overlooked exercise for ab definition!
While straight up ab work does help obtain abs, some people can obtain abs from other exercises.
For example, the squat and deadlift, if done correctly, require immense core strength to lift a lot of weight.
These exercises aren’t necessarily the primary cause of obtaining abs but they do help.
Pull-ups are another one of these exercises.
One of the best ways to get a defined midsection is through mastering the pull-up and its many variations.
Your glutes also play a BIG role in your pull-up progression.
The reason why you want to focus on your core and glutes during pull-ups is something that I learned from another fitness coach which is called IRRADIATION.
Basically, by contracting the surrounding muscles, the prime muscles (for pull-ups: the back and biceps), gain an increased ability to contract and therefore, grow.
3. Lose Weight
I kept this at the end because it’s obvious.
If you lose weight, the easier it’ll be to perform pull-ups.
I don’t need to tell you that.
It’s easier said than done however. I know that from personal experience.
Well, you have several options when it comes to losing weight.
You could use yoga, strength training, body weight training, or a combination of all three (which is what I like to do).
However, none of that matter unless you get your diet in check.
So here’s what I do whenever I try to lose weight and burn off fat:
- I follow an aggressive, but safe, caloric deficit:
- I follow IIFYM (here’s my eBook explaining the “diet”)
Now it’s Your Turn
I hope this article has provided you with enough value to see what other articles I have.
Try this pull-up progression program at least 3-4 times per week at the end of your workout or whenever you can.
That’s it for this article you guys.
Thanks for reading!
Let me know what your favorite progression scheme for pull-ups is down below in the concept sessions.
I’d love to hear what you guys think!