Pull-ups are an amazing bodyweight exercise that works your entire upper body and core, challenging your strength and improving your stability.
While you may only be moving your bodyweight for this exercise, becoming a master of the pull-up is no easy feat.
If you haven’t yet conquered the unassisted pull-up, there are a few steps you can take to help you get there sooner.
Read on for several tips and regressions to take you from pull-up novice to expert in no time.
How To Do A Pull-Up: 4 Tips That Get You Over The Bar
Tip 1: Resistance Bands
Looped bands of different resistance will help you to progress your pull-up until you are strong enough to support your full body weight.
Thicker bands provide greater resistance and will be able to bear more weight, so start out with a thick band and progress to thinner bands as you practice more!
Place your resistance band over a fixed bar that will support your weight, loop one end through the other, and pull taut. Place one leg through the band, bending at the knee and supporting your leg at the shin.
Performing pull-ups with a resistance band will help your body learn the movement of a pull-up, without bearing the load of your full bodyweight.
See the video above for an example of how to perform a banded pull-up! If you don’t have access to resistance bands, but your gym has an assisted pull-up machine, that’s a good alternative for this exercise.
While the assisted pull-up machine is not as effective as resistance bands (the machine provides much more stability, and thus does not challenge your core), it’s a good place to start.
Tip 2: Negative Pull-Ups
Another way to practice pull-ups until you’re ready to lift your bodyweight is with negative pull-ups and holds. Negative pull-ups allow you to only practice the eccentric (lowering) motion of the pull-up, so you don’t have to expend as much energy or use as much strength to practice the movement.
Stand on a platform tall enough that you can comfortably reach the pull-up bar with arms extended, grab the bar, and hop up to the top of a pull-up position (elbows bent, chin above the bar).
Hold yourself in this position for a few seconds (or as long as you can), then slowly lower yourself back down to the platform, focusing on the tension in your back muscles.
Repeat this jump, hold, and slow lowering motion for several reps and sets. Negative pull-ups and holds will help you build strength and stability.
Tip 3: Build Your Back
A strong back is key for a flawless pull-up. The back is one of our largest muscle groups, and just because we can’t see it all the time, doesn’t mean those muscles should be forgotten!
Lifting heavy and challenging your muscles will help your pull-up improve, so incorporate back focused movements such as bent over rows and deadlifts to strengthen those muscles. Use mind-muscle connection to focus during your back workouts: feel the pulling motion and the tension on your muscles, and control each movement from start to finish.
Aside from building your back muscles, training your entire upper body will help to make a pull-up easier. Use accessory movements for your shoulders, chest, and core to build a well rounded upper body.
Tip 4: Practice!
Last but not least, practice, practice, practice! The fastest way to achieve a pull-up is to do a pull-up.
In addition to back exercises and strengthening your upper body, practicing the movement of a pull-up is the best way to improve your pull-up.
Incorporating pull-up practice with every workout will fast track your results, so try adding a few sets to each gym visit. Using the assistance techniques we’ve discussed above, increase the amount of pull-ups you do from week to week, and you’ll be an expert in no time.