2 Easy Methods to Learn How to do Pull-Ups

Learn how to get your pull-up, build muscle and feel like a badass with this actionable guide and pull-up workout program.

    If you’re anything like me, you’ve dreamt about doing your first pull-up.

    You’ve envisioned what it’ll feel like when you finally reach that top position. And that follow-up rep….oh my god. You’re going to feel so proud of yourself.

    I’m talking from experience. My name is Summerfunfitness. I taught myself how to do pull-ups and even muscle-ups while building muscle and core strength.

    girl doing pull-ups

    Why Should you do Pull-Ups?

    Pull-ups are extremely rewarding as they make you feel so proud and accomplished. Plus, with the right rep scheme and form execution, they can help you build significant back and core muscle size. 

    You’ll also increase your hand strength which makes opening jars, holding weights and even carrying your grocery bags so much easier. 

    Stay Motivated by Training Pull-ups
    You can work towards endless skills that stem from a pull-up, which makes working out fun while keeping you inspired to continue training for many years. Would you rather bicep curl for your lifetime to only increase your initial weight by 10lbs – 30lbs or go from one pull-up to a flawless muscle-up? I choose the later. 

       Pull-Up Goal Ideas
      Over the years, you can work on the following goals:

      girl pull-ups

      Can Pull-Ups Build Muscle?

      muscle girl doing pull-ups

      With the right rep scheme and pull-up progression, you can put on significant muscle size using pull-ups. For muscle growth, stick with rep ranges of 12-15 reps for 3-4 sets with one “burn-out” set at the end of your last exercise to maximize muscle fatigue.

      I use a combination of strength and hypertrophy rep schemes to obtain a muscular AND strong body. In case you’re new to working out, muscle size is not always an accurate guide for a person’s strength; if you observe powerlifters or strong men, you’ll see they carry a very different physique than a bodybuilder. AKA a bodybuilder may look more muscular, but they aren’t as strong as a powerlifter. If you’ve ever done one of my calisthenics workouts, you’ll see that I use a range of rep schemes to develop a strong, mobile, well-defined body.

      For developing core size with pull-ups, ensure you utilize a hollow body shape for more core engagement (and therefore muscle development). You should become familiar with the hollow body position as it is essential for getting better at calisthenics.

      cross fit pull-ups vs calisthenics pull up
      girl doing a hollowbody hold

      How Do You Get Your First Couple of Pull-Ups?

      There are 2 methods I used to teach myself how to do pull-ups:

      Part 1: Greasing the Groove
      Part 2: Incorporating a Pull Day

      But the most crucial factor to get your first pull-up is your mindset.

      If you don’t believe you are capable of doing a pull-up, it’ll be tough to progress. So, firstly, decide you really want to achieve your pull-up, then set out a plan to accomplish your goal, including making time to actually train. Luckily you came to the right place as I’ll give you a plan. You just have to choose to take action.

      To get your pull-up quickly… you’ll need to get yourself an at-home pull-up bar as it’ll minimize your pull-up training barriers – such as driving to a gym.

      airwalk handstand press

      At Home Calisthenics Pull-Up Bar > Discount Code: Summerfitness10

      Part 1: How to Get Your Pull-Up

      Greasing the Groove

      Lightly train pull-ups or a pull-up variation, frequently throughout the day, without reaching exhaustion. This technique of repeatedly working the pull-up movement pattern develops the neurological pathways between your nervous system and muscles, creating more familiarity in the position – until it becomes second nature.

      For my analytical friends, “Greasing the groove” is repeated submaximal training to improve the efficiency of a specific movement pattern which Pavel Tsatsouline developed. 

      Essentially, to get better at any skill practice it at a very light load, frequently and consistently.

      This method is not to be confused with strength training. Here, we are working on the skill of pull-ups; later, in part 2 of our pull-up program, we will focus on building the strength for pull-ups.

      How to “Grease the Groove” for Pull-Up’s

      1. Determine your max pull-up
        It’s okay if it’s zero right now; if possible, record a video of your starting point. Set a calendar reminder to review your progress in six weeks.
      2. Choose a pull-up regression that you can perform 1-4 reps of
        (exercise options below)
      3. Perform that exercise frequently throughout the day
        Put a door frame pull-up bar in a high traffic area of your house, then do a pull-up every time you walk under it.
      4. Have significant rest periods in between sets (anywhere from 15 minutes to 1-2 hours)
      5. Move to a harder pull-up variation every two weeks or so
        Once you have mastered your original pull-up progression (with good form), upgrade to a slightly more challenging version to ensure continuous progression.
      girl showing active hang on a pull up bar

      If you already hit the gym, start and end each workout with some hanging work to utilize this training method. Optionally, you can mix in hanging work between sets during your regular workout, such as in between squat sets.

      Beginner Pull-Up Progressions

      Here are some beginner pull-up regressions you can do as part of your grease the groove pull-up tactic. 

      Active Hang
      Grip the bar, pull your shoulders down, and keep your arms straight despite the natural urge to bend them. Try to create space between your ears and shoulders.  Maintain a hollow body position.

      active hang on a home pull up bar

      Chair Assisted Pull-Ups
      Lightly use a chair to decrease the difficulty. Use your arms as much as possible.

      chair assisted pull ups at home

      Negative Pull-Ups
      Lower as slow as possible. In the beginning, this may only be 2 seconds – I promise you, if you stick with it you will improve. 

      negative pull up shown by calisthenics women

      Part 2: Designated Pull Workout

      Have at least one day a week dedicated to strengthening your overall pulling muscles. 

      As a beginner, I would recommend focusing on negative pull-ups for the strength portion of your workout. This means performing 6-8 reps of the exercise with significant rest in between sets (2 minutes at least), for 3-4 sets. 

      The rest of your workout should include higher rep pulling drills that strengthen your entire back, core and scapular stability to achieve your pull-up and build some muscle. 

      Here is an example workout with all the sets and reps laid out for you:

      My dad wants to get his first pull-up, so I took him through this workout 🙂 Go Dad!!! Check out the video below to see what these exercises look like on someone who is just learning how to do pull-ups.

      How to do a Pull Up: Summary

      Step 1: Add in daily pull-up work at very light repetitions, frequently throughout your day. 1-4 reps for every hour you are home, or at the start and end of your daily gym session.

      Step 2: Have at least one designated pull workout a week (around a 1 hour session). Or split your pull workout into two half days if pairing with a pulling sport such as climbing.  For the highest chance of actually working towards your pull-up order, my favourite door frame pull-up bar, discount code Summerfitness10. 

      Getting bored with regular pull-ups? Here are my Top 10 favourite calisthenics pull exercises (with beginner progressions of course).

      muscle girl doing a pull up

      Need more help? Check out my free calisthenics workout routines for beginners to get strong and flexible using just your own bodyweight.

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