Why Should You Train Pull Ups

Pull-ups are a highly effective exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the back, arms, shoulders, and core. Regular training corrects poor posture by strengthening the muscles responsible for maintaining proper spinal alignment. Pull-ups enhance functional fitness, as they mimic real-life movements like climbing and pulling.

To learn how to do your first pull up follow these progressions. In no time you will unlock your first pull-up and be well on your way to achieving your goals.

What Muscles Do Pull Ups Train

Pull-ups primarily target these muscle groups:

  • Latissimus dorsi (lats)
  • Biceps
  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius
  • Brachialis
  • Forearm Flexors

However, to a lesser extent, pull-ups also hit the muscles in these areas:

  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Core

Level 1: Wall Assisted Pull Ups

To perform wall-assisted pull-ups stand facing a wall or a bar attached to the wall, grasping it with a shoulder-width or slightly wider grip. Touch your toes as close to the wall as you can and lean backward. To execute the movement, initiate the pull by squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling your chest towards the wall.

These may feel easy but it is important that you learn the movement and how to squeeze your shoulders before moving on to harder pull-up variations.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 30 repetitions

Level 2: Incline Pull Ups / Australian Pull Ups

Australian pull ups / incline pull ups can vary in difficulty based on the angle you create. Using the same grip and straight body form as with wall pull-ups, lean back and pull your chest to the bar. The difficulty of this exercise increases the closer your back starts to the floor. You may only be able to create a slight angle at first which is fine! This motion will teach you the horizontal pulling motion needed for the next progressions. We recommend placing your feet further in front of you to help lower yourself to a more difficult position.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 20 repetitions

Level 3: Jumping Pull Ups

The next progression is jumping pull ups. Find a bar that is at your maximum arms reach above you. Feel free to stand on blocks to help you reach the bar. With a shoulder width grip on the bar, jump and pull your self up. Focus on the pulling motion to reduce the amount of strength you are using from your legs during the jump. The jumping motion is there to assist you in pulling yourself to the top of your pull up. Make sure you are able to touch the ground below you before jumping so you do not injure yourself on the way down.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 20 repetitions

Level 4: Pull Up Negatives

To start doing pull up negatives do a jumping pull up and control the speed you come down. This movement focuses on the lowering phase of the pull up and get you used to doing the full range of motion. It is important to start your negative pull ups with your chin above the bar to ensure a full range of motion.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 15 repetitions

Level 5: Band Assisted Pull Ups

If you have access to resistance bands you can use them to reduce the strain of doing pull ups. They work by alleviating some of your weight during the rising motion of the pull up. Loop the band over the pull-up bar and place your feet between the loop. You can start with a high-resistance resistance band and lower the band’s strength as you develop the muscles needed to perform a pull up.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 12 repetitions

Level 6: Flexed Arm Hangs

Using either a jumping pull up or resistance band assisted pull up bring your chin above the bar and hold this position. Holding this position will strengthen your muscles at the very top of a pull up and greatly improve your muscular endurance for pull ups.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 12 seconds

Level 7: Standard Pull Up

Congratulations on unlocking the pull up! This is the golden standard when it comes to calisthenics pulling exercises and you should be proud to have accomplished this goal. Pull ups are a rewarding exercise that will give you functional strength for the rest of your life.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

If you want to push your pull ups even further check out some of our intermediate pull up variations.

To improve pull-up strength, incorporate exercises that target the muscles involved in pull-ups, such as lat pull-downs, inverted rows, and bicep curls. Additionally, practice pull-up variations and gradually increase the number of repetitions or add weight to challenge yourself.

Pull-ups offer numerous benefits, including strengthening the back, shoulders, arms, and core muscles. They also improve grip strength, posture, and overall upper body endurance.

Yes, pull-ups can help build muscle mass, particularly in the back, shoulders, and arms. By progressively overloading the muscles with challenging variations and resistance, you can stimulate muscle growth and hypertrophy.

The number of pull-ups you should be able to do varies depending on factors such as age, gender, fitness level, and body weight. Aim to gradually increase your pull-up count over time as you improve strength and technique.

Pull-ups primarily target the latissimus dorsi (lats), but they also engage muscles such as the biceps, forearms, shoulders, and core to stabilize the body during the movement.

If you can’t do a pull-up yet, start by building strength with assisted pull-up variations, lat pull-downs, and inverted rows. Focus on gradually increasing your strength and practicing proper technique until you can perform a full pull-up.

It’s not necessary to do pull-ups every day. Allow your muscles time to recover between workouts to prevent overtraining and promote muscle growth. Aim for 2-3 pull-up sessions per week with rest days in between.

Yes, you can use resistance bands to assist with pull-ups by looping them around the pull-up bar and placing your foot or knee in the band to provide assistance as you pull yourself up.

To prevent injuries while doing pull-ups, focus on maintaining proper form, avoid excessive swinging or kipping, and gradually progress to more challenging variations as your strength improves. Additionally, incorporate mobility and flexibility exercises to prevent muscle imbalances and enhance joint health.

The main difference between chin-ups and pull-ups is the grip position. In chin-ups, the palms face towards you with a shoulder-width or narrower grip, while in pull-ups, the palms face away from you with a wider grip. Chin-ups typically target the biceps more, while pull-ups emphasize the back muscles.

Pull-ups can contribute to weight loss as they engage multiple large muscle groups, increase calorie expenditure, and improve overall fitness. However, weight loss ultimately depends on a combination of factors including diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits.

To progress from assisted to unassisted pull-ups, gradually decrease the assistance provided by resistance bands or a partner until you can perform a full pull-up on your own. Additionally, focus on building overall upper body strength and practicing proper technique.

Both wide and narrow grip pull-ups target different muscle groups. Wide grip pull-ups emphasize the lats and outer back muscles, while narrow grip pull-ups target the biceps and inner back muscles. Incorporate both variations into your routine for balanced muscle development.

To increase pull-up endurance, focus on performing higher repetitions with shorter rest periods between sets. Incorporate circuit-style workouts, timed sets, and interval training to improve muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

Kipping pull-ups involve using momentum and a swinging motion to help propel the body upward, whereas strict pull-ups rely solely on upper body strength to lift the body without any swinging or momentum. While kipping pull-ups can increase the number of repetitions performed, strict pull-ups are more effective for building strength and muscle mass.

If you feel pain in your shoulders while doing pull-ups, it’s important to stop and assess the cause. Pain could indicate muscle fatigue, poor form, or an underlying injury. Modify your technique, reduce the intensity, and consult with a medical professional if pain persists.

Incorporate pull-ups into your workout routine by performing them as part of a full-body workout or upper body training session. You can also include pull-up variations such as chin-ups, wide grip pull-ups, and muscle-ups to target different muscle groups and add variety to your routine.

If you have a shoulder injury, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before doing pull-ups. Depending on the severity and type of injury, you may need to modify your technique, avoid certain exercises, or focus on rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve mobility.

Proper form for pull-ups involves starting from a dead hang position with arms fully extended, engaging the core, and pulling the body upward until the chin clears the bar. Lower the body back down in a controlled manner to complete one repetition. Avoid swinging, kipping, or using momentum to assist with the movement.

Progress to more advanced pull-up variations by incorporating weighted pull-ups, one-arm pull-ups, or explosive pull-ups into your routine. Focus on gradually increasing the difficulty while maintaining proper form and technique.

Common mistakes to avoid when doing pull-ups include using momentum to cheat the movement, neglecting proper form, and overtraining without allowing adequate rest and recovery. Additionally, avoid excessive swinging or kipping, which can increase the risk of injury.

Yes, you can do pull-ups on a door frame pull-up bar as long as it’s securely mounted and can support your body weight. Ensure the bar is properly installed and can withstand the force generated during pull-up exercises to prevent accidents or injuries.

To train for your first pull-up, focus on building upper body and core strength with exercises such as lat pull-downs, assisted pull-up variations, and inverted rows. Additionally, practice hanging from the pull-up bar and performing isometric holds to improve grip strength and familiarity with the movement.

Yes, you can do pull-ups if you’re overweight, but you may need to start with assisted variations or use resistance bands to provide support until you build sufficient strength to perform unassisted pull-ups. Focus on gradual progression and prioritize overall health and fitness goals.

To avoid swinging while doing pull-ups, engage your core muscles and focus on maintaining a stable body position throughout the movement. Avoid excessive momentum or kipping, and perform the exercise in a controlled manner with smooth, deliberate movements.

You can do pull-ups before or after other exercises, depending on your workout routine and goals. Some people prefer to do pull-ups at the beginning of their workout when they’re fresh, while others incorporate them later as a finisher or accessory exercise.

Strict pull-ups involve pulling the body upward using only upper body strength, while kipping pull-ups use a swinging motion and momentum generated from the hips to assist with the movement. Strict pull-ups are more effective for building strength and muscle mass, while kipping pull-ups are often used in CrossFit and competitive settings for higher repetitions.

To engage your lats during pull-ups, focus on pulling the elbows down and back towards the hips while keeping the shoulders down and away from the ears. Imagine squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades at the top of the movement to fully engage the lats.

If you have lower back pain while doing pull-ups, it’s important to assess your form and technique. Avoid arching the back excessively or using momentum to cheat the movement, and focus on engaging the core muscles to maintain proper alignment and stability.

The best grip for doing pull-ups depends on personal preference and individual goals. Some people prefer a wide grip to target the lats and outer back muscles, while others prefer a narrow grip to emphasize the biceps and inner back muscles. Experiment with different grips to find what works best for you.

To prevent calluses from forming on your hands during pull-ups, consider wearing workout gloves or using chalk to improve grip and reduce friction. Additionally, gradually increase the intensity and volume of your pull-up training to allow your hands to adapt and develop tougher skin over time.

If you have wrist pain while doing pull-ups, it’s important to assess your grip position and wrist alignment. Avoid excessive bending or hyperextension of the wrists, and consider using wrist wraps or support to alleviate discomfort and provide stability.

To progress from pull-ups to muscle-ups, focus on building explosive strength and mastering the transition from pulling to pushing movements. Practice explosive pull-ups and dips, and work on developing the coordination and technique required to perform the muscle-up transition smoothly.

Weighted pull-ups involve attaching additional weight to your body using a weight belt, weighted vest, or dumbbell between your feet or knees. Gradually increase the weight as you build strength to continue challenging your muscles and promoting muscle growth.

If you feel fatigued or experience decreased performance with pull-ups, it may indicate overtraining. Take a break from pull-ups or reduce the intensity and volume of your workouts to allow your muscles to recover fully. Prioritize rest, nutrition, and proper recovery strategies to prevent overtraining and promote long-term progress and performance.