How to do a Pull-Up

There are three things in life that command utmost respect: saying any word backwards without hesitation, downing a lot of milk or beer incredibly quickly and being able to do a pull-up.

A pull up requires huge amounts of upper body strength, you are using your back, biceps, shoulders, triceps as well as your core. So in order to be able to pull yourself up you need to develop that strength. Here’s some simple steps to follow that should get you above the bar within 3-5 months if you hustle.

  1. Work on your back strength, particularly lat pull downs. This is basically a pull up in reverse. Put as much weight as you can (without losing form) on the bar and practice pulling the bar down to the centre of your chest trying to keep a straight back.


2. Low Bar Pull-Ups: Using TRX ropes or a low bar on a squat rack, plant your heels on the floor and pull yourself up as high as possible. The lower your body to the floor the harder this will be. Try and do three sets of 20 reps. This will engage the muscles that you need to use for your pull up.


3. Band Pull-Ups: Use resistance bands to help get you above the bar. Start with the thickest band. Make sure your arms are fully extended and pull yourself up, keeping your knees or feet in the band and your core tight.


Once you can do 10 pull-ups on the thickest band then you can progress to a lighter band. Continue until you can do ten with the lightest band there is. This may take weeks, or even months. Patience, patience, patience.


4. Negative Pull-ups: Ask a friend/passing stranger/roving PT/ to help lift you as high as possible above the bar then slowly, slowly, slowly lower yourself down to hanging. 

If there's no-one around to help, grab a box or bench to get you above the bar. 


5. Jumping Pull-Ups: Hold on to the bar and jump and pull-up at the same time. As soon as you land jump back into it straightaway. As you get more confident, try to reduce the amount of power you put into the jump, getting closer to a straight hanging pull-up.


5. PRACTICE. Whenever you see a bar, grab a hold of it and try and pull yourself up. Keep your legs straight, toes pointed and tight core. Think hollow body position.


To be able to master a pull-up you need to be practicing as much as possible. Start and finish every training session with pull-ups. Remember to have rest days to give your muscles time to develop. You may only get a milimetre higher every fortnight but I promise if you follow the above 5 points you’ll get that perfect pull-up. Which handily, is said exactly the same backwards. Now, where’s that milk?

Melissa Power