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    How To Get Your First Pull-Up: A Step-By-Step Guide

    January 25, 2021

January 25, 2021

How To Get Your First Pull-Up: A Step-By-Step Guide

The pull-up has long been one of the main lifts in regards to testing pound for pound strength. But, getting to the point of being able to do a pull-up can be a very long, and grueling  road. The pull-up had once been explained to me as just grabbing the bar and simply pulling myself up. Sounds simple and easy, right? Well it’s not. There’s much more that goes into obtaining your first pull-up. Follow the step-by-step guide on how to get your first pull-up below, and you’ll be repping  them out before you know it!




How to get your first pull-up

Before we step into the gym, we need to get into the kitchen. The path to your first pull-up starts here. The heavier a person is, the harder it’s going to be for that person to perform a pull-up. Getting control of yourself here is the make or break moment for people with a goal of pull-ups. You will never train hard enough to overcome poor eating habits. If you’ve already overcome this stage and nutrition is not an issue, then wonderful, it’s time to hit the gym.  




Rows are a great way to start building the muscle and strength needed to achieve your first pull-up, and luckily there are multiple rows at your disposal to achieve this. Below is a list of rows, and the order in which I would suggest progressing through them. 


The 3-Point Row 

The first row I would suggest is the 3-point row. This is a great way to start building the muscle and strength that will be needed later on. It also provides a little more stability for the back for beginners who may have lower back issues. To perform this row, follow the checklist below:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart 
  • Lean forward placing one hand on a flat surface while keeping a straight back 
  • Grab a dumbbell/kettlebell with the opposite hand 
  • Pull the weight up to your side, while keeping your elbows in close to the body
  • Slowly return to the starting position 


How to get your first pull-up


DB Bent-Over Row 

After you’ve gained some strength and have learned how to control your body while under load in the bent over position, it’s time to remove the surface that your hand was using as support. By doing this we’ll be able to start building strength and support in the lower back. Follow these steps:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart 
  • Lean forward, this time grab a dumbbell/kettlebell in both hands 
  • Pull the weight up to your side while keep elbows in close 
  • Slowly return to the starting position


How to get your first pull-up


Bodyweight Row 

For bodyweight rows, you can use either a barbell set up on j-hooks attached to a squat rack, or some type of suspension trainer (rings for example). Whichever you decide to use, the set up will be close to the same. Start by laying on the floor underneath the bar or suspension trainer. From here, reach up and grab whichever you are using with your grip wider than shoulder width. Continue through with this checklist:

  • Pull yourself up onto your heels 
  • Back and hips are straight, with no sagging 
  • Shoulders are braced 


How to get your first pull-up


Once you are ready, start pulling your body to either the bar or the rings while keeping your elbows in close. Before moving on from the bodyweight rows make sure you can perform multiple sets and 10-12 reps 



After progressing through the different variations of rows, it’s time to move on to the next step! Achieving that pull-up still may be a little out of reach, so in order to replicate the motion we’re going to go through some regressions of the pull-up. Doing so will give you the upper hand in reaching the strength needed to reach the ultimate goal of getting your first pull-up. Let’s go!

Assisted Pull-Ups 

After you can successfully complete multiple sets of 10-12, full range of motion bodyweight rows, it’s time to advance to the pull-up bar. BUT, we still have a couple steps before we advance to full pull-ups. As we begin on the pull-up bar, we will start with a band assisted pull-up. Wrap a band through the pull-up bar so that it is dangling in front of you. Stretch it down and place one or two of your feet in it depending on the amount of assistance needed (two feet for more assistance; one foot for less assistance). Grab the pull-up bar and start pulling your body to the bar. While doing this remember these cues: 

  • Tuck shoulders back 
  • Keep the rest of the body tight 
  • Instead of pulling yourself up, pull the bar to you 
  • Expand your chest the closer you get to the bar 
  • Control your body as you lower back to the starting position 


How to get your first pull-up


It is important during this phase to keep your patience. If people get stuck at a certain phase of pull-up training for a long period of time, it’s usually during this phase. This is the first part of the training where we are using the pull-up bar. It takes time to progress past this part. Patience is key. Keep at it! 


Eccentric Pull-Ups

If you’ve been doing the assisted pull-ups for a while, and really feel that it’s time to progress, then this is the next phase. To do this, I recommend using a chair or box of some sort to stand on, as we want to start at the top of the movement. So, with our chest at the bar we will slowly lower ourselves back to the ground. Stand back on the chair or box, and repeat. 


How to get your first pull-up



Here it is! The moment you have worked so hard for! Jump up, grab the bar, get into the ready position, and remember to: 

  • Tuck shoulders back 
  • Keep rest of body tight 
  • Pull the bar to you; not you to the bar 
  • Expand your chest to the bar 
  • Slowly lower yourself to the ground 
  • Celebrate! 


How to get your first pull-up


Your first pull-up! Take a moment to congratulate yourself. A lot of hard work went into this process. It’s not easy, so don’t just shrug it off. Take this moment and be proud of yourself. A whole new world of training has just opened up for you! 


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