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039: Pull-ups

Some pull-up tips and progressions.

Jeremy Finch
Jeremy Finch
4 min read
039: Pull-ups
[ a guest post by Stephanie ]

Pull-ups are a fun and useful bodyweight movement.

Below, I'll share my tips and progressions. We'll start with more accessible variations and build up towards the full thing.


Start with some horizontal rows: I'm demonstrating these seated, with a light band. You can also attach bands to something else. Or do them standing.

Cues :

  • Maintain an upright spine
  • Exhale as you pull in towards you
  • Engage the shoulder blades down and together

For more challenge, these are (inverted) bodyweight rows.

Use a sturdy table!

You can also do these hanging on a bar, or using a TRX / straps. Alternatively: Find a railing or a bike rack. Get creative!

Adjust the difficulty by changing your body angle. Or by bending the knees. Keep your core firm (stable plank position).

Static Hanging

If this is totally new for you, start with partially-weighted hangs - keeping one foot on the ground / chair. Stop if you feel any pain in the wrists or elbows.

This is a more active hang version, with some added shrugs 👇

Extra credit: Add in some slow leg raises.

You may develop some callouses.
Callouses are great 💪

Assisted Pull-ups

Next, grab a chair (or use a box).
Give yourself a small step-boost.

You'll do most of the work with your upper body. Only use the assisting leg minimally. Modify the chair height as needed.

Exhale as you pull up. Engage the shoulders down the back. Maintain a controlled pace.

Switch up the grip, too.
(palms towards you / away)

Static Lockouts

Build time in the top position. Step (or jump) up to start.

Hold your lockout position. Breathe.

Step back back down, and rest.

Try to keep a neutral gaze.
Come down when you start to fatigue.
Add in duration slowly.

Controlled Negatives

Finally, focus on the eccentric part of the movement.

Jump or step up to start, and lower down slowly to arms extended.

If you're unable to control the descent, go back to taking some of the weight in your legs.

These should be controlled and gradual (ie no sudden falling).

The Pull-up!

Finally, add in the concentric phase.

The last bit at the top is the hardest.
Serious "workout face" TM optional! 😠

Everyone's body is unique.

I hope you can take away one useful insight that you'll apply to your own practice.

Good luck!

Related :

072: Wrists and Hands
Six exercises for your wrists and hands.
006: Ten Movements
Ten quick ways to move / feel better.
084: Sitting Without Furniture
Ten alternatives to sitting in chairs 🪑
026: Self-Care Series
Seven mindful movement prompts.
095: Touch Your Toes
A simple mobility prompt.

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