039: Pull-ups

Season One Sep 21, 2020
[A guest post by Stephanie]

Pull-ups are a fun and useful bodyweight movement. Below, I'll share some tips and progressions.

We'll start with more accessible variations and move towards the full technique.


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

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

For more challenge, there are (inverted) bodyweight rows. I'm doing these on a sturdy table.

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

Adjust the difficulty by changing your body angle. Or by bending the knees. Keep your core firm (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 👇

Bonus: Add in some leg raises.

You may develop some callouses.
Callouses are great 💪

Assisted Pull-ups

Next, grab a chair (or box).
And give yourself a small step-boost.

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 slow, controlled pace

Switch up the grip, too.
(Palms facing towards you and facing away)

Static Lockouts

Build comfort 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 duration slowly.

Controlled Negatives

Finally, you'll 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 (no falling).

The Pull-up!

Add in the concentric phase.

For me, the hardest part is the last bit at the top.
Look at that serious workout-face!TM 😠

Everyone's body is unique. I hope that you can take away at least one useful insight that you'll apply to your own practice.

Good luck!

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