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Getting that First Pull Up

On Saturday I answered a couple of questions regarding bodyweight training and certain bodyweight exercises.

We’re going to continue on this theme by talking about the Pull Up.

The majority of the clients here at Wild Geese are male, but over the last year we’ve had a growing number of female members joining the team. I can only assume that these women have become bored with being treated like fools and sold garbage training programs and ridiculous diets, but that’s another post for another day.

The thing that has seriously impressed me about almost all the women that train here for any length of time is that very quickly they become almost obsessed with the Pull Up bar. Many is the time I’ve stepped onto the training floor and watched a crowd of girls pushing and encouraging each other to get that first, second or third rep while the lads are over holding up the wall.

But for so many people the Pull Up seems an insurmountable challenge, how can you get that first elusive rep? There are a number of ways of getting this, here’s a progression that has yet to fail, workout which stage you need to start at and get to work. Actually, I nearly forgot, a shoulder width grip with the palms facing you is slightly easier than a palms out grip just wider than shoulder width. If you splashed out and your bar has a parallel grip, this your strongest position and a good place to start. 

  1. Stage 1 – Get a pull up bar for your home. There are many variants you can get, the cheapest is a telescopic bar that goes across the doorway, better ones clip around the door frame and allow more variety. Have a look around and see what suits you and your needs best.

  2. Stage 2 – Hang About Sometimes just holding onto the bar can be a challenge. Practice hanging until you can comfortable dangle there for at least 30 seconds. This also a great chance to allow the spine to relax and stretch, if you wiggle your legs around, lifting the knees etc, you challenge the grip further and also get a great ab workout.

  3. Stage 3 – 90⁰ Lockout I learned this from a rock climber friend many years ago. He would hang from the pull up bar with his elbow bent at 90⁰, his biceps would be bursting out of his skin. Now he did it with one arm, you’re not a semi pro rock climber, so you get to do it with both hands! Aside from the bent arm position, it’s just a repeat of stage 2, build to at least 30seconds.

  4. Stage 4 – Be Negative Here’s the main stage, many people can start right here. Grab a step or a chair, whatever, and use it to give you a boost up to the top of the pull up, chin over the bar. You will now lower yourself under control all the way to a dead hang (arms straight). Get up on the box again and repeat. Do this until you can no longer maintain control. Aim for 5 sets of 3 reps or a 30 second descent.

  5. Stage 5 – Pull your weight You now ought to be ready to do your first pull up. Grab the bar, take a deep breath, look up, tighten the whole core and try to pull your elbows down to your hips.

Congratulations, you’ve just done your first pull up. The first one is the hardest, now that’s out the way let’s have some more……

Let me know how you get on. For other bodyweight training exercises and tips, please have a look here at our Anniversary edition eBook special offer,

Regards Dave

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