Hang from a bar, pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar, lower yourself until your arms are straight.
Pull-ups are one of the top builders of upper body strength and they also work your core.
The big difference between pull-ups and every other exercise in out training method is that they don’t use a barbell and you can’t make them lighter (well we can use other variations to start with) which means that unlike all of the other exercises you can either do a pull-up or you can’t.
If you can’t do pull-ups, managing your first one will be one of the most rewarding things you do in the gym. Doing your first set of 10 or even 20 will be a huge benchmark as well.
There are 3 main grip positions you can use for pull-ups;
We will focus on overhand grip pull-ups but if you struggle to do five of them, using a neutral grip for a few weeks to build up is ok.
Because we are doing sets of 5 reps with pull-ups you will hopefully eventually need to add weight. We do this in the form of a kettlebell hanging from your waist.
How to do a pull up
If you cannot manage pull ups we can do a number of alternatives to build the required strength.
Band assisted pull-ups.
Band assisted pull-ups work by putting a band across the power cage so that it takes some of your weight. The advantage of this is that you are still having to hang from the bar and work all the same muscles as a full Pull up. The downside is that it does not give you the same amount of assistance throughout the rep. You get more help at the bottom where the band is stretched out and hardly any at the top.
For negative pull-ups you start with your feet on the floor and use your legs to start the rep. Notice I have not used the word jump. The idea is to give yourself a boost up, but as little as possible and then control the rep on the way back down. So with the positive part of the rep being the lifting and the negative part of the rep being the lowering, we are working the full negative portion of the rep and using assistance on the positive part.
Pull downs use the same muscles as pull-ups, minus a bit of core, but involve using the seated pull down machine and pulling the bar down to lift weights at the end of the cable. The advantage to this is we can go from 5kg all the way up. The downside is that it will always be easier than full pull ups so even if you can lift the stack and in theory should be able to do pull ups no problem it might still take some time to switch over. This is a good option for people who are a long way from having the strength to do pull-ups.